The Monday Report: A-Jax’s Throw, Ron LeFlore’s Record and Mats Wilander’s Birthday

Welcome to the last full week of August. The Tigers enjoy a 4.5-game lead on the Indians today. The last time they led the A.L. Central by that many games was Sept. 16, 2009.

Leading Off: I’ve watched a lot of Tigers baseball in my time but I can’t recall a more exciting final out sequence as the one we saw on Sunday to preserve a 8-7 Tigers win. Austin Jackson’s flawless throw to Alex Avila. Rick Porcello seemed hell bent to surrender a seven-run cushion but thankfully the bullpen did enough to blow it entirely … The Tigers head to Tampa Bay for a four-game set … They also are looking for their first winning streak of more than three games since June 7 when they had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Around the Central: The White Sox crushed the Rangers 10-0 at U.S. Cellular Field; the Red Sox downed the Royals, 6-1, and the Yankees blanked the Twins, 3-0.

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The Tigers are in first place, 4.5 games ahead of the Indians.

Today’s Game: Tigers @ Rays — Justin Verlander (18-5, 2.31 ERA) vs. Jeff Nieman (8-4, 3.29 ERA) | 7:05 p.m. – FSD/1270 AM and 97.1 FM

Verlander has won each of his last six starts for the Tigers dating back to July 21, compiling a 2.36 ERA and 51 strikeouts during that stretch.

In nine career starts against the Rays, Verlander’s 5-1 with a 3.88 ERA.

With a win tonight, he would equal his career high in victories set in 2009. It would mark the fastest a Tigers pitcher won his 19th game of the season since Mickey Lolich did so in the club’s 114th game of the 1972 season.

On this date, Ron LeFlore swiped his 27th consecutive base as the Tigers beat the Twins, 7-3. He began the streak on July 16.

On this date in 1981, the Tigers acquired first baseman Ron Jackson from the Twins for outfielder Tim Corcoran.

On Aug. 22, 1997, The Tigers pounded the Brewers, 16-1, with the aid of 23 hits and an 11- run seventh inning. Bobby Higginson got five hits, while Travis Fryman and Tony Clark drive in four runs apiece.

Happy 35th Birthday to Jeff Weaver. Also celebrating today is Doug Bair; he’s 62.

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  • The Tigers are #10 in ESPN’s Power Rankings, up from nine last week. They trail the D-backs (who have one more win) and this week’s opponent, the Rays (#7).
  • Somehow I missed out on Dave Schoenfield’s reminiscing about Chet Lemon last week:

    If you’re too young to remember Chet Lemon, he was a superb ballplayer. He could them run down in center field — in fact, his 512 putouts with the White Sox in 1977 remains the American League record, not bad for a guy who had converted from third base as a rookie the year before. He hit .300 three times, had some power, drew some walks, got hit by 10 to 20 pitches a season. He did a lot to help his teams win.

    What Chet Lemon wasn’t very good at was stealing bases.

  • This is a topic that deserves more thought than I have time for today but am I the only one who thinks Miguel Cabrera has a profound lack of hustle on the bases, particularly out of the batter’s box?
  • SI‘s Joe Sheehan thinks the stars are aligning in the Tigers favor after sweeping the Indians:

    Jackson’s base-runner kill helped Jose Valverde escape a bases-loaded, no-out jam and convert his 37th consecutive save this season. The Tigers have fended off a series of challenges by the Indians, and after a trip to Tampa Bay get seven games against the Twins and Royals to stretch their lead before six more against the White Sox and Indians. That week may represent both teams’ last shot to keep the Tigers from making September a coronation.

  • Are the Tigers winning with other clubs’ talent?
  • Not a game goes by that I don’t wish the Tigers still had Placido Polanco batting second.
  • It doesn’t matter if the Twins send Jim Thome to the Indians before Aug. 31. The Tigers are set to face both clubs six more times this season so, they’re hosed either way.

Finally, Happy 47th Birthday to tennis hall of famer Mats Wilander who, in 1988, won the Australian Open, French Open and U.S. Open.

The Daily (Continental) Breakfast: July 28, 2011

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The Tigers are in first place, two games ahead of the Indians and a mere 3.5 games ahead of the White Sox.

