Game 61: Tigers at Blue Jays

PREGAME: The Tigers move into their final series of the so-called gauntlet. They are looking for their first back-to-back wins since the first two games of the Cleveland series – two weeks ago. Tonight’s pitching matchup is probably the most favorable of the series. Gustavo Chacin has struggled this season, and the Tigers are 11-3 against soutpaw starters. Jeremy Bonderman will pitch for Detroit, and while Toronto hits everybody well, there 838 OPS against righties sounds preferable to their 913 OPS against lefties.

And if you’re looking for something to flilp to between innings, Tigers first round pick Andrew Miller will be pitching for UNC on ESPN.

POSTGAME: Well that blew. I would be very surprised if Todd Jones is the closer tomorrow morning. Tonight he served up 4 line drives. This wasn’t a matter of luck of one bad pitch – this was awful. Leyland’s frustration with Rodney was also apparent when he was removed mid batter. I understand about not making reactionary moves, but if Leyland wants to send a message his new bullpen is Rodney in the 7th, Walker in the 8th, Zumaya in the 9th.

Yes it is important for Todd Jones to get his confidence back, but should it come at the expense of the other 24 guys?

34 Comments

  1. Anne

    June 9, 2006 at 8:35 pm

    WTG Bonderman, getting out of that bases-loaded jam in the 5th. Can we maybe call this a return to form? Prior to Rogers’ win last night over the White Sox, the Tigers’ starters had exactly ONE win (Bonderman over the Red Sox on June 3) the last TWO turns through the rotation. 10 starts, 1 win, the rest losses or no-decisions. So here’s hoping our starters are getting it together again, and will keep pitching like the team with the best ERA in the majors.

  2. Jeff M

    June 9, 2006 at 9:23 pm

    Wow. Interesting turn of events with the bullpen. Wow. I hope it works.

  3. Jerry

    June 9, 2006 at 9:28 pm

    Why was Zumaya lifted?

  4. Anne

    June 9, 2006 at 9:28 pm

    Ugh, I feel sick (again). Now I know why the starters have so many no decisions. Sheesh, how big a lead is safe? 5 runs? 10?

  5. Paul

    June 9, 2006 at 9:30 pm

    Pathetic. Anyone still wanna pretend this doesn’t matter?

  6. Taylor

    June 9, 2006 at 9:31 pm

    I am getting very tired of our relievers. What’s the problem? Todd Jones couldn’t pitch a 1-2-3 inning if his life depended on it. There has to be something we can do about this atrocious bullpen work lately.

  7. Anne

    June 9, 2006 at 9:32 pm

    Well, Jerry, Zoom-zoom did walk 2. He does seem to have control problems at times. Then again, he didn’t give up FIVE %$#@^& runs.

  8. Anne

    June 9, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    Make that six. And counting.

  9. Jeff M

    June 9, 2006 at 9:34 pm

    That sucks. Not much you can do about it though. Every pitcher we used underperformed. Tip your hat to the Jays. We’ll have to get ’em tomorrow.

  10. Kurt

    June 9, 2006 at 9:36 pm

    I just hope some positive comes of this. Like Todd Jones never pitching an important late-game inning again?

    And I wonder if Rodney has confidence problems. But I think he’ll be fine.

    To me, Zumaya is the only guy I want to see in there. Tonight he struggled, but he got out unscathed.

  11. Scott

    June 9, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    can anybody throw a strike?? Bonderman wasn’t sharp; was lucky they didn’t get the big hit earlier. Z comes in and sucks; he couldn’t throw a strike either, and then it totally goes downhill. Rodney + Jones?? Yeah, helluva combo. You guys keep telling me how good Rodney is……I’m still waiting. Another blown game (the 8th inning isn’t over yet)…….I can’t watch anymore. Just disgusting. Whoever’s talking wild card isn’t a member of this reality trip, that’s all I gotta say

  12. Taylor

    June 9, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    I agree, Zumaya was the only one who was worth his contract tonight in the bullpen. To be fair to Rodney, this type of performance is rare for him, but holy heck, Todd Jones. Leyland definitely needs to change something. Besides, why was Jones pitching the 8th?

  13. Alan

    June 9, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    The bullpen needs some serious help right now. I don’t think that Todd Jones is qualified to be the #1 reliever on a contending team. Cleveland is leading the White Sox, so we might just get by this night finding ourselves still with a 1 1/2 lead in the division.

  14. Scott

    June 9, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    Jones was pitching in the 8th ’cause NOBODY could throw a strike. And when Jones threw a strike, it never reached Pudge’s glove….it would rattle off the wall out there in right-centerfield…….

