Tigers Today: June 20, 2010

Tigers’ Record:

37-30, 2nd place; 1.5 GB Minnesota

Today’s Game

Tigers vs. Diamondbacks | 1:05 p.m. ET – Comerica Park | On the air: FSD/AM 1270 and 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Max Scherzer (3-6, 6.14 ERA) vs. RHP Ian Kennedy (3-4, 3.57 ERA)

Yesterday’s Results

Diamondbacks 6 – Tigers 5 | Fungo Recap

Tigers History Lesson

Today’s Birthdays

On this Date in Tigers History

  • 1994 — In a 7-1 loss to the Indians, the Tigers’ string of 25 straight games of hitting a home run ends. The streak tied the major-league record set by the 1941 Yankees.
  • 1980 — White Sox reliever Ed Farmer swears he will take criminal action against Detroit’s Al Cowens following an on-field brawl at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.Cowens hit a grounder to short, and then charged the mound instead of running to first. He wanted to deliver justice for an incident a year earlier when a Farmer pitch shattered Cowens’ jaw.

    American League President Lee MacPhail suspends Cowens for seven games. The Tigers win 5-3 in 11 innings. (Read more on Cowens in this Fungo Flashback.)

  • 1961Al Kaline plays third base for the first time in his career. His two hits and two RBIs lead the Tigers to a 5-4 win over the Senators. Kaline will return to the outfield and play third just once more in his career, in 1965.
  • 1914 — The Tigers lose the services of Ty Cobb when he breaks his thumb in a fight with a butcher’s clerk. Cobb will be out until August 13.
  • 1911Ty Cobb breaks the American League hitting streak record with an infield single against Cleveland’s Willie Mitchell. It is Cobb’s 30th straight game with a hit. He adds two stolen bases to help the Tigers win, 8-3.

Surgery for Miner; Brad Thomas Safer Than Ever

BallTherapy.jpgIn the back of our minds we expected, then we hoped, to see Zach Miner pitch for the Tigers in April, then May, then…

Well, we’re not going to see Miner at all this season, and who knows if we’ll see him again in Tigers uniform. The club announced today that the right hander will have season-ending — wait for it — ligament reconstruction surgery — a.k.a. Tommy John surgery — on Friday in Los Angeles.

Miner, a valuable if not altogether aggressive part of the Tigers bullpen the past few seasons, is not signed after this year and may not return. As Lynn Henning notes:

[A]lthough he will remain Tigers property until he comes off the disabled list, at which point his roster situation will be determined.

With Miner lost, it looks like Brad Thomas can breathe a tad easier — again. Now if word comes that Bobby Seay (left shoulder strain) is officially through for the year, Thomas can stop going month-to-month on that condo lease.

The DTP #99: One Week to Go

DetroitTigersPodcastAlbum.jpgWelcome to The Detroit Tigers Podcast. This is Episode #99 a 68-minute podcast about the Detroit Tigers recorded live from Scottsdale, Ariz., and Ann Arbor, Mich.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Is Nate Robertson on the trading block?
  • Bobby Seay‘s torn rotator cuff
  • The Tigers’ batting order
  • Last man on the roster: Don Kelly, Jeff Larish or Clete Thomas?
  • The Sporting News pre-season predictions
  • Did anti-Semitism cost Hank Greenberg a shot at 60 homers in 1938?

…and much more.

Continue reading “The DTP #99: One Week to Go”

Tigers Eyeing Free-Agent Lefty Beimel

So says Jon Paul Morosi by way of Jason Beck:

Beimel, 31, went 5-1 with a 2.02 ERA in 71 appearances with the Los Angeles Dodgers this year. Left-handers batted .278 against him but had only three extra-base hits, all doubles. Beimel has allowed only one home run over the past two seasons.

If the Tigers sign a lefty, Beimel or whomever, I wonder if it means Bobby Seay or Clay Rapada are shown the door. Would Jim Leyland keep three lefties – not counting wild card Macay McBride – in the bully?

Catching Up on a Week of News

Catcher.jpgEvery time I sat down to write about a bit of Tigers news in the past five days, another shoe would drop and I’d think “I’ll write about both of those items.” Then another and another, etc.

