Game 24: Angels at Tigers

PREGAME: The Tigers once again welcome in a team coming in from Fenway Park. But while the Rangers had just been swept, the Angels took 2 of 3 from the Red Sox.

The Tigers send out no-luck Nate Robertson. Robertson has been the one guy in the rotation who hasn’t been plagued by walks. He’s fanned 21 while only walking 6. But the trouble is guys are hitting line drives (27.9%) nearly as often as they are hitting grounders (30.9%). Plus Robertson is only stranding 58% of runners so the result is a 7.48 ERA.

The Tigers will be taking on Ervin Santana. Santana has been tough this year and has a 2.67 ERA through his first 4 starts. He’s been killing right handed hitters to the tune of a .128 BAA with only 2 extra base hits.

One thing to watch in this series are the starter’s pitch counts for Detroit. The Angels actually see fewer pitchers per plate appearance than anyone else in the AL and are near the bottom in walks. They just hit the snot out of the ball instead.

LAA @ DET, Friday, April 25, 2008 Game Preview –

Game Time 7:05

POSTGAME: Sometimes you play a pretty good game, but still come up short. The Tigers got a solid start, some good bullpen work, played some nice defense, generated some scoring chances, worked long at-bats, but they still fell to the Angels 4-3.

Robertson breezed through the first 3 innings. He doubled his pitch count with a 4 run fourth inning. Then retired the next 9 batters on 25 pitches with only one ball leaving the infield. I was actually surprised to see him lifted at only 89 pitches. He was sharp, continually getting first pitch strikes and throwing 65% of his pitches in the zone.

The offense tried to grind out at-bats. Miguel Cabrera and Brandon Inge each had 10 pitch at-bats. But they just couldn’t get the big hit. Gary Sheffield took one to the wall with the bases loaded. Pudge Rodriguez ripped a line drive that was right at Casey Kotchman with 2 men on. The only really bad plate appearance of the night came when Ordonez popped to first on the first pitch with the bases loaded in the 6th. The Tigers only picked up 1 run from the loaded-no out scenario and that proved to be the difference.

Angels 4 Tigers 3


  1. Chris

    April 25, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Regardless on how well the Angles hit & score on Nate Robinson, I would consider it a sucessful outing if he can make just it into the 7th inning.

  2. kpking3032

    April 25, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Hey Bilfer,

    Saw the thread about you being on DFN, found your blog….IT IS INCREDIBLE…It’s got to be the best team-oriented sports blog on the ‘net.

  3. jason

    April 25, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    I have a question- I forget the posters’ name, but the last couple (?) seasons there was a poster who would calculate the Tigers stats, broken down into what they called “innings”, each “inning” being 18 games.

    Well, we past the 18 game mark, and I may have missed it, but I don’t think it was posted. Did I just miss it? Does anyone know if that poster is still around?

    Just curious. I liked reading those posts.

  4. Richard

    April 25, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Is it safe to say now that Clete Thomas was a vampire?

  5. Tbone

    April 25, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Sheffield is back tonight, fresh off another shot of cortisone…

  6. Brian P

    April 25, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Eek. Despite his shoulder woes, I bet he bats third, and looks like a fool against Santana in the process.

  7. Tbone

    April 25, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    You would be right, Brian. Tonight’s lineup:

    Granderson, CF
    Polanco, 2B
    Sheffield, DH
    Ordonez, RF
    Cabrera, 1B
    Jones, LF
    Renteria, SS
    Rodriguez, C
    Inge, 3B

  8. Nate

    April 25, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Jason, that poster is named Sam. I can’t recall seeing him yet this season, but you’re right: those posts are darn good.

  9. T Smith

    April 25, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    For all you locals — what’s up with the weather? Is this game gonna happen tonight?

    (Also, not sure about this, but I think the poster, Sam, who breaks down the innings, is female Sam — short for Samantha maybe? — again could be way off, but that’s how I thought I remembered those posts)

  10. Kathy

    April 25, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    So far, so good with the weather. We had a really cloudy patch about an hour ago which should be hitting detroit right around game time. Wind gusts up to 20mph

  11. DavidBrennan

    April 25, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Just a quick comment on the “no-luck” Nate Robertson quip: Robertson’s got an ERA of 7.48. I agree that there’s luck involved in his 0-2 record….but it’s GOOD luck. He should be 0-4 right now.

