Game 68: Tigers at Phillies

PREGAME: So today will be Justin Verlander’s turn to flail hopelessly at the plate. Of course, no one really cares about Verlander’s lack of hits at the plate, but they do want to see how long he can keep this no hitter thing going on the mound.

The Tigers will hope for better success against Adam Eaton than they had with Jamie Moyer. Craig Monroe has yet to play in this series, so we’ll see if Leyland works him into the lineup today against the right hander.

Oh yeah, and I think Sean Casey homers today.

Game Time 1:05

POSTGAME: Happy Father’s Day by the way. I kind of forgot about that this morning. On to the game.

Great win for the Tigers. Solid starting pitching, timely late inning hitting, and a relatively stress free outing from the bullpen. But let’s focus on the 7th inning and Jim Leyland for a few minutes. This was the inning when all the managing took place, and it’s an example of why I have a hard time blaming managers for losses. I’ll walk you through my thoughts as the action transpired.

Brandon Inge doubles with one out and Jim Leyland pinch hits Carlos Guillen for Neifi Perez
Me: Finally this offense starts to resemble something. Let’s hope it’s not too late – but good move Jim.
Carlos Guillen singles to put runners on the corners and Gary Sheffield steps to the plate
Me: It’s all or nothing this inning, but of course Sheffield can stay in the game and go to left field. Monroe’s almost as bad today with 3 straight pop outs. I guess it depends on how deep this inning goes, but if Monroe makes the last out the pitcher can take his spot. And why didn’t Inge score on that play, Rings and EZ are going to come on here in the comments and bash him and I’ll another Inge war on my hands.
Sheffield hits a rocket to score Inge and put runners on first and second. Charlie Manuel brings in the lefty and Leyland pinch hits Infante for Granderson.
Me: Nice job Sheff, but what is Leyland doing? Granderson has been hitting rockets all series, off of both lefties and righties. This is exactly what Manuel wanted to happen and Leyland played right into it. Not to mention weakening the outfield defensively. This game is still in doubt either way, and why do you want Grandy out?
Omar taps the ball to the pitcher advancing the runners, Polanco gets intentionally walked to pitch to Monroe.
Me: Nice job with the lineup today Leyland. How many teams will give a free pass to the number 2 hitter to face the number 3 hitter? Then again how many teams have their out making-est regular hitting in front of their best run producer? So much for this rally. Oh man Craig, please do something. For everyone’s sake.
Craig singles in two, and Magglio knocks in two with a double before Casey ends the inning.
Me: Now what should Jim do? He could put the new pitcher in Casey’s spot since he made the last out, and bring in Thames. Trouble is he’s the last position player. Well, I guess he’ll just put Sheffield in left and the pitcher can take Craig’s spot in the lineup, it won’t come up for 7 more batters.
The new pitcher Bobby Seay takes Sheffield’s spot
Me: What the heck is going on? You burned through Sheff for one at-bat, and now the pitcher is scheduled to bat 4th in the next inning as well? Why do that? This better not come back to haunt us.

My point in this exercise is that there were a couple moves that I really questioned – starting with the lineup – and yet the Tigers won going away. Sometimes the decisions, even the ones that don’t make sense, work out. That doesn’t make them the right decisions, but they ended up with the Tigers picking up a W. I also wanted to show that I’ll even second guess decisions that pan out and I’m not just slamming things after the fact. Thanks for joining me in my head.

Other notes:

  • Very nice outing today by Fernando Rodney. He came in a high pressure situation and got the strike out. He then followed it up with a strong 8th inning allowing only a double, and ground ball right through Carlos Guillen’s legs to score the run. Inexplicably that was ruled a hit and an earned run. Just as curious a scoring decision as Pudge’s double in game 1 that Rowand dropped.
  • Rodney threw 39 pitches meaning that he probably won’t be available tomorrow at least, and possibly not until Wednesday.
  • Todd Jones kept it simple allowing just a single. It’s almost like the bullpen of last year reappeared for an afternoon.
  • A couple of awesome defensive plays in this one with Granderson showing his ups, and Casey showing his moxie. I can’t believe that Dobbs, the runner on 3rd didn’t score on the Casey play, but it was a nice job regardless.
  • Granderson picked up his 8th steal and is closing in on a quadruple double – double digits in homers, triples, doubles, and steals. I just made that up, but considering he’s one homer and 2 steals away and it’s mid June, that seems impressive.
  • The strike zones the last 2 games were ridiculous. Guillen got hosed on Saturday night, and then Bill Welke’s zone was all over the place today. And the Phillies were right to be pissed on that Marcus Thames pitch. Whether or not he swung (which he did) shouldn’t have mattered. That pitch was a strike regardless. And to not appeal is just foolish on the part of the home plate ump.

Tigers 7 Phillies 4


  1. Jeff

    June 17, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    The problem isn’t Verlander having to hit, it’s putting a guy who hits like a pitcher in the 8 hole, which basically gives the Phillies two automatic outs every 2-3 innings.

