Game 104: Tigers at Twins

PREGAME: With a win today the Tigers would match last year’s win total, and a quick check of the calendar tells me it’s still July. Of course I’m not going to count the chickens in the pre-hatch phase of the post, especially with Johan Santana pitching for the Twins.

With the series in hand, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Jim Leyland employ the Sunday lineup and give Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez the day off. With the Tigers playing 7 straight days on turf it might not be a bad idea. Pudge may still be out, and there was talk of Brent Clevlen starting in centerfield today. (Like that isn’t a tall order – welcome to the bigs).

So runs may be at a premium, but that is pretty much what Jeremy Bonderman has been accustomed to this year. Bonderman looks to make things just as difficult on the Twins, and with a 2.67 ERA and 74 strikeouts in his last 10 starts he certainly seems up to the task.

POSTGAME: I think this one definitely falls under the category of: ERGH. That is about as beatable as Johan Santana gets, and about as dominant as Jeremy Bonderman gets. The only thing I question is leaving Bonderman out there to face Cuddyer, actually the entire walk Joe Mauer to get to Cuddyer. Jamie Walker was warm and available. I know Bonderman wasn’t getting hit hard, and he was still throwing 95, and even the pitch that Cuddyer hit wasn’t a bad pitch. But there is probably a limit to the frustration one pitcher should face in an inning, and he threw a ton of pitches.

In the end the inning was reminiscent of the 8th inning melt down in Pittsburgh. Just plain ugly.

Offensively I couldn’t be happier. The Tigers made Santana work and repeatedly hit balls hard. Yes they left 13 men on base, but I look at situations like the 4th inning where the Tigers had runners on 2nd and 3rd and after a Clevlen K, Polanco and Thames both hit line drives that were caught. It happens – just like the 8th inning happened.

And yes, Brent Clevlen. That was quite a debut for a move I was questioning. He doubled and walked off of Santana, it will only get easier from here on out. And as for the outfield assist, it was a perfectly executed play. Clevlen made a strong accurate throw and Wilson blocked the plate. But I think the Tigers caught a break because Castillo appeared to have scored.

Two last thoughts on the series. First, I love the old school helmets that both Mauer and Redmond wear when catching. And secondly, could someone please ask Tim McClelland to make a strike call before the ball has been returned to the pitcher?
Game Time 2:10

45 thoughts on “Game 104: Tigers at Twins”

  1. Remarkable how much more I care about what the Bankees are doing with the Tigers in the playoff picture. Abreu and Lidle for almost nothing, or so it seems. The Yanks foot the bill and that’s really all the Phils care about.

  2. Geez, what a gift. 13 LOB, 4 errors, insane balk call….

    Hope the Twinkies enjoy it. I feel for Bondo.

  3. Not a disaster, folks – Detroit had already won the series. Until we lose a series, I won’t let losses bother me.

    A rule’s a rule – as stated, Bonderman clearly committed a balk.

  4. We got lucky yesterday, they got lucky today. Ah well things even out, we showed the twins that liriano and santana aren’t invincible…

    Just wondering…what is a balk?

  5. we did fine ’til 2 errors, a brain fart, and a bunch of dink hits did us in. The balk call was correct; once he brings his hands together, he can’t break ’em if he’s on the rubber. He has to step off, first. Even the triple was a pitch out of the strike zone; he had to reach to hit it…and didn’t hit it that good. It was a “turf” triple. Oh well, 2 of 3 v the Twinkies is fine; not gonna win ’em all. The O’s scored 2 in the 9th v the Sox so the Sox lost again….. 🙂

    On a really sour note, I see the chump Yankees trying to buy themselves a playoff berth again. Let’s hope they fall flat on their faces….

  6. Balk was absolutely the right call, but it really seemed like the stick that broke the camel’s back.

    Still a well-pitched game for Jeremy. We’ll get ’em next time.

  7. Jesus,what an ugly rally-the day the last artificial turf is torn up can’t come too soon.The Tigers could stick Norm Cash’s casket at first base and it would be an upgrade over Shelton-if ever there was a guy born to dh(which is second to artificial turf in detracting from the game).I agree with Jason on the series thing-it’s a good mindset to go into the playoffs with.

  8. It was ugly. But we got 2 in the Dome and left more games ahead of the Twins than we arrived, that’s really all that matters in the end.

