Friday, August 28, 2009

Game 127

Tigers were back at home, but bats were still working like they were against the Angels.

All the damage today was provided by the bottom 3 in the order. Brandon Inge started things with a solo HR in the second. Right after the home run, Gerald Laird was plunked by Tampa starter Matt Garza. Laird got his revenge in the 4th. 2 walks and a Inge single had the bases loaded for Gerald. Gabe Gross decided to use the Copa outfield as a slip-n-slide, and a Laird line drive to right turned into a 2 run double. Adam Everett followed that with a double of his own to left. Curtis Granderson drove in Everett with a double of his own and the Tigers had a 6-0 lead.

Rick Porcello used that run support to pick up his 11th win of the season. Porcello broke the 100 pitch mark for the first time all season. Fu Te Ni, and Brandon Lyon combined to pitch a perfect 3.1 innings, leaving Bobby Seay to work out some kinks in the 9th. Sadly he did not as he gave up a home run to Gabe Kapler and a single to BJ Upton before giving way to Fernando Rodney. Fernando fought through the rain to record the final out and preserve the win for the Tigers

The return of Nate Robertson occurs in front of a National (well 1/3 of the nation) audience. I will have to miss out on the game for 2 reasons. First, since there is an NL East team playing that is what will be on my local broadcast. Secondly, and most importantly, my wife and I will be celebrating our First Anniversary. The pennant race will be taking a back seat for the rest of the weekend. I would appreciate breaking the 10 games above .500 bubble a great present.

Tigers 6 Rays 2
W: Porcello (11-9)
L: Garza (7-9)

Tigers Record
W - L
68 - 59
1st Place AL Central (4.5 games ahead of Minnesota)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

West Coast Trip

I'm might be able to stay up and watch the games with the 10 pm start times. But after 8 hours of sleep, the details of the game are a little fuzzy. Especially when you add to that I had a weird dream (nightmare actually) that the Tigers blew a 14 run lead in extra innings. I had to scramble to the computer to confirm the Tigers did win last night. Stupid brain trying to trick me. Although Ryan Raburn hitting two home runs in a game is still a little hard to belive as well. My point is blogging will be sparse (well more sparse than usual) until the Tigers return to the Eastern Time zone

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Games 119 & 120

Game 119

When your offense struggles against Felix Hernandez it isn't fun to watch, but at least it's understandable. When your offense struggles against Ian Snell it is even less fun to watch, and it's inexcusable. One bad inning from Justin Verlander, and the game was over.

Tigers 1 Mariners 3
W: Snell (3-9)
L: Verlander (13-7)
S: Aardsma (28)

Game 120

It started out same old story, just a different day. Bottom of the 4th, Tigers down 4, and they only had one hit at this point. But Ryan Raburn lead the inning off with a solo home run, and Brandon Inge added one of his own two batters later. The Tigers had a bit of life as they cut the lead in half. Unfortunatly the Mariners answered back with two solo shots of their own in the 6th inning and the lead was back to four.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers had Seattle starter Ben Howland-Smith on the ropes. A double and two walks had the bases loaded. Then the rains came. How would the Tigers respond to the delay and a solid bullpen? An RBI groundout from Aubrey Huff, and a 2 RBI single from St. Avila and the Tigers were within one.

While Jarrod Washburn struggled, the bullpen was stellar. Two perfect innings from Zach Miner, and one thrown in from Bobby Seay gave the Tiger bats a chance to win it. They came close in the 8th, with runners on first and second with one out. Unfortunately lightning could not strike twice for Avila, as he lined out. Placido Polanco followed that with a weak popout to end the inning. In came David Aardsma, fifth in the AL in saves. In to face him was the pinch hitter Carlos Guillen. Carlos did what he does best, battled his way through the entire at bat. Seven pitches and he was at first with a walk. Ryan Raburn tried to bunt him to second, but ended up popping out the catcher. Miguel Cabrera did the job and then some with a double down the line. The Mariners walked Magglio to set-up the double play. Brandon Inge did not oblige. He hit it deep enough to score Guillen on a sac fly (aided by a poor catch by Johjima at the plate). That misplay put the winning run 90 feet away for Clete Thomas. Clete had a Gullien-esque at bat fouling off pitches and fighting to a full count after falling behind 1-2. The 8th pitch (Aardsma's 27th) was in a place Rod Allen calls "The Happy Zone". Clete lined it past Russell Branyan for a base hit, giving the Tigers the win.

