The Game 5 Non Sequiturs

Here we are, a couple of hours from the most nerve-wracking Tigers game since Game 163 and the club’s first winner-take-all game since the 1972 ALCS, as Lee Panas pointed out after Game 4. Let’s see what happens. (Not unlike to my approach to this post.)

Jim Leyland this afternoon explained why we’ll see Max Scherzer and not Justin Verlander should the Tigers need a long-man:

“I don’t think it’s a wise decision. Like I said, those innings he pitched the other night, all the innings he’s piled up this year, all the strikeouts, all the adrenaline, and the fact that he’s throwing 100 miles an hour in the eighth inning [on Monday night], if he comes in this game tonight, there’s no telling what he would be throwing with the way this crowd is going to be and everything. I just don’t think it makes sense.”

Tonight’s game marks the seventh time in the Tigers post-season history they’ve had a series go the maximum number of games. Detroit has compiled a 2-4 record in the previous six series.

  • Wins: Game 7 of the 1945 and 1968 World Series
  • Losses: Game 7 of the 1909, 1934 and 1940 World Series; Game 5 of the 1972 ALCS

Jerry Crasnick focuses on Doug Fister and Delmon Young in this story. Here’s one scout’s view on Fister:

“The gun doesn’t tell the story on him,” the scout said. “He’s a movement guy with good location, and velocity doesn’t matter that much. He’s so tall [6-foot-8] and he’s straight over the top, so he gets great ‘down’ plane. When he’s down in the zone, it’s like hitting a bowling ball.”

By the by, Fister surrendered five home runs over his final 19 outings of the season dating back to June 14, a stretch of 129 innings pitched. He allowed 0.46 home runs per nine innings this season, lowest in the American League.

On this date in 1945, a goat and its owner make an appearance at Wrigley Field for Game 4 of the World Series between the Tigers and Cubs. The pair is told to leave before the game ends, angering the owner (and presumably the goat). The Cubs lost to the Tigers, 4-1. The Tigers go on to win the Series in seven and the Cubs won’t win another National League championship for the rest of the 20th century. And thus was born the Curse of the Billy Goat.

Young’s two home runs during this ALDS matches a Tigers record. Both Curtis Granderson and Craig Monroe hit two home runs for Detroit during the ALDS in 2006.

That’s all I’ve got. Except for this: Tigers 5 Yankees 2.

Enjoy the game.

It’s Not Just You: The Tigers Don’t Deliver with Bases Loaded

In the first inning of Tuesday night’s ALDS Game 4, Yankees starter A.J. Burnett was on the ropes. He’d walked the bases loaded and with two out Don Kelly ripped what appeared to be a liner over Curtis Granderson’s head in centerfield. (Lord knows we still love Grandy in Detroit, but his reaction to that ball might’ve been one of the reasons the Tigers were willing to deal him in 2009.)

Unfortunately for Kelly and the Tigers, Granderson recovered and made a leaping grab that definitely saved the game for the Yankees and perhaps the series.

It was the second game in a row the Tigers had loaded the bases in the early innings with a chance to blow the game wide open. At least in Game 3 Miguel Cabrera plated a run when he grounded into a double play.

How many times this season have we seen the Tigers load the bases only to come away empty handed?

For the past six months I asked that question only rhetorically. Thanks to some horrific relief work in the eighth, I had time (and good reason to) visit’s Play Index to get the definitive answer.

Continue reading “It’s Not Just You: The Tigers Don’t Deliver with Bases Loaded”

Today’s Tiger: Jason Thompson

Jason Thompson

  • Born: July 6, 1954 in Hollywood, Calif.
  • Bats: Left Throws: Left
  • Height: 6′ 4″ Weight: 200 lb.
  • Acquired: Drafted by the Tigers in the fourth round of the 1975 amateur draft.
  • Seasons in Detroit: 5 (1976-80)
  • Uniform Number: 30
  • Stats: .256 avg., 98 HR, 354 RBI, .779 OPS
  • Awards: Three-time All Star (1977, ’78 and ’82)

On May 27, 1980, Tigers GM Jim Campbell traded my favorite player, first baseman Jason Thompson, to the California Angels for outfielder Al Cowens.

The Hollywood native joined the Tigers full time in 1976 and played 123 games that year, hitting .218, with 17 home runs and 54 RBI. Two of the homers cleared the rightfield roof at Tiger Stadium. It was in 1977, though, that he made his mark: .270, 31 homers and 105 RBI — and earned an All Star Game selection.

