Monday Mankowskis: Labor Day Edition

PhilMankowski77.jpgToday, after the Tigers lost another game in which they took an early lead, I was convinced they had a losing record when they scored first. Not so. With today’s loss they are 41-25. Why does it seem worse?

  • A year ago today Brandon Inge hit a grand slam off the Rays’ Russ Springer to beat the Rays 5-3 and the Tigers extended their lead over the Twins to a season-high seven games. And that’s when the bottom fell out.

  • In case you, like I, missed it, the Tigers today announced that they’ll recall Scott Sizemore from Triple A Toledo prior to Tuesday night’s game against the White Sox. Sizemore batted .298 with 23 doubles, a triple, nine home runs and 37 RBI in 76 games with the Mud Hens. By the by, in last week’s Fungo Flash Poll, 80 percent of the 149 respondents said that they prefer Will Rhymes over Sizemore.

  • The News‘ Tony Paul today continues his terrific series of articles on former Tigers as he catches up with Matt Nokes.

  • Planning on going down to Comerica Park before the season ends? You might want to plan around the Tigers’ record on each day of the week. (Hint: Stay away from Tuesdays.):

    • Monday: 7-8
    • Tuesday: 6-14
    • Wednesday: 9-13
    • Thursday: 11-4
    • Friday: 9-11
    • Saturday: 12-11
    • Sunday: 14-9

  • According to Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index, the Tigers have 33 comeback wins (their largest comeback being six runs), 29 blown leads (largest: four), five walk-off wins, eight walk-off losses.

  • The Tigers inched up two spots in ESPN.com’s MLB Power Rankings from 20 to 18.

Finally, happy 73rd birthday to JoAnne Worley.

Have a great week.

Checking in on Carlos Guillen’s Move to Second Base

GuillenHead.jpgIt’s been two months since the Tigers announced that Carlos Guillen, not rookie Scott Sizemore, would be the Tigers’ second baseman in 2010.

Who at the time would’ve guessed that the brittle Guillen could stay healthy for two months and regain his status as a productive member of the Tigers’ lineup?

But let’s be honest: the concern wasn’t Guillen’s offense, it was the defense. How many ground balls would he, could he, get to…without pulling a hamstring? Could he turn the double play with Adam Everett (and now Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth)? The answer to all those appears to be yes.

Let’s see if the numbers bear it out.

Continue reading “Checking in on Carlos Guillen’s Move to Second Base”

Wednesday Walewanders: Dickerson, Pulse Checks and the Scherzer Dilemma

Of course I’m enjoying this matinee game between the Tigers and Mariners, but I’m simply more excited to see Nate Robertson (4-4, 4.56 ERA) start against the Braves tonight. I kid.spaghetti.jpg

Weekend Wrap: Where to Begin?

CoffeeCalendar.jpgAfter the Tigers took three of four from the Yankees, the three-game weekend set with the Red Sox had all the makings of a classic letdown.

Max Scherzer certainly did his part on Friday night by serving up five runs in the first inning which fueled Boston’s 7-2 win.

What happened on Saturday was the stuff that magical seasons can be built on. An overstatement? Maybe. But when Dontrelle Willis plays the role of Scherzer by yielding four runs and seven walks in just 3.1 innings, you could almost expect the Tigers to mail it in. Except they didn’t. Instead, they chipped away at Jon Lester and the Red Sox bullpen and mounted a thrilling comeback behind Brennan Boesch‘s four-hit game — and near cycle.

Another letdown appeared imminent with John Lackey starting for the Sox on Sunday but that wasn’t meant to be either. The Tigers wore down Lackey with nine hits and four walks and Ramon Santiago went deep in the fourth for his first homer of the year.

Meanwhile, Armando Galarraga made a triumphant return to the majors and was superb (despite walking two of the first three hitters): 5.2 IP, three hits, one run, three walks and five strikeouts. And what about Jim Leyland bringing in Jeremy Bonderman for an inning of flawless relief? Whatever works.

For me, the most interesting part of an exciting week were the roster moves made after Saturday night’s game. Scherzer being sent down came as no surprise after he showed on Friday how truly out of sync he is. With Galarraga seemingly ready to resume his big-league career, this makes sense.

Demoting Scott Sizemore jolted me a little. Based on everything we heard since spring training — and that they let Placido Polanco walk — I expected the Tigers to ride it out with Sizemore. Then again, when your keystone combination is hitting a combined .399, you’ve gotta do something.

