Monday, June 30, 2008

Game 82 Recap

Missed most of this game, trapped at work finished month-end thing. However I did manage to get home just in time for the rally in the 7th and 8th inning. Another day another Mud Hen, as Matt Joyce's triple tied the game. Curtis Granderson put the Tigers ahead for good with a single right after that. It was Curtis' third hit of the night, putting his average at .301 for the season. Jim Leyland gave Todd Jones the night off, as he had just thrown 40 pitches in the last two days. Joel Zumaya filled in for Todd, in more ways than one. His ninth inning was Jones-like, allowing the tying and go-ahead runs to reach base before getting the final two outs of the game. So what have we learned? Well the Tigers are in until the final out (just like 2006), and maybe it wasn't the NL team. Maybe the Tigers are this good.

Tigers 4 Twins 3

W: Fossum (1-0)
L: Guerrier (4-3)
S: Zumaya (1)

Tigers Record:
W - L
42 - 40
3rd Place AL Central (5 GB Chicago)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Game 81 Recap

The only thing in Colorado worse than the Rockies right now

The Tigers received bad news, with Magglio making a visit to the DL. The guys in the outfield today picked up the slack. Curtis continued his push towards .300, Marcus continues his push to replace Thor as the Norse God of Thunder, and Clete Thomas continued his push toward Sainthood. But the story at the plate today was Dane Sardinha. His first major league hit was a big one as it put the Tigers ahead for good. It was a 2-out triple in which Sardinha must have borrowed an extra gear from fellow Hawaiian Shane Victorino to scoot into third safely.

It's not like the Rockies didn't have their share of chances against Kenny Rogers. But as I mentioned in the BYB game thread (if you have never been, what better time to come aboard) Kenny was as un-killable as Rasputin today. In the second the Rockies had just taken the lead, and Willie Taveras reached on bunt single. Todd Helton at the plate. Taveras gets gunned down yet again at 2nd, and the next pitch Helton strikes out. In the third, the Rockies had the bases loaded with no one out. Kenny got Jeff Baker to pop-up to second base, and two pitches later got Clint Barmes to hit into a inning-ending double play. In the 4th, two on, one out, no problem for Kenny as he gets another double play. That was the last time a Colorado player reached base. Kenny combined with Freddy Dolsi and Todd Jones to retire the last 15 outs in a row.

Exactly halfway throughout the season, and the Tigers are a winning ballclub. The Tigers have ruthlessly taken advantage of inter-league play, using it to post the best record in the Majors since the point they were the furthest from .500. 16-3 since June 6th. The Tigers have not lost a series and have swept 3 in that span. They now travel to Minnesota, who are as equally hot, going 14-6 with a 10 game winning streak in the same span as the Tigers.

Tigers 4 Rockies 3
W: Rogers (6-5)
L: Reynolds (2-6)
S: Jones (15)

Tigers Record:
W - L
41 - 40
3rd Place AL Central (4.5 GB Chicago)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Game 80 Recap

80 games down and they're back where they started. Granted it didn't look that way after the Todd Jones Experience dropped trou and pooped all over the lead given to him. But Miguel Cabrera was not having any of that, and ripped a shot to the right-center wall to give the game back for the Tigers. The Tigers were 12 games below .500 22 days ago. Now they are back in the hunt. They just need to show they can play like this against teams in their own division.

Justin Verlander threw a lot a pitches yet again (118 to be exact), but was solid enough to leave the game in line for the win. Zach Miner had trouble early, but recovered to hand the ball to Fernando Rodney. Fernando took another big step, striking out his first batter, and then getting a groundout. He walked the next batter, but got the final out of the 8th on his next pitch. Then Todd Jones blew his first save of the year. Jones has games now and then where he just can't hit his spots and his aim is off. And if that's the case. 4 run 9th innings happen. The only good thing about this is that usually Jones will follow up an outing like this with a quick save.

Oh, yeah Ryan Raburn hit a Grand Slam. The Scrub came in after Magglio left the game with an lat/oblique strain. His next at-bat he had a good sac bunt, that resulted ina run scored when the pitcher threw the ball away. Next time up, the grand slam. His walk in the 9th ended up being huge as he was the winning run on Miguel Cabrera's double. Raburn makes his case for more playing time, throwing his hat into the ring with Marcus Thames, and Clete Thomas. It's nice to see the Tigers bench contribute and that there aren't any Perezes in sight.

So day game tomorrow, expect the Sunday line-up to be in full effect. Especially with Maggs leaving the game. But a win puts the Tigers over .500 for the first time all season. Weird.