Continue reading “Today’s Tiger: Jason Thompson”

Tuesday Night Therapy Session: Game 163 A Week Later

therapist.jpgIf someone with a stopwatch had timed my lightning-quick zap of the TV last Tuesday evening after Game 163, my guess is that the stopwatch would’ve read less than three seconds.

I couldn’t watch the Twins celebrate, again, on their turf. (Still can’t.)

Think about it: the last time the Tigers were a division champion, they (and we) had to watch Dan Gladden and the suddenly despicable Twins celebrate on Tiger Stadium’s infield.

And the time the last two times the Tigers got close (2006 and ’09), we had to watch Joe Nathan and Co. dance a jig on the Metrodome concrete.

Sickening, really. This time I showed a rare combination of maturity and resignation all at once. Sort of.

So anyway, after a week of stewing and fretting, devouring three servings of sour grapes, followed by a weekend of Schadenfreude, I’m almost ready to move on. More or less.

Three things are still rattling around in my head a week later:

Continue reading “Tuesday Night Therapy Session: Game 163 A Week Later”

Game 162: Vintage Verlander

ESPN highlights available here.

The Score: Tigers 5 – White Sox 3

The Gist: You couldn’t ask for more than Justin Verlander delivered on Sunday afternoon in the Tigers’ home finale of the as-yet-undecided 2009 season. Ryan Raburn went yard twice and the resurrected Magglio Ordonez went 4 for 4 to power most of the offense. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Tigers game without a wasted inning with a starter, this time John Danks, on the ropes. A win is a win, though this win would’ve been better on, say, Thursday.

The Quote: “I wasn’t sure right away I was going to get there.” Curtis Granderson, referring to either his diving catch in the eighth which saved the game from looming disaster OR the Tuesday playoff game in Minnesota.

The Stat: 12 and 13 – The Tigers’ record this year on Tuesdays

Magic Digit: 1

Up Next: Tigers @ Twins – Tuesday, 5 p.m. ET on TBS

Rick Porcello (14-9. 4.04 ERA) vs. Scott Baker (15-9, 4.36)

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2009 Player Profile: Placido Polanco

Placido Polanco #14

  • Height: 5′ 10″ | Weight: 195
  • 2008 Stats: .307 – 8 HR – 58 RBI

PolancoHead.jpgLike most of his teammates, Placido Polanco struggled at the outset of the 2008 season. The usually fast-starting second baseman – he has a .307 average for April spanning 2006-08 – was expected to pickup the slack at the top of the order left by the injured Curtis Granderson. But as the weather warmed, so did Polanco finding the stroke that delivered a .341 average in 2007. He hit .330 in May and a torrid .386 in June.

Widely considered one of the toughest outs in baseball, Polanco confounds pitchers with his knack for hitting the ball virtually anywhere it’s pitched. Even on pitches down and away, Polanco hit a solid .286 in ’08.

This year Tigers fans can expect from Polanco what they’ve enjoyed since he came to Detroit in 2005: consistent, durable performance in the field and at the plate. But with a strong crop of middle infield prospects in the minors, 2009 could be his final season in Detroit. Though, I for one am hoping it’s not.

2009 Player Profile: Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson #28

  • Height: 6′ 1″ | Weight: 185
  • 2008 Stats: .280 – 22 HR – 66 RBI

If anyone doubted Curtis Granderson’s value atop the Tigers lineup, the first few weeks of 2008 likely convinced them. GrandersonHead.jpgWithout their leadoff hitter – Granderson suffered a broken finger at the end of Spring Training – the Tigers’ offense sputtered and, in case you’d forgotten, the team started the season 0-7.

When Granderson returned to the team, he started strong, hitting .375 in April before a May slump brought his average down. In June, though, he hit .364 followed by a .324 month of July.

One area in which the Tigers wanted to see improvement from their centerfielder was in the number of strikeouts, and since 2006, Granderson has made a dramatic turnaround, slashing his strikeouts from 174 in ’06 to 111 last season. What’s more, in 2008 he boosted his success against lefties by nearly 100 points from 2007’s dreary .160 average.

Entering his fifth major-league season, he continues to show power to all fields with a stroke that has few holes. The bottom line: As Granderson goes, so goes the Tigers’ lineup. Expect that trend to continue this season.