Game 18: White Sox at Tigers

PREGAME The Tigers need this win to salvage a .500 homestand, and to keep their record from sliding back to .500 overall.

One thing that definitely isn’t a key to the game is grabbing the lead early.

Gary Sheffield gets the day off today, so naturally Omar Infante will get the start at designated hitter and bat 3rd. It should be noted that Infante has amassed 32 at-bats against Jon Garland and is hitting .438 against him. Infante won’t be any less productive than Gary Sheffield has been at driving in Placido Polanco and Curtis Granderson, but it is a curious decision nonetheless. If Infante comes up with a big hit it is Leyland’s magic touch. If not …

Marcus Thames will start in leftfield and Mike Rabelo will start behind the plate.

Jon Garland gets the start for the White Sox. The Tigers end out Justin Verlander who’s been great this year. Last year the White Sox were the team Justin struggled with the most posting a 7.84 ERA over 5 starts.

Game Time 1:05pm

: Ah, so many thoughts and so many emotions. To hard to string them together logically, so I’m going bulletized:

  • As frustrating as it is to be giving up early leads, at least there are early leads to give up. Yes it led to some agony this week, but never look gift runs in the mouth.
  • Games like today are why I find it hard to blame a manager for a loss, or credit them for a win. Jim Leyland made several questionable decisions, mostly around bunting, and yet the team still came out on top. If you want to say the won in spite of Leyland that’s fine. To say a manager cost a team the game gets into the hypothetical. I’ll buy “he didn’t give his team the best chance to win” I’ll grant you that. But you can’t assign wins and losses to managers.
  • Speaking of decisions, I liked his bullpen usage today. While turning to Aquilino Lopez isn’t a great move, his options were limited. Joel Zumaya was unavailbable and Fernando Rodney has been unreliable. He could have gone to Wil Ledezma earlier, but the scheduled batters when Lopez came in were Dye/Pierzynski/Crede. I’d have gone with the righty in that situation also.
  • Excellent performances by Wil Ledezma and Jason Grilli. Grilli’s numbers aren’t great, but they are also skewed by that nightmare of an inning that he was only partially responsible for.
  • Tremendous 10th inning for Brandon Inge. Defensively he started the double play on the bunt, then made a nice play on a slow roller to close out the inning. Then got a pure hustle double on an awful play by Brian Anderson.
  • Ah, the 10th inning non-bunt. On Wednesday Leyland brought in Omar Infante to advance a runner to second via the bunt. It reduced the chances of scoring by about 3%. Today, with Inge knocking a leadoff double, he decided not to bunt. Moving the runner from 2nd to 3rd and sacrificing the out actually would have reduced the chances of the Tigers not scoring from 38% to 34.5%. The decision wouldn’t have been as problematic if Granderson could have advanced the runner some other way. So Curtis shares some of the blame. Instead, the base stayed open meaning that Polanco wouldn’t get a chance. I don’t hate the bunt as much as many statheads, I’d just prefer to see it used more logically.
  • It was nice to see Marcus Thames make the most of his chance to play. That homer was huge for the team, and the fans. You don’t want to make too much of an April win or loss, but everyone needed a pick-me-up.
  • Every position player got in today except for Gary Sheffield. At first I thought that Leyland must really be doubting him. On further reflection, the last thing a guy who is stuggling and pressing needs is to come off the bench with runners on base in extra innings.
  • Placido Polanco is on some kind of tear, and is looking much more like the 2005 team MVP edition than the 2006 edition.
  • Sean Casey had been in some kind of funk. When he got his first hit Rod and Mario said it broke and 0 for 18 slump. The last hit I remember for Casey was the gift double against the Royals, so the slump was probably worse. It was nice to see him follow it up with another line drive in his next at-bat.

45 thoughts on “Game 18: White Sox at Tigers”

  1. Sheff actually had nice stats against Garland, but only nine career at-bats. I am actually surprised by Leyland. He’s even starting Thames, who also has found success against Garland. I didn’t expect that.

  2. Once again Maggs doesn’t lay out for a fly ball. Am I the only one this bothers???

  3. So. I hate getting ahead 3-0. Because I know that we’re going to be tied in the fifth. And I know that after that, our bullpen’s going to lose the lead. Sucks.

  4. Outside of our top 4 starters, this just isn’t a very good team right now. And watching them get no decisions because of poor run support and bullpen meltdowns is becoming really tough to watch.

  5. Okay, that didn’t make much sense, but you get my drift. I’M FRUSTRATED WITH THIS FORMULA!

  6. It makes sense to me, Joey C.

    2007 Tigers…………..

    no hunger
    no magic
    no chemistry

    so far, and I’m not going to hold my breath!

  7. i’m the first one to nag about a players lack of effort, but I don’t turn on the team whole sale in April. That was sweet! Thames smashed that.

