Fungoes

Tigers Look to Porcello to Repeat What Bonderman Accomplished in ’06 ALDS Clincher

Five years ago this week, the Tigers sent a young, often frustrating righthander to the mound in the fourth game of the American League Division Series.

With a win, no sure thing with the unpredictable starter, the Tigers would eliminate the Yankees and move on to the American League Championship Series against the Oakland A’s.

Twenty-three-year-old Jeremy Bonderman was the Tigers’ starter that chilly Saturday afternoon and he faced righty Jaret Wright, who’d gone 11-7 witha 4.49 ERA in 30 appearances (27 starts) for New York.

Tigers fans didn’t want to seem overconfident, but compared to the Yankee starters in the series’ first three games (Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina and Randy Johnson) Wright seemed like a notch above batting-practice quality.

That day, the Tigers staked Bonderman to a 3-0, second-inning lead on home runs by Magglio Ordonez and Craig Monroe. They tacked on five more runs by the end of the sixth. (Detroit chased Wright with two outs in the third after he’d surrendered four runs on five hits.) The late Cory
Lidle
allowed three runs in his inning-and-a-third of work.

But at the start of the day, all eyes were on Bonderman. Could he handle the big stage, an elimination game against a New York lineup that Jim Leyland dubbed “Murderer’s Row and then Cano” and prevent a trip back to the Bronx for a decisive Game 5?

Could he ever.

Continue reading

Standard
Fungoes

The Friday Breakfast: Adios to the Twins

There’s no shortage of joy when the Tigers face the Twins for the final time during a season. Yes, 2009 included – outcome notwithstanding. And just think, a week from now we can say the same about the White Sox.

[callout title=The Friday Rundown]

The Tigers are in first place, 8.5 games ahead of the White Sox.

Magic Number: 12

Today’s Game: Tigers vs. Twins – Brad Penny (9-10, 5.13 ERA) vs. Kevin Slowey (0-4, 5.31 ERA) | 7:05 p.m. – FSD/1270 AM and 97.1 FM

Notes on Penny

Penny enters his start this evening having lost four of his last six decisions dating back to July 23. He has compiled a 6.85 ERA over the eight-start stretch.

He’s 2-2 with a 6.31 ERA in seven career starts against the Twins. In 2011, he’s 0-2/7.13.

Penny posted a 4-6 record and 4.54 ERA in his previous 17 starts at Comerica Park.

Notes on Slowey

Slowey’s making his eighth career start and ninth career appearance against the Tigers. Career versus Detroit he’s 5-0, 4.93 in eight games (seven starts).

He started the season in the Twins bullpen, making six relief appearances, posting a 4.91 ERA; He’s 0-4 with a 5.55 ERA in four starts this season.

Slowey’s last start against Detroit was a win on June 30, 2010 at Target Field, allowing one run on four hits in 6.0 innings with one walk and four strikeouts as the Twins won 5-1 over Andy Oliver.

[/callout]

Leading Off: The Tigers enter tonight’s game against the Twins having won 16 of their last 20 games dating back to Aug. 19, an .800 winning percentage – which leads the majors during that stretch … Detroit’s hitting .333 with runners in scoring position dating back to Aug. 11, second-best in the A.L. clubs over that period. The Tigers lead all clubs with a .284 batting average with RISP this season.

Around the Central: The White Sox and Indians are, theoretically, beating each other up this weekend in a four-game series in Chicago. The Sox took the first game last night, 8-1. The Royals are in Seattle this weekend, in a battle of clubs churning toward 90 losses. The M’s won last night, 4-1.

With a win tonight, Penny would join Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello to become the first quartet of Tigers pitchers with 10-or-more wins in the club’s first 144 games of the season since Verlander, Kenny Rogers, Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman did so in the first 144 games of 2006.

Keeping that thought for a moment, right now Verlander, Scherzer, Porcello and Penny have combined for 58 wins. (Trust me, I’d much rather include Doug Fister in this year’s numbers, but Penny’s been around for the whole year.) In 2006, Verlander (17), Rogers (17), Bonderman (14) and Robertson (13) combined for 61. And in 1984, Jack Morris (19), Dan Petry (18), Milt Wilcox (17) and Juan Berenguer combined for 65. Does the ’11 foursome have enough wins in them between now and Sept. 28 to meet or pass the ’84 rotation?

On this date in 1970, commissioner Bowie Kuhn handed Denny McLain his third suspension of the year, this one for carrying a gun, plus other unspecified charges, and ended McLain’s season with a 3-5 record.

Happy 28th Birthday to Edwin Jackson, and a Happy 41st to Dan Miceli.

Finally, happy birthdays to Adam Sandler (45), Cliff Robertson (88) and Topol (76).

Have a great weekend.

Standard
Fungoes

Sunday Snacks: April in the D Edition

ChipsA few overdue thoughts as I work the previous-channel button on my remote, switching between the Tigers and Wings games.

  • When a few specific things occur, I know for certain the baseball season is in full bloom — eight games in or not. Two of these things have already taken place in the past 24 hours: the Tigers lose to the Royals and Ryan Raburn makes at least one bone-headed play in the field.

