Game 23: Rangers at Tigers

PREGAME: The Tigers try to extend their 4 game home winning streak as they look to finish off a sweep of the Rangers. Texas pitchers have thrown a lot of pitches the last two nights and I’d guess that there are probably at least 3 pitchers in their pen who are unavailable today. So getting to the starter early could prove fruitful.

That starter is Scott Feldman who is making his second start. He went 6 innings against the Blue Jays on April 13th and allowed 3 runs on 8 hits, 2 walks, and 3 strike outs.

The Tigers send out Jeremy Bonderman who has more walks than strike outs so far this year. That ratio swung the wrong way after his 6 walk effort on Saturday against the Blue Jays.

TEX @ DET, Thursday, April 24, 2008 Game Preview –

Game Time 1:05

POSTGAME: Let us take a moment to rejoice in a sweep and a 4 game winning streak. A series in which the Tigers went from a middling offensive team to the 2nd scoring-est team in the AL. A series in which Curtis Granderson returned to his rightful place at the top of the lineup and Placido Polanco avoided a DL stint. A series where the bullpen was nearly flawless.

Now let’s look at the warts…

A Tigers starter once again fails to pitch deep into a game, and they continue to struggle with control. The image above is Jeremy Bonderman walking in a run. And there he was, done for the day without getting out of the fifth inning and having thrown 111 pitches. It was just one of his seven walks for the day. This following an outing in which he walked six.

Whether it is a matter of being incapable of throwing strikes, or an unwillingness to do so, the starting pitching has been miserable. In a series in which the Tigers outscored the Rangers 37-10 one one starter picked up a win while the bullpen had to throw 13 of the 27 innings. Instead of being well rested before taking on the Angels and the Yankees, the pen will probably be limited in availability for tomorrow night’s game.

Yes, things will have to get better in the rotation. But a sweep is still a sweep. There’s no need to apologize for beating up a team, even one that is really struggling.

119 thoughts on “Game 23: Rangers at Tigers”

  1. Polanco’s back in the lineup today. It sure would be nice to see him return to his old reliable self both in the field and at the plate.

  2. Have to cut out early today and sure hope Bondo gets off to a good start. Talk with y’all a little later. Go Tigers!!

  3. I like the sound of this from the Gameday preview:

    The Rangers wanted to give Jennings two days of extra rest but decided they couldn’t do that because of their overworked bullpen. So Jennings pitches on his normal four days of rest. Scott Feldman was recalled from Double-A Frisco but will be in the bullpen. The Rangers were going to start him but were concerned about not having a long reliever behind him. So Feldman will be in long relief behind Jennings.

    Go get ’em, boys!

  4. i am here with my bonderman jersey. i have brought some extra brooms for everyone, too. LETS GO TIGERS

    *and hey whattya know, the other team scores first always.

  5. That ball probably lands in the Jones’ glove if there wasn’t a 17 mph wind blowing out to left. Hopefully we can put one up in the wind too.

  6. Brian, thanks for the wind update, did not know. freakin awesome granderson took advantage fast!

  7. The lineup seems like a nod to Inge. It’s okay to give these guys some time and to rest varsity against Texas, we’ll need the big boys for the next several games.

  8. Wow. The strike zone on the outside part of the plate is enormous. Bonderman and Inge seem well aware, and they’re going there often.

  9. Thanks Brian. Nice K to get out of the inning. These control problems with our veteran pitchers have been baffling.

  10. Is there something wrong with Bonderman? He seems to be using a ton of pitches to get through his outings lately?
    Also what is the team ERA when Inge is catching, I think he was behind the plate for 2 11 run games.

  11. Goodness man. Just underhand the ball to Botts. He’s hitting .138 for goodness sakes.

  12. Bondo has needed 30 more pitches to get through 4 than Jennings…he’ll be lucky to get past this inning.

  13. Man, how fast can our hitters plow through these innings? What happened to “grinding out” ABs? The focus should be getting into the Texas pen, which has been standing on the mound a TON this week.

    Jennings is at 56 pitches, Bondo 85 through 4.

