links for 2007-08-26

Game 130: Yankees at Tigers

PREGAME: It will be a battle of rookies as the Yankees send out phenom Phillip Hughes while the Tigers counter with Jair Jurrjens.

Jurrjens seems to have mastered the Cleveland Indians with 2 strong starts against the Tribe. Of course it’s hard to say what will happen when he faces the Yankees because we’ve never seen him face anyone else.

Hughes is making his 5th start since coming off the DL. He struggled with control in his last start walking 5 in 6 1/3 innings. In the early going he’s done a good job keeping the ball in the park with only 2 homers allowed.

Game Time 1:05

POSTGAME: I missed this entire game, but watched the condensed version on MLB.tv. So really, I have nothing to add to the 150 comments that you guys already covered. I will say that at least in the condensed version, Maybin appeared to have his best game in the field.

Also, I think Leyland is trying to get the Rodney/Zumaya platoon working like last year. There’s a huge misconception that Leyland followed a 7-8-9 pattern with Rodney/Zumaya/Jones to close out games. In actuality, he was more likely to going an inning plus with 1 of the 2 before going to Jones. That way at least one of the set up men would be available the next night.

Great win for the team today, despite only mustering 4 hits. But when 3 of them are homers that can help. But the 5 runs wouldn’t have meant a whole lot if not for the efforts of the bullpen.

Polanco’s errorless streak intact

The official scorer gave the first inning error to Marcus Thames so Placido Polanco’s streak of now 148 games without an error remains intact.

Beck’s Blog: On the clock

Game 129: Yankees at Tigers

PREGAME: Earlier this week the Tigers won a pretty dramatic game and sent one of their young aces out the next night. Things didn’t go so well as Justin Verlander was rocked early and often. Tonight Jeremy Bonderman will try and better that effort, and help rest a bullpen that pitched 6 2/3 innings last night.

A key to that will be getting Bonderman off the mound with fewer that 20 pitches thrown in the first inning, which we know to be a struggle.

The Tigers will go up against Chien Ming Wang. The Tigers knocked around Wang last weekend, but only converted 11 baserunners into 3 runs in 6 innings.

The task will be tough tonight with a lineup with 4 consecutive hitters who don’t exactly scare you. I know that guys need a break after last night, like Rabelo playing was a given. But after Carlos Guillen the Tigers will send up Mike Rabelo, Sean Casey, Brandon Inge, and Ramon Santiago. It’s not exactly murderer’s row. It’s not exactly toe-stubbers row. I’ll amend this slightly. In looking back at the last start Mike Rabelo did have 3 hits off Wang, and Sean Casey hit the ball hard 3 times in that game. Small sample sizes and all I know, but Wang might pitch to their strengths.

Game Time 7:05pm
NYY @ DET, Saturday, August 25, 2007 Game Preview – Baseball-Reference.com

POSTGAME: Pretty disappointing follow up to last night’s game. The extra base hit string is snapped. Bonderman’s slider wasn’t there any he recorded now strikeouts. He threw 100 pitches and didn’t get out of the 6th inning because he couldn’t put anyone away, even going up 2 strikes. Just a terrible showing.

Ordonez had 2 ground ball singles, but when your number 2 hitter hits 3 back to the pitcher and your number 3 hitter fans twice, that doesn’t make for a lot of RBI opportunities.

If you’re looking for bright spots, Jason Grilli was quite good for the second night in a row and pitched 3 scoreless innings. And Brandon Inge had 2 singles, one was solid and one was a snort and he looks to be breaking out of his funk.

But when the perennial whipping boys represent your highlights, you know it was a rough night.

links for 2007-08-25

Game 128: Yankees at Tigers

PREGAME: The Tigers take another crack at Roger Clemens who they had no trouble hitting last week, they just had trouble scoring. The Tigers mustered 10 hits in 6 innings, but only 2 runs thanks to 8 strikeouts which all seemed to come with guys on base.

For the Tigers it will be Andrew Miller making his fast start since going on the DL on August 4th. Despite the great stuff, Miller struggles a little to put guys away and his lack of command can lead to hefty pitch counts. He hasn’t recorded an out after the 5th inning since July 6th.

I’ll be heading down to this game, and hopefully the result will be similar to when I saw Clemens pitch against the Tigers last year.

