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.

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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.

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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.

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Fungoes

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.

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Fungoes

Monday Mankowskis: Boredom City, Florida

PhilMankowski77I know it’s early, but it seems to me this is one boring Tigers Spring Training.

For all intents and purposes, there’s no drama to speak of with most of the coverage focusing on the prospects that are shining in Lakeland.

But here are some of the things that stand out for yours truly:

  • If there’s one player that makes me uneasy heading into the regular season, it’s Alex Avila. In reading Lynn Henning’s Sunday’s A-to-Z review of Tigers so far this spring, he says this:
    He’ll hit. But it’s OK to wonder when he’ll drive the ball the way he did during his 2009 cameo.

    This is the first time since, when?, 2003 that the Tigers have a question mark — or something close to it — at catcher. Once Pudge Rodriguez left town, the club brought in Gerald Laird and he was, well, not the answer. But we all thought he’d start hitting somewhere close to where he did in Texas (at least against the Tigers, that is.)

    Certainly having Victor Martinez around will make the catching corps dramatically less frightful, but still, aren’t the Tigers placing an awful lot of faith in a guy who isn’t long out of college? What do you think?

  • I forgot to mention, or at least I think I did, when I went to watch the Diamondbacks train a couple of weeks ago, I got to see Armando Galarraga get racked in batting practice. Moments before that, I got close enough to talk to him through the fence and told him that we love him in Detroit. He said, “Thanks, man, I appreciate it.” He may not be the most devastating pitcher in the bigs, but a nice guy? That, he is.

  • On March 7, 1965, Tigers manager Chuck Dressen suffered a mild coronary occlusion. He was sidelined until May 19. Coach Bob Swift served as acting manager in the meantime, And on this date in 2000, the Tigers acquired cash from the Royals for catcher Gregg Zaun. Opting instead to go with the stud backup catcher that was Javier Cardona. Zaun hit .274 in K.C. — 99 points higher than Cardona.

    Another Randy Smith gem.

  • One of the reasons I like Jim Leyland so much is his deep history with the Tigers organization. He was the first manager of many players that were on the 1984 championship team. In this piece in Sunday’s Freep, we learn a bit about his relationship with one of my favorites, Jack Morris:

    [Leyland] said Jack Morris was as temperamental as they come.

    “You’ve got to be careful that you don’t take something away that’s a strong suit,” Leyland said. “But you can’t let a pitcher continue like a bull in a china shop.”

    Leyland managed Morris in the minors.

    “I stayed on top of Jack pretty good,” Leyland said. “He handled it well. We have a great relationship even today. I’m proud of that.

  • How’s Nate Robertson doing with the Mariners, you ask? Check out this headline to uncover the answer.

Finally, my apologies for the long stretch without a post. I’ve never wanted to post just for the sake of posting — you deserve better than that.

More to come this week.

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Fungoes

Tigers Today: September 3, 2010

RobertsonHead.jpgTigers’ Record:

66-68, 3rd Place; 11 GB

Today’s Game

Tigers @ Royals | 8:10 p.m. ET – Kauffman Stadium | On the air: FSD/AM 1270 and 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Jeremy Bonderman (7-9, 5.27 ERA) vs. Zack Greinke (8-11, 3.81 ERA)

Yesterday’s Results

Tigers 10 – Twins 9 (13 innings)

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Fungoes

So Who Is Billy Buckner?

It’s pretty clear that the Tigers don’t have big plans for newly acquired Billy Buckner.

Yesterday Dave Dombrowski described the right hander’s role in the organization thusly:

“He gives us depth at Toledo.”

Didn’t they say the same thing about poor Mike Hessman?

Given Buckner’s numbers — a 6.56 ERA for the Diamondbacks in 29 games (16 starts) in parts of three seasons — and a 0-3, 11.08 ERA record this season, you can’t argue with the Tigers doing nothing more than simply plugging a roster opening at Toledo with Buckner. And, because tonight’s starter, Armando Galarraga, appears set to stay in Detroit for a while the Mud Hens needed a body.

So, play along as we noodle the idea of Buckner arriving in Detroit some time this summer. Is he as bad as his stats would indicate?

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Fungoes

D-Train DFA’d: The D Stands for Disappointing

Wow.

So that’s how the Dontrelle Willis Era ends in Detroit? With him being designated for assignment? Who thought he’d be the Tigers’ version of Brian Glynn*?
Dontrelle Willis.jpg

In my post from Saturday in which a I speculated about the fallout from Max Scherzer‘s recall, an anonymous commenter was stunned — to the point of calling me a dufus! — that I didn’t include Dontrelle in the list of possible roster moves. I suppose that’s fair.

But here are the two reasons why I thought the Tigers would stick with Willis come hell or high water:

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Fungoes

Tigers Today: March 31, 2010

BehindHomePlate.jpg

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.

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