Tigers 7 Rockies 6
W: Dolsi (1-2)
L: Fuentes (1-3)

Tigers Record:
W - L
40 - 40
3rd Place AL Central (5 GB Chicago)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Game 79 Recap


Clete Thomas and Eddie Bonine. Two guys that if I didn't follow the Tigers, I probably would think that they were involved in NASCAR. Instead they were involved in the Tigers beating the Rockies tonight. Clete followed up his 2 bases loaded walks, by reaching base all four times he stepped to the plate tonight. A walk (naturally), a double, and two singles tonight and it's looks like Tigers LF platoon is solid no matter whose playing.

As for Bonine, in his third major league start he held the defending NL champs to just one run on 5 hits. And this was the real Rockies line-up (minus Todd Helton) not the AAA squad they have been fielding most of the year due to injuries. He only struck out 2, but didn't walk anyone. He didn;t allow a hit until the 5th, and prior to the Garrett Atkins single, the only Rockie to reach base was Matt Holliday who was hit by a pitch in the first.

Not to be lost in the former Mud Hen praise, is the Grand Re-Opening of Grandyland. Curtis had two triples to cap a 4-hit night. That's 11 hits on the homestand, and extending a hitting steak to 15 games. In those games his average has risen from .235 to .294, and his OBP has jumped from .294 to .343. The quality of the starting pitching has been a huge reason for the turn-around of the Tigers recently, but the resurgence of Curtis has played a large part as well.

7 runs and not one home run. 3 triples though. Kinda of weird that the ball was traveling just not out for the tigers. And don't look now, the Tigers send Justin Verlander to the mound tomorrow to try to reach .500 for the first first time since the season started.

Tigers 7 Rockies 1
W: Bonine (2-0)
L: Jimenez (2-8)

Tigers Record:
W - L
39 - 40
3rd Place AL Central (5 GB Chicago)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Game 78 recap

Clete Told me to "Walk this way!"

Clete Thomas scoffs at your "swing the bat for runs". He can just stand there and it happens, twice. OK so maybe it wasn't so much about Clete and more that Cardinal pitchers had contracted Rodneyitis. It must have been a disease that someone had else had to catch for him to be cured, as Rodney was refreshingly effective today. I guess that's just the way it's going for the Tigers lately. Less than a month ago, they were playing the role the Cardinals played, hitting well but not well enough, and maddeningly horrible bullpen performance. Now the Tigers are the ones getting timing pitching and the clutch at-bat.

Yes it's only three games, it seems whomever that dude impersonating Gary Sheffield the first part of the year has been discovered and banished to Siberia. The real thing is back and swinging. Three games three big hits. Sadly, due to the rain delay yesterday, I was asleep when Sheff's bloop ended the game last night. But thanks to modern technology (thank Jebus for internet on phones to circumvent strict internet filters at work) I was following right along when Sheff served up a game tying home run today.

Another team another series win, another inch in the crawl back to the top. Now the Rockies roll into town as Inter-league play ends, with .500 on the horizon.

Tigers 3 Cardinals 2
W: Seay (1-1)
L: Parisi (0-4)

Tigers Record:
W - L
38 - 40
3rd Place AL Central (5 GB Chicago)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Game 76 Recap

One day at a time, one day at a time. Right, Schneider?

So, the Tigers dropped one. No big deal right? The starting pitching was bound to have a bad start sooner or later. It happened tonight with Kenny Rogers. 9 hits and 5 runs was not typical of the Kenny we've seen in the past few starts. Nine hits doesn't usually lead to good things. Especially against one of the better road teams in the majors. Kenny got out of a few jams early, but couldn't get out of them all.

Yes it was a loss tonight, but there are some positive things to dwell on. Gary Sheffield is back in the line-up and just like Nuke LaLoosh, he announced his presence with authority. Sheff had a no-doubter in the 7th, which coincidentally is where he was hitting in the line-up tonight. I like that spot for him. Put him down there in a no-pressure spot and just worry about driving the ball. If he does regain some of the HR swing, look for Marcus Thames to reap the benefits on hitting before him. Speaking of Marcus, he has 12 hits since inter-league play started. Also swinging a hot bat is Curtis Granderson, who extended his hit streak to 12 games.

but the most positive thing about tonight, was the fact that Fernando Rodney actually survived an inning of work. It wasn't 2006 Rodney, but that fact he showed that he can actually record three outs was a step in the right direction. That he didn't allow anyone to reach base, icing on the cake.

So here were are again. Tigers drop the first game of a series. All I'm thinking is bounce back strong tomorrow against Kyle Lohse. He's 9-2 this year? Really??? Is there another Kyle Lohse? Nope, same guy I'm thinking of. Well let tomorrow's start be the beginning of the regression to the mean for Mr. Lohse.

