The Monday Report: Week 1

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The Skinny:

  • 4-3, 1st Place in A.L. Central, .5 games ahead of Chicago
  • Streak: W3
  • Home Record: 3-0 / Road Record: 1-3

Who’s Hot:

  • Miguel Cabrera: .520 avg., .586 OBP, .960 SLG, 3 HR, 10 RBI
  • Placido Polanco: .346, .393 OBP, .462 SLG
  • Gerald Laird: .318, .400 OBP, .455 SLG
  • Brandon Inge: .304, .448 OBP, .870 SLG, 4 HR, 7 RBI

Who’s Not:

  • Carlos Guillen:.182, .345 OBP, .273 SLG
  • Adam Everett: .238*, .333 OBP, .286 SLG
  • Curtis Granderson: .241, .281 OBP, .483 SLG

*Though, wouldn’t we all be happy with .238 for the season from Everett?

Up Next: White Sox

  • Today: Zach Miner vs. Gavin Floyd
  • Tomorrow: Rick Porcello (0-1, 7.20) vs. John Danks (0-0, 0.00)
  • Wednesday: Armando Galarraga (1-0, 1.29) vs. Jose Contreras (0-1, 7.20)

Tigers vs. White Sox

  • All-Time Record: 990-979-15
  • All-Time at Home: 523-458-5
  • All-Time at Comerica Park: 32-49
  • All-Time at Chicago: 467-521-10

2009 Player Profile: Nate Robertson

The results of our most recent poll indicate that loyal Daily Fungo readers would prefer Dontrelle Willis (43%), Zach Miner (38%) or perhaps even Felipe Lira as the Tigers’ fifth starter over Nate Robertson (19%).

Nevertheless, we want to continue our series of player profiles today with The Nater for two reasons — actually three, I just thought of a third: First, he made more starts last season than either Miner or Willis. Second, I already had the profile written. Last, we’ll do our friend and avowed Nater Hater, Ian Casselberry, a favor and get it out of the way.

Nate Robertson #29

  • Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 225
  • 2008 Stats: 7-11, 6.35 ERA

RobertsonHead.jpgThe Tigers had no shortage of pitching frustrations in 2008 and one could argue that the most perplexing of all was Robertson. Once considered a core member of the rotation, the lefthander’s performance in ’08 raised questions about whether he could physically and mentally take his game to a higher level. In fact, Robertson’s season was so off-kilter that he found himself in the bullpen after a 5-8, 5.26 ERA first half.

Things improved little after the All Star Break and the 31-year-old enters 2009 as a major question mark. However, if any Tigers pitcher is likely to adopt the mantra of new pitching coach Rick Knapp – throw first-pitch strikes – it’s Robertson, who had above-league-average success in this area in ’08. (Nearly 60 percent of his initial offerings were strikes.)

A reversal of fortune for the Tigers in 2009 will be tied closely to Robertson’s ability to rediscover his command – especially his slider – and log quality starts. The club hopes an off-season exercise regimen designed to improve his flexibility will help him in the short and long term. Barring a Spring Training meltdown, expect him to return to the rotation in 2009 and to stay out of the bullpen.

Willis and Garcia and Pray for Rain

PitchersMound.jpgTigers fans have spent much of this dreadful season watching games with one eye — and often two — covered, so watching tonight’s game, featuring Dontrelle Willis‘s low-key return, through your hands should seem routine. (By the way, Rob Neyer, for one, isn’t expecting much out of the D-Train tonight.)

What are we to make of the pitching lineup this week in Arlington?

Two-thirds of it looks like a game out of 2003.

I don’t want to be a defeatist here, but let’s face it. Unless something magically unforeseen happens, the Tigers could depart Texas with the back end of a .500 season intact — i.e., 81 losses. Which means they’d have to run the table and have the Twins and White Sox tied on Sept. 28 — requiring game 162 be played in Chicago — and win that game to finish 81-81.

Doesn’t look promising, does it? Take heart. Word out of Detroit is that Milt Wilcox is starting game one in Cleveland Friday night.

Friday Fungoes

thermometer.jpgWelcome to August! In the Phoenix area we ring in the month with 113 degrees…but a mere 20 percent humidity. The poor Tigers head to Tampa where the temperature and humidity are 86. God bless Willis Carrier.