So, as I wait out this Tigers/White Sox rain delay from bright, sunny Phoenix, it’s time to weigh in on:

  • Todd Jones’s Retirement. The decades-old joke in Detroit is that the most popular person in the city is the Lions’ backup QB and/or the Red Wings’ backup netminder. I think we can now add the Tigers’ setup man to that punch line. Detroit is unusually cruel to its closers. Less than a year after Willie Hernandez won the 1984 Cy Young and MVP awards, he started getting booed and it’s never stopped. Mike Henneman did too, but to a much smaller degree. The Tigers were so unwatchable during Todd Jones‘s first tour of duty in Detroit, that often he was the only bright spot. Come to think of it, he was a welcome sight then because it mean the Tigers were in line for a rare win.

    But what was it about Jones in his second stint as a Tiger? What made it so infuriating? Sure, he got 93 saves in just under three seasons but his ERA was always around four and … ah, what’s the use? Jones is a good guy and I’m sure he’ll be missed by his teammates. I guess. For me, though, I’ll never be able to forgive him for not being Joe Nathan.

    Continue reading “Catching Up on a Week of News”

Friday Fungoes

thermometer.jpgWelcome to August! In the Phoenix area we ring in the month with 113 degrees…but a mere 20 percent humidity. The poor Tigers head to Tampa where the temperature and humidity are 86. God bless Willis Carrier.

  • So how did July end up for the Tigers? Even. As in 13-13. Here are some other tidbits that helped shape a so-so month in this so-so season:
    • Losses to the Twins on July 1 and the Indians on July 31 bookend the month.
    • Top hitter: Magglio Ordonez: .386; however he played in only 15 games. We’ll expand this to the two players that played in the most games last month: Curtis Granderson (26 games) .324, and Miguel Cabrera (25 games) .330.
    • Most hits: Granderson, 36; Cabrera, 25
    • Most homers: Cabrera, 8.
    • Top pitcher, wins: Justin Verlander, 4
    • ERA, starter: Zach Miner, 1.29
    • ERA, reliever: Bobby Seay, 0.79
    • Saves: Todd Jones, 3.

  • The good news heading into a new month is that the Tigers are just 5.5 games out of first place with two months to play. The bad news? The Tigers are just 5.5 games out of fourth place. Savor that for a moment, won’t you?

  • According to the results of The Daily Fungo Pulse Check unscientific poll, 57 percent of Fungo readers said they expected the Tigers to be buyers at the trade deadline, 43 percent thought the Tigers would sell. Interestingly, I noticed a mini-surge in “sellers” votes after the Pudge deal was announced. Be sure to cast your vote in this week’s new poll.

  • The big media outlets released power rankings for this week. The Tigers certainly have the look of a middling team according to:

  • Does anyone else feel like it’s Sept. 20 and not Aug. 1? This season is exhausting.

Finally, on Aug. 1, 1974, at Milwaukee’s County Stadium, Ron LeFlore made his major-league debut for the Tigers. Ralph Houk put him in the leadoff spot against the Brewers’ Jim Slaton and LeFlore struck out thrice. It wasn’t until his fourth at bat that he put a ball in play: a grounder to third baseman Don Money for the first out of the eighth.

The Tigers won the game 2-0 behind a masterful performance by Woodie Fryman: a complete-game one-hitter. Woodrow struck out 10 and walked three. Norm Cash drove in both runs with a solo homer and an RBI single.

Wondering who caught Fryman’s gem? Gene Lamont.

Have a great weekend.

Game 96: Six Straight Curveballs

ScorecardXSmall.jpg

The Score: Orioles 7 – Tigers 4

The Gist: Armando Galarraga gave up two, two-strike home runs and Bobby Seay refused to throw anything but a breaking ball to Luke Scott and the Tigers fell back to the .500 mark. The Tigers weren’t suffering from a lack of baserunners. In fact, they had bases loaded with one out in the third, among other stranded-runner situations. Speaking of stranded runners, Placido Polanco had five; Magglio Ordonez six. On the plus side, Pudge Rodriguez went 4 for 4 with a two-runner homer. Did we mention Bobby Seay? Oh, Bobby…

The Quote: “What do I have to do to get called up?!” — What I imagine lefty Clay Rapada says every time Seay has an outing like Friday’s.