Who’s your Tiger tonight? I’m going out on a limb and going with Brandon Inge.

Game Time 7:05
NYY @ DET, Friday, August 24, 2007 Game Preview – Baseball-Reference.com

POSTGAME: You know you got your money’s worth when on the way home from a game you start to ponder where it ranks in terms of the greatest games you’ve ever witnessed live. When you’re doing at at 4:00am, you know it’s a special situation.

First things first, thanks to all of you for the awesome comments throughout the game last night. I was reading them on my Blackberry throughout the night and was amazed so many of us were toughing it out together.

On to the game, I made several good decisions last night. First, I had an unused ticket and was really debating taking my 6 year old son. I ended up not doing it, because while I love him to death and love going to games with him, this was the first time since Opening Day I had plans to go with my friends and I just didn’t want to be a dad that night. Second, we took a couple cars to the game because one friend had commitments in the morning and we didn’t know how late he’d want to stay. Worked out great with the one friend being able to leave at 8:30 when he recognized any baseball would be way late. So those staying were happy to be stayinig, and no one had to leave prematurely.

The theme for the night was pretty much, “there’s weird s*** happening tonight” and that held up throughout the game. Witness:

  • Placido Polanco makes an error. That never happens.
  • Pudge battles back from an 0-2 count to take a walk. That never happens.
  • The game started at 11:05.
  • Jason Grilli pitches not only a scoreless inning in Comerica Park, but he does it uneventfully.
  • Pudge took another walk. Intentional and all, but still.
  • I’m drinking coffee at a game in August – normally an activity reserved for those cold nights in April or September

So there we were at 2:30 in the morning concocting the most improbable ways for the Tigers to pull this off. Like having the Tigers load the bases against Mariano Rivera and then have Inge come through. Well, that one got half way there, and only some bad luck kept it from coming through.

Still the crowd stayed, and sure it was whittled down after a while. After that 10th inning the numbers really dwindled and I said to the usher, this place looks like 2003 right now. But it sounded much louder. And at that point everyone had formed this big kind of friendship, the kind of friendship that can only come from staying at a ballpark until ridiculous hours of the morning as everyone individually questions their sanity for staying and yet being too afraid to leave and miss something. It was kind of like one of those West Coast Red Wing playoff games that goes into OT, and you think to yourself “I can’t quit now, I’ve made it this far.”

Fortunately for those who stayed, they got the pay off. After a nice walk by Polanco it looked like a hit and run sign was missed with Sean Casey up and Polanco was picked off. And the Tigers went from a runner on 1 out situation to a 2 out none on situation. As so often is the case, the next batter gets a single after the runner is wiped off the bases.

I was imploring Leyland to pinch run for Casey, figuring that a gapper would go to waste with Casey on the basepaths. Instead Leyland stuck with Casey who managed to go first to third with relative ease on a blooper. Setting the stage for the Carlos Guillen. When he hit it I didn’t know if it was gone. I just new it was well hit and I didn’t care if it were a homer, I just wanted it to get over Matsui’s head. When it landed on the roof of the bullpen it was euphoria, it was relief, it was “I get to go home now, but I’m not tired anymore,” it was so worth it all.

I know the above thoughts are incoherent, but I’m working on a couple hours of sleep right now. For the bullets:
Continue reading Game 128: Yankees at Tigers

links for 2007-08-24

Fire and rain

With apologies to James Taylor…

Just yesterday evening, found out the playoffs were gone
Sheff, that collision put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I posted it online just to share with you

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen big innings that I thought would never end
I’ve seen Kenny Rogers arm fail to mend
But I always thought that I’d see the Tigers win again

Won’t you look down upon them Leyland
You’ve got to help them make a stand
You’ve just got to make them put the ball in play
Guillen’s knees are aching and Bondo’s been bad
They just won’t make it any other way

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen big innings that I thought would never end
I’ve seen Kenny Rogers arm fail to mend
But I always thought that I’d see the Tigers win again

Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when Zumaya throws it’ll turn your head around
Well, there was hours of time around the trade deadline to talk about things
to come
Playoff dreams and 2nd place teams in pieces on the ground

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen big innings that I thought would never end
I’ve seen Kenny Rogers arm fail to mend
But I always thought that I’d see the Tigers win again

Continue reading Fire and rain

The 7th Inning

Ed Note: Reader Sam Hoff has been breaking the season down into 18 game “innings” and calculating the results. Here is the report for the 7th inning, which ended with Justin Verlander’s loss. Mike R has joined in the effort and is tracking a multitude of stats.

