The Labor Day Breakfast

Happy Labor Day and a warm salute to the working men and women of the U.S. A special hat-tip to my Dad who helped build so many structures around Detroit — including the Ren Cen.

Leading Off: The Tigers completed a deliciously emphatic sweep of the White Sox last night, 18-2. Alex Avila collected four hits, Miguel Cabrera teed off big-time with a double, homer and four runs driven in, and Max Scherzer was terrific in his seven innings of work: five hits, six strikeout and no walks. Andy Dirks also drove in four (but who didn’t?) with a homer and a single.

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The Tigers are in first place, 6.5 games ahead of the Indians.

Today’s Game: Tigers @ Indians – Doug Fister (6-13, 3.26 ERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (2-1, 5.56 ERA) | 1:05 p.m. – FSD/1270 AM and 97.1 FM

Notes on Fister

Fister is 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA – including a victory over the Indians on Aug. 20 – since joining the Tigers. He’s 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA in four outings versus Cleveland this season.

Notes on Jimenez

Jimenez has given up four runs over 13 innings in his two most recent starts after being smoked for 21 runs in 21 innings through his first four appearances with the Indians.

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Around the Central: The Indians beat the Royals 9-6 and the Angels beat the Twins, 4-1. Today the Twins and White Sox play a day-night doubleheader, and the Royals visit the A’s.

Sports Illustrated’s Joe Lemire looks at what it takes for a big-league pitcher to lose 20 games — a mark which the Orioles’ Jeremy Guthrie is close to reaching; yesterday he lost his 17th. Naturally, the article looks at Brian Kingman and Mike Maroth, the last two pitchers to lose 20.

Losing 20 games is not for the faint of heart. And it’s not for the game’s worst pitchers. For a pitcher to lose 20, there must be a delicate balance of conditions: He can’t be so good that he’s winning games on his own, while he can’t be so bad that he loses the faith of the manager and front office, plus the offense can’t provide meaningful run support. A 20-game loser must be good enough that the team wants to continue giving him the ball. Kingman and Maroth were both in their first full major-league seasons, yet weren’t returned to the minors for more seasoning.

Leftovers from 20: The Postgame’s Eric Adelson wrote about Justin Verlander’s chances for reaching 300 wins, and why JV doesn’t much care for the conventional wisdom:

He doesn’t care for the statistician’s math. And he doesn’t care for history’s math. He knows 20-game winners are rare these days and, therefore, winning 300 in a career is a milestone most people view as unlikely.

(snip)

And still, to those who say it can’t be done, he says, pssshh.

“I disagree with that,” Verlander says, his eyes wide. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Happy 46th Birthday to Rob Richie.

Forty years ago today the Tigers tied a major-league record by using six pinch hitters in an inning (the seventh), but lose 6-5 to the Yankees.

On this date in 1984, Cal Ripken made a first-inning error to let in the game’s lone run as the Tigers beat Orioles, 1-0. Juan Berenguer gets the win and Willie Hernandez picked up his 28th save. Mike Flanagan goes the distance in the loss. Detroit’s magic number is 15.

Finally, Happy 82nd Birthday to Bob Newhart, one of my all-time favorites.

Wednesday Walewanders: Pre-Opening Day Tidbits

HotDogPopTicketDave Schoenfield, the new voice of ESPN.com’s SweetSpot Network today listed some of the worst Opening Day starters from 2001 to 2010.

Of particular note:

5. Mike Maroth, Tigers, 2003

As a rookie in 2002, Maroth had posted a 4.48 ERA in 21 starts and struck out an uninspiring 58 hitters in 128.2 innings. Among pitchers with at least 75 innings, that was the second-lowest strikeout rate in the American League. However, considering the ’02 Tigers had lost 106 games, that was good enough to draw the opener. The Tigers lost that game 3-1 on their way to a 1-17 start and 119 losses — 21 of them by Maroth.