  • So how did July end up for the Tigers? Even. As in 13-13. Here are some other tidbits that helped shape a so-so month in this so-so season:
    • Losses to the Twins on July 1 and the Indians on July 31 bookend the month.
    • Top hitter: Magglio Ordonez: .386; however he played in only 15 games. We’ll expand this to the two players that played in the most games last month: Curtis Granderson (26 games) .324, and Miguel Cabrera (25 games) .330.
    • Most hits: Granderson, 36; Cabrera, 25
    • Most homers: Cabrera, 8.
    • Top pitcher, wins: Justin Verlander, 4
    • ERA, starter: Zach Miner, 1.29
    • ERA, reliever: Bobby Seay, 0.79
    • Saves: Todd Jones, 3.

  • The good news heading into a new month is that the Tigers are just 5.5 games out of first place with two months to play. The bad news? The Tigers are just 5.5 games out of fourth place. Savor that for a moment, won’t you?

  • According to the results of The Daily Fungo Pulse Check unscientific poll, 57 percent of Fungo readers said they expected the Tigers to be buyers at the trade deadline, 43 percent thought the Tigers would sell. Interestingly, I noticed a mini-surge in “sellers” votes after the Pudge deal was announced. Be sure to cast your vote in this week’s new poll.

  • The big media outlets released power rankings for this week. The Tigers certainly have the look of a middling team according to:

  • Does anyone else feel like it’s Sept. 20 and not Aug. 1? This season is exhausting.

Finally, on Aug. 1, 1974, at Milwaukee’s County Stadium, Ron LeFlore made his major-league debut for the Tigers. Ralph Houk put him in the leadoff spot against the Brewers’ Jim Slaton and LeFlore struck out thrice. It wasn’t until his fourth at bat that he put a ball in play: a grounder to third baseman Don Money for the first out of the eighth.

The Tigers won the game 2-0 behind a masterful performance by Woodie Fryman: a complete-game one-hitter. Woodrow struck out 10 and walked three. Norm Cash drove in both runs with a solo homer and an RBI single.

Wondering who caught Fryman’s gem? Gene Lamont.

Have a great weekend.

Game 99: Ex-Zach-ly

ESPN highlights available here.

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The Score: Tigers 19 – Royals 4

The Gist: Awesome: Zach Miner (6 IP, 0 R, 3 singles, 1 BB, 1 K), Miguel Cabrera (5 for 6, 6 RBI), Matt Joyce (4 for 6, 5 RBI and a homer), Carlos Guillen (3 for 4, 5 runs), Curtis Granderson (3 for 5, 1 BB, 4 R). Not Awesome: The Royals’ poor Jimmy Gobble: 1 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 10 R (all earned).

The Quote: “Zach Miner’s only 26?” — Mike McClary

The Stat: 3. The number of times the Tigers have scored 19 runs in a game this year.

Up Next: Tigers @ Royals

Kenny Rogers (7-6, 4.62) vs. Kyle Davies (3-1, 4.59)

Game 23: At Last, A Sweep

ESPN highlights available here.

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The Gist: Magglio Ordonez goes deep twice, Jeremy Bonderman continues to frustrate and Jacque Jones is added to the injury list, yet the Tigers finally reach double digits in wins, defeating the Rangers 8-2. What else?

  • Curtis Granderson led off the Tigers half of the first with a home run
  • Zach Miner continues his Jekyll and Hyde act with a solid 3.1 hitless innings pitched, one walk and three strikeouts
  • Ryan Raburn sort of slammed his first homer of the year (replays show that it could very well have been touched by a fan in right)
  • Placido Polanco returns but still struggles at the plate, going 0 for 3 with a walk. He’s hitting .140 on the year.

The Quote: “I felt like I owed the starters at least one game like that.” — Zach Miner

The Stat: 111. The number of pitches thrown by Bonderman in a mere 4.1 innings pitched.

Up Next: Angels at Tigers

Nate Robertson (0-2, 7.48) vs. Ervin Santana (3-0, 2.67)

Game 16: Tribe Returns the Favor

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ESPN highlights available here.

The Gist: Justin Verlander got lit up. Again. This time the Tigers’ 0-3 ace allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings to take the loss. The 11-1 loss to the Indians, leaves the Tigers with a Lions-esque record of 5 and 11. The Tigers had Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona on the ropes in the first inning but couldn’t push across a run.

The Quote: “We let it get out of hand.” Jim Leyland.

The Stat: The prominent number in Zach Miner‘s pitching line from Thursday night: 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER — all in just one inning.