Tigers Today: June 10, 2010

Tigers’ Record:

30-28, 2nd place; 4.5 GB of Minnesota

Today’s Game

Tigers @ White Sox | 2:05 p.m. ET – U.S. Cellular Field | On the air: FSD/AM 1270 and 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Max Scherzer (2-5, 6.66 ERA) vs. LHP John Danks (4-5, 3.60 ERA)

Yesterday’s Results

White Sox 15 – Tigers 3

Tigers History Lesson

Today’s Birthdays

On this Date in Tigers History

Beyond Frustration: The White Sox Have the Tigers’ Number

IMG00003-20100518-1351.jpgAdding insult to the injury of the Tigers’ loss yesterday to the White Sox, I attended an event at my son’s school and saw this new plaque next to the pre-school playground.

Paul Konerko is a Scottsdale native so it’s nice to see him giving back — and you should see this playground: awesome. It didn’t sting as much because for once Konerko didn’t homer in the game.

And so the Tigers lost again to the White Sox, the 54th time at Comerica Park since it opened 10 years ago, and, according to Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index, since 2005 the Tigers are 34-59 against the White Sox … 25 games under .500. (FYI: Over that same span they’re 47-52 against the Twins.)

What is going on here? Why do the White Sox have the Tigers’ number? I wish I had an answer. I wish Jim Leyland had an answer. You just know Ozzie Guillen does.

Let’s face it: The Tigers cannot beat the White Sox when it counts (i.e., the final weekend of the 2009 season when they lost three of four in the most moribund series in memory) or when it doesn’t — like yesterday when the Tigers left nine men on base and Rick Porcello looked, at times, more like Rickety Porcello. Other points of utter frustration include:

  • The Tigers always seem to make pitchers like Freddy Garcia look 10 years younger.
  • On cold, damp days the Tigers’ offense stays in the cozy clubhouse while the Sox come out swinging as if it were 80 and sunny.
  • A single bone-headed move — like Brennan Boesch‘s failure to score on a ground ball to first — can turn the game in Chicago’s favor…and usually does.
  • The mere presence of Ozzie, A.J. Pierzynski and Bobby Jenks. Thankfully there’s now Jermaine Dye to torment us this year.

This year’s Tigers team is hanging around the top of the Central division through a savory mix of ingredients, not the least of which is luck. If they want to stay in the race into September they better figure out a way to gin up some of that luck against the lousy teams in their division — and right now that includes everyone except the Twins.

Or the White Sox, at least when they’re playing the Tigers.

Game 161: Shame On Them

ESPN highlights available here.

ScorecardXSmall.jpg

The Score: White Sox 5 – Tigers 1

The Gist: With only a chance to avoid humiliation and the record books, the 2003 Tigers played with fire and grit in the last series of the year and managed to not lose 120 games. With a chance to advance closer to a division title, the 2009 Tigers played a listless brand of baseball in the penultimate game of the season — and the results, again, showed it. Pathetic.

The Quote: “They got to play more relaxed.” – Freddy Garcia, who ate the Tigers’ lunch on Saturday.

The Stat: 17 – The number of consecutive scoreless innings for the Tigers spanning from the ninth inning of Thursday’s loss through the seventh inning of Saturday night’s game.

Tragic Number: 2

Up Next: White Sox @ Tigers

Justin Verlander (18-9, 3.45 ERA) vs. John Danks (13-10, 3.69)

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Willis and Garcia and Pray for Rain

PitchersMound.jpgTigers fans have spent much of this dreadful season watching games with one eye — and often two — covered, so watching tonight’s game, featuring Dontrelle Willis‘s low-key return, through your hands should seem routine. (By the way, Rob Neyer, for one, isn’t expecting much out of the D-Train tonight.)

What are we to make of the pitching lineup this week in Arlington?

Two-thirds of it looks like a game out of 2003.

I don’t want to be a defeatist here, but let’s face it. Unless something magically unforeseen happens, the Tigers could depart Texas with the back end of a .500 season intact — i.e., 81 losses. Which means they’d have to run the table and have the Twins and White Sox tied on Sept. 28 — requiring game 162 be played in Chicago — and win that game to finish 81-81.

Doesn’t look promising, does it? Take heart. Word out of Detroit is that Milt Wilcox is starting game one in Cleveland Friday night.

Back in Time: 2008 is 2005

BallTherapy.jpgIt wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Here we are, approaching the third weekend of August, and the Tigers are mired in third place, nine-and-a-half games out of first place. And, as I’m always reminding myself, only five games out of last place. This was supposed to be like 1984, 1968 or even 1945. It was not supposed to be like – gulp – 2005.

The Tigers record coming into this weekend series against the Orioles is 59-62. Entering play on Aug. 14, 2005, the Tigers were 53-61, 21-and-a-half-games out of first.

While the 2005 club was further back in the standings mathematically on Aug. 14, the current team feels about that far behind the White Sox and Twins. Doesn’t it?

Three years ago, Tigers fans seemed more interested in whether or not Alan Trammell would return as manager, who they’d acquire in the offseason, and what on God’s green earth to do with Carlos Pena?

Today, well, the team has probably more questions than the 2005 team did. One thing we can be assured of is Jim Leyland returning as manager. And that’s a good thing. Of course, some may disagree with that, but I believe there are very few buttons he could’ve pushed this year that would make up almost 10 games in the standings.

Here are 17 questions about the 2009 season rattling around in my head:

  1. Who’s the closer in 2009?
  2. Does Chuck Hernandez return as pitching coach?
  3. Is Nate Robertson a Tiger next season?
  4. Can Dontrelle Willis bounce back?
  5. Can the Tigers deal Carlos Guillen?
  6. If the Tigers can get a catcher, do they — and do they move Brandon Inge back to third?
  7. Does Vance Wilson return at long last?
  8. Who’s the shortstop?
  9. Would they deal Magglio Ordonez as some suggest?
  10. How does Jeremy Bonderman recover?
  11. Is Clete Thomas on the big club to stay?
  12. Who is 2009’s Matt Joyce?
  13. Are the Tigers counting on Freddy Garcia?
  14. Will Brent Clevlen finally break through?
  15. What can the Tigers expect out of Joel Zumaya?
  16. Do they sign Placido Polanco to an extension before the season?
  17. What’s Gary Sheffield‘s role — if any?

Ultimately, the 2005 Tigers finished 20 games under .500. Will this year’s team finish that far off the pace? Some days (i.e., against Tampa Bay) it certainly feels as if they could, but I doubt it.

I’m tending to believe that Doug’s right — 81 and 81 for this year’s club. But the fate of the 2009 team lies in how they address the pressing issues hovering over the organization.