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.

Tigers Today: May 14, 2010

BehindHomePlate.jpg

Tigers’ Record: 20-15, 2nd place; 2.5 GB of Minnesota

Today’s Game

Tigers vs. Red Sox | 7:05 p.m. ET – Comerica Park | On the air: FSD/AM 1270 & 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Max Scherzer (1-3, 6.81 ERA) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (3-3, 3.82 ERA)

Yesterday’s Results

Tigers 6 – Yankees 0

Tigers History Lesson

Today’s Birthdays

On this Date in Tigers History

  • 1920Walter Johnson wins his 300th game in the Senators’ 9-8 victory over the Tigers.
  • 1986Joe Sparma, a pitcher on the 1968 Tigers, died at 44.
  • 1994 — The Indians’ Paul Shuey struck out four Tigers batters in the ninth inning of the Tribe’s 9-3 win.
  • 1996 — The Tigers acquired RHP John Farrell from the Indians for RHP Greg Granger.

  • 1973 — The Tigers acquired C Bob Didier from the Braves for C Gene Lamont.

Sept. 2, 1970: Gene Lamont’s Big Debut

On this date in 1970, Tigers catcher (and current third base coach) Gene Lamont hit a home run in his first big-league at bat in a 10-1 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The left-handed hitting Lamont hit his shot off Boston’s Cal Koonce, capping a 2-for-3 night.

Lamont, the Tigers’ first-round pick (#13) in the 1965 amateur draft, played five seasons in the big leagues, all with Detroit.

He appeared in 23 games from 1970 through ’72, 60 games in ’74 and just four in his final season, 1975. (According to his bio on the Tigers Web site, Lamont spent the 1973 season in the Braves organization.) He played in the Tigers’ minor-league system through 1977.

Final career line:

  • 87 games
  • .233 average
  • 4 HR
  • 14 RBI
  • 1 stolen base

Here’s how Lamont’s post-playing career came together, again from his bio on Tigers.com:

Prior to joining Jim Leyland’s coaching staff in Pittsburgh in 1986, he spent eight seasons (1978-85) as a manager in the Kansas City Royals organization.

If a guy’s not going to enjoy a long career in the majors, it’s nice to see them at least make a splash during their abbreviated stay.

P.S. On Sept. 2 three years later, the Tigers fired Billy Martin.

Friday Fungoes

thermometer.jpgWelcome to August! In the Phoenix area we ring in the month with 113 degrees…but a mere 20 percent humidity. The poor Tigers head to Tampa where the temperature and humidity are 86. God bless Willis Carrier.

  • So how did July end up for the Tigers? Even. As in 13-13. Here are some other tidbits that helped shape a so-so month in this so-so season:
    • Losses to the Twins on July 1 and the Indians on July 31 bookend the month.
    • Top hitter: Magglio Ordonez: .386; however he played in only 15 games. We’ll expand this to the two players that played in the most games last month: Curtis Granderson (26 games) .324, and Miguel Cabrera (25 games) .330.
    • Most hits: Granderson, 36; Cabrera, 25
    • Most homers: Cabrera, 8.
    • Top pitcher, wins: Justin Verlander, 4
    • ERA, starter: Zach Miner, 1.29
    • ERA, reliever: Bobby Seay, 0.79
    • Saves: Todd Jones, 3.

  • The good news heading into a new month is that the Tigers are just 5.5 games out of first place with two months to play. The bad news? The Tigers are just 5.5 games out of fourth place. Savor that for a moment, won’t you?

  • According to the results of The Daily Fungo Pulse Check unscientific poll, 57 percent of Fungo readers said they expected the Tigers to be buyers at the trade deadline, 43 percent thought the Tigers would sell. Interestingly, I noticed a mini-surge in “sellers” votes after the Pudge deal was announced. Be sure to cast your vote in this week’s new poll.

  • The big media outlets released power rankings for this week. The Tigers certainly have the look of a middling team according to:

  • Does anyone else feel like it’s Sept. 20 and not Aug. 1? This season is exhausting.

Finally, on Aug. 1, 1974, at Milwaukee’s County Stadium, Ron LeFlore made his major-league debut for the Tigers. Ralph Houk put him in the leadoff spot against the Brewers’ Jim Slaton and LeFlore struck out thrice. It wasn’t until his fourth at bat that he put a ball in play: a grounder to third baseman Don Money for the first out of the eighth.

The Tigers won the game 2-0 behind a masterful performance by Woodie Fryman: a complete-game one-hitter. Woodrow struck out 10 and walked three. Norm Cash drove in both runs with a solo homer and an RBI single.

Wondering who caught Fryman’s gem? Gene Lamont.

Have a great weekend.

The Christmas Evening Non-Sequiturs

COTO DE CAZA, Calif. — While the rest of the family watches the Christmas classic “The Godfather Part III”, thought I’d chime in with some Tigers thoughts on this crisp southern California evening:

  • I’m not above admitting that some (most?) of my Hall of Fame thinking as it relates to Tigers players is rooted deeply in homerism and/or the misguided thinking of youth. When Ryne Sandberg was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005, it raised my ire — again — that former Tiger Lou Whitaker couldn’t get as much as a whiff of Hall consideration. Worse, his lack of support left him off future ballots and relegated him to the Veterans Committee for any future consideration.In time for the holidays, Joe Posnanski takes a closer look at the Sandberg-versus-Sweet-Lou comparison and proves that I wasn’t merely a Tigers fan boy: statistically, they are pretty damn close:

    Their careers are of almost identical length (Whitaker had fewer than 200 more at-bats) and here’s how it looks.(snip)Neutralized stat-lineSandberg: .286/.346/.454Whitaker: .282/.369/.434 

    Sure, Sandberg out MVP-ed and Gold Gloved Whitaker, but when you comparing apples to apples, they’re in the same bushel.Read the whole piece, won’t you?

  • Web site polls rarely mean a darn thing but I found this one on ESPN.com today and thought the results were interesting, but none nearly as tasty as the voter demographics. 

    TigersPoll1225.jpg

    Click “View Map” you can see how each state voted. Check out these results: The Tigers earned 95 percent of the vote from Michigan, the Indians a measly 3 percent.Give credit to Ohio. Forty-nine percent voted for the Indians, 48 percent for the Tigers. Minnesota and North Dakota sided squarely with the Twins (Minn. 60 percent, N.D., 56).The Tigers did well on the eastern seaboard as well. In Rhode Island, 72 percent voted for Detroit, 70 in Delaware.Oh, and in the states holding the first 2008 presidential caucus/primary-ish events: Iowa: (60 percent Tigers, 20 percent Indians); New Hampshire: (77 Tigers, 17 Tribe).(I should mention that the numbers above are based on the 29,000-plus votes, not the 27,935 when I grabbed the image.)

  • Finally, Happy Christmas Birthday to Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont. He’s 61.

Ho-ho-hope you had a Merry Christmas…if you’re the Christmas celebratin’ kind.