Friday Freehans … Saturday Edition?

BillFreehan.jpgYeah, yeah. I got started on these, then got pulled in another direction, etc., etc. Nevertheless, here are a few nuggets for your consideration to start off the weekend:

  • I continue to watch with fascination how Kirk Gibson fares as the Diamondbacks’ interim manager. In this piece from the Arizona Republic, we learn about one of the first calls Gibson received upon getting the job.

  • In case you were wondering, coming into this weekend’s series against the Indians, the Tigers’ all-time record against the Tribe is 1,048-1,015-12. Again with those ties…

  • Brandon Inge entered Friday night’s game at Cleveland with 838 games played at third base during his Tigers career, four games shy of tying Mike “Pinky” Higgins for fourth place in franchise history with 842 games played at third base. Higgins played for the Tigers for seven seasons from 1939-46, wearing number six. Over that span he batted .280 and was an All Star in 1945.

  • And here’s something I didn’t know: Alex Avila has thrown out 12 of the 29 baserunners attempting to steal this season (41.4 percent), tops among all American League catchers. And here we thought Gerald Laird was the rifleman behind the dish.

  • In the latest episode of the podcast I bring up Jake Westbrook as a possible target for the Tigers, thinking he could be the Tigers’ version of the Twins getting Carl Pavano last year. Well, I checked out Westbrook’s success against the Twins and White Sox since 2007 and it’s spotty: 1-4, 5.10 ERA against Chicago; 1-1, 3.48 against Minnesota. Still, you’d have to like the makeup of the Tigers’ rotation with him in it, wouldn’t you?

Finally, wish Phyllis Diller a happy 93rd birthday this weekend, won’t you?

Weekend Wrap: 67% Satisfaction

NotebookXSmall.jpgIt was the best we could hope for, two of three from the Twins. Would it be greedy to have hoped for a sweep on Sunday?

In theory, no.

In reality, with the seemingly unbeatable Carl Pavano on the mound, the answer is a begrudging yes.

But who would have guessed, though, that the Tigers would take the first two games of the weekend series and still slip into second place? White Sox GM Kenny Williams? Probably.

And so here we are at the All-Star Break and the Tigers are an eyelash out of first place — and with a bit of breathing room between themselves and the Twins.

All things considered, not too bad.

Friday: Tigers 7 – Twins 3

Friday night’s game was the marquee matchup, Justin Verlander versus Francisco Liriano, and Verlander was at times excellent and baffling — 103 pitches in 5-1/3 innings? Yikes — and the offense, as the 7-4 score would indicate, was paced by Magglio Ordonez, Brennan Boesch and Carlos Guillen who went a combined 7 for 11.

After the game Jim Leyland blasted holes through the Rick Porcello trade rumorette — Jon Paul Morosi speculated that Porcello’s pushed-back start could be viewed as a showcase for a trade partner. Perhaps Morosi got a little too close to the truth and the Tigers wanted to respond? I’m thinking we haven’t heard the last of this story.

Continue reading “Weekend Wrap: 67% Satisfaction”

Series Preview: Tigers @ Twins

twinsLogo.jpgThe Tigers are visiting Target Field for the second time this season and, just like on May 3, they enter play just a half-game behind the Twins. Three days later Detroit was 3.5 games back. Bygones.

Among the many differences between the Tigers of May and the Tigers of late June — an overhauled rotation, a new second baseman, a new shortstop — is that today’s Tigers also must contend with a surging White Sox club. Depending how this series and the Sox’s series against the Royals pan out, the Tigers could be in first, second or third.

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Game 157: Exhale…for Now

ESPN highlights available here.
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The Score: Tigers 6 – Twins 5

The Gist: Justin Verlander looked like a man on a mission but despite his terrific outing the Twins kept coming. And if it weren’t for Curtis Granderson’s homer in the eighth, the Tigers would’ve come to bat in the ninth inning of a tied game for the second time in 12 hours. Miguel Cabrera launched a bomb to open the scoring in the third and Magglio Ordonez had a key double to left — to left — later in the inning to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.

The View: The Tigers are fortunate to go to bed with a two-game lead. If Joe Crede were healthy and playing for the Twins, I’m not sure that would be the case. Nevertheless, savor the split.

The Quote: “I don’t have anybody better than you.”Jim Leyland to Verlander during an eighth-inning visit to the mound.

The Stat: 0 – The chances we’ll see Wilkin Ramirez on the field again this season.

Magic Number: 4

Up Next: Twins @ Tigers

Eddie Bonine (0-1, 4.60 ERA) vs. Carl Pavano (13-11, 4.86)

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August 2 in Tigers History: How the Tigers Have Celebrated My Birthday

BaseballCandlesXSmall.jpgI thought it was my birthday gift from the Indians — Carl Pavano starting? That’s gotta be a win waiting to happen, no? No. Not against this mirage of a first-place club.

Some birthday for me. Actually, yesterday was a fine day and I never let the Tigers’ performance impact my birthday mood.

Because there’s absolutely nothing positive to discuss about the Tigers’ finale against the Tribe, humor me as I walk through notable Tigers games and events that happened on Aug. 2 since the year I was born.

  • Overall, the Tigers are 20 and 15 on my birthday; in seven years they didn’t play, including during the 1981 strike.

  • The Tigers beat the Twins 6-5 at Metropolitan Stadium on the day I was born in 1968. Don McMahon got the win in relief of Joe Sparma. Bill Freehan drove in three runs while the Twins’ Rod Carew went 3 for 4, of course.

  • On Aug. 2, 1972, the Tigers purchases the contract of P Woodie Fryman from the Phillies. Two days later, they purchased C Duke Sims‘s contract from the Dodgers. Fryman, just 4-10 for Philadelphia, goes 10-3 for Detroit, while Sims hits .316 for the Tigers in 38 games.

  • In 1975, at Fenway Park the game-time temperature was 103 degrees and the Tigers wilted under the heat of Rick Wise and the Red Sox and lost 7-2.

  • In 1984, I was there when Jack Morris out dueled Bert Blyleven as the Tigers beat the Indians 2-1.

  • On Aug. 2, 1985, Frank Tanana allowed one hit, a homer by Ben Oglivie in the 5th, and struck out eight on his way to beating the Brewers, 4-1.

  • In 1990, Yankees rookie Kevin Maas hits his 10th home run in just 77 at bats, the fastest any player has ever reached that mark. Big deal. The Tigers won 6-5 in 11 innings.

Thanks for taking the trip down memory lane with me. Assuming you’re still there. Hello…?