  14. Screw that, I’d yank him now. He’s not even going to qualify for the win. I guess they’ll let him pitch to Young, let’s pray for an out.

  15. Gameday is showing every pitch as a sinker, I’m assuming they are all fastballs, right?

  16. Why Leyland left him in there against 4 straight lefties is beyond me (well Botts is a switch hitter, but still). I’m assuming that Seay can’t go today? Fortunately for us, we have a trump card – the Texas bullpen.

  17. I understand why Leyland left him in there, but it was the wrong call. Bonderman had absolutely no control left whatsoever.

    The problem, now, is Miner. Stranding inheirited runners isn’t exactly his speciality.

  18. holy crap, Miner? this is better than Bonderman in his current state?

    Leyland must love the sound of booing in his own ballpark. There is no way this can turn out good.

  19. Maybe the plan is to see if Jennings will lose focus and concentration sitting in the dugout for 25 minutes at a time.

    Very clever, Jimmuh. So very clever indeed….

  20. What the heck is wrong with this starting rotation??? None of them can get through 5 innings! It is just embarrassing!

  21. So. To clarify: if Jimmuh doesn’t send Granderson while Polanco (clearly not 100%) has a favorable count, the ensuing walk and single would have in all likelihood plated a run. Or at a minimum set up bases loaded and 1 out for Maggs.

    OK, just wanted to be sure I had that straight.

  22. Woah! Thinking the inning was over, I left for a minute to brush my teeth, and then wham! Three runs. Beautiful.

  23. I swear, there needs to be a never-ending stream of disparaging remarks about the Tigers’ hitter, because it’s like they read the board and then go out and bang out 3 hits and 4 RBI. And folks here end up eating crow. Tom is the latest to join me (for my comments on Santiago on Tuesday) on the all-crow diet. Well done, Tom. I rather enjoy crow, it tastes like chicken.

  24. Mark: Make mine a double serving. First I flamed Miner, and he pitched us out of a jam, then picked on all the hitters, and , as boombotti noted, right on cue maggs strokes one. I take all the credit, of course.

  25. Miner just put in one of the best pitched innings I have seen all year. 1-2-3 with 2 strikeouts. What the heck is going on? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills with this team.

  26. Raburn hit one off the top of the wall, initially ruled a double, but they changed the call to a home run.

  27. Let’s face it – the entire bullpen is making us eat crow right now. I still can’t speak the name Jason Grilli without twitching violently, but they sure have gotten the job done lately.

    Then again, there are still 9 more outs to get…

  28. our pen is starting to be a strength, although i hope i’m saying this at the end of next week.

  29. While this winning is all fine and good, let’s just be realistic and imagine if we were playing the Red Sox, the Yankees, even the White Sox. Our starting pitching is cr*p! And the Rangers pitching isn’t much better than ours. So what happens when this series is over?

  30. They pitching to Botts like he’s Babe Ruth. Inge got that treatment last year, too, but he handled it a little differently and the results weren’t as favorable.

    Kathy is right on, let’s see the pen have this kind of success against Boston, the Yankees the Indians or the White Socks (we always struggle against them big time). Our starters are not getting the job done and the bullpen is bailing them out. That can’t go on.

  31. With the way that the starting pitching is not getting nearly deep enough in games as they have to, I really think they may have to go to a 13 pitcher roster. And they may have to keep Miner in when they add Cruceda.

  32. You all may be right; Texas is actually fairly similar with the failures of their starters having a roster effect. Feldman was supposed to pitch today, but was relegated to bullpen duty because the rest of their long relief staff was worn out. We could see the same thing…

  33. I guess Seay is available. Seems that we could have used him in the 5th…but I’m not complaining.

  34. I don’t know why Jones is not in there. He is the only one who hasn’t pitched his arm off in this four game winning streak.

  35. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as gloomy about my team in the midst of a four game winning streak

  36. There is no question; this is fun, but Kathy is right. None of these victories were pretty as far as our starting pitching goes. If we were playing the Angels, the Yankees — or I’d say almost ANYONE except the Texas Rangers — these three games may have been a sweep in the other direction. These wins are abborations. All other things being equal, you can’t expect to win with all the base on balls, continually pitching behind in counts, and short outings/horrible preformances from your starters.