Tigers 4 Cardinals 8
W: Looper (9-5)
L: Rogers (5-5)

Tigers Record:
W - L
36 - 40
3rd Place AL Central (5.5 GB Chicago)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Un-Bury Them

The Tigers have begun to Dig-Dug themselves out of a hole

OK, maybe I was a little quick to pull the trigger a few weeks ago. But the team we've seen the past 12 games is not the one we saw the first three months of the year. At the time when I considered them done, the Tigers had just dropped 12 game below .500 after getting humiliated 10-2 in Oakland. They had just finished a 3-6 road trip losing 3 of those games in the 9th inning or later. The couldn't get the timely hit, field the ball, or throw strikes.

What changed?

Well, runners are no longer stranded, the infield can field a ground ball, and the starters are going deep into games. More importantly, after two horrendous performances on the mound by Dontrelle Willis and Fernando Rodney, the Tigers came back and won. In both of those wins the Tigers were patient and attacked vulnerable bullpens to get the win.

There has only been one loss in the last nine games. Despite that loss comes after the aforementioned Rodney fiasco, I wasn't worried about another losing streak being started. I can't explain why, but i just did. Part of it may have been knowing that the next 5 games were against the Giants and the Padres. Part of it might have been seeing a team play like they expected to win for once, instead of a team with that "what's going to happen now?" look about them. And wouldn't you know it, be the end of Inter-league play, the Tigers could very well be a game or two away form the .500 mark.

Now let's not get the playoff tickets printed yet. They still have a steep climb to reach that mark. But the fact that the prospect of making the playoff isn't that far-fetched is more than I would have though t a few weeks ago.

Monday, June 16, 2008

West Coast Swing Part 2

"Everyone was burying us, and they should've. They should've. We weren't playing very good. I understand that. But we were never going to give into that. Now, people are getting a little more excited again because we're playing better, so hopefully we'll continue to play better."
- Jim Leyland after yesterday's sweep of the Dodgers

Count me as one of the buryers. I didn't foresee a 8-2 homestand and the Tigers picking up 5 games in the standings. Also count me as one of the excited. You won't hear much from me these next few weeks post wise. A pending purchase of a new house, and games past my bedtime look to keep me away from teh computer. But I'll be watching/listening as much as I can. Hoping these past few games weren't a fluke, but a return to normalcy.

Go Tigers!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Game 67

Tigers are on a roll

This is why I love/hate baseball. Last Wednesday the Tigers were 8 games back and I was despondent. This week, still eight back, but cautiously optimistic due to a four game winning streak (and 6 out of seven with the one being the Dontrelle Willis game). The winning ways seem to stem from some outstanding pitching from the starters. Only Todd Jones and Freddy Dolsi have been needed out of the bullpen the past 4 games for a cominbined total of 5.2 innings of work. When your starters go 7-8 innings deep, there's a good chance you're going to win a game or two.

Tonight was the first shutout for the Tigers of the year. Armando Galarraga just keeps winning. Marcus Thames keeps hitting, and making plays with his glove as well. And Cory Wade, take a lesson from Daniel Cabrera. You won't like it when the Tigers are angry. When Tilde angry, TILDE SMASH!!!!

28-3. That's the Tigers record when 5 or more runs are scored. Now we can't expect a shutout every night, and I certain don't expect one tomorrow when one of Toledo's Finest takes the mound. But with Rodney and Zumaya not only looking healthy and back to 2006 levels, added to the aforementioned Dolsi and Jones; the Tigers bullpen turns from question to exclamation point. I'm starting to believe that this pitching staff will be able to keep teams below 4 runs on a consistent basis. Well maybe not everyone, but surely the 4 NL West teams they face in the inter-league series. LA, San Diego, San Francisco, and Colorado all are in the bottom 5 in runs scored in the NL.

So good luck to you, Eddie Bonine tomorrow afternoon. Keep it close and let's hope the Tiger bats do their thing.

Tigers 5 Dodgers 0
W: Galarraga (6-2)
L: Lowe (4-6)
S: Dolsi (2)

Tigers Record:
W - L
30 - 37
4th Place AL Central (8 GB Chicago)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Game 66 Recap

Mandy Wright/DFP

Now put Big Mig on the map if he walk it off...true dat Li'l' Wayne.

Maybe it was the pitching, maybe it was the 14-pitch Miguel Cabrera at-bat, maybe it was the "ginger ale", but something has gotten into the Tigers. Miguel Cabrera's shot in the bottom of the ninth clinched the game today, as the Tigers swept the first place White Sox.

Ok maybe the fact the Tigers starters actually strung together three good games, and maybe the Tiger offense realizes it's easier to score runs if you get hits when people are on base. Hey, whatever it was, I'll take it and more of it while were at it. The Dodgers roll into town, after dropping two to San Diego. Let's join Boston in hoping beating L.A. stays in fashion.

Tigers 2 White Sox 1
W: Jones (2-0)
L: Dotel (3-3)

Tigers Record:
W - L
29 - 37
4th Place AL Central (8 GB Chicago)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Game 65 Recap

Three, oh yeah, it's a magic number!

Justin Verlander is Back!!!