  9. Bryan,
    A balk, as defined on http://www.enlexica.com/cgi-bin/find.com:

    “an illegal motion by a pitcher when one or more runners are on base; can be a pretend throw, or too long a pause during a windup or stretch; runners are allowed to advance when a balk is called.”

    And on another note, The Tigs have won 13 of their last 14 series.
    In that timeframe, they are 31-12. It’s hard to complain about that

    I agree with the Balk call. Its frustrating, but it was the right call. I think the run would have got in anyway (Not accounting for the fact that the Balk call may have upset Bondo.)

    Brent Clevlen looks like he could be a real asset to this team. I know he’s not going to play this good every day, but he looks like he’s got skills.

  10. I had a bad vibe on this game, you need to capitalize when a great pitcher is having a bad day.

  11. The problem with the Shelton DH scenario is the guy flat out can’t hit. That creates a bit of a problem. Would love to see more Dmitri at first, Monroe in left, Thames at DH.

  12. I gotta disagree about Shelton’s fielding; he’s actually quite good over there. Turf sucks to play on anyway, and balls hit like that one ( high hoppers) have serious top-spin on ’em. That top-spin caused the ball to shoot thru his legs; Shelton didn’t account for that is all. I can remember Shelton making some real good defensive plays; especially to his right. I have no problem with him….

  13. I’m very happy about taking 2 out of 3, but I HATE the way it happened. We had those boys on the ropes. If we held on to win this game, it would have done some serious psychological damage to them. They’ve been playing lights-out, they shuffled their rotation, we said “nah, we don’t need to”, and we still came in and stuck it to them through 25 innings. It’s a shame we handed their confidence back at the end.

    Oh, well… on to Tampa 🙂

  14. Scott, I agree with you about Shelton’s D. Except for today and the Pitt game Billfer mentioned, I’ve been rather pleased with the way he’s played in the field. Steady, but not spectacular.

    2 of 3 is awesome in a sold-out, playoff atmosphere Dome. Unfortunately, when the meltdown happened today, we all smelled a sweep. Oh well, our distaste will wash away against Tampa Bay…hopefully. I’m thinking 3 of 4…hopefully.

  15. here’s some good cheer after a rough day:

    since the break, the top 3 teams in the central have played 3 games against each other, all the way around. the results:

    Detroit: 4-2, 2 Series Wins
    Minnesota: 4-2, 1 Series Win
    Chicago: 1-5

    that 5th win would’ve been great, but we went into the twinkie dome, took 2 out of 3, and didn’t let any of their starters beat us.

  16. Shelton can hit, but he’s inexperienced and gets lucky a lot. I just know that in the last few games he’s been one of the guys I’ve been relying on to hit in the latter half of the game (esp 9th inning) and he’s come through. Game 102 vs the Twins, he fouled off like forty pitches before getting a single in the 9th inning. And today, with the RBI single in the ninth…I think his hitting is underestimated. But…today I know we would have been better with Dmitri at first base, most likely because that error would not have been made.

    One last thing I have to say about this game – if Bondo’s pitched seven scoreless innings and Jamie Walker is the guy you have for relief, PUT HIM IN. And if not right away, at least as the other team starts scoring some serious runs. Walker ended the inning, but it was too little, too late. Gave Joe Nathan a save he didn’t deserve.

  17. I agree with Adam. I was pretty surprised to see Bondy come out to start the 8th, let alone face 17 batters in that inning. He looked a little tired in the 7th. (And why can’t he and Wilson get their signs straightened out.) Bondy was great today, in my mind he outdueled Santana. The 8th inning was kind of like the Pedro Martinez-Grady Little thing. Every batter I kept saying to myself, I can’t believe he’s still pitching. Leyland kept coming out to argue, he forgot to come out to get his pitcher. Oh well, I’m happy with two out of three against Minnesota. As hot as they were coming in, I would have been OK with one out of three. It’s just tough to lose the way we did today. As for Shelton, he hasn’t hit very well over the last couple months, but he sure seems to get a lot of clutch hits. I just don’t know what to do with Young, Thames, Shelton, and Monroe. There’s not enough room for all of them to play every day.

  18. OK,you guys have convinced me-Shelton does have more range at first base than Norm Cash’s casket-not to mention the soft hands of a (tree) surgeon.That’s probably why he was pulled the other night to replace him at first with Guillen-you know,the shortstop.That’s something you see all the time.