The 7th Inning is over.

Each 18 games represent 1 inning of a baseball season. The Tigers record so far in each Inning:

                                        Starters:         Bullpen:
    W-L   RS-RA   HR-SB-AVG/OBA/SLG    W-L-IP-   ERA       W-L-S-ERA
1: 10-8   86 -79  17-9 -235/313/380    5-2-110.2-3.66      5-6-8-4.68 
2: 13-5   112-97  23-10-308/377/518    9-3-102.1-4.84      4-2-8-5.03
3: 7-11   110-96  26-7 -310/364/517    7-7-110.2-3.99      0-4-3-7.80
4: 13-5   136-75  20-5 -324/390/508   13-4-103.0-4.37      0-1-2-3.47
5: 11-7   91 -79  23-20-272/357/443   10-5-112.0-3.46      1-2-7-3.33 
6: 7-11   84 -113 17-8 -276/325/415    3-8- 99.2-6.59      4-3-6-4.31
7: 7-11   83 -110 20-10-266/315/436   4-10-101.0-6.50      3-1-4-5.12

The 7th inning was almost identical to the 6th. The Tigers will start the 8th inning by trying to get within ½ game of Cleveland and win a series for the 1st time in 5 weeks. The only reason the Tigers have hope is because Cleveland is also playing poorly (11-16 in their last 27).

The offense is still being lead by Mags 8-22-352/403/718 and Polanco who was 2-4-317/396/512 in only 11 games thanks to the flu. Guillen, Rayburn, and Thames were passable with a combined 6-23-279/304/491 in 165 abs. Maybin, Infante, and Santiago produced 1-4-400/455/633 in only 30abs (Infante was 7 for his last 14 when he was sent down?). The catching duo refuses to walk and were a combined 1-4-264/274/389. Casey 1-7-255/293/345, Granderson 0-3-203/311/297, Sheff 1-4-196/268/294, and Inge 0-8-208/232/302 represent 44% of the lineup that are not doing anything.

The starters continue to get bombed. Jurrgens was 1-1-3.29 providing a big boost out of AA ball. Durbin 0-3-7.71, Bonderman 0-3-6.23, Verlander 2-1-6.75, and Robertson 1-1-5.59 all were inept. Tata got Bombed his only start.

In back end of the bullpen appears to be hitting on all cylinders as Jones, Rodney, and Zumaya were 1-0-4-1.35 in 13.1 innings. Seay and Bazardo combined for 0-0-2.00 in 9.0 innings. The rest of the bullpen was 2-1-0-6.32 giving up 51 hits and 21 walks in only 35.2 innings.

This most recent inning was almost identical to the 6th inning performance. The team has now had 3 losing innings amongst the 7. In 2006, the team only had 1 losing inning. If this team is to make the postseason, both of the next 2 innings must be winning efforts.

Mike R also compiled a comprehensive spreadsheet detailing the inning with a plethora of stats including BABIP, FIP, and many more for each player.

Comings and goings: C-Mo a Cub, Miner a Hen

The Tigers shipped Craig Monroe and some cash to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later. Later being before October 15th, and the player likely to be a pitcher on the 40 man roster according to Jason Beck.

With less than a million left on Monroe’s deal, I’m a little surprised that the Tigers had to send cash when what they are getting back is probably someone they don’t look to retain. My guess, is that the Tigers worked with Monroe and other clubs to find a team that Monroe wanted to go to and then made a deal work. It’s nothing the organization had to do, but it is a nice gesture to a player who was a big part of this team over the last few years. It’s the kind of thing that could pay dividends down the road. I also wonder if Trammell was an influence in the deal.

Also, as expected Zach Miner was optioned to Toledo to make room for Andrew Miller. From a roster management standpoint the move makes sense because Miner already is in an option year and can be recalled on September 1st. So you don’t lose anybody. From a performance standpoint, maybe it would have been wise to lose somebody though. I did notice that Jason Grilli wasn’t used in this series at home. I wonder if Leyland is looking to protect him, or if it was just the situations (Wednesday would have been the only game it would have made sense to use him – if you know what I mean).

