The horror of the weekend sweep in Cleveland hasn’t completely washed away here at Daily Fungo HQ.
Saturday night’s game was so disappointing that yesterday’s seemed more like a scrimmage … A scrimmage that counts.
But a new week is here and the Tigers are at home, where they excel. Instead of focusing on this homestand’s tough opponents, let’s walk on the sunny side of the street:
Baseball Prospectus maintains its Playoff Odds Report and over the past two weeks the Tigers have taken the fifth-deepest plunge in terms of percentage: from a 33.9 percent on July 4 to 22.1 percent yesterday. As far as I’m concerned, it feels like 1 percent today. Wait, didn’t I just say something about the sunny side? Well then, let’s savor the Twins’ 17.4-percent drop in that same time period.
On Monday, Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Heyman wrote a column in which he highlights the top-20 decisions made by MLB teams in the past year. In Heyman’s view, the Tigers made two of the top decisions:
3. The Tigers’ acquisition of Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer and Phil Coke in the three-team trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks for Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson.
This was the most unpopular of moves at the time in Detroit. It’s way early to say for sure, but as of today it looks boffo, with Granderson starting slowly (.240 average) in New York and Jackson (4-6, 5.05 ERA) doing the same in Arizona. Austin Jackson is a Rookie of the Year candidate, providing Gold Glove-type defense, perhaps the most valuable piece in the deal that saved the Tigers beaucoup bucks. Scherzer has shown only flashes of greatness, and Coke is a middle reliever. But the Tigers look like they received a star, while setting themselves up to improve their offense (by getting Johnny Damon) and bullpen (Jose Valverde) with the money that was saved.
And, here’s the other:
11. The Tigers’ decision to let Magglio Ordonez’s contract vest.
They could easily have not played Ordonez to save themselves a lot of money, but they did the proper thing by fielding their best lineup, which included Ordonez, as they tried, ultimately without success, to secure a playoff spot.
His wife was going through a cancer battle last year, so Ordonez understandably underperformed. And the Tigers did the right thing by standing by him.
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.
1961 – Al 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.
1911 — Ty 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.
The Tigers went 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position, and fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-5 tonight at Comerica.
The loss ended the Tigers’ season high 7-game win streak, and snapped a 14-game road losing streak for the D’Backs. The last road win for Arizona came on May 17th in Florida.
In his return to Detroit, former Tiger Edwin Jackson was strong, pitching into the eighth inning. Jackson allowed three earned on nine hits and four strikeouts. He was very effective at mixing his pitches, throwing far less fastballs than we had grown accostumed to in the Motor City.
Although the Tigers did manage to score five times tonight, two of which can be attributed directly to errors, they were unable to find hits with runners on base. There’s no where to place blame either, as all nine hitters in the lineup contributed to the 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
One bright spot was Tiger catcher Alex Avila, who went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. The RBI came on singles in the second and sixth innings.
Oh so much to talk about on a searing Wednesday afternoon in the desert as I watch Edwin Jackson toss a masterful game only to (assuredly) endure another Diamondbacks bullpen self-immolation.
Speaking of the D-backs, the excitement is palpable in Phoenix. Dontrelle Willis will start on Saturday for the Arizona against the Rockies. Poor Dontrelle; he gets dealt to a club with an offense even worse than the one he leaves behind in Detroit. Manager A.J. Hinch may look to him to pitch well and hit for average. Plenty of tickets available at Chase Field. You first.
You have to appreciate the Photoshop skills of the folks at ESPN.com — and the speed at which they deploy them. When I posted about Billy Buckner this afternoon, the photo I used showed him in his Arizona colors. Moments later I hit refresh — presto — he’s sporting the old English D.
In case you were wondering, Carlos Guillen has played 45 innings at second base since his return from the disabled list and fielded all 22 chances without an error. He certainly looks comfortable — and smooth — at second. Would you agree?
We got only a tasting of interleague play last month and the price we pay is a heaping helping of it in June. But according to the results of last week’s Pulse Check Poll, many of you will be delighted:
What’s your feeling on Interleague Play?
Keep it. (59%, 67 Votes)
End it. (21%, 24 Votes)
Keep it, but reduce the number of games. (20%, 23 Votes)
Total Voters: 114
If you can, take a moment and click your vote in this week’s poll –>
I promise this the last Willis reference I’ll make…at least in this post. In doing the every-five-days math starting with his Saturday start against Colorado, there’s a chance that he could start against the Tigers at Comerica Park on June 20. Imagine that scenario.
Finally, remember Colby Lewis? He pitched three innings for the 2006 Tigers (0-0, 3.00 ERA) but is now major part of the Rangers’ rotation. Here’s a nice story by Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan on how Lewis resurrected his career.
The other night I saw Edwin Jackson pitch for the Diamondbacks against the Cardinals and he looked sharp (eight innings, 0 walks). I sat behind home plate and couldn’t get over how hard he threw — consistently. He still would like nice in the Tigers’ rotation, wouldn’t he?
Bygones. Here are some Tigers morsels for your consideration:
Before the 2009 season I had begged and pleaded with the Tigers to sign free-agent reliever Juan Cruz despite his Type-A free-agent status.
I’d watched him throw bullets for the Diamondbacks over a few seasons and thought he’d be a perfect fit in Detroit. Instead, they signed Brandon Lyon and Cruz signed with the Royals, handing the D-backs a prime draft choice.
[H]e labored through the 2009 season, blowing three straight saves during one stretch on his way to a 5.72 ERA. Cruz wasn’t much better this year, allowing all six inherited runners to score and a .391 batting average against in 5 1-3 innings.
Just another example of why I write this blog and don’t work in a front office.