  15. Jerry

    June 9, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    Hasn’t Rodney been used in three straight games? His arm may be tired. I really think he is better than what he showed tonight. Jones, though, may be a zoo this year. Coming from the NL, where the 8th and 9th hitters are usually weak to the AL, where teams like the Jays, Sox (both), and others are loaded is a big jump for an aging reliever to make. Jones will get his saves vs. the weaker teams, but he will struggle against deeper teams.

  16. Jeff M

    June 9, 2006 at 10:15 pm

    Ladies and gentleman… slow down. Have a drink. It’s gonna be ok. No doubt… This one was a stinker. Bondo barely got through 6. Z got out of the 7th by the hair on his chinny-chin-chin. Rodney and Jones didn’t get it done.

    Ya know what? The Jays have one hell of an offense and it’s still only one loss. This is a game of probability. Absolutely anything can happen with a sample size of 1. If you replay the last few innings of this game a million times, we probably win 90% of them.

    The bullpen is still rated as one of the top 3 in the league. Even if the slide continues, they’ll still stay in the top third. Did we really expect anything better?

    White Russian, anyone?

  17. Jeff M

    June 9, 2006 at 10:20 pm

    Once again, DSR went straight to Granderson for an interview. Again, he handled himself really well. I bet we’re looking at the team’s spokesman for the next 5 years.

  18. Tim D

    June 9, 2006 at 10:23 pm

    Make mine a gin and tonic. A double.

    These are the kind of streaks that cause GMs to go crazy and trade Brian Giles for Ricardo Rincon. Leyland will make a bullpen out of this, he’s always done it in the past. They stink right now but you don’t want to do something dumb and hurt the organization. At this point I’d rather see Spurling out there and he’s in Toledo.

    Maybe Percival is feeling better.

  19. Kurt

    June 9, 2006 at 10:25 pm

    I’m apt to agree with Jeff M. I’m not as mad about this one. Maybe it wears off after repeatedly blowing games.

    Jones, forget him. But I’m not about to cast off the short relief. It’s been solid. I think Rodney lost some confidence. Actually, the the Tigers pitched without confidence and fished for the corners too much against one strong, strong lineup and they were gonna get themselves burned. Least, that’s what I got from the radio broadcast. I couldn’t see the pitches for myself.

    I have no doubt the Tigers completely deserved the loss.

  20. Jared

    June 9, 2006 at 10:27 pm

    Everyone will have a bad night, Rodney is Human, Jones is Human, and believe it or not Jones is human, no matter what the heck the numbers are, everyone will have a bad night eventually, lets not single someone out, Z sucked, Rodney Sucked, and Jones Sucked. they all picked one suckey night to…well suck

  21. Lee Panas

    June 9, 2006 at 11:05 pm

    Did anybody notice how upset Leyland loked in the dugout during the 8th inning implosion? I’ve never seen him like that during the game as a Tiger manager. I think Jones has lost his closer job.

  22. Jeff M

    June 9, 2006 at 11:15 pm

    I think Jones has lost his closer job.

    I’m not sure that’s true. I’m not saying he did well today, but he was no worse than the rest of them. Hell, he got ground balls out of the first two guys he faced. If the the infield hadn’t been in, he might have gotten out of the 8th after only 4 pitches. Of course, that’s assuming we can turn a double play.

    If if if if if. time for bed.

    P.S. Tim, that Spurling comment was just plain mean 🙂

  23. Lou

    June 9, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    To focus on the positives. Walker had a good 1/3 inning. I was kind of shocked to see Leyland pull him.

  24. Paul

    June 10, 2006 at 2:47 am

    Jeff M, with all due respect, how many more times are you going to try and spin a loss into “no big deal”? I’m sorry, but it is a big deal. This team is crumbling against their stiffest stretch of competition. I’m not saying throw in the towel on the season, but I do think that we, as fans, need to seriously re-adjust our goals and expectations of the season. Winning record? Yes. Division? Highly doubtful. Wildcard? Don’t bet on it. 3rd in division? That sounds about right, but only if Minnesota continues to have 2/5ths of a productive rotation. If they get anything in addition to Johan and Liriano, the Tigers will crawl and scratch out a 3rd place finish, at best. 🙁

  25. Jeff M

    June 10, 2006 at 4:05 am

    how many more times are you going to try and spin a loss into “no big deal”?

    49 more times sounds good.

    This team is crumbling against their stiffest stretch of competition.

    Nah, they’re just losing against their stiffest stretch of competition. This one happened to be a particularly ugly collapse, but most of the others could have gone either way.