  19. Bob – No need to get snarky. And for clarification, he wasn’t pulled for defense. Infante came in for Shelton as a pinch runner the half inning before.

    Shelton has been the one to be used as a defensive replacement when others have started at first.

    Shelton isn’t a stud, and yesterday wasn’t his best effort by any means, but he is average at worst.

    The only player among regulars who is a defensive liability is Ordonez.

  20. The only player among regulars who is a defensive liability is Ordonez.

    Well, Kenny is a liability to himself when he plays defense. Does that count?

  21. Didn’t see any of the games on TV, but listening on the radio I was struck by the number of “Metrodome hits”–bouncing groundballs, flyballs lost in the roof, etc. Quantitaitve question: I wonder if anyone has tried to measure how big a home field advantage these things create for the Twins–and how much it will hurt them to build a new stadium.

    Sounds like the Tigers got their fair share of the dome-related breaks this weekend, though.

  22. Rock on Billfer. The positive tone of this blog is one of the things I love most about it. You can critcize without being nasty.

    Greg–I know who Wally Pipp is, but I’m not sure I get why you’re bringing him up?

    As delicious as a sweep would have been, it’s really not necessary. If someone had told me Friday afternoon that Miner would duel Liriano to a draw that night, I would have questioned his sanity. And which seems more likely to happen in future–Bonderman pitches another dominant game or the Tigs give away another one with a single-inning meltdown? All-in-all I’m more than satisfied with this series. Liriano and Santana are NOT unbeatable.

  23. I’m normally one that bitches about pulling a starting pitcher when he is thowing well, but my first thought last night was why let Bonderman start the 8th. Twins have some good contact hitters, and our bullpen has been pretty good at changing the pace of a game.

    Tough call for Leyland. Hopefully – however both he and Bonderman will learn from this.

    2 of 3 in Min. is amazing considering how hot MN was comming in. Leyland now needs to have them refocus. I’m sure he will do that well . . .check how many times the tigers have lost back to back games this season. (I counted only once in July)

  24. SI.com’s Jon Heyman still likes the Tigers’ chances to get Soriano. Says the Tigers and the Angels are the front runners. I continue to think any deal that involves only one top pitching prospect is a deal that has to be made. Particularly in light of what the Yankees’ lineup could look like in Sept/Oct now. Maybin should be off limits (and it sounds like he is). Giving up Ledezma or Minor also seems reasonable to me. If it’s Minor, then Ledezma could start a few games before Maroth gets back.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.c.....ily.scoop/

  25. Re: the twins catchers’ helmets – it’s good to see a catcher who looks like a catcher rather than a goalie…

  26. I brought up Wally Pipp because of Maybin’s start. As in Leyland will leave him in and we’ll never hear of Granderson again. Granderson is to Wally Pipp as Maybin is to Lou Gehrig.

    The Tigers acquired Sean Casey. I’ve always thought he was overrated–no power whatsoever. But we didn’t give up anybody I’ve heard of.

  27. hopefully bull durham can work his magic with shelton…i wonder if they’re going to start dmitri at first and let casey be the lefty off the bench…

  28. Greg – I assume you meant Clevlen, and I also assume you’re joking about him making everybody forget Granderson since he put up worse numbers at AA than Granderson has in the majors.

  29. I agree with Leyland letting Bondy in the 8th. Come October, Bondy is going to have to get out of his own jams.

    The amazing thing is is that NO ONE hit a ball hard until Cuddyer’s double. Just one of those games.

    -Sam

  30. Sorry if I’m beating a dead horse, but Greg-are you that high on Clevelen, that down on Granderson or just making conversation? I figured you were talking about either Clevelen/Granderson or Pudge/Vance Wilson, as in bruised thumb=headache.

    Just an observation–leaving Bonderman in for the 8th was the kind of thing that Trammel would have been crucified for last year. Leyland seems to have the magic touch this year-nearly every decision he makes turns to gold. Yesterday was a rare exception.

  31. Leaving Bonderman in until the Twins scored 6 runs was not one of Leyland’s best moves. I was hoping that Leyland was going to bring in Walker back when Tyner was at bat.

  32. I was just making conversation. It was right after Maybin started awesome and I thought it was funny. I’m looking forward to 10+ years of C-Grand as the Tigers’ centerfielder.

  33. I apologize for the confusion Mark. For some reason I have a mental block on his name. No need to get upset.

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