  2. T Smith

    June 17, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    I don’t like this lineup at all today. I was thinking the exact same thing. With Sheff & Guillen out, and Monroe lost at the dish, this is a pretty easy lineup to get through.

  3. Adam

    June 17, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Maybe it would have been a better idea to bat Granderson in the three hole…Craig makes no sense there.

  4. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    I’m listening to the Phils broadcast. Any clues to why Sheffield and Guillen sitting? I realize it’s a NL park but can’t Sheff play left. Is Guillen hurt?

    If Leyland doesn’t ph for Monroe in this game, with Sheff and Guillen on the bench, i’m gonna go postal.

  5. Kevin in Austin

    June 17, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Man, this Leyland your my guy thing for Monroe had better pay off soon.

  6. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    So Sheffield bats for Verlander and stays in the game, right? You slide the pitcher into Monroe’s spot. right?

  7. Anne

    June 17, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Happy Father’s Day, Billfer and any other dads out there, as well as dads-to-be like Heckler.

    Here’s a question: In an AL-rules game, Verlander would still be the pitcher of record right now (top of the 7th) so if the Tigs pulled ahead here, he would still get the win, regardless of who came in to pitch the bottom of the inning. However, Sheff just pinch hit for Verlander (go Sheff! RBI!) so Verlander is officially out of the game, who gets the win if we pull ahead?

  8. Walewander

    June 17, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Good question. I’m embarassed I don’t know, as I’ve been to a lot of NL games.

  9. Anne

    June 17, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Stephen, I think what will happen is Sheff will move into Monroe’s spot and play LF now. The pitcher will still bat 9th.

  10. Anne

    June 17, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Nothing to be emabarassed about, it’s not every game where you have a lead change and pitching change in the same inning. Hopefully we’ll find out this game.

  11. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    No, that doesn’t make sense. Sheff is now batting 9th. He should take monroe’s position in the field

  12. Walewander

    June 17, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    It sure seems like forever since we had a come from behind win.

  13. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    I’m not saying it’s a bad decision, but Leyland’s decision to let Infant pinch hit–and I know Grandy’s left numbers–leaves them awfully thin if this is still tight in the ninth. i guess rabelo could bat for the pitcher but after that….

  14. Anne

    June 17, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Sheff will take Monroe’s spot in LF. As far as I know, there’s no rule he can’t also take Monroe’s spot in the batting order, ie bat 3rd. Whoever comes in to relieve Verlander will take the 9th spot in the order.

  15. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    Polanco’s walk helps out a bit. Now Monroe bats and the pitcher can be slipped into his slot. Monroe got to get a hit.

  16. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Anne, that’s not how it works. Sheff batted ninth he has to remain batting ninth for the whole game.

  17. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 3:47 pm


  18. Kevin in Austin

    June 17, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Monroe AND the Tigers needed that.

  19. Walewander

    June 17, 2007 at 3:47 pm


  20. Anne

    June 17, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    You’re probably right Stephen, NL rules leave me feeling as lost as an AL pitcher at the plate. šŸ™‚

  21. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    All we need now is nine outs from our crack bullpen!!

  22. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    I will go on record and say Leyland handled this inning beautifully.

  23. Walewander

    June 17, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    And Manuel terribly.

  24. Kevin in Austin

    June 17, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Thanks goodness for the extra runs…let’s go pen.

  25. Anne

    June 17, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    1270 is saying Verlander is in line for the win now. That’s assuming our pen can get those 9 outs, of course. Let’s go Seay, huge K there.

  26. JML

    June 17, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Oh no. Rodney. After all that, our chances of losing have just gone up dramatically. šŸ˜›

  27. JML

    June 17, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Don’t screw this up, ‘Lil Mesa!

  28. Anne

    June 17, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    Wow, Rodney pulled it off. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the 8th and 9th.

  29. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    Ok, I take back the nice things i just said about Leyland. Why did you take out Sheff, leave Monroe in, and put Thames at first?? You’ve just burned your last non-catcher for what? An upgrade at first? i don’t think so.

    that is just plain idiotic. whether we get away with it or not, that’s unbelievable

  30. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    Sure hope Thames not hurt ’cause we only got Rabelo left.

  31. JML

    June 17, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    What was that?? Mesa’s attempt at revenge? šŸ™‚

  32. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    The thing is if Sheff was in this slot you’d still have Thames and Rabelo in reserve. Now the pitcher is going to have to bat for the rest of the game.

  33. Dave Wagner

    June 17, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    it’s like a game of ejection-dominos

  34. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Mike Maroth is batting because Leyland didn’t want to double switch Monroe out for Sheffield. I don’t know if that was a reward for his grounder single, but i sure hope Maroth gets a hit or the Phils don’t rally because Leyland will have a charming time explaining this one away.

  35. Michael

    June 17, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    There we go Tigers! Oh it feels good to know that my team got the better of almost ALL of my friends team. It’s good to be a Detroit fan.