    I consider the Tigers extremely lucky in this series. Let’s hope they can figure out what the issue is — ahh — starting tomorrow with Robertson. We’re going into a stretch where the margin for error will be much less forgiving to pull off some Ws.

  37. I’m looking at all this a little differently. This feels like a bit of our luck evening out. In the 0-7 start, we were terrible, but we had some bad luck too. Now, we got extremely lucky that our starting pitching implosion coincided with a series against a terrible team like Texas. There aren’t too many teams we would have swept with starts like the last three. Lucky for us, Texas is one of them.

    Now we just pray that our starting 5 reacquaint themselves with the strike zone in a hurry.

  38. Okay…so….let’s do a quick check up on the team.

    Hitting- Check

    Bullpen- Check

    Bench- Check

    Starters- Yeah…..a lot of work to do….

  39. Beating up on a bad team is surely a good sign. Bats are hot and the pen is delivering, so there is definitely reason for hope.

    I’m feeling optimistic and will say the starters will come around!

  40. I think that’s 13 BB’s by Bondo his last 2 starts. My guess is >50% chance he’s pitching hurt again.

    Bondo, Rogers, Willis….I’m not confident we can count on any of them this year.

    Possible fillers:

    Galaragga – so far so good
    Aquilino Lopez – any chance he gets stretched out to be a starter?
    Jason Grilli


    Billfer – any other Galaragga clones lurking in the Minors(clones in terms of role/effectiveness, not stuff)? Vazquez doesn’t appear to be ready for prime time at the moment, and I REALLY don’t want to see Casey Fossum.

    We don’t need anyone to even be average. A below average 5.00 ERA from the back end of out rotation keeping us close enough to win games should be enough.

  41. I’m in Chicago so i can’t watch these games. Initially I looked at Rogers’ line yesterday I shook my head (at Kenny). That was before I read that the defense hung him out to dry a couple of times (Guillen and Pudge?). Is that what happened? I’m wondering if some of the problem isn’t starting with the defense. Are they having to field more balls because of the pitchers, or are the pitchers dealing with too many long innings caused by defensive breakdowns?

  42. Andre, Kenny just didn’t have it. While there were a few bobbles, Rogers just didn’t have his stuff.

  43. That’s what I was afraid of. If this keeps up, I don’t think we’ll need to worry about where Galarraga winds up when/if (and that’s a big IF) Willis comes back healthy and effective. Anyone else think that Willis needs to be scanned and examined head to toe to figure out what his problem is? I think he should only see playing time if he can be effective in a rehab stint in the minors.

  44. The problem appears to be a control issue, falling behind too many batters, and elevating the pitch count early on. This appears to be a consistant pattern — and not just a glitch.

    It’s also way too stressful for any pitcher to find a rythym and/or get into a groove when the pitchers are continually required to pitch in 3-0 and 3-1 counts and pitch out of jam after jam, inning after inning. Even Verlander’s last start suffered from the above issues. He pitched out of way too many jams — a few more clutch hits from the Jays and his so-called “quality start” would have been reduced to 6 earned runs to his credit, another L on his record, and being knocked out of the game in the third or forth inning.

    The reason I’m the most unhappy I think I’ve ever been after a sweep in our favor is because we have a team coming into town that plays the kind of ball that is going to eat this team alive, provided we don’t address what’s going on with the starters. Trust me: the Angels are gonna advance those runners and convert almost every base on balls into hit-and-run plays or stolen bases. While the umpteen-and-one walks (many leading off an inning) the Tigers issued to the Rangers were merely men LOB at the end of the day, if we do the same thing with the Angels, those runs are gonna score.

  45. Kathy and T – I found what I was thinking of:

    “Kenny Rogers was doing a nice job of getting into two strike counts early on. And it wasn’t nibbling that was killing him. It was infield singers and choppers that made their way through that kept Kenny pitching from the stretch. Plus, his defense didn’t exactly help him.