Beck’s Blog: Craig Monroe to the Cubs
Miner optioned to Toledo – MLive.com: Detroit Tigers

links for 2007-08-23

Game 127: Indians at Tigers

PREGAME: Tigers pitching is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. Today it is Nate Robertson and Jake Westbrook.

Game time 1:05pm
CLE @ DET, Thursday, August 23, 2007 Game Preview – Baseball-Reference.com

POSTGAME
: Get away day hasn’t been friendly to the Tigers this year. I don’t have the inclination to go back and look up the record, but it seems that I listen to a heartbreaking loss on the radio at work, and have to think of something to say later that night. Again, I didn’t see this one, just going by the radio broadcast and your commentary, here are my thoughts:

  • Nate Robertson was one of those really yummy caramel flavored chocolates today (uh, that doesn’t sound quite right). He out pitched Westbrook, but didn’t get the win, and that just seems to be Nate’s luck as of late. When he’s awesome, he still can’t get a win. Still he did everything in his power to get the team a W, and he at least provides a little hope going forward.
  • And Westbrook was also very good, but Nate out pitched him. One could make the case that on Tuesday Carmona out pitched Jurrjens so this might be justice, but that ain’t a lot of consolation. And Carmona still allowed 2 homers (or at least one and a half).
  • Sean Casey batting third is a mystery. I like Guillen behind Maggs, so I’m not necessarily on the Guillen to the 3rd spot camp. But do something different. Drop Grandy to 3rd, or put Marcus third. Or even keep Granderson and Polanco where they are, and slide everybody up a spot. Give me some kind of threat before the best hitter.
  • As for the managerial decisions, I can’t say one way or the other on pulling Nate when he did. It sounded like there were several harder hit balls in the last couple innings. Not seeing the game I’m just going off of Dan and Jim’s account. While I’m a proponent of using pitch counts as a tool (a tool, not an absolute) in deciding when to stop an outing, I don’t think a favorable pitch count should be a justification for keeping a pitcher in the game.
  • On Zumaya, I wasn’t surprised he came back out. I was surprised he stayed out as long as he did. Thirty pitches is a ton for a guy just getting back, and with him maxing out at 95mph it doesn’t sound like this was free and easy throwing – not to mention all the guys on base.
  • As for the pinch running and pinch hitting, I wasn’t bothered by Pudge pinch running for Rabelo. Yes, Maybin is faster but in the even they didn’t score you’d need Pudge at that point anyways. And Pudge is fast. Characterizing him as a 35 year old catcher is factually correct, but not accurate reflection of his running ability.
  • The pinch hitting move that had to be made though was someone, preferably Raburn, for Ramon Santiago. You then move Guillen to short, Thames to first, and Raburn in left. Santiago just can’t hit in that situation. He’s not on the team for his bat, if that was the case Infante would be in Detroit and not Toledo. He’s here for his glove and expecting offense isn’t fair.
  • Granderson or Maybin facing the left hander? Again I could go either way. It sounded like Granderson had some of the better swings on the day, but his numbers against lefties are abysmal this year. But I’d also wager that is a little bit of bad luck. His K rate against lefties is pretty much the same as last year, but his batting average on balls in play is 206 this year versus 298 last year. Regardless, he still stood a 30% chance of fanning.
  • Regardless, Leyland appeared to fall asleep at the wheel in the 9th inning and the top of the 10th. last year he was credited for magically “pushing all the right buttons” when in fact he made bad decisions routinely and got away with it.
  • At least the team still had that 9, or in this case 10 inning mantra going. Each of the last 2 nights they haven’t gone down quietly even after falling behind. Though that’s little consolation.
  • The fact of the matter is that it never should have gotten to these dire points in the first place. The Tigers had ample opportunity to score just that one run, and much like the Clemens and Wang games over the weekend they just couldn’t do it. But unlike those games they were putting the ball in play with only 4 K’s.
  • It appears that Inge made some adjustments at the plate as he went 2 games without a strike out, and for a guy who was whiffing every other at-bat that may be progress. He also drew a walk in a key situation off a pitcher who just doesn’t walk guys. Of course that gets lost when he makes as big of a baserunning mistake as he made in getting doubled off 2nd base.

I’ll have more stuff tomorrow, but I’m pretty bummed tonight. That’s just too good of a pitching performance in too important of a game to waste.