  8. That got the blood flowing! How clutch. Now we have to shut them down. Way to keep your head up, Charly. Let’s quit acting like its 2003 up in here.

  9. Perez made me proud on that double play. Inge is looking solid too. Now if he can just get on base….

  10. I assume there is a reason Leyland didn’t bunt Inge to third with Granderson, but I honestly don’t know what it is. This game should be over. Completely let them off the hook.

  11. Damn it Jim. Must…..Not…Question….Guru Leyland….But…can’t……stop….Where was the bunt????!!!!!!

  12. To give credit where credit is due: Inge made two outstanding defensive plays. He followed up with an outstanding hussle double on a very lazy Anderson.

    Then Leyland blows winning the game there by not bunting. A bunt moves Inge to 3rd, Polanco then gets walked, Mags sac’s to Center and we win… Leyland has had some real questionable moments this series and this season….

  13. No excuse for Granderson not bunting. What is Leyland thinking.

    This game should be over and the guys should be on the way to Anaheim.

  14. I say pinch hit Shef. Sometimes the best way to get out of a slump is to paradoxically (spelling?) get thrown in a total pressure situation

  15. As a side note, when Pudge came into the game he moved past Tony Pena into 4th place on the all time games caught list.

  16. i thought he did that saturday. i was at the game and they made (what i thought) was that annoucment with fans getting up and clapping

  17. I really don’t get bunting in that situation in the first place, and especially 3-1. The guy can’t find the strike zone and you give him a free out.

    And yet you don’t bunt 2 innings earlier when it actually would have increased your chances of winning.

  18. Yea, I don’t get it either, I think we need Kenny in the dugout to keep Leyland in check.

    Whispering “Psssst Leyland, don’t bring in Rodney it is too close and he is in a funk”

    “Oh but I love him”

    “Don’t or he’ll blow it”

    “OK Kenny your the real baseball genus, I’m just the figurehead”


    BTW Ledezma has been looking sharp and what plagued him in the past appears to be gone…

    still we should have gone 5-1 or 6-0 on the homestand not 3-3,

    I think we should trade for Lidge

  19. Just got back from the game (1st I’ve gone to this year) and wow, it was exciting, but it’s true that this formula is garbage. Early lead, blown lead, then MAYBE if we’re lucky a come-from-behind in late innings win. Was this our 6th or 7th extra innings game? There’s something not right with that.

    However, a win’s a win, I’ll take it, however it comes. And you could not ask for a more beautiful day for baseball, it was a treat to sit out there at Comerica.

  20. I wouldn’t mind getting Lidge if it’s possible, I’m not asking him to be a closer but maybe a change of scenery would be nice, playing in the home run dome probably doesn’t help.

    I really hope Ledezma will either enter the rotation (and take out that horrible Durbin) or play a more important role in the bullpen.

  21. Hahahaha. Trading for Brad Lidge? I would love to see the outrage of people who already want Rodney’s head, let alone Lidge being in the bullpen.

    I have no idea why Leyland didn’t bunt Inge to 3rd. I don’t get it and any excuse Leyland gives simply will not cut it for me. If we would’ve lost this game, it’d be squarely on Leyland’s shoulders (a lot more then the lost to KC and a couple other questionable moves he’s made). Just no excuse for it.

    Then I saw Tony La Russa not bunt either in extra innings and two hitters later Pujols hit a moon shot out of the ball park to CF.

    I’m still excited that we have managed to, what, 10-8 while having 4 guys or so hitting under .200. How we’ve done that, I don’t know. Also, even with the anemic averages, we’re 8th in the major leagues in runs. 4 grand slams, though, will do that. With out the 4 grand slams we’d have 70 runs which would be tied with the Royals and Rockies for 21st in the majors.

  22. Is there any reason that Sean Casey is wasting at-bats and outs other than he’s left handed? Chris Shelton and Marcus Thames are far better players at this point. Both were last year, and Casey with old man baseball skills doesn’t figure to revert to his form of 5 years ago.

  23. seems to me the WSox right now are playing pretty good ball. The Tigers aren’t. Defensive mistakes, questionable decisions, not getting the clutch hit (except today). As I see it, the Tigers right now have 4 personnel problems: Sheffield….he’s not hitting-bench him for awhile; Perez….never liked him, feel he just takes up a roster spot; Durbin….not a major league pitcher; Rodney….in a serious funk right now; sit him, too. Tigers have hit 4 grand slams this month; first time since June ’68 they’ve done that. All in all, if we can tighten up the D and keep Durbin and Rodney off the mound, we should be ok.

  24. KS – Leyland seems to prefer veteran name guys, plus Casey is left handed. I agree that Shelton is a better player, and Thames is a better hitter, but it is too soon to pass judgement on Thames defensively.

    Scott – Sheffield can’t be benched. It won’t happen. You could tweak the lineup a little, but he won’t move down below 5th.

