Tigers' Offense Returns and So Does The (Abbreviated) Non-Sequiturs

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Never in my life have I ever experienced such a torturous Tigers vs. Devil Rays game as Monday night’s tilt. (Never, that is, since 1998 when the team came into being.) Making things worse, I had to follow the game on Yahoo! Sports GameChannel.After two mind-numbing days of driving from Phoenix to Denver, I’m ready to forget about I-70 and consider the Tigers’ free fall and momentary bounce-back against Tampa Bay.

  • As Doug articulated last week, the pitching is the Tigers’ main concern. Now that everyone on the staff has strung together successive forgettable outings, I can’t help but think back to an article on ESPN.com a while back. The author (either Jayson Stark or Buster Olney) advanced the theory that the Tigers pitching staff was simply paying the price for pitching deep into October last season. It’s looking like there’s some merit here.
  • How about that Ryan Raburn? And while we’re at it, how about Mike Rabelo? Position players from the farm system making a contribution. Outstanding!
  • For the second straight year the Tigers face brutal month of August. Last year it was quality opponents and a key injury to Placido Polanco in Boston that made August miserable for the team and its fans. This year it’s looking to be much the same story.
  • Long before the White Sox took the Tigers to the woodshed in Chicago two weeks ago and in Detroit this weekend, I said they’d continute to cause problems. Tigers fans can only hope the team’s post-season hopes don’t rely on winning a game at U.S. Cellular Field that last weekend of September. Oy.

Finally, on our way to Denver yesterday we stopped off in Silverton, Colo. for a pit stop. In the Silverton visitor’s center a nice, silver haired man sat at the information desk wearing an immaculate Tigers home cap — fitted, of course.I asked him if he was from the Detroit area and he said, “No, I just like the hat.”Which means he likely doesn’t visit this site very often.Then he added, “Well, that and of course Magnum wore it on the TV show.”Ouch.

Blogging a Thursday Matinee Game

The beauty of being self-employed: watching a Tigers matinee game on my office TV while working away. I don’t do this very often but he are my thoughts updated throughout the game.Jeremy Bonderman clearly has the slider going today.Wow, Timo Perez. As I’ve mentioned before, never in their history have the Tigers had a player named “Perez” on the roster. That streak ended last year when Neifi arrived. Chances are the Tigers are the first team in history to have a Timo and a Neifi on the 40-man.What’s with all the pop ups today?Timo Perez is wearing #19. It reminds me of the unfortunate Roger Cedeno years. Let’s hope Timo, if he’s in position to do so, shows up for the team photo.I’d like to see Mike Rabelo go yard. Today.I don’t think I’ve seen a major league game with as many key injuries as last night’s to Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer and Marcus Thames.Speaking of Cuddyer, he certainly doesn’t have quintessential clean-up hitter numbers: AVG .289 | HR 10 | RBI 56. I wonder why Justin Morneau doesn’t hit fourth…Timo looking too much like Craig Monroe.Uh-oh. Down a run. Better start hitting lest they want to face Joe Nathan.Good for Rabelo.Placido Polanco legs out a double. Guess his leg’s okay.Jeez, Sheff. You just cost the boys another run! > Bottom of the 7thHow big does that Sheffield blunder at second look now?Bonderman with his typical Metrodome implosion. Man, that’s getting old. > Top of 8thThey walk Curtis Granderson to face Polanco? Gutsy that Ron Gardenhire….freakin’ Neshek.> Bottom of 8thYou just knew that Morneau was overdue. Way overdue.Wow. Umpires always amaze me with their instant recall of the rule book.How in the world did they get out of that mess? Morneau will have to shoulder the blame for that one. > Top of 9thNo surprise Nathan is in this game. Gardenhire has to got to do whatever he can to prevent a Tigers sweep.Will the Tigers continue with Zach Miner in the bottom half or will they bring in Jose Capellan? Is it just me or is Capellan persona non grata in the Tigers’ bully?Think the Twins are eager to see Magglio Ordonez leave town?Sigh. > Bottom of 9thWhat can you say about that Zach Miner? > Top of 10thWho says the American League can’t play small-ball? Good for Brandon Inge. I think Nathan is the toughest closer out there so it’s about time the Tigers made some noise against him. Now, about that insurance run… Bottom of 10thHere comes that Todd Jones queasiness.Hey, Jones’s ERA is under five. When did that happen?Double pl— … d’oh!Nice and tidy by Todd Jones standards.Now I can eat lunch! 