  • Speaking of the Wings, if they end up playing the Coyotes in the first round, I’ll have to endure lame Detroit jokes in the media out here.

  • Did the Tigers really lose to Bruce Chen? Bruce Chen?

  • Slowly — very slowly — I’m gaining confidence in Alex Avila. He was miserable in the opening series in the New York but I suppose that can be chalked up to nerves, right? Since then he’s hitting .357 (entering today, that is).

  • I definitely love seeing Will Rhymes as the Tigers’ regular second baseman. You have to wonder if Scott Sizemore is following him and thinking, “what do I have to do to get back on the radar?”

  • Did you notice that Robbie Weinhardt is now wearing Jeremy Bonderman‘s old uniform number, 38? No matter the number on his back, I feel 100-percent more comfortable when Weinhardt enters a game than I do Brad Thomas or Ryan Perry.

  • Happy 47th Birthday to Eric King. In two stints with the Tigers (1986-88, ’92), he appeared in 128 games for the Tigers as a starter and bullpen guy, posting a 25-20 record, 16 saves and a 4.23 ERA.

  • Manny Ramirez. As the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan once said on the old Tony Kornheiser radio show, “Ramirez will never be confused with a member of Mensa.”

  • I’ve heard from many of you about the next episode of the podcast. Hang with us. Ian and I have had trouble aligning calendars — the trouble coming from my end — but we’ll be back soon. Promise.

Finally, happy 82nd birthday to actress Liz Sheridan, who played Jerry’s mom on “Seinfeid.”

Standard
Fungoes

Tigers Today: April 4, 2011

OriolesTigers’ Record

1-2; 4th place, 1.5 GB Royals

Today’s Game

Tigers @ Orioles | 3:05 p.m. ET – Baltimore | On the air: FSD/AM 1270 and 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Rick Porcello (0-0) vs. Jake Arrieta (0-0)

Yesterday’s Results

Tigers 10 – Yankees 7

Continue reading

Standard
Fungoes

Tigers Today: April 2, 2010

ScorecardXSmallTigers’ Record:

0-1

Today’s Game

Tigers @ Yankees | 3:35 p.m. ET | On the air: FOX/AM 1270 and 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Brad Penny vs. A.J. Burnett

Thursday’s Results

Yankees 6 – Tigers 3

  • W: Joba Chamberlain (1-0)
  • L: Phil Coke (0-1)

Continue reading

Standard
Fungoes

Sunday Snacks: RIP Woodie Fryman, A Fantasy Camper Says Goodbye and More!

When I was just starting to collect baseball cards, the first thing I always did upon opening a new pack was to flip the card over to see if the player ever was a member of the Tigers.WoodieFryman

Because my memory latches on to such random things, I clearly remember when I turned over the 1977 Topps Woodie Fryman card and saw that he played for the Tigers from 1972-74.

Fryman passed away on Friday in Lexington, Ky., at the age of 70.

Fryman won 141 games from 1966-83 with the Expos, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs. He pitched primarily in relief late in his career, saving 17 games for Montreal in 1980.

Fryman had four career one-hitters – including a nearly perfect game when he was a Pittsburgh rookie. He gave up a leadoff hit to the New York Mets, the runner was caught stealing and Fryman didn’t allow anyone else on base.

In 1972, Fryman joined the Tigers in the middle of the season and went 10-3 with a 2.06 ERA for them, helping Detroit win the American League East.

He was elected to the Expos Hall of Fame in 1995.

I was too young to see Fryman work his half-season magic. Do any of you remember seeing him pitch for the Tigers?

  • My friend Chuck passed along this story which appeared last week in The Wall Street Journal. The piece focuses on Bill “Pappy” Holcomb, a 71-year-old retired autoworker, who’s ending his 22-season Tigers Fantasy Camp career.The main thread of the story is the aging of Fantasy Camp attendees:

    The Tigers this year had 190 campers, with an average age of 54. In 1985, the average age was 44. Teams that started their camps more recently tend to have a lower average age, around 50, but they also find themselves catering to older, more-infirm players.

    Be sure to view the slideshow that accompanies the article. You’ll see a photo that includes Steve Kemp.

     

  • In our most recent Fungo Flash Poll we asked, If you could choose one, which Tigers killer would you like to see in Detroit?
    1. Grady Sizemore (20 percent, 199 Votes)
    2. Denard Span (17 percent, 171 Votes)
    3. Joe Nathan (16 percent, 162 Votes)
    4. Jim Thome (13 percent, 129 Votes)
    5. Carl Pavano (12 percent, 116 Votes)
    6. Paul Konerko (11 percent, 106 Votes)
    7. Michael Cuddyer (9 percent, 85 Votes)

    Others receiving votes: Joe Crede, Luke Scott and, based on an interesting perspective, Todd Jones.

    I was stunned to see Sizemore earn the most votes and expected to see Konerko or Thome at the top.

    Thanks to the nearly 1,000 voters in this poll. Watch for another poll soon.