    If they start pointing fingers, I’ll worry. If they start losing consecutive series to teams like Tampa and KC, I’ll worry.

    we, as fans, need to seriously re-adjust our goals and expectations of the season.

    Probably so, but I guess it depends on how far up you had adjusted them two weeks ago. I still see them as an 87-92 win team with a reasonable shot at making the playoffs. I don’t expect them to advance, but anything can happen in a short series if your pitching shows up.

  26. Ghost of Tigers Past

    June 10, 2006 at 8:22 am

    Is John Hiller available to pitch?

  27. Scott

    June 10, 2006 at 9:40 am

    I gotta agree – each 1 of these losses “hurts.” But, it’s showing where the team needs help the most; an astute front office will make the changes necessary to help the team. Realistically, I don’t expect ’em to make the playoffs…after 12 sub-.500 seasons in a row, that’s too much to ask. Improvement each year (which we’re seeing) is the requirement. I wonder what our record would be if we were in the East? Tons of games v KC + Minn. make our record better than possibly it really should be. But our weaknesses are becoming apparent: the bullpen. Once Z is made a starter (which would be logical for a 100 mph man with that much stuff) who, besides Walker, has distinguished himself? Answer: nobody.

  28. Kurt

    June 10, 2006 at 10:38 am

    I don’t believe Z will ever be made a starter, nor do they need him there, nor does he want to be one. As you point out, they need him in the bullpen. Why would they move him to start?

  29. Kyle J

    June 10, 2006 at 11:24 am

    While all three top relievers struggled. Here’s the difference: Zumaya and Rodney weren’t throwing strikes. They will throw strikes most of the times they’re out there. Jones, on the other hand, had (and had has) absolutely no problem throwing strikes. The problem is that other teams consistently have no problem whatsoever hitting those strikes–often times a long way.

    Jones’ hits-to-balls-in-play ratio (inverse of defensive efficiency) is now .362.

    One comforting fact: The Tigers’ struggles during this stretch is very discouraging, but keep in mind that the White Sox haven’t had to play the Red Sox or Yankees yet. I think this is one of the reasons BP is still projecting the Tigers’ odds of winning the division as being much higher than the White Sox’.

    http://www.baseballprospectus......ddspec.php

  30. Dennis

    June 10, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    With all due respect Paul, you need to chill out. How much expectations did you have for this team in the preseason? 81 wins? plus or minus 5? anything more would have been wild-eyed optimism given the makeup of this team (poor plate discipline, iffy relief, developing starts or those near the end of the road, injury problems to every one of the star hitters in the past, etc. etc. etc.)

    Then they win 15 of 16 or whatever it was, and now you’re upset that they don’t go undefeated? Logic says if they were roughly a 500 team to start the season, a hot streak like 15 of 16 will eventually lead to equivalent cold streaks, which is what it appears they’re in.

    They’re an upper-mid level team, nothing more yet. They beat up on the lower and middle range teams, and lose to upper level teams. That’s a huge improvement over the past 10 years, where they couldn’t even consistently beat the teams below them (not that there were many that qualified most years).

    For this team to be a success, they’ll need Jones, Rodney, Zumaya, et al to contribute big portions…plopping Zumaya in as closer just means Jones will be pouring gas on the fire in the 7th or 8th instead of the 9th.

  31. Scott

    June 10, 2006 at 1:17 pm

    if they don’t make Z a starter, then they’re just plain stupid. Any pitcher who can throw 100 mph with that kind of movement should be a starter…(see: “The Rocket” Clemens). Not necessarily this year, mind you, but next, for sure. Walker has done fine; should use him alot more. Grilli I’d like to see more of; he had that 1 horrible outing v NY where he couldn’t throw a strike, but I’d like to see more before I write him off. Seay seems to do ok in his role. Rodney reminds me of Franklyn German: they both overthrow to the max, but German couldn’t throw a strike, where Rodney sometimes can (but not near enough). Jones should be released….yesterday is a good time. Bring Spurling back…

  32. Jamie Walker

    June 10, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    Once again, I get ignored despite my great work.

  33. billfer

    June 10, 2006 at 3:47 pm

    I noticed Jamie – I made you my new set-up guy.

  34. Kyle J

    June 10, 2006 at 4:12 pm

    The only thing I wondered about with Walker was whether his stats looked so good because he’s been used more this year just to get one or two left-handers out. Turns out he’s actually been better against right handers.

    Opposing left-handers: .267/.267/.633 (31 PA; 2 HR)

    Opposing right-handers: .150/.171/.150 (41 PA; 0 HR)

    Count me in on the Walker-for-set-up plan.