So crappy middle game aside, it's a series win for the Tigers. A series win with two comebacks against one of the better bullpens in the Majors. Now to a West Coast swing, and insomnia for Tigers fans for the next 6 games. Maybe they'll remember to put the bats on the plane this time.

Tigers 7 Mariners 6
W: Seay (4-2)
L: Aardsma (3-5)

Tigers Record
W - L
64 - 56

1st Place AL Central (2.5 games ahead of Chicago)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Game 118

Once again the Tigers had themselves in a pitching duel, with Kid Rick Porcello facing off against King Felix Hernandez. Hernandez allowed one run on five hits, while striking out 9. At least this time a struggling offense was due to a top flight pitcher, not someone of Carl Pavano's caliber

Porcello gave up a lead off hit to Ichiro, then promptly retired the next 13 in order. Not to be outshines by King Felix, 7 of those were strikeouts. He ran into some trouble in the 6th, and left the game with the bases loaded. In came the other rookie in the rotation, and ended the inning with a harmless fly out after 2 pitches. He went on to pitch another inning before being pulled after a lead off single in the 8th. In came Bobby Seay, and it was not pretty. Seay gave up two runs (one was credited to Perry) and here we go again...

St. Avila will have none of that. He led off the 8th with a solo shot that landed in the Seattle bullpen. Ramon Santiago, pinch hitting for Adam Everett, followed that with a single. After Curtis Granderson fouled out, Placido Polanco reached on a ball that might have been the inning ending double play. Might have being the key phrase, it wasn't due to an error by the shortstop. Add a Carlos Guillen walk later, the bases were full for Miguel Cabrera. Line drive, Tigers have the lead.

Fernando Rodney did his thing, but finally struck out Jose Lopez on the 12th pitch of the at bat, with the tying run on second base. And thanks to a little help from the Royals, the lead in the Central grows.

Tigers 5 Mariners 3
W: Seay (3-2)
L: Lowe (1-6)
S: Rodney (25)

Tigers Record
W - L
63 - 55
1st Place AL Central (3 games ahead of Chicago)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Game 115

Jason Karnuth has been avenged. Brandon Inge's walk-off home run, at a reasonable hour none the less, off Ramon Colon gave the Tigers the 1-0 victory. But the real story of the game was the pitching duel between Zach Grienke and Jarrod Washburn.

The Jarrod Washburn the Tigers traded for finally arrived on the mound today. He had a no hitter going into the 5th inning until some idiot jinxed him. Washburn had his best start since, well since he pitched against the Tigers on the 23rd of July. He pitched 8 innings for the 3rd time this year. All three of those starts he did not allow a run.

Zack Greinke was just as good, if not better than Washburn. He pitched his best game since facing the Rangers on the 24th of July. He struck out 7 and only allowed 3 hits in 7 innings pitched. But he could only make it into the 7th inning, and the game was turned over to the bullpens. Brandon Lyon was perfect, Ramon Colon was not.

By the there anybody pitching better than Brandon Lyon since June 1st? Since the month of May ended Lyon has pitched 34 innings. In those innings he has 28 K's, with only 3 runs allowed on 16 hits and 10 walks. His ERA has shrunk from 6.43 to 2.95. He picked up his 5 win in the time frame due to his perfect 9th inning.

JV stellar start, JarWash stellar start. Mr. Edwin Jackson, you're next.

Tigers 1 Royals 0

W: Lyon (6-4)
L: Colon (1-2)

Tigers Record
W - L
61 - 54
1st Place AL Central (3 games ahead of Chicago)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

4 Days in Boston

It started with a gut punch, turned into a brawl, devolved into a butt kicking, and ended with a statement. 3 losses and yet the Tigers still sit 2.5 games ahead in first place heading into a 6 game home stand.