  36. Dave Wagner

    June 17, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    “because Leyland will have a charming time explaining this one away.”

    eh, you see pitchers pinch hit for other pitchers all the time in the NL. It was just a matter of not wanting to use their last bench player.

  37. Matt

    June 17, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    God I hate Rodney.

  38. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    Well Dave, i’d be interested to know your definition of all the time.

  39. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    For example, Rick Rhoden, the best hitting pitcher in the past 40 years, pinch hit less than one time a year in his career. Orel Hershiser, an over .201 hitter, had 4 pinch hit ab’s in his career. And Mike Maroth is no Rhoden or Hershiser.

  40. Kathy

    June 17, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    That was a fun game to watch and see the Tigers return to playing like a team.

    Maybe MLB should consider having minor leagues play interleague ball.

  41. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    Thank you Bilfer for your observations. Well said. I thought listening to the game I was in an episode of the baseball twilight zone.

  42. Mike R

    June 17, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    Billfer, you and I seemed to have seemingly the same thoughts all through the game. Though, my family and I sat at Applebee’s to watch the final part of the 8th and the 9th on the TV there. Men on one side of the table facing the television, women were on the other gabbing away.

    And this just shows, whether it works out or not, that Leyland does not put us in position to win games this year. Putting the pitcher spot so it comes up 4th in the next inning? I don’t get it. And he managed his whole career in the NL before this? How?

    But then i just think, really, of all the managers are any of them great strategists? I lean towards “no, none of them” so I’ll suck it up and just deal with it. Doesn’t mean I have to like it, though.

  43. Dave Wagner

    June 17, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    “Well Dave, iā€™d be interested to know your definition of all the time.”

    I probably see this happen about once a month in Cubs games alone (usually in extra-innings) – which is completely anecdotal, obviously, but I can’t say I care enough about this to figure out the best way to look it up. I’ve also seen them use pitchers as pinch-runners every once in awhile.

  44. T Smith

    June 17, 2007 at 10:27 pm


    Postgame points taken. I have no problem with the way Leyland orchestrated this one. Yes, some decisions were suspect, but the main difference (in my view) between this game and others in the past few days (when a lot of us were calling for Leyland’s head) is he actually pinched hit for Neifi in the seventh… they way Leyland has been managing, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Neifi stepped to the plate in the seventh. You don’t know how much of a sigh of relief I felt when Guillen actually came to the plate. I won’t knit-pick every little call, as long as you don’t blow the obvious ones.

    That said, I have no problem whatsoever with the decisions today.

  45. Adam

    June 17, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    Stephen: It doesn’t matter.

  46. Anthony

    June 17, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    The Phils had every right to be mad about the ump refusing to check with first base. What arrogance…I can’t believe stuff like that happens on the major league level. The reason that the teams are allowed to check is that the corner umps have a good vantage point on the play. Not checking is just a way of limiting the possibility of getting a call right. All the umps are paid to do is get the calls right and keep the game safe. What a joke.

  47. Mike R

    June 17, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    Can I just ask why we seem to be coddling Granderson against LHP, anyways? He has 50 AB’s vs. LHP while Grady Sizemore has 90, already. If Granderson’s to be the everyday CFer for years to come, he’s going to have to learn to hit LHP. And it’s not like Sizemore’s splits are really even; he’s hitting .311 vs. RHP and .233 vs. lefties. Couple that with continually downgrading by A LOT with Infante in CF and I just don’t like it.

  48. Stephen

    June 17, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    Adam: It does matter.

  49. Adam

    June 18, 2007 at 2:14 am

    Stephen: Nope. Still doesn’t.

  50. Adam

    June 18, 2007 at 3:22 am

    Only twelve more games till the season is halfway over. I can’t believe that.

    It’s gone by so fast…and the waiting for the season to start even seemed like forever.

  51. Stephen

    June 18, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Adam: Yep. It still does.
    (I must say I wasn’t ever quite clear on what you were saying didn’t matter. Life? Leyland’s decisions? Caring about baseball?).

  52. Chris in Nashville

    June 18, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    So since this weekend is the closest the Tigers will come to me, I decided last night to head down to Hotlanta for the Friday Night and Saturday Games. Does anyone have an inkling what the rotation will look like this week? The probables for Friday are Miller Vs. Smoltz but it would be the 5th day for Verlander since he went think they would push back Miller since they have the off day on Thursday or keep the rotation the same? Will the Gambler be back by then? Was just curious…I’m certain I’m going to see Verlander on Friday or Saturday…but a Verlander Vs Smoltz matchup on Friday would be SWEET.

  53. T Smith

    June 18, 2007 at 3:28 pm


    It may be Kenny Rogers going on Friday against Smoltz. At this point, Leyland is leaving it up to Kenny to determine whether or not he starts on Friday

  54. Chris in Nashville

    June 18, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    SWEET… much as I’d like to see Miller pitch…I’d rather see the Gambler back in action. Thanks for that T Smith.