     

  • I’m still amazed that the Tigers cut ties with Jeremy Bonderman. As I said on the podcast last week, the Tigers could certainly use someone of Bondo’s caliber for spot starting a la Eddie Bonine or Chad Durbin, et al. Instead it looks like he’s headed to Cleveland and the Plain Dealer‘s Terry Pluto explains why:

    They did offer him a minor-league contract, but he rejected it. The market for Bonderman is slim because of that 6.50 ERA (and 13 HR in 73 innings) after the All-Star break — when his average fastball dropped from 92 mph to 88. The Indians believe fatigue was the reason.

    (snip)

    The Indians are looking at Bonderman because you can never have enough starting pitching.

    Apparently the Tigers think you can.

     

  • This story isn’t Tigers related but it’s fascinating nonetheless. If you’ve followed the Bernie Madoff story even peripherally over the past few years, you know the devastation his Ponzi scheme has inflicted on countless people.This article in The New York Times provides a window into Madoff’s ties to the Mets’ owners — and what role Madoff played in managing the deferred income included in player contracts.

Finally, if you, like me, are a sucker for the Dos Equis commercials featuring The Most Interesting Man in the World, The New Yorker introduces us to the actor who plays him.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

Standard
Fungoes

Three-ish for Thursday: Festivus, Feller and My New Job

Here we are one week before Festivus and the Tigers have given fans mere stocking stuffers compared to the gifts White Sox, Nationals, Red Sox and, most recently, Phillies fans received.

Then again, only in this offseason could a guy of Victor Martinez’s caliber be considered value-bin material. Now that the big names are off the board, the Tigers are left to browse the remainder table for their missing pieces — unless a trade goes down.

  • In March 2009, my friends John and Steve came to town for some Cactus League action. The first game we attended was at the Indians and Reds shared facility in Goodyear, Ariz. (Though the Reds wouldn’t move to the Phoenix region until this past Spring.) We all agreed that the game between the Tribe and the Brewers might have been the longest Spring Training game in history, which made Bob Feller’s performance that day all the more remarkable. He sat in the shade down the leftfield line and signed autographs for the entire game — and it was a steady stream of fans, despite it being far from a sellout. Impressive indeed.
  • I was never a fan of Feller because he played the Crabby-Old-Man role for so long and his comments about Jackie Robinson in Ken Burns’ “Baseball” series seemed inappropriate.

    Nevertheless, baseball lost a legend yesterday. A legend that posted a 41-29 record and a 3.44 ERA against the Tigers in his 18-year career — his record at Briggs Stadium was 21-14 in 38 starts — only the White Sox and Athletics lost to him more. In fact, the Yankees were the only club to have beaten Feller more than they lost: 37-30.

  • The response to our most recent Flash Poll was astounding — more than 2,100 votes. Thanks for weighing in. We asked Should the Tigers pursue Curtis Granderson to play left field? The context in which we were asking — but didn’t articulate in the question — was pure speculation that if the Yankees landed Carl Crawford, then Granderson might be available.As you can see, 86 percent of respondents would like to see him back in a Tigers uniform — though most weren’t willing to do it at any cost:
    • Yes, depending on the cost. (45%, 987 Votes)
    • Absolutely. (41%, 891 Votes)
    • Bygones. (14%, 302 Votes)
    • Total Voters: 2,180
  • Thanks again for participating, and watch for our next poll soon.

  • Random items: On this date in 1996, the Tigers traded second baseman Mark Lewis to the Giants for first baseman Jesse Ibarra. Lewis came to the Tigers from the Reds in a trade for David Wells … Today’s the 46th birthday of Bill Ripken … Shouldn’t the Tigers make an offer to Jim Thome, if for no other reason than to see what he can do at Comerica Park? … I’m intrigued by what the future holds for Jeremy Bonderman. Where does he sign? Does he come back at all? It’s been awfully quiet on the Bondo front … And this is funny, if not childish. When the Diamondbacks were pursuing (and eventually signing) reliever J.J. Putz, the D-backs’ outstanding beat writer, Nick Piecoro, had to deal with an interesting technological problem. Whenever he wrote “Putz”, the Arizona Republic‘s publishing system would replace it with “(inappropriate term)”, leaving each Web article on the subject with a few instances of “former White Sox reliever J.J. (inappropriate term)”. Putz’s name appeared uncensored, as it were, in the print editions of the Piecoro’s articles but not without the writer needing to produce a tedious workaround. Last week Piecoro reported on Twitter that the tech guys finally got it figured out.

Finally, you probably noticed that posting here has been lighter than normal over the past couple of weeks. Here’s why: after more than seven years as a self-employed freelance writer, I’ve gone back to work in the corporate world.

(If you’re interested in where I’m working, here’s a hint: it’s the parent company of the school Jim Leyland‘s son is attending (he mentions it in this piece by Lynn Henning), though Leyland doesn’t get the name exactly right.) As a result, I’m trying to get a feel for my new schedule — and a wardrobe based on more than t-shirts. Hang with me while I find the groove.

Standard