    The first run came when Carlos Guillen dropped a pick off throw. The second run came when Pudge Rodriguez ole’d a catchable pitch resulting in the runner from 3rd scoring. Twice Rogers had would be double play balls bobbled by his middle infielders (one each for Santiago and Renteria).”

    That was from yesterday’s post-game recap here on this site.

    Again, I can’t actually watch the games, but reading this makes me think back to my early question of where the real problem begins.

  46. Billfer’s recap is correct, Andre. But you still have to throw strikes even if your HOF catcher misses a catch.

  47. In consecutive games, our starter has walked the number nine hitter and walked in a run. That’s unacceptable and embarrassing. Something needs to be done in between starts. And I don’t mean running half a marathon around the warning track.

  48. When you walk the number nine hitter AND walk in a run, there is a problem. Which needs addressing.

  49. I haven’t really seen this addressed here (maybe Bilfer can do a post on this subject), but barring any of our starters being injured (Willis was wild before his injury) who is to blame for our entire rotation being so awful? Hernandez?

    No starter can go deep into games (we’re seeing 90-100 pitches by the 5th or 6th inning all too frequently).

    No starter (except Galarraga) can find the strike zone consistently.

    This just seems to be the fault of the pitching coach and perhaps Leyland for not stretching these guys out better in spring training.

    I just think it is too coincidental for all of our starters to have such similar issues.

    Any thoughts?

  50. I don’t think its necesarily the pitching coaches fault. There’s a lot of different elements, but I wonder how it effects a starting pitchers psyche, when he leaves runers on base and the reliever allows those runners to score.

    Thus, it seems like a combination of two things. First, the starting pitcher is trying to do too much and then the second part which is just bad location. I don’t know if its lack of practice, but just they are simply not locating their pitches.

  51. This series with the Rangers came just in the nick of time. While I’m thrilled that we seem to be hitting the ball again and by the return of Granderson, I am worried by our starting pitching and the injury problems that seem to plague the team. The problem with our starters seems, to me at least, to be an issue of not throwing first-pitch strikes. I’m no expert, but I feel like that would go a long way towards upping the number of quality starts we get from this rotation.

    A sweep is a sweep, but I’d prefer to sweep the Angels, get to .500 for the first time this year, and then start talking about a full-fledged turn around.

    Good game today, though. Let’s keep this going into the weekend. ESPN Sunday Night baseball, too, what a treat! Hopefully we’ll have the brooms out for that one, too!

  52. Kathy – He was throwing strikes early on though. With some moderate luck and normal defense and Rogers is in a lot better shape in terms of runs and pitch count in the 4th inning. But yes, that 4th inning was all on him not throwing strikes.

  53. Well, let’s hope we don’t shame ourselves on national TV again. And let’s hope we don’t shame ourselves at home tomorrow playing a class act team LAA. Go Tigers!! Big rains forecast for tomorrow night.

  54. Greg –

    As for other hopes in the minors, it’s thin right now. Virgil Vasquez just hit the DL with tendinitis. Jordan Tata however is pitching for Lakeland and would likely be available in a couple weeks. Other than that Porcello is probably most ready to contribute and he’s still building arm strength.

  55. I don’t think it’s necessarily Chuck Hernandez’s fault the starters aren’t throwing strikes. CH coaches the guys in the pen too, and by all accounts they have been much better lately throwing more quality strikes and not walking batters. I highly doubt him and Leyland aren’t talking about this, so what else are they supposed to do? If it’s a mechanical issue, it’s on CH – working with the player – to correct it. Otherwise, he can’t go out there and throw the ball for his guys. So it becomes more a player’s ability to execute. I don’t CH completely escapes blame, but I think it’s more than just him.

    We’re on national TV twice this weekend, let’s try not to embarrass ourselves, m’kay boys?

  56. I think that the starters at the end of the day Just lack the confidence in their stuff. wasn’t it verlander and bondo who can’t locate their fast ball. and forgive me but wouldn’t that be the easiest pitch to locate? Really i don’t know!

  57. Does anybody know the status of Dentrel Willis? Is he scheduled to do a rehab stint or something? I’m really concerned about starting pitching depth in this organization.