I don’t know, on Opening Day 1996 Tigers fans were treated to the stylings of Felipe Lira. Against the Twins in Minneapolis, he lasted only three innings, surrendered eight hits and six earned runs. The Tigers lost 8-6 in Buddy Bell’s managerial debut. Lira finished that awful season at 6-14 with a 5.22 ERA.

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The past couple of years the Tigers swung some last-minute trades.

On March 30, 1991 the Tigers acquired catcher Andy Allanson from the Royals for catcher Jim Baxter. In 2009, they picked up outfielder Josh Anderson from the Braves for righty Rudy Darrow. And last year they dealt Nate Robertson to the Marlins for lefty Jay Voss — who hasn’t been heard of since.

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Happy 55th Birthday to Jack Lazorko, who appeared in three games for the 1986 Tigers.

Tigers Today: March 31, 2010

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Tigers’ Spring Training Record: 15-10-1

Today’s Game:

Tigers vs. Pirates | 1:05 p.m. ET – Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland | On the air: MLB Gameday Audio (Pirates’ broadcast)

Pitching Matchup: Justin Verlander (1-3, 5.63 ERA) vs. Zach Duke, (0-1, 3.00 ERA)

Also scheduled to pitch: Phil Coke and Brad Thomas

Yesterday’s Results

Tigers 10 – Orioles 9 | Box Score

Mere moments after the Nate Robertson trade was announced — which secured Dontrelle Willis‘ rotation spot — D-Train celebrated by surrendering five earned runs in 4.1 innings — his worst outing of the spring.

Offensively, Miguel Cabrera hit about 1,000 feet worth of homers with one in the first and another in the fifth. Scott Sizemore and Don Kelly also went yard.

Continue reading “Tigers Today: March 31, 2010”

Wednesday Walewanders

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  • Dontrelle Willis returns to the D as a reliever. If he continues to pitch the way he has in Spring Training and early in the regular season, his name might very well end up ahead of Damion Easley as the Tigers most expensive contract-as-main-course ever. Rob Neyer‘s already weighed in on the move.

  • Speaking of Mr. Neyer, in case you haven’t listened, today I posted an interview with him on the podcast. He thinks the Tigers are still very much alive in the A.L. Central; it’s Kenny Rogers and Willis, Neyer’s all but certain, who’re finished.

  • In case you need one more article on the effect of Jim Leyland‘s verbal fireworks, check out Mike Bauman‘s column on MLB.com.

  • Baseball and poetry? Why not? In college I penned a poem about my first game at Tiger Stadium. At BardBall.com, Tigers fan Jim Garner publishes baseball poetry — doggerel to be exact (I had to look it up). He’s featuring a poem on Freddy Dolsi’s first major league pitch. You remember it, the one to Manny Ramirez that might still be sailing. Here’s a sampling:

    Freddy went down the middle

    To show off his heat.

    Manny clobbered that apple

    Five hundred feet.

  • Remember Andrew Miller? (Ahem.) He has a birthday today — his 23rd. Other former Tigers celebrating include: Bryce Florie, Bob Molinaro and Earl Averill.

  • Wondering how some former Tigers are faring with their new clubs? Me too:
    • Chris Shelton, Rangers: .179, 2 HR, 3 RBI
    • Wil Ledezma, Padres: 0-1, 3.54 ERA, 1.54 WHIP
    • Tony Clark, Padres: .238, 0 HR, 1 RBI
    • Mike Rabelo, Marlins: .219, 1 HR, 7 RBI

    And here comes the Omaha Royals Trio:

    • Mike Maroth: 0-2, 12.91 ERA in three starts (7.2 IP)
    • Roman Colon: 0-0, 6.30 ERA in 10 IP
    • Jason Smith: .253, 10 HR, 27 RBI (His 10 homers lead the team.)

Finally, from Baseball-Reference.com, on this date in 1967, Earl Wilson gives Detroit its third straight win over the Yankees, 9-4. Mickey Mantle hits his fifth homer in six games but it’s not enough for Whitey Ford, who appears in his last ML game.