    (However, I’m partial to Nate personally because he was the only player I know who had the balls to call the steroid hysteria a “publicity stunt”, telling WJR radio that MLB releasing info on Paul Byrd’s use of HGH right before he pitched in the ALCS that it was clearly MLB throwing one of its own to the wolves, all for a little bit more play on CNN and FOXNews. ‘Course, all he was doing was just stating the obvious….but everybody else was too busy tsk-tsk-ing and wagging their fingers to realize that they were being had. He called it what it was.)

  12. Mark in Chicago

    April 25, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Are we looking at a rain delay? isn’t putting the game up, but I don’t see anything on the radar.

  13. Brian P

    April 25, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    I remember heading to LA last year when we were looking great, but the Angels swept us. Roberston pithed one of those horrific games, so I’m hoping history doesn’t repeat itself.

  14. Anne

    April 25, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    And the game’s underway on time, yay! I have a feeling the Angels are going to be a bit tougher than the Rangers.

    Hubby and sons are at the game tonight, so I’m hoping extra hard for a Tiger win.

  15. JOE Z

    April 25, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    good start! no runs no hits stand em up and sit em down nate!

  16. Anne

    April 25, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    A 1-2-3 first inning for Nate! How sweet it is!

  17. T Smith

    April 25, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Very auspicious start by Nate. I like what I see so far.

  18. Mark in Chicago

    April 25, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Good first couple innings for Nate. Let’s see him get through the 4th, where he always seems to run into problems.

  19. JOE Z

    April 25, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    nice DP

  20. DavidBrennan

    April 25, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Brandon Inge: Even when he’s sitting on a fastball, he still can’t catch up to it.

  21. T Smith

    April 25, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    And here comes the 4th inning…

  22. Brian P

    April 25, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Nate’s asking for it throwing 87 mph on the inside.

  23. Mark in Chicago

    April 25, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    That pitch was a foot inside and Guerrero kept it fair. Incredible. Hard to blame Nate for that one, but the 4th inning gets him again.

  24. DavidBrennan

    April 25, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    (Good call Brian P.)

    So Nate had a line-drive double, a line-drive out to third, and then a home run crushed to the seats in left field. Down 2-0.

    My thoughts? Just bad “luck”. Tigers starting pitchers are the greatest, Chuck Hernandez should get a lifetime contract.

  25. Mike in CT

    April 25, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Vintage Nate Rob performance.

  26. Mark in Chicago

    April 25, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    You said it, Mike. Vintage Nate.

  27. T Smith

    April 25, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    What is it with Nate Roberston and the 4th inning?

  28. DavidBrennan

    April 25, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    His in-game E.R.A. thus far: 9.00.

    Just luck. If only the Tigers hitters had scored 5 runs in the first three innings, he’d be in line for a win!

    (President of the Fans for Chuck Hernandez.)

  29. Mark in Chicago

    April 25, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    4-0 against Santana the way he’s throwing. This does not look good….

  30. Kathy

    April 25, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    That Grandy!!!

  31. DavidBrennan

    April 25, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    T Smith wrote: “What is it with Nate Roberston and the 4th inning?”

    The same thing that’s with him in innings 1, 2, 3, and 5: he’s not good. (Note that innings 6, 7, 8, and 9 weren’t included because he never lasts that long. Who knows, though: maybe he’d turn into Johan Santana then!)

  32. Mike in CT

    April 25, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    With Nate, he doesn’t have the stuff to get guys out the second time through the lineup. Maybe he needs a new pitch, that slop he tries to toss at every righty seems easy to lay off.

  33. Anne

    April 25, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Curtis, I think I love you.

    It’s like the Tigers are trying to be courteous, saying “No, you guys score first. Really, we don’t mind. We’ll get our runs later.” Let’s hope they’re right.

  34. Mark in Chicago

    April 25, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Polly at 3rd with one out is a critical run to get in. Come on, Maggs.

  35. DavidBrennan

    April 25, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    I can always gauge my confidence in a victory by what I’m paying more attention to: the score or the opposing pitcher’s pitch count.

    Santana’s at 64.

    It’s not a very good sign when your only hope lies on a vague chance of running into a weak reliever.

  36. Mark in Chicago

    April 25, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Here’s what we need to do:

    Start Robertson. When the 4th inning comes, take Jacques Jones out of the game and put Nate in left. Bring in a reliever to pitch one inning. Then put Nate back in for the 5th and insert Marcus Thames in left.