  58. Two outstanding young power pitchers are regressing before my eyes. It’s either calamitous bad luck, or someone is failing miserably at their job. I don’t know that it’s Chuck, but I don’t know who else it would be. Neither of these guys has had a Steve Avery/Dontrelle type workload. Somebody has the job to powerfully convey the message of throwing strikes, and fix any problems preventing the aforementioned. I don’t know who else’s job that would be.

  59. What can the Tigers realistically do about their starting pitching this early except wait for it to come around? My answer: Nothing. Last April it was the hitting we were waiting on.

    I wonder how it effects a starting pitchers psyche, when he leaves runers on base and the reliever allows those runners to score.

    Jojo, I don’t know, but I would hope that any professional pitcher with his head in the right place would realize he’s not off the hook for leaving runners on whether they score or not. He’d be focused on his team winning the game rather than his ERA or second-guessing his manager.

  60. I know that no one wants to do this, but I gotta believe that we can get a live arm for Guillen. I just don’t think this team can make the playoffs with Verlander, Rogers, Bonderman, Nate as our front 4.

  61. Tigers scored 37 runs, walked 20 times, were hit by pitches 5 times, had 35 hits, hit 10 homers, 17 extra base hits, and saw 503 pitches from Rangers pitchers in this 3 game set.

  62. No trading Guillen!

    I do worry about the starting pitching, but like someone mentioned, there is nothing to do but to wait for it to come around. These guys were capable last year. Unless they got labotomies and forgot how to pitch, they are still capable. I think back to Verlanders terrific start in Chicago and how he fell apart in the 8th. Is it focus? I don’t think Hernadez is to blame, since the pen is performing well and keeping us in games.

    This weekend will be a good test to see if they’re rounding the corner. I’m excited to watch.

  63. Sean wrote:

    Jojo, I don’t know, but I would hope that any professional pitcher with his head in the right place would realize he’s not off the hook for leaving runners on whether they score or not. He’d be focused on his team winning the game rather than his ERA or second-guessing his manager.


    You want to know an MLB’s starting pitchers priority? Let’s start with Bondo, have you ever watched his reactions? Next time he gets taken out of the game by Leyland with runners on, look at the glare he gives Leyland. Then, notice his reaction when any of the runners he’s ‘responsible’ for scores(or if someone scores making him ineligible for a W). Next compare that to his reaction when the opponent scores and he’s not responsible for the runs. The difference is quite extreme indeed.

    Add to that the fact that pitchers like Bondo, in this regard, are a dime a dozen, and you’ll discern alot about MLB pitchers priority.

  64. Greg – Am I reading this right in interpreting that you’re saying Bondo is more concerned with personal numbers than team?

    I hardly think this is fair to judge from watching his reactions. Keep in mind that if the runs score and he becomes ineligible for the W, it means the score has been tied or the other team has gone ahead meaning that the TEAM is no longer in line for a win either. It just seems plausible that he is frustrated with himself for not keeping the team in the game.

  65. tiff – I certainly hope you are right here, but Kenny’s age and Bonderman’s head issues are headed in the wrong direction. If JV can turn out to be the Cy Young candidate we think he is, and the rest of the guys can be average, then we’ve got a shot with this offense. Problem is, I don’t think the rest of the guys are average.

  66. Based on quotes and what little I’ve actually seen of Bonderman, I’d give him the benefit of the doubt. He seems like an emotional, competetive guy who hates to be taken out and hates to see his runners score for all the right reasons.

    I’m reminded of the article alleging that Inge is “livid” over the Cabrea-Guillen switch. Makes no sense. He’ll get more time at third with Guillen ahead of him for sure (injuries). Maybe there’s some “reading into” of Inge’s reactions going on. If Inge is still frustrated or even livid, they should keep him that way – has he ever had an April this good? Next time Guillen is out for a while, they should take Inge to the next level by announcing that Dontrelle Willis is moving to 3B.

    Can we get Craig Monroe back for Jacque Jones? I’m just sayin’.