There are three days left until the trade deadline.

Today’s game: Brad Penny (5-5, 4.61 ERA) vs. Joel Pineiro (7-7, 4.51 ERA) | 1:05 p.m. FSD/1270 & 97.1

FYI: Penny surrendered three runs in the first inning of his start on July 6 against the Angels, but he earned the win as the Tigers rallied for a 5-4 victory.

On this date in 1989 the Tigers acquired lefty Brian Dubois from the Orioles for aging infielder Keith Moreland. On July 28, 1993, Travis Fryman collected five hits and hit for the cycle in a 12-7 loss to the Yankees. And 10 years ago today, Detroit picked up port-sider Mark Redman from the Twins for reliever Todd Jones.

[/callout]Good soggy morning in The D. The Tigers grounds crew is earning its keep today getting Comerica Park ready for today’s matinee opener against the Angels.

The Leadoff: John Danks mystified a Tigers lineup cut that suddenly looked as if it was cut from the Craig Monroe cloth: see ball, swing. The predictable outcome? A 2-1 loss to the White Sox.

Around the Central: The Indians, who acquired Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs, were no-hit by the Angels’ Ervin Santana — but scratched across a run — and lost 3-1. The Royals lost 12-5 to the Red Sox and the Twins beat the Rangers, 7-2. Did anyone notice the Indians are now only two games above .500?

Penny’s Bizarro World: Penny has limited lefthanded hitters to a .244 batting average this season. Righthanded hitters are batting .322 with Penny on the mound in 2011.

Today’s Blast from the Past: Here are three former short-time Tigers for your consideration: Francisco Cruceta, Doug Flynn and Mickey Mahler.

Finally, Happy 68th Birthday to basketball hall of famer and former U.S. senator Bill Bradley.

All-Star Game Notes and Non Sequiturs

Sometimes I want to rail on Major League Baseball about the lameness of so many things it does — the vapid celebrity softball game, the interminable Home Run Derby, the “this-time-it-counts” angle on the All-Star Game — but then I realize it’s probably me just getting old.

  • The Tigers’ collection of All Stars is the largest since 1985 when the club sent six players to the Metrodome for the game managed by Sparky Anderson. Here’s a look at the largest classes of Tigers All Stars since 1984 and the team’s record that season:

1984 (104-58)
Willie Hernandez
Chet Lemon
Jack Morris
Lance Parrish
Alan Trammell
Lou Whitaker

1985 (84-77)
Willie Hernandez
Jack Morris
Lance Parrish
Dan Petry
Alan Trammell
Lou Whitaker

2007 (88-74)
Carlos Guillen
Magglio Ordonez
Placido Polanco
Ivan Rodriguez
Justin Verlander

2009 (86-77)
Curtis Granderson
Brandon Inge
Edwin Jackson
Justin Verlander

Clearly, the better the Tigers were, the more players they sent to the All-Star Game. For a long time though, the Tigers were a team that had little to offer the American League manager. From 1996 through 2003, Detroit sent a single player to the game. In some cases the pickings were particularly slim (see 2002).

1996 (53-109)
Travis Fryman

1997 (79-83)
Justin Thompson

1998 (65-97)
Damion Easley

1999 (69-92)
Brad Ausmus

2000 (79-83)
Todd Jones

2001 (66-96)
Tony Clark

2002 (55-106)
Robert Fick

2003 (43-119)
Dmitri Young

Ugly, no?

  • I still think it’s remarkable that Alex Avila is the starting catcher in tonight’s game. Whoda thunk it, especially after a dreadful Opening Day series against the Yankees when Avila looked about as lost as a player can look. I guess that’s why, as Rod Allen says, you play the games. Jason Beck has a nice piece recapping the Tigers’ All Stars’ respective experiences in Phoenix.
  • The water is so far past being under the bridge, but isn’t it still a bit weird to see Curtis Granderson starting in the All-Star Game … as a Yankee?
  • Six years ago today in the Home Run Derby at Comerica Park, Bobby Abreu destroyed the records for a single round, the championship round and the grand total for all three rounds of the derby by hitting 41 homers into every part of yard. The Phillies outfielder went deep 24 times in the first round, tacks on six more in the second round and finishes with 11 more in the championship round.
  • Looking ahead to the pitching matchups for this weekend’s series against the White Sox:

Friday | 7:05 p.m. FSD/1270 & 97.1
Justin Verlander (12-4, 2.15 ERA) vs. Gavin Floyd (6-9, 4.59 ERA)

Saturday | 4:10 p.m. FOX/1270 & 97.1
Max Scherzer (10-4, 4.69 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (5-7, 4.30 ERA)

Sunday | 1:05 p.m. FSD/1270 & 97.1
Brad Penny (6-6, 4.50 ERA) vs. Jake Peavy (4-2, 4.83 ERA)

Finally, on this date in 1979 the White Sox were forced to forfeit the second game of twi-night doubleheader against the Tigers when more tha5,000 fans refuse to leave the field during Disco Demolition Night. I wrote about it on the 30th anniversary.

Three for Thursday: Forgettable Randy Smith Trades Edition

3 fingers.jpgWould it surprise you to learn that in his six-plus years as Tigers’ GM, Randy Smith made 60 trades? To offer some perspective, from 1983-95, the year Smith took over the front office, the Tigers made 62 deals — roughly the same number of trades in twice the time.

On this date in 1997, Smith made a pair of humdingers during the Expansion Draft:

  1. On this date in 1997, the Tigers acquired righthander Matt Drews and infielders Joe Randa and Gabe Alvarez from the Diamondbacks for infielder Travis Fryman. The D-backs turned around and peddled Fryman to the Indians. The Tigers also acquired righthander Tim Worrell and outfielder Trey Beamon from the Padres for lefthanders Dan Miceli and Donne Wall and infielder Ryan Balfe.

  2. On Nov. 18, 1963, the Tigers sent outfielder Rocky Colavito, pitcher Bob Anderson, and a reported $50,000 to the Kansas City Athletics for second baseman Jerry Lumpe and pitchers Dave Wickersham and Ed Rakow.

  3. Happy 42nd birthday to Gary Sheffield. Sheff, we hardly knew ye.

Tigers Today: July 6, 2010

PickOffSmall.jpg**Sorry this one’s coming late in the day. I was traveling and got online later than expected. This one include information about tonight’s win and Monday’s too.**

Tigers’ Record:

45-37, 1st place; 1/2-game lead over Twins

Today’s Results

Tigers 7 – Orioles 5 (11 innings)

Yesterday’s Results

Tigers 12 – Orioles 9

Continue reading “Tigers Today: July 6, 2010”

Tigers Today: June 17, 2010

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Tigers 8 – Nationals 3

Fungo Recap
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Tigers’ Record:

36-29, 2nd place; 1.5 GB Minnesota

Tomorrow’s Game

Tigers vs. Diamondbacks | 7:05 p.m. ET – Comerica Park | On the air: FSD/AM 1270 and 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Armando Galarraga (2-1, 2.67 ERA) vs. Dontrelle Willis (1-0, 1.80 ERA)

Tigers History Lesson

Today’s Birthdays

Continue reading “Tigers Today: June 17, 2010”

Two for Tuesday

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  1. Somewhere on the vast Internet I saw a reader comment that the Tigers should fire hitting coach Lloyd McClendon. The thinking was that outside of Brandon Inge, Lloyd the Legend hasn’t developed anyone for Detroit. I’m always hesitant to fire coaches because so little is in their control. (Besides, remember how Chuck Hernandez was the Second Coming in 2006 and today he’s the Indians’ bullpen coach?)

    Anyway, how can McClendon be blamed for an offense that manages to get runners in scoring position but fail (and fail and fail) to drive them home? Take, for example, this instance in last night’s dreadful game: Miguel Cabrera up with the bases loaded and a 3-0 count…and he ends up striking out to end the inning. Is that Lloyd’s fault?

    Discuss.

  2. On this date in 1993, Travis Fryman smacks five hits on his way to the cycle in the Tigers’ 12-7 loss to the Yankees. He is the first Tiger to hit for the cycle in 43 years.