  25. I now believe in Gum Time ;-).

    We were at Costco yesterday and saw the 300-pack barrell and picked it up. The Wife and I went down today and I took 2 packs.

    In the 9th, I opened 1 pack and put the whole thing in (It was all melted and gross with the heat, but what the heck). I told myself if they got a runner on, I would pack in the 2nd Pack.

    Needless to say my cheeks were pretty well expanded and I was almost choking myself when Thames’ bomb went out.


  26. 1st Inning is over:

    If you break 162 game schedule into 9 innings, each inning consists of 18 games. At the 1st pole, I am very happy that the Tigers are 10-8 (last year they were 11-7).

    They have lost half there games in the 10th inning (all by Rodney). They have yet to get any kind of offensive consistancy out of 1/2 their offense.

    The Bullpen has been pretty unreliable.

    In the rotation it seems like we have 3 excellent starters (Bondo, Nate, and Verlander) followed by 2 fillers (Maroth and Durbin).

    Despite all of this, they are on a pace to win 90 games.


  27. I’m not sure where to post this (or any) “general comment,” but I guess I’ll try here.

    I’ve been wondering why Leyland hasn’t experimented with the batting lineup more. Even the starting lineup.

    Everyone has slumps, but 18 games is a long one. Sheffield is killing the team batting #3 behind a couple guys who actually get on base. I don’t suppose there’s much to do about Inge – you can’t bat any lower than #9 – but if Leyland wanted Perez so badly as a guy who played hard and provided spark, maybe he should start him more often until Inge finds his bat again. I don’t know if Perez is a defensive liability at 3rd (?), but he might get on base a little more often than Inge has. And as much as I like Casey, the good clubhouse guy, and illogically wish that the Tigers could keep Thames, Shelton and Casey on the team, I don’t know why they haven’t been as patient with Shelton as they were with Granderson and Inge (does Leyland just not like the guy, maybe?). I also don’t know why they can’t start Thames at first more often or why he keeps getting pulled when he does. Leyland said that he would be comfortable with Thames as a regular first basemen (obviously untrue), and also, how is a rather weak left-handed bat any better in the long run than Thames all-or-nothing right-handed bat?

    I think Rodriguez could be good as the full-time leadoff guy. Granderson warrants a try at #3, I think, though Guillen obviously fits here (despite poor early performance with men on), and Monroe might really blossom at #3. I think Sheffield has earned #6 (not to say #9), even if it’s unrealistic to think Leyland would ever put him there (but why not – he’s the boss, and Sheffield is supposedly a “professional”).

    So, this is one lineup I’d like to see a time or two:


    On Pudge’s days off, you could get crazy with:


    Lineups are fun. Hope they start hitting with men on, whatever order they’re in.

    I posted an 18-game analysis of Tiger hitting with men on in the “Offense” category, in case anyone’s interested.

  28. Just to follow up on the extra-innings thing, yesterday was our 6th extra inning game, fully one-third of all games we’ve played. Philadelphia has played 4, but no other team has played more than 3. Last year we played 12 in a whole season. I’m sure this means something, but I can’t figure out what.

  29. Inge and Sheffield have the lowest batting averages of all regular starters in the league. It’s like 7 vs 9 right now.

  30. Weird. The extra inning games thing…that means we could either easily be 14 and 4 or 8 and 10.

    We lost 4 out of the 6, right?


  31. I’m of the belief good teams play more “close” games than average or bad teams because that means almost every day the team takes the field, it has a shot to win.

    Of course, right now you look and see a few of those were come-from-behinds by the opponents, so I guess you could dispute that. But I’m happy that the Tigers have been in every single game this season, extra innings games, 1-run games, you name it. I can’t think of one they weren’t, except maybe the opener in Baltimore.

  32. Adam–yes, we are 2-4 in extra innings.

    Kurt–you seem to have hit the nail on the head there, we have a shot to win every game. I never feel like we’re out of it, even when we’re behind. However, I never feel like we have the game in hand, either, even when we’re ahead. It’s not frustrating so much as puzzling.

    Also, our bullpen has 11 decisions (5-6 overall) while our starting rotation has only 7 (5-2 overall).

    Maybe I’m obsessing over meaningless data. I should take Sparky’s advice and not even look up until we’re 40 games in. But then one-fourth of the season would be gone, what fun is that?

  33. Oh yeah, forgot to mention about Inge. In spite of the fact he started yesterday in danger of falling off the interstate altogether, he still got enthusiastic cheers when he was introduced and each time he came up to bat, even before his 10th inning double. He’s just a likable guy, I guess.

  34. Since someone mentioned the lineup, why is Guillen not hitting 3rd?

    I’d like to see this:


    I just really don’t get why Guillen isn’t hitting 3rd. Even before the season, i thought Guillen would be better served 3rd in the lineup.

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