  37. DavidBrennan

    April 25, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Mark in Chicago wrote: Here’s what we need to do:

    Start Robertson. When the 4th inning comes, take Jacques Jones out of the game and put Nate in left. Bring in a reliever to pitch one inning. Then put Nate back in for the 5th and insert Marcus Thames in left.

    All that would do is transfer the suck-i-tude to the fifth. It’s like my ol’ Uncle Earnest used to say, “You can take the sucky pitcher off the mound but you can’t take the suckiness out of the pitcher. Especially when it’s Nate Robertson. He sucks.”

  38. Brian P

    April 25, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    If Nate can take care of the bottom of the order in the seventh, then it should be considered a decent outing. It only looks ugly because of the bad fourth.

  39. Mike in CT

    April 25, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Shields probably isn’t available for the Angels tonight, so the Tigers should have some openings before KRod comes in.

  40. DavidBrennan

    April 25, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Brian P:

    This reminds me of the poker movie ‘Maverick’, where this punk gambler goes, “I don’t think that hand should count. My mind wasn’t in the game.”

    You can’t just magically erase a bunch of line drives and a Guererro monster home run.

    “If only we could take away 754 of those home runs, Hank Aaron would’ve just been another anonymous player.”

    (I think if you just arbitrarily erased the worst inning from ANY start for any pitcher, he’d walk away with a win and a sparkling E.R.A.)

  41. Brian P

    April 25, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    That’s good news about Shields. Franky has been struggling this year too.

  42. Mike in CT

    April 25, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Cmon we need a Miggy Mash right here.

  43. Brian P

    April 25, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    But my point is, four runs through seven (possibly even eight) from the back end of your rotation can’t be considered a failure.

  44. Tbone

    April 25, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    What a disappointing result with 0 outs and bases jammed. JJ doesn’t inspire much fear coming after Maggs and Miggs.

  45. DavidBrennan

    April 25, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    Brian P:

    Four runs in seven innings is an E.R.A. of 5.14. That’s categorically bad.

  46. Tbone

    April 25, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    I don’t care what the score is, seeing any of our starters in the 7th is a welcome change.

  47. Mark in Chicago

    April 25, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Big picture, *IF* Nate can get through another inning+, he will have done a solid job.

    He hasn’t allowed any runs since the Tigers scored, letting the offense get the team back in the game. Yes the 4th inning was ugly, but the Angles guys get paid too, and they’re a pretty good team. They were going to score a few runs, what does it matter if they socred them in a bunch or in separate innings?

  48. Mike in CT

    April 25, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    agreed, compared to the struggles of say Bonderman and Rogers, Robertson is the least troublesome, since it seems its just one inning that always plagued him, whereas the other two haven’t been able to find the plate.

  49. Mark in Chicago

    April 25, 2008 at 9:00 pm


    By that logic a 1 for 3 night is terrific, since a .333 average would certainly rank in the top 10 in the league. Also , Nate did not actually give up 5.14 runs, he gave up 4, so projecting his ERA from a 7 inning game doesn’t mean anything.

    Nate’s WHIP for this game is 1.0, which is outstanding. His batting avg. against is .231, also very good. These are small samples and not accurately representative of Nate’s performance.

    One bad inning, yes. But solid overall against a good offensive club.

  50. Kathy

    April 25, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    I think Nate was terrific!

  51. Kathy

    April 25, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    OK Gary, you put yourself in this game, now do somthing!

  52. DavidBrennan

    April 25, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Mark in Chicago,

    If we’re going to start qualifying every little thing, then I could say that the Angels were total hacks, swinging at the first pitch countless times when Robertson was clearly not throwing strikes when they actually, ya know, let him pitch.

    (And for the record….the earned run average is, well, an AVERAGE. When Johan Santana has an E.R.A. of 2.80 per nine innings, that doesn’t mean that he only pitched nine innings.)

    I might end up eating my words about Nate, and I’ll concede that this wasn’t a horrible start by any standard (and it’s a GREAT start compared to every other Tiger start this season save for Guererro’s).

  53. Tbone

    April 25, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Coulda, shoulda…

  54. Kathy

    April 25, 2008 at 9:11 pm


  55. Mike in CT

    April 25, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Sheff can’t find any luck this season. Still plenty of game left.

  56. Chris

    April 25, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Sheffield is just dead weight to this lineup… Tigers need to get rid of him.