The Stat: 0. The number of walks allowed by Galarraga. Darned impressive for someone on a staff full of generous pitchers.

Up Next: Tigers @ Orioles

Nate Robertson (6-9, 5.26) vs. Daniel Cabrera (6-5, 4.33)

Game 91: Two Words: White. Flag.

WhiteFlag.jpgI’m breaking from the usual game recap format tonight to reluctantly raise a white flag on the 2008 season.

In fact, indulge me while I use a line from my favorite movie, “Midnight Run“, in which Robert DeNiro tells Charles Grodin:

“You’re in this mess because you’re in this mess. I didn’t put you in this mess.”

There are countless reasons why the Tigers are in this mess. The poor start. The inconsistent hitting. The Little-League caliber defense. You know the rest. But I think one of the main reasons the Tigers are in a mess for the rest of the season is the closer role.

Easy target? Yep. Todd Jones is actually too easy a target, I’ll admit it. But in tonight’s loss to the Twins, you could feel the difference between the two teams as the game wore on. The difference, of course, is the Twins closer, Joe Nathan. The guy simply doesn’t blow saves.

Okay, he’s blown two this season (the same number as Jones. Ahem). But against Detroit in his career Nathan’s a perfect 24-for-24. Opponents know that he’s lurking out there waiting to come in, usually in the ninth inning, to close out the game, often in 1-2-3 fashion.

Let’s face it, the Tigers bullpen, outside of setup man Joel Zumaya, maybe, scares no one. These days, opponents are practically giddy when “Bobby Seay, Bobby Don’t” or Fernando Rodney enter a game.

If — a monumental if — the Tigers somehow hang around to make late noise in the division there will be tight games left and right, and the margin for error, particularly in the standings, will be just about zero.

How confident are you that Todd Jones can save important games down the stretch?

Same here. Discuss.

Game 13: Everybody Hits, Everybody Hits, Everybody Hits Right Now

ScorecardXSmall.jpg
ESPN highlights available here.

The Gist: The Tigers scratched back twice against the Twins bullpen — and twice ignited by the slumping Gary Sheffield — to win for the first time at Comerica Park in 2008, 11-9. (In a span of three at bats, Sheff went from being greeted with boos to hearing his name chanted. Nice.)

The star of the game, though, was Pudge Rodriguez. He went 2-for-4 with a triple and a home run and scored two runs, including the eventual game-winner.

Jeremy Bonderman continues to frustrate The Fungo with his lack of reliability. After the Tigers inched closer in the bottom of the sixth, he let the Twins extend the lead (with some help from Bobby Seay, of course). Nevertheless, a win is a win.

The Quote: From Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan writing about Jim Leyland:

“That’s what I love about my skip, man,” Tigers DH Gary Sheffield said before Sunday’s game. “He’ll tell you that you suck. That’s what I appreciate him for. I know I suck. We know we suck.”

The Stat: 6. The minimum number of runs given up by Detroit starters over the past three games. Justin Verlander gave up six (all earned) on Saturday, Kenny Rogers yielded seven (all earned) on Sunday, and Bonderman allowed seven (four earned) on Monday night.

I’m Just Sayin’: I’m listening to an audiobook titled “The 4-Hour Workweek.” Along the way, author Timothy Ferriss says that if you want to maximize your time, you’ve got to minimize the stuff you shouldn’t be doing. He calls it “permission to quit” or something: If the book is bad, stop reading. If the movie is bad, walk out. Bad meal? Quit eating. And so on.

Tonight I almost — almost — put that idea into practice in the top of the seventh inning. So frustrated was I about the Twins padding the lead (and the Wings letting theirs slip at the same time), I was ready to watch the end of the CMT Music Awards with my daughter.

Luckily, cooler heads prevailed.

A great win. And for the third time this year, Tigers fans wonder if a two-game winning streak is in the offing.

Up Next: Tuesday at Comerica Park: Nate Robertson (0-1, 7.84 ERA) vs. Scott Baker (2-0, 4.63 ERA)

Emptying Out the Mental Notebook

There have been lots of thoughts percolating around my head lately. Now that I’ve cleared my driveway of snow for the third time today, it’s time to get those thoughts out to the masses.