It was a series with a bunch of what ifs. What if Zach Miner pitched like he did yesterday on Monday. What if Kevin Youkilis didn't charge the mound, or for that matter Brian O'Nora issues a warning on the pitch inside to Victor Martinez. What if the Tigers didn't leave men on base on Monday. What if Jim Leyland pinch hit for Adam Everett. What if Armando Galarraga took some Robitussin Tuesday night. 3 losses, but 2 of those showed moments where the Tigers played like a team that could contend in October.

We did learn something else, Justin Verlander must be an illegitimate son of Jack Morris sans moustache. 8 innings of "here it is, you are not hitting it" dominance. 8 strikeouts, one walk and four hits. 123 pitches total. The last 2 hit triple digits. Once again, when the Tigers needed a win, needed a starter to go deep, needed an emotional boost, Justin Verlander delivered. There's not a pitcher in the majors that I would rather have pitching for my team come playoff time.

1 of 4 in Boston. Not good, but luckily for the Tigers their division foes were more that happy to stay put, as they both lost their series as well. In comes Kansas City, and let's hope they behave like the Royals of May and June of 09, not the Royals of September of 06.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Game 111

A reeling Boston team desperate not to drop their 7th game in a row, and the game being televised on ESPN this game had tough luck for the Tigers written all over it.

Edwin Jackson was never really on, and the Tigers were down early. To their credit they fought back and eventually tied it in the 7th inning. Only to give the lead away in the bottom of the inning. A total gut punch of a game.

Tigers 5 Red Sox 6
W: Ramirez (6-3)
L: Miner (5-2)
S: Papelbon (28)

Tigers Record
W - L
59 - 52
1st Place AL Central (2.5 ahead of Chicago)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Game 110

Yesterday I was taking in a Rome Braves game, the Class A farm team for the Braves. They won, the Tigers didn't, so let's move on to today's game

The Twins took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the 4th punctuated by back to back home runs to straight away centerfield. Those deep blasts tearing up shrubbery must have awakened the dormant Tigers offense, as they stormed back in the bottom of the inning. Marcus Thames started it off with a solo shot to lead it off. The next three pitches were singles for Miggy, Maggs, and Guillen to load the bases. Brandon Inge added a sac fly, and Gerald Laird (possibly inspired by the new guy's offensive prowess) tied the game with a double. Ramon Santiago grounded out, but to the right side of the infield and that allowed Maggs to score and gave the Tigers the lead

One inning later Miguel Cabrera added some more runs with a 2 run homer after Placido Polanco led off the inning with one of his patented two strike hits. Miggy seems to have gotten his power stroke back, but I would argue just as important to the Tigers resurgent offense is Placido Polanco. He is on a 12 game hitting streak, hitting .396 in that time. He was 3 for 5 today with that 3rd hit being a RBI single to give the Tigers back the lead in the 8th.

Then TBS went out and jinxed save opportunity Fernando. He got Mauer and Morneau out to start the 9th. Good thing too, as Michael Cuddyer went yard for the second time today. The insurance run Clete Thomas provided in the 8th paid off. And with a big barehanded assist from Brandon Inge, Fernando Rodney was able to close out the game and the series win.

A series win from Cleveland over the White Sox and the Tigers regain a 3 game lead in the Central. Good thing too, because I do not have a good feeling about going into Fenway to face a Red Sox team that lost 6 straight. Added to that, the game is on ESPN, which has brought nothing but suckitude from the Tigers. Poor Edwin Jackson.

Tigers 8 Twins 7
W: Lyon (5-4)
L: Guerrier (5-1)
S: Rodney (23)

Tigers Record
W - L
59 - 51
1st Place AL Central (3 games ahead of Chicago)

Friday, August 07, 2009

Game 108

Alex Avila is the talk of Tigertown, after adding 4 RBI and a home run to his resume after a RBI double in his MLB debut yesterday. After a start like this, Gerald Laird would be wise to teach him the art of defense very, very, slowly to protect his own job security.