  57. Mark in Chicago

    April 25, 2008 at 9:17 pm


    My point wasn’t actually to qualify anything, it was to illustrate that looking at an average (whether it’s ERA, WHIP or BAA, etc.) with such a small sample size isn’t really instructive. So I agree with your point that looking at the Angels tendency to hack tonight doesn’t really tell us much about their performance either.

    I guess I just don’t think Nate’s start was horrible (as you have said also), nor do I think it was great (as you have said). Our opinions just seem to differ on where in between those descirptions Nate’s performance belongs. Admittedly, I’ve seen so much putrid starting pitching around here lately, Nate is starting to look a little like Sandy Koufax.

  58. Mike in CT

    April 25, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Too bad they gave Sheffield the money for next year, because they could consider dumping him if they only had one year left. Guillen/Cabrera need to shuffle 1B/DH.

  59. Kathy

    April 25, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Oh, God. Grilli is warming up.

  60. Brian P

    April 25, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    We haven’t had bonus baseball since opening day. I think we’re due.

  61. David G.

    April 25, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Not quite sure how you can take Cabs out of the game at that point, unless it was mainly concern with his hand.

  62. Brian P

    April 25, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Ahh! I thought was a Pudge double off the bat.

  63. Mark in Chicago

    April 25, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    it’s all up to pudge. ugh….

  64. Kathy

    April 25, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    The need for speed, David.

  65. Mike in CT

    April 25, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Maybe some ninth inning magic?

  66. Tbone

    April 25, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    This is just frustrating. Any litle clutch hit and the Tigers have the lead…

  67. DavidBrennan

    April 25, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Kathy wrote: “The need for speed, David.”

    Rayburn has a grand total of 4 steals and a whopping 2 triples in 74 career games. If the Tigers need speed….they might want to take a second look.

  68. Phil

    April 25, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    maybe im crazy but IMO a lot of teams would take a 4 ER in 7 IP from their 4th starter, thats just how i looked at it

  69. Mike in CT

    April 25, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    dang…right on the screws.

  70. Mark in Chicago

    April 25, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    That is just unfair by K-Rod. Nasty.

  71. mcb

    April 25, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    We missed Guillen tonight

  72. Mike in CT

    April 25, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    yep…for all their offense, they still need another lefty stick.

  73. Kathy

    April 25, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    I bit off all my fingernails. Sure is a tough loss for Nate.

  74. Mike R

    April 25, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Unless I missed something, why has no one mentioned Robertson being yanked from the game after the 7th when he’d retired 10 hitters in a row and had thrown 89 pitches? Am I missing something? Did our bullpen not pitch just below 50% of the innings against the Rangers and could use a night when the starter goes 8+? The Angels showed a lack of patience late in the game against Nate (6 pitch 7th inning) and he was cruising. These things drive me out of my mind. No reason to go to the bullpen to start the 8th. Have Bautista be up and come in if someone reaches against Nate, but how you don’t let him start the inning is beyond me.

  75. Joe

    April 25, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Oh man DavidBrennan, you are totally right! We have the worst fifth starter in the AL by far! Obviously we should blame all our woes on the guy who is the lowest paid regular starter rather than the fact that all the big guns have been average so far. Clearly I blame Nate Robertson for this team’s start rather than the fact that Verlander, Bonderman and Rogers haven’t gotten close to the 7th inning yet, or that Willis has zero control right now. If only we could be rid of that damn terrible Robertson!


  76. billfer

    April 25, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Joe – please no name calling. There are times that people are just looking to be confrontational and get a rise.

  77. billfer

    April 25, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    As for breaking things down by 18 game stretches, it is Sam that does it. Sam will be doing it starting with the 2nd inning. He could have done the first inning, or we could have all just looked at the stats after 18 games. It’ll be back.

  78. Mike R

    April 26, 2008 at 12:11 am

    I won’t do individual players, but as a team, pitching wise, the “first inning” of the season was like this:

    6-12, 5.70 ERA, 158 IP, 158 H, 112 R, 100 ER, 100 K, 88 BB, 16 HR, 1.56 WHIP.


    .262/.343/.404 for a .747 OPS, 160 H, 38 Doubles, 2 Triples, 15 HR, 74 RS, 103 K, 72 BB, 6 HBP, 25 GIDP, 10/10 in stolen bases.

  79. cib

    April 26, 2008 at 7:47 am

    Argh. Nice night but frustrating. Just one of those days in baseball. Onward and upward.