T3: Tigers/Twins Tidbits

This and that courtesy of the Game Notes and yours truly:Lovin’ the road. The Tigers enters tonight’s game at Minnesota with wins in 14 of the club’s last 18 games on the road. Detroit leads the majors with 29 wins on the road in  2007. The Tigers lead the American League with a .291 batting average, 285 runs scored, a .353 on-base percentage and .469 slugging percentage on the road.Tale of the tape: Nate versus the Twins. Robertson is making his ninth career start at the Metrodome this evening. In his previous eight starts at the Home of the Hefty Bag, he is 3-4 with a 4.10 ERA and 35 strikeouts. In his last start against the Twins, April 27, 2007 at Detroit, Nate went seven innings but got a no-decision in the Tigers’ 5-3 loss.All-Time Records: Detroit Tigers versus Minnesota Twins

  • 2007 Record: 4-5
  • 2007 at Home: 2-4
  • 2007 at Minnesota: 2-1
  • All-Time Record: 1,010-934-17
  • All-Time at Home: 538-438-8 (Eight ties?! This must include ye olde Washington Senators, right?)
  • All-Time at Comerica Park: 30-38
  • All-Time at Minnesota: 472-496-9

And now this…Polanco loves Twinkies. Placido Polanco is hitting .366 with 29 runs scored, five doubles, four home runs and 21 RBI in 36 career games against the Twins. He leads all active major leaguers with a .366 batting average against the club. Polanco has hit safely in 18 of his last 20 games against the Twins. During that 20-game stretch versus the club, he is hitting .375.Please, no wagering. Looking to play the odds? Here’s the Tigers record so far this year on…Tuesday 8-5; Wednesday 8-4; Thursday 6-5.

Clearing out a crowded mental notebook

It’s been a while, I know, but a weeklong vacation to New Jersey followed by an annual physical and a balky back will do that to you.

Let’s empty my mental notebook before a family function this afternoon:

Thank you Jim Leyland for finally seeing that Marcus Thames provides more consistent offense than Craig Monroe. The man can hit (righties/lefties it doesn’t matter) and therefore deserves the opportunity to play five times a week. Fill in with Monroe if you must, but I’d just as soon see Ryan Raburn get the spot start out there as well. The kid worked hard to earn his way back up to the bigs, so reward him with the playing time.

I predicted to no one in particular (maybe it was just to myself) that Magglio Ordonez would have to cool off and it appears his offensive inferno has been put out. This isn’t a Home Run Derby hangover is it? That means it’s all the more important for Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco to get on so opposing pitchers can’t pitch around Gary Sheffield. Sheff will wind up leading this team in RBIs when it’s all said and done.

Speaking of Sheff, I’m with our host Mike McClary. I had no idea how good of a ballplayer he was. His baseball instincts are so good and he does the little things that put teams in a position to win games. It’s been a pleasure to watch him play. Of course D.J. on my t-ball team who insists on wagging his bat like Sheff scares the bejeebers out of me, but that’s a story for another day.

Sheffield’s productivity aside, I still think my MVP this year will be Granderson. He’s really growing into an all-around, five-tool player before us this year. He hits for power, has speed, and not enough is made of his fine defense. On a team full of players that are fun to watch, he’s the one I most enjoy. Maybe it’s because I feel the triple is the most exciting play in sport this side of an inside-the-park-homer or maybe it’s because he’s so effortless hawking balls in CF. No matter, he’s the guy I hope’s in the lineup when I show up at CoPa.

Todd Jones still doesn’t instill any confidence in me when he marches in from the pen. But aren’t Cleveland Indians fans saying the same thing about Joe Borowski?

J.J. Putz? Seriously? I believe I saw this kid in college and I never could have predicted this.

Say what you will about the Wildcard in baseball, but it certainly has had the desired effect on teams selling off high-priced players by the end of the July. With over half of each league still in the mix for the post-season, it sure looks like the Tigers are going to have to overpay to get anything of quality to shore up their bullpen.

Ty Cobb died 46 years ago today at the age of 74. Irrascible yes, but I guarantee you he wouldn’t allow Monroe and others to swing at the first pitch after the pitcher walked the previous batter on four straight pitches. To me it’s inexcusable.

Speaking of Cobb, I’ve been reading New Baltimore author Tom Stanton’s latest book Ty and The Babe. An excellent read that chronicles their vituperative-filled playing days and then their peculiar friendship that led to a three-match golf tournament in 1941. Some terrific nuggets to be found in there, like the fact Ruth’s second wife Claire had dated Cobb years before. Who knew?

Is there a better way to fall asleep than to the soothing tones of a baseball game? Sounds crazy I know, but I ponied up and bought XM primarily so I could have baseball filling my ears as I drifted off to sleep. Best $200 I’ve ever spent.

Now if only we could do something about that Price fellow who works for the Tigers!

I went to Cooperstown earlier this year with my father. I thought many of you would find it interesting to note that Gabe Kapler has a Tigers’ jersey in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yes, that Gabe Kapler! It’s his jersey from the Tiger Stadium finale with no name or number on it when he was representing Cobb. Couldn’t they have chosen Robert Fick‘s #25 in honor of Norm Cash? After all, he cleared the roof in that game against KC.