Ok, so maybe it's just one game, but JV showed that he could maintain the good stuff that had been showing up in his last few starts. His 1st complete game of the year, and 3rd win clinches a series win over the White Sox.

Miguel Cabrera had a huge at bat in leading off the second. He fouled off 9 pitches on his way to a 14 pitch at bat that resulted in a walk. In that at bat Miguel Cabrera saw more pitches than Justin Verlander had thrown in the game. The walk lead to Marcus Thames first hit off of Javier Vasquez in 9 at-bats, which landed in the bullpen to drive in 3. The Tigers never looked back. Now they look to tomorrow to complete the sweep.

Tigers 5 White Sox 1
W: Verlander (3-9)
L: Vasquez (6-5)

Tigers Record:
W - L
28 - 37
4th Place AL Central (9 GB Chicago)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Game 64 Recap

If a streak is going to start, what better way then to start it then against the team in first place. After the White Sox leave town the next five teams the Tigers play are as of tonight at least 3 games below the .500 mark (Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Rockies, and Twins). In that same span the White Sox the best team in the majors, their neighbors to the North Side, the Cubs. If the Tigers can sweep the Sox it's not out of the question to assume the Tigers could make up four games by the end of June. By my count that would put the Tigers four games back of the Sox.

Now, for this to happen you have to think the Tigers can: A) Actually sweep the White Sox and B) win games they are supposed to against lesser opponents. Two things that they haven't done all year. I'm not quite ready to get a shovel out and un-bury them. I'm not sold on the White Sox, in fact their manager isn't either. Several days ago Ozzie Guillen was calling for changes. Funny how a seven game win streak changes that. Still, the starting pitching has been playing a bit over their heads, and they could be in for a second half swoon.

Seeing a game like how the Tigers played tonight, it makes it all the more frustrating. You know they can do it. You see them actually doing it. Yet usually a game like this is followed by a huge disappiontment. Fingers crossed that isn't the case.

Tigers 6 White Sox 4
W: Robertson (4-6)
L: Contreras (6-4)
S: Jones (11)

Tigers Record:
W - L
27 - 37

Friday, June 06, 2008

Game 60 Recap

New faces, same results.

A slew of injuries brought up a new face (Michael Holliman) and brought back some familiar ones (Denny Bautista and Brett Clevlen). But the song remains the same. One bad inning by a Tiger pitcher, and not enough offense does the Tigers in. Verlander looked great in 6 of the seven innings he pitched. He struck out eight, but was unable to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the 4th, which scored the 3 runs needed to beat the Tigers. Again the Tigers have a starter surrender only 3 runs, yet he'll get tagged for the loss. Lucky 2 or the 5 Tiger hits were Home Runs, otherwise this could of been yet another shutout.

I think I'm just going to post a picture from the Wings Stanley Cup run to make me feel better...


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

These go to Eleven


The Wings win their 11th cup. My hockey fandom was on life-support after the events of 2004-2005. Maybe it was being out of Detroit most of the season, maybe it was the dominating way the Wings rolled through the playoffs, maybe it's the crappy season the Tigers are putting forth; but watching this team win the Cup was amazing.

Bury 'Em

I got into my car to drive home from work just in time to hear the end of the 7th, so yes there might be residual anger from the bullpen asploding yet again. But, let's face it, the 2008 Tigers are not making the playoffs.

Right now they sit 8 games back of Chicago. Yes it's still only June and 103 games are left; but to make up any ground the Tigers are going to have to win a series or two. The have only won 5 so far this season. 3 were against the other last place teams in the AL East and West. 8 Games is not insurmountable for a team capable of stringing together wins, something the Tigers just can't do. I'd be willing to change my tune if the Tigers go out and win 10 out of the next 13, but who really thinks that's going to happen?

For some reason this team cannot score runs consistently. Sure they can run up absurd numbers on terrible pitchers. But then they'll turn around a disappear for upwards of 10 innings at a time. Case in point last night's debacle: 12 free base runners, only 4 scored. I've been waiting for the offense to break out since spring training. One month's an anomaly, two months is a trend, three is fact. The bats aren't as good as we thought they were.

As for the pitching, Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney coming back are like a band-aid on a bullet wound. When back up, they should be used sparingly, lest we have another injury on our hands. This team just gave up 18 runs on 23 hits to Oakland. A team that features Bobby Crosby hitting a whopping .263 as a leader in batting average. In a slump? Tiger Pitching is your cure.

Don't get me wrong, I'll still watch. If 2003 didn't make me stop, nothing will. But let's stop kidding ourselves, this team just isn't going to win that much. And unless Dave Dombrowski can find a GM dumb enough to unload some people on (looking at you Bill Bavasi and J.P. Riccardi) we're stuck with them all year. Here's hoping to a Wings victory tonight, so it can take the sting off the rest of this summer