The Friday Fungoes: White Sox, Geno’s First Homer, and Jimmy Connors

It’s Friday. It’s Labor Day Weekend. It’s the White Sox and Tigers at Comerica Park. What’s not to like? Besides the White Sox, of course.

Leading Off: The Royals continued their irritating ways yesterday, out-slugging the Tigers 11-8, to earn a split of the four-game series. Let’s face it, Kansas City could’ve very easily swept this series and probably should have. Overshadowed by the Royals’ plucky play was a tremendous day for Magglio Ordonez: a homer, two doubles and stole a base — his first of the year. Rookie Jacob Turner was rocked for six earned runs but thanks to the Tigers’ comebacks he avoided taking the loss. Austin Jackson hit his eighth homer of the year and is at last hitting above .250.

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The Tigers are in first place, 5.5 games ahead of the White Sox and Indians.

Today’s Game: Tigers vs. White Sox – Justin Verlander (20-5, 2.38 ERA) vs. John Danks (6-9, 3.63 ERA) | 7:05 p.m. – FSD/1270 AM and 97.1 FM

Tigers Lineup

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  3. Delmon Young, LF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Ramon Santiago, 2B
  9. Brandon Inge, 3B

White Sox Lineup

  1. Juan Pierre, LF
  2. Alexei Ramirez, SS
  3. Paul Konerko, 1B
  4. A.J. Pierzynski, DH
  5. Dayan Viciedo, RF
  6. Alejandro de Aza, CF
  7. Tyler Flowers, C
  8. Brent Morel, 3B
  9. Gordon Beckham, 2B

Notes on Verlander

  • He’s 11-1 with a 2.62 ERA in his previous 12 starts against division opponents this season.
  • In four starts against the White Sox this season he’s 3-1 with a 4.03 ERA. Lifetime, he’s 10-10, 4.45 ERA in 23 starts.

Notes on Danks

  • Danks is making his 14th career start vs. the Tigers and third in 2011. He’s 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 2011 and 4-5 with a 3.95 ERA lifetime.
  • In his last three starts in Detroit, Danks is 0-3 with a 4.76 ERA  and a .329 opponents average.

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Around the Central: The A’s smoked and blanked the Indians, 7-0, to salvage a game in that series … the White Sox and Twins were off. Tonight the Indians travel to Kansas City for the first of three against the Royals, and the Twins face the Angels in Anaheim.

The Tigers enter tonight’s game having won 15 of the team’s last 21 games over the White Sox dating back to Aug. 14, 2010. They’re hitting .293 with 115 runs scored, 35 doubles, four triples and 23 home runs over the 21-game stretch versus Chicago. Tigers pitchers have compiled a 3.33 ERA during the stretch against the White Sox.

This is the first time Delmon Young will face the White Sox as a member of the Tigers. It could be good timing: he’s batting .344 with 14 doubles, nine home runs and 35 RBI in 57 games during his career against them. However, Magglio Ordonez has the best lifetime stats against tonight’s starter Danks: he’s hitting .517 (15-29) with two home runs and seven RBI lifetime.

In case you were wondering, here’s how the Tigers have fared day-by-day through the first five months and one day of the season: Monday 8-9, Tuesday 13-6, Wednesday 10-10, Thursday 9-8, Friday 11-10, Saturday 10-11, Sunday 14-8.

Happy 27th Birthday to Dusty Ryan and Happy 59th to Nate Snell.

On this date in 1970, Gene Lamont homered in his first major league at bat, but the Red Sox beat the Tigers, 10-1, in the second game of a doubleheader in Fenway Park.

On Sept. 2, 1973, the Tigers fired manager Billy Martin. In many ways, I still can’t believe the Tigers — Jim Campbell’s Tigers — ever hired him.

On this date in 1987, Tom Candiotti pitched his second one-hitter of the season, but also walks seven batters and makes an error as the Indians lose to Detroit, 2-1. Matt Nokes’ single with two out in the eighth is the Tigers’ only hit.

The American League Cy Young race isn’t over, says Tim Kurkjian, but Justin Verlander will win it.

Finally, just in time for the U.S. Open (one of my favorite sporting events of the year) we wish a Happy 59th Birthday to Tennis Hall of Famer Jimmy Connors. He won the U.S. Open singles title in 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982 and 1983.

Have a great weekend and be safe.

The Top 10 Tigers Stories of 2008

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It’s the end of the year, so that means it’s time for Top 10 Lists galore. So I thought I’d add to the list of lists with my take on the 2008 Detroit Tigers. Actually, this top-10 list — which I will reveal over the final 10 days of 2008 — is for the calendar year ’08 and, as you’ll see some are recent.

So here we go. My Top 10 Tigers stories of 2008. As always, feel free to weigh in.

#10 – Tigers trade for Gerald Laird

There are a lot of candidates for the number-10 spot on this list and few of them are what I’d call positive. So, let’s go with this one: On the eve of the Winter Meetings the Tigers acquired catcher Gerald Laird from the Rangers for minor leaguer pitchers Guillermo Moscoso and Carlos Melo.

Looking ahead to 2009, the bullpen and shortstop situations were troubling to Tigers fans, but help in these areas is more abundant than in the catching spot. In fact, most of the help at short and in the bully will be homegrown. And let’s face it, there was no way Dave Dombrowski was going to make Jim Leyland use an untested Dusty Ryan as his everyday catcher.

In addition to a solid reputation as a catch-and-throw guy, Laird is more than serviceable at the plate. Last year, Laird batted .276 for the Rangers with 24 doubles in 344 at-bats to go with six home runs and 41 RBIs. He hit .299 with a .759 OPS away from Texas.

With Laird secured, the Tigers could turn their attention to shortstop (the recently signed Adam Everett) and the bullpen…though we’re still waiting for that.

Though Pudge Rodriguez has moved on, the Tigers will, for the sixth-straight year, start a former Texas Ranger behind the dish on Opening Day.

Discuss.

Tigers Get Their Catcher

Well, the Tigers once again barely set the suitcases down in the hotel room before getting down to business. Moving quickly to fill a hole, they acquired catcher Gerald Laird for pitching prospects Guillermo Moscoso and  Carlos Melo.

Laird is a quality catcher who can hit, and he’ll give Dusty Ryan time to grow into the starting job in a couple years. All in all, a nice pick-up for the Tigers.

It did come at a price, however. Moscoso was considered a top prospect, and close to reaching the majors. The worst news is that he’s been compared to Jair Jurrjens by some.

It is good to see them addressing one of their main offseason needs so soon. Hopefully just the start of a very productive week