I’ll say this about Dave Dombrowski, he’s certainly not afraid to bring up the kids. Right now, the Tigers have five rookies on their roster. And good ones. Who knows how long Danny Worth and Casper Wells will stick in Detroit, but it certainly is fun to watch it all play out.

The stunner in all this was the announcement of Carlos Guillen becoming the Tigers’ starting second baseman when he returns from the disabled list. Tell me how this can possibly end well? One wrong twist trying to turn a double play and Guillen could be on the shelf again. Then again, this is a player — a favorite of mine, actually — who landed on the DL running the bases. Add the more demanding defensive requirements of the middle infield and, well, yeah. This can’t end well. (Of course this isn’t saying much, but I’d certainly rather have him at second than in left.)

In his career, Guillen has played a dozen games at second base, all with the Mariners in 1998 and ’99 and he had 56 error-free chances. He’ll have to make quite a few to catch up with Sizemore’s six errors so far this year.

A weekend that started out poorly — and could’ve gotten a lot worse without much effort — certainly turned around in a hurry and featured lots for Tigers fans to chew on as the dreaded White Sox come to town on Monday.

Game 30: Tigers 6 – Indians 4

ESPN highlights available here.ScorecardXSmall.jpg

The Score: Tigers 6 – Indians 4

The Gist: Justin Verlander delivered his third consecutive stellar outing and Scott Sizemore (3 RBI) and Miguel Cabrera (2 RBI) paced the offense on a raw day in Cleveland. Joel Zumaya was terrific again throwing 21 of his 28 pitches for strikes and racking up five strikeouts in two innings.

The Quote: “It was a good win on a miserable day.” — Jim Leyland

The Stat: 15 — The number of Indians strikeouts by a trio of Tigers pitchers: Verlander, 9; Zumaya, 5; Jose Valverde, 1.

Up Next: Sunday — Tigers @ Indians | Progressive Field | 1:05 p.m. ET

Max Scherzer (1-2, 6.47 ERA) vs. Mitch Talbot (3-2, 2.28 ERA)

Follow The Daily Fungo on Twitter: @DailyFungo

Game 25: Tigers 3 – Angels 2

ESPN highlights available here.ScorecardXSmall.jpg

The Score: Tigers 3 – Angels 2

The Gist: This was the big, dramatic hit Tigers fans have been anticipating from Johnny Damon, wasn’t it? What’s more, it was a home run from a veteran outside of Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera and it came against a top reliever. Damon’s game-winner was his third hit on the day and followed a terrific — perhaps unprecedented — throw which gunned down Hideki Matsui at the plate. Jeremy Bonderman was solid in his six innings of work, and although he allowed 10 hits he didn’t walk a batter and yielded just one earned run.

The Quote: “That should have been a no-doubter but the wind began blowing it back. It wasn’t as far out as it would have been.” — Jim Leyland on Damon’s blast

The Stat: 25 — The number of pitches Scott Sizemore saw in his four plate appearances.

Up Next: Sunday: Tigers vs. Angels @ Comerica Park | 1:05 p.m. ET | On the air: FSD/1270 & 97.1

Justin Verlander (1-2, 5.53 ERA) vs. Jered Weaver (3-0, 2.53 ERA)

Follow The Daily Fungo on Twitter: @DailyFungo

Game 8: Same Old, Same Old

ESPN highlights available here.
ScorecardXSmall.jpg

The Score: Tigers 6 – Royals 5

The Gist: Dontrelle Willis‘s second start was a lot uglier than his first (5 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 104 pitches) but he managed to escape again with a no decision. The Tigers’ lineup again could not solve Brian Bannister — no surprise there; he’s 4-2 against Detroit in nine career starts. But they waited around for Roman Colon and the Royals’ bullpen and mounted a six-run seventh-inning charge. Four doubles and a Miguel Cabrera walk later — the Tigers had another comeback win.

The Quote: “I think we knew that, with the way Bannister was pitching, our best chance was probably to get to their bullpen.” — Austin Jackson

The Stat: 6 – The number of pitches Scott Sizemore saw in his 2-for-3 day.

Up Next: Rick Porcello (1-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. Kyle Davies (0-0, 4.50 ERA) — 1:05 p.m. ET | FSD/1270 & 97.1

Follow The Daily Fungo on Twitter: @DailyFungo