  67. Bonderman was 10-1 with a sub-4.00 ERA at one point last year and foolishly tried to pitch through pain. Verlander has had a rough start but I think it’s too early to say he’s “regressing”. Sabathia had worse numbers than JV to start this year, is he regressing too? I have read that many scouts don’t think pitchers throw enough meaningful innings during spring training, and thus aren’t ready for the season. They spend their time throwing 5 innings to AA-hitters and in simulated games on practice fields. An exception to that this year was Danny Haren, who threw 7 innings his last couple starts in the spring, and he’s off and running to start the season (he’s also hurt, but that’s a different story).

    I think our starters will get better as the season progresses, they’ll find their command and tweak the mechanics to fix the minor problems. We’ve been lucky that our bullpen has kept us in it (I really didn’t think I’d be writing those words), let’s give the starters some time to put things together. If we’re still having this conversation in June, I’ll be worried.

  68. OK, Greg, next time out I’ll be watching Bondo’s eye reactions. Just last week I mentioned how Poly had stopped clenching his teeth as much this season. Well, yesterday, he clenched ’em like crazy and still didn’t get a hit. So much for the jaw clenching theory!

  69. Sean wrote:

    I’m reminded of the article alleging that Inge is “livid” over the Cabrea-Guillen switch. Makes no sense. He’ll get more time at third with Guillen ahead of him for sure (injuries). Maybe there’s some “reading into” of Inge’s reactions going on. If Inge is still frustrated or even livid, they should keep him that way – has he ever had an April this good? Next time Guillen is out for a while, they should take Inge to the next level by announcing that Dontrelle Willis is moving to 3B.

    Can we get Craig Monroe back for Jacque Jones? I’m just sayin’.

    end quote

    I haven’t laughed this hard in a while, thank you and I couldn’t agree more (whats worse is that Willis can “hit”). I do think that the media exaggerates any possible Inge situation. I remember reading ESPN reports early in the season that seemed to make pretty significant leaps and assumptions based on Inge comments that, when you read what he actually said, seemed more like flat out fiction than anything.

    As far as JJones, I think its the Cubs getting back at us for Monroe…which totally isn’t fair, I mean we took N Perez off their hands right?

  70. Well, to be honest, that’s really all we have to go on with most of what we talk about here, our observations and our interpretation of our observations.

    And you’re right, there could be some explanation why he throws things in the dugout and/or slams things around, on more than one occassion, and every single time I’ve observed it, its only when it effects him personally(W or earned run charged to him), and yet, I’ve never seen him one single time ever react that way when he doesn’t have a personal stake(not that it hasn’t happened, but with as many games as I’ve seen, you’d think I’d see it at least once).

    Its also true that if something looks like a duck, acts like a duck, sounds like a duck…….it might not be a duck.

    But call me crazy, and I could be wrong, but I still say ‘quack’!

    I think, and I’m not alone in this, that it disrespects his teammate. If I were any reliever on the Tigers team, I’d have about as much love for Bondo as Renteria does for Orlando Cabrera. In fact, I’m surprised we haven’t seen Miner or another reliever get into a Zambrano/Barrett type fight with Bondo.

    But you’re right, there’s no way to be certain, but why would he only act that way when he’s got a personal stake?

  71. Greg – isn’t it just as reasonable to assume that, when he reacts like that to runners he’s responsible for scoring, he’s angry at himself for letting the team down, and isn’t directing that towards the bullpen? I would think that was a fairly normal reaction to have. You think the reliever on the mound would appreciate that reaction when it wasn’t Bondo’s guys scoring? Seems to me that if Bondo was trashing the dugout when a reliever was giving up their own earned runs would be a huge disrespect.

  72. re: the “livid” quote.. I really think they were reusing old quotes from Spring Training in an attempt to make a story. None of the local media had any quotes mentioning anything from Inge and you know he is their go-to guy when they want to cause some controversy.

  73. Tiff’s right on with that. Inge hasn’t said anything publicly for quite a while. Alot of times he’ll do radio interviews but I haven’t heard a peep out of him lately. But I’m not gonna hold my breath.

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