The Daily (Continental) Breakfast: July 28, 2011

[callout title=The Rundown]

The Tigers are in first place, two games ahead of the Indians and a mere 3.5 games ahead of the White Sox.

There are three days left until the trade deadline.

Today’s game: Brad Penny (5-5, 4.61 ERA) vs. Joel Pineiro (7-7, 4.51 ERA) | 1:05 p.m. FSD/1270 & 97.1

FYI: Penny surrendered three runs in the first inning of his start on July 6 against the Angels, but he earned the win as the Tigers rallied for a 5-4 victory.

On this date in 1989 the Tigers acquired lefty Brian Dubois from the Orioles for aging infielder Keith Moreland. On July 28, 1993, Travis Fryman collected five hits and hit for the cycle in a 12-7 loss to the Yankees. And 10 years ago today, Detroit picked up port-sider Mark Redman from the Twins for reliever Todd Jones.

[/callout]Good soggy morning in The D. The Tigers grounds crew is earning its keep today getting Comerica Park ready for today’s matinee opener against the Angels.

The Leadoff: John Danks mystified a Tigers lineup cut that suddenly looked as if it was cut from the Craig Monroe cloth: see ball, swing. The predictable outcome? A 2-1 loss to the White Sox.

Around the Central: The Indians, who acquired Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs, were no-hit by the Angels’ Ervin Santana — but scratched across a run — and lost 3-1. The Royals lost 12-5 to the Red Sox and the Twins beat the Rangers, 7-2. Did anyone notice the Indians are now only two games above .500?

Penny’s Bizarro World: Penny has limited lefthanded hitters to a .244 batting average this season. Righthanded hitters are batting .322 with Penny on the mound in 2011.

Today’s Blast from the Past: Here are three former short-time Tigers for your consideration: Francisco Cruceta, Doug Flynn and Mickey Mahler.

Finally, Happy 68th Birthday to basketball hall of famer and former U.S. senator Bill Bradley.

One Of Those Nights

Livan Hernandez had command of his pitches and the Tigers on this night. Magglio Ordonez hit a long home run in the second, and the team loaded the based with nobody out in the same inning, but then Ivan Rodriguez hit a short fly ball to right on which Miguel Cabrera did not attempt to score from third base. Jacque Jones then hit into an inning ending double play. Hernandez was able to hold off all Tiger threats for the rest of his seven-inning stint.

The Twins were able to get to Armando Galarraga for four runs on six hits which was enough to hand him his first loss of the season. Galarraga also gave up a bases loaded walk with nobody out and a RBI double play ground out which accounted for two of those runs. Aquilino Lopez came on in the seventh and got the first out of the inning, but then surrendered four runs on six hits before giving way to Denny Bautista who got the Tigers out of the inning.

I thought the tough night was over, but in the eighth, the Twins were able to get three more runs off Bautista. He allowed a walk, a wild pitch, and a single to score one run which was followed by a passed ball by Brandon Inge. The Twins then got the other two runs in the inning on a double to deep right field and an infield single to first. This was followed by another infield single to first before Francisco Cruceta came on to strike out Mike Lamb to end the inning.

A lot of the Twins 16 hits in this game were legitimate, but they also got a few strategically placed balls that the Tigers just could not field. This was just a game that happens to even the very best teams on occasion.

We’ll just chalk this one up as one of those.

Sweep…Sweep…Sweep

The Tigers swept the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium for the first time since the beginning of the 1966 season when they won the opener on April 12 and swept a doubleheader on April 14. The Yankees returned the favor in the Bronx from August 26 – 28 of that year. The Tigers will never be swept again — or lose for that matter — in the regular season in this edition of Yankee Stadium.

Nate Robertson had a rough first inning by giving up three runs on a home run by Bobby Abreu. He did settle down and gave up a total of four runs on seven hits, struck out three and walked two to get his first win of the year. 

The Tiger bats did the rest as Magglio Ordonez hit a double and a single to drive in three runs. Miguel Cabrera added a couple of RBI with a triple and a home run, and Ramon Santiago hit a double and had a two-run triple.

The Tigers got their first look at Francisco Cruceta who came on the ninth and gave up a lead-off walk to Bobby Abreu, but really encountered no further trouble. He got a hard hit ball which Carlos Guillen stopped and threw to second to force Abreu, and he got a ground ball to first and a line out to left which Ryan Raburn caught to end the game.

This was a great series to watch, and the Tigers find themselves tied for second in the Central with Cleveland and Minnesota just 1-1/2 games back of the White Sox. Now we’ll see if they can do some damage to put some distance between themselves and the Twins.

And Not a Moment Too Soon

ClipboardWhistle.jpgThe Francisco Cruceta Saga began to feel like The Curious Case of Sidd Finch. Yeah, the guy has a rep for throwing cheese, but has anyone, you know, seen him pitch?

The answer to that soon will be “yes” — and it will be the Tigers who do the watchin’ after Cruceta’s visa problems have been resolved.

After waiting about two months for Francisco Cruceta to arrive, the Tigers received news on Wednesday that the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services has approved his application for a visa to work in the States. Cruceta will be free to pick up his visa on Thursday and then travel from his native Dominican Republic to the U.S., finally ending a saga that ran through Spring Training and into the regular season.

Once Cruceta reports to the Tigers’ Spring Training complex in Lakeland, Fla., Detroit will have 30 days to evaluate him before he must be either placed on the 25-man roster, sent to the Minors or moved. Because he’s out of Minor League options, he would have to be designated for assignment and clear waivers in order to be sent to the Minors.

If this guy works out as the Tigers hope, could it mean the departure of Jason Grilli?

Yes, I’m getting ahead of myself.