Avila's two run homer followed Miguel Cabrera's 3 run shot to open the scoring for the Tigers in the first. Hmm...the Tigers score a lot of runs and the 1-2 guys in the order go 7 for 10. Strange isn't it? I'm sure 7 of the 15 hits being those of the extra base variety helped run the score up as well. and hey another rookie pitcher that wasn't able to shut down the Tigers. Maybe the Tigers are finally figuring out pitchers under the age of 24.

And it's a good thing the score was run up, because as quick as the runs were put on the board. Tigers pitchers seemed determined to give them right back. Armando Galarraga led the way allowing 4 runs on 8 hits and 5 walks. All of the damage was in the first two innings, partly due to the 4 free passes issued by Armando. Ryan Perry was hit or miss almost literally. he gave up 2 runs on 4 hits, and struck out 3 in 2 innings of work. Brandon Lyon's redemption song added another chorus as he pitched a perfect 1-2-3 8th. Then non-save Fernando happened. Happened all over the place. When all was said and done the Tigers held on to win it. Todd Jones used to say something to the effect of "If you don't the way I do things, get up go make a sandwich, when you come back it will be done one way or the other" regarding his "relief" appearances. Someone needs to translate that to Spanish for Fernando to repeat.

Oh yeah, thank you Cleveland for sticking to other teams in the Central, and helping the Tigers expand their lead. Let's hope Carl Pavano left his magic against the Tigers by Lake Erie.

Tigers 10 Twins 8
W: Galarraga (6-10)
L: Swarzak (3-5)

Tigers Record
W - L
58 - 50
1st Place AL Central (3 games ahead of Chicago)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Agreement Reached

Sunday I set forth a list of demands for this Tiger team to accomplish by today. Let's see how they did:

4 Runs a game - 5, 2, 4, and 7 for and average of 4.5. Well done offense.

3 Extra Base hits a game - 14 total for the series. Cabrera who I called out hit .400 with 3 extra base hits and 4 RBI.

JV complete game - almost, and since Edwin Jackson pitched into the 9th yesterday, I'm going to give it to them

No runs surrendered by the pen - The pen gave up 3 in nine innings, but when it counted they were perfect, so I'll give this one to them as well

Granderson to drive in some runs - I singled out Granderson, but my point was get some 2 out RBI. I think 12 2 out RBI in the series will work

Win 3 games - Locked it up this afternoon.

Whether it was the home cooking or three rookie starting pitchers against them on the mound, the Tigers acted like a first place team. The lead in the Central stays the same, and Minnesota comes into town this weekend. Keep it going Tigers, I want to keep watching

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Strike Update

After a good first day of negotiations Monday, talks fell apart last night.

Spirits were high Monday as The Tigers had come close to fulfilling all requirements, but Tuesday had them pulling everything they had put forth Monday off the table. Both sides now sit at exactly the same point they were when the strike began late Sunday.

The Tigers are pulling out all the stops, reshuffling staff, and doing what the can to end this by Thursday. Today's talks figure to be key, as if they are not a step forward, the strike could continue into September.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Weekend In Cleveland

That's it. Only one win against the team that traded away it's best hitter and pitcher, and it took 12 innings to get that win. I refuse to watch a team with only 3 series wins in its last 11. A team that turns Carl Pavano into Cy Young. So I am on strike due to unfair watching conditions.

You have another last place team coming in for 4 games here are my list of demands:

- At least 4 runs in every game. Baltimore's team ERA is 4.88. This should happen

- 3 extra base hits a game as a team. I'm looking at you Singuel Cabrera.

- A Justin Verlander complete game. This is more to help my next demand happen.

- No runs given up by the bullpen. JV's going the distance tomorrow, you will be rested. No excuses for sucking

- Curtis Granderson to not strike out when runners are on base. If he does the next community service he does should be in a batting cage

- Win 3 of 4 games. You call yourself a first place, act like it. Beat up on a last place team

Until my demands are met I refuse to be subjected to below average baseball from the Detroit Tigers.