Brandon Inge
If you recall prior to the 2004 season Mr. Inge acted like a petulant little child when the Tigers signed Pudge Rodriguez. He whined and complained about how the catching job was his and he wasn’t giving it up without a fight. Of course he turned into a super-sub of sorts (playing 139 games, logging 400+ ABs at five different positions) and eventually won the starting third base job.

Fast forward four seasons and Mr. Inge no longer wants to be a catcher; he fancies himself a third baseman apparently. Though not as loudly, he appears to be lobbying to move out of town now that Miguel Cabrera appears to be the Tigers’ new third baseman. I don’t believe for a minute the Tigers can trade him and the $18 million left on his contract and receive anything close to good value. With that said, I suggest Brandon close his yap, buy a few extra gloves, learn how to scoop balls at first, play all three outfield positions, and get comfortable in the tools of ignorance again. Return to the role of super utilityman for this season. Milwaukee Brewer Bill Hall logged over 500 ABs in a similar role in 2005, playing three different positions. If Inge can play 3B, 1B, OF, and even a bit of C, I would expect enough at bats will come his way to keep him happy.

The goal, or promise to Inge, is that he becomes your full-time catcher effective 2009. He’ll have this year to study the pitching staff, pick Pudge and Vance Wilson‘s brains, and relearn the position. With the offense that will be surrounding him, Inge would merely have to concentrate on his fielding — any hitting would be a bonus. And if you’re really trying to do the hard sell, remind him the staff he would have to catch would include Justin Verlander, Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman, and — at some point — Rick Porcello.

Dontrelle Willis

I heard Willis’ first interview on local radio following the trade. WXYT had him on and I liked what I heard. He has a passion for the game, he has a personality, he’s energetic, and he should endear himself to the Detroit fanbase. Will he be able to pitch? The good news, I suppose, is that Detroit isn’t counting on him to be the ace. All they really need from him is 200+ serviceable innings. Ideally (with the bullpen the Tigers have) that’s what they’d like to get from all five starters — save Rogers I suppose. Chew up innings boys. The bats should get enough runs to keep this team in virtually every game.

One other item about Willis. Don’t underestimate the impact another African-American will have on the Tigers’ fan base. Willis is an inner-city kid and, like Curtis Granderson, has a personality that will make him popular. For a city that’s attempting to make a comeback, I think it’s outstanding the youngsters in town will have a couple of role models on the home team to look up to.

By the way, has anyone else noticed an entire Hispanic infield? Non hablas Espanol?

The Mitchell Report

Nothing surprises me (nor should it), but I’d like to launch a conspiracy theory on Roger Clemens. I wonder if his decision to stall his comeback each of the past couple of seasons was due merely to making sure he had it in him or rather he had it in him? I’m certainly no expert on performance enhancing drugs, but doesn’t it suddenly seem plausible that The Rocket was taking a late-winter cycle of PED’s before deciding to come back? Are unsigned free agents subjected to the testing? If not, it wouldn’t surprise me if Clemens got his body finely tuned and then gave his body time to flush the evidence before signing. So much for all those stories of his legendary workouts that I always admired as a younger man.

Mitchell Report Part II

Nook Logan? Mark Carreon? Alex Sanchez? This is our Detroit connection? No wonder our home team stunk during the Steroid Era!

Clearly Carreon wasn’t on the juice when he was a Tiger. He hit a career-low .232 that year.As for Sanchez — the first to be busted — it’s a good thing he was on the stuff, otherwise half of those swinging bunt singles he had would’ve rolled foul at the plate, right?

And Nook? Well, I got nothing for Nook.

Bullpen

If the starters can get into the seventh inning I don’t feel too bad about things. It’s that middle/long relief that gives me the Guillermos. I know Zach Miner will be serviceable and I shouldn’t fret about Jason Grilli, but neither instill a lot of confidence — especially if they get thrown into roles they’re not comfortable in.

I actually feel pretty good about the two situational lefties they’ll enter camp with: Tim Byrdak and Bobby Seay. Seay was especially effective the last half of the season when used correctly. Speaking of using folks correctly, Memo to Jim Leyland: Todd Jones can only pitch one inning this year and it should be at the start of the inning, not mid-inning with runners on base.

I’m not expecting Joel Zumaya to contribute anything this year.