The Monday Report: A-Jax’s Throw, Ron LeFlore’s Record and Mats Wilander’s Birthday

Welcome to the last full week of August. The Tigers enjoy a 4.5-game lead on the Indians today. The last time they led the A.L. Central by that many games was Sept. 16, 2009.

Leading Off: I’ve watched a lot of Tigers baseball in my time but I can’t recall a more exciting final out sequence as the one we saw on Sunday to preserve a 8-7 Tigers win. Austin Jackson’s flawless throw to Alex Avila. Rick Porcello seemed hell bent to surrender a seven-run cushion but thankfully the bullpen did enough to blow it entirely … The Tigers head to Tampa Bay for a four-game set … They also are looking for their first winning streak of more than three games since June 7 when they had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Around the Central: The White Sox crushed the Rangers 10-0 at U.S. Cellular Field; the Red Sox downed the Royals, 6-1, and the Yankees blanked the Twins, 3-0.

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The Tigers are in first place, 4.5 games ahead of the Indians.

Today’s Game: Tigers @ Rays — Justin Verlander (18-5, 2.31 ERA) vs. Jeff Nieman (8-4, 3.29 ERA) | 7:05 p.m. – FSD/1270 AM and 97.1 FM

Verlander has won each of his last six starts for the Tigers dating back to July 21, compiling a 2.36 ERA and 51 strikeouts during that stretch.

In nine career starts against the Rays, Verlander’s 5-1 with a 3.88 ERA.

With a win tonight, he would equal his career high in victories set in 2009. It would mark the fastest a Tigers pitcher won his 19th game of the season since Mickey Lolich did so in the club’s 114th game of the 1972 season.

On this date, Ron LeFlore swiped his 27th consecutive base as the Tigers beat the Twins, 7-3. He began the streak on July 16.

On this date in 1981, the Tigers acquired first baseman Ron Jackson from the Twins for outfielder Tim Corcoran.

On Aug. 22, 1997, The Tigers pounded the Brewers, 16-1, with the aid of 23 hits and an 11- run seventh inning. Bobby Higginson got five hits, while Travis Fryman and Tony Clark drive in four runs apiece.

Happy 35th Birthday to Jeff Weaver. Also celebrating today is Doug Bair; he’s 62.

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  • The Tigers are #10 in ESPN’s Power Rankings, up from nine last week. They trail the D-backs (who have one more win) and this week’s opponent, the Rays (#7).
  • Somehow I missed out on Dave Schoenfield’s reminiscing about Chet Lemon last week:

    If you’re too young to remember Chet Lemon, he was a superb ballplayer. He could them run down in center field — in fact, his 512 putouts with the White Sox in 1977 remains the American League record, not bad for a guy who had converted from third base as a rookie the year before. He hit .300 three times, had some power, drew some walks, got hit by 10 to 20 pitches a season. He did a lot to help his teams win.

    What Chet Lemon wasn’t very good at was stealing bases.

  • This is a topic that deserves more thought than I have time for today but am I the only one who thinks Miguel Cabrera has a profound lack of hustle on the bases, particularly out of the batter’s box?
  • SI‘s Joe Sheehan thinks the stars are aligning in the Tigers favor after sweeping the Indians:

    Jackson’s base-runner kill helped Jose Valverde escape a bases-loaded, no-out jam and convert his 37th consecutive save this season. The Tigers have fended off a series of challenges by the Indians, and after a trip to Tampa Bay get seven games against the Twins and Royals to stretch their lead before six more against the White Sox and Indians. That week may represent both teams’ last shot to keep the Tigers from making September a coronation.

  • Are the Tigers winning with other clubs’ talent?
  • Not a game goes by that I don’t wish the Tigers still had Placido Polanco batting second.
  • It doesn’t matter if the Twins send Jim Thome to the Indians before Aug. 31. The Tigers are set to face both clubs six more times this season so, they’re hosed either way.

Finally, Happy 47th Birthday to tennis hall of famer Mats Wilander who, in 1988, won the Australian Open, French Open and U.S. Open.

How are Former Tigers Faring in 2010?

Rearview Mirror.jpgLooking around the majors there are plenty of former Tigers doing well — and some not so well. Here’s a look at some of the more notable players and their current numbers:

  • Placido Polanco, Phillies: .314 avg., 6 HR, 42 RBI, .348 OBP. Currently fifth in the N.L. in hitting, which is just another reason the Tigers (and fans) are regretting his departure.

  • Omar Infante, Braves: .347 avg., 7 HR, 37 RBI, .837 OPS From Rob Neyer: “At the moment, he doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify [for the batting title]. To reach 502, he needs another 169 in the Braves’ 38 remaining games.”

  • Andres Torres, Giants: .287 avg., 13 HR, 57 RBI, .869 OPS. Torres is the embodiment of stick-to-itiveness. Nearly a decade after he was touted as a centerpiece of the Tigers new wave of young talent, he’s downright essential to the Giants offense. Good for him.

    Continue reading “How are Former Tigers Faring in 2010?”

Wednesday Walewanders: Asparagus Races, Weaver and Drew

asparagus races.jpgThis past weekend I was visiting family in the Bay Area and, as always happens when I’m there, the Giants are out of town. (I’ve been to several A’s games at the Coliseum over the years.)

So, the next best thing, of course, is some Advanced Class-A California League action — Stockton Ports versus Modesto Nuts. (I think the Nuts might have the best logo I’ve seen; I’ve included it after the jump.)

The Ports won the four-hour, 12-inning game 7-5 thanks to a walk-off home run by third baseman Stephen Parker. Apart from the dramatics and post-game fireworks, the most intriguing component was the — I kid you not — asparagus race, which you can see above. They also included bottles of ketchup and mustard in the competition. Not sure why.

Minor-league baseball, major-league thrills.

On to other topics.

Continue reading “Wednesday Walewanders: Asparagus Races, Weaver and Drew”

Wednesday Walewanders: Non-Sequiturs Galore

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Celebrate Nate! I might be the only person in the Tigers Fan Universe looking forward to Robertson’s return to the rotation. Ian?

Today’s Walewanders are fueled by Almighty Blend coffee from Ann Arbor’s Mighty Good Coffee Roasting Co., sent along by the aforementioned Mr. Casselberry.

Continue reading “Wednesday Walewanders: Non-Sequiturs Galore”

Saturday the 14th

Do any of you remember the movie Saturday the 14th?  The 1981 film starring Richard Benjamin is:

Primarily a spoof of the Friday the 13th series, but also takes shots at several other horror films. After his family moves to a new house, a young boy discovers a mysterious book describing the curse hanging over the date of Saturday the 14th.

It’s a hoot for the 13-year-old set but otherwise a forgettable experience. Much like tonight’s Tigers game.Yes, I was fuming at Sean Casey‘s excuse-me swinglet on J.J. Putz‘s first pitch in the eighth.But it was the Tigers’ lack of timely hitting throughout the game — guys, that was Miguel Batista out there — that really ticked me off. In that regard, it was too much like Thursday’s 3-2 loss.Three things that stood out for me:

  1. Kenny Rogers was due for a dud.
  2. Magglio Ordonez suddenly looks lost at the plate. He’s 1 for 11 in the series.
  3. Chad Durbin was excellent coming in to relieve Rogers.

Now we have to hope for Jeff Weaver to pitch like Jeff Weaver for the Tigers to salvage a split.Oh, and Justin Verlander needs to do his thing too.I think he shall.