Is it wrong to pop champagne in April?

by billfer on April 9, 2008 · 25 comments

in 2008 Season,Game Post

Has an April win ever felt so good? If it wasn’t dark and 11:00 p.m. I’d be inclined to say that the sun is shining and the birds are singing. Regardless, the Tigers and their fans can sleep a little better tonight. I was confident that the team wouldn’t finish 0-162 but am very happy to no longer have to test the theory.

Some thoughts from the game:

  • The Tigers actually hit a couple balls hard early on, but they were gobbled up by Red Sox defenders. But unlike in other games, the offense didn’t go in a shell.
  • The Tigers worked 8 walks tonight chasing Lester early. Nice to see the patience, but Magglio Ordonez still swung at the first pitch in 3 of his plate appearances.
  • Meanwhile Carlos Guillen had a tremendous night seeing pitches working Lester for 15 pitches in his first 2 at bats.
  • But the offensive star was Edgar Renteria who got the big hit with a 2 run gapper in the 4th. Everyone could take a breath and Marcus Thames followed with the 2 run bomb. Renteria kind of tormented Boston fans when he played for them, now he did it again.
  • Jeremy Bonderman had one of those Nate Robertson type battling nights. His defense hurt him early on forcing him to get extra outs and raising his pitch count. But he limited the damage to 2 runs. He seemed to be getting quite a few swinging strikes but only 3 K’s. Also, his fastball really dropped off again around the 80 pitch mark where he was sitting in the high 80s.
  • The bullpen did an excellent job. Bobby Seay got all 4 hitters we was called on to face. Francis Beltran and Denny Bautista did their jobs as well.
  • And it was another scary Todd Jones night. He didn’t exactly get hammered with a handful of grounders and a pop up doing most of the damage. The only part that bothered me was when he lost the strike zone. Still, some add on runs courtesy of Inge and Guillen provide a cushion.

Okay. Time for a 7 game win streak and we’ll just start the season over again.

 
 

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Keith in IA April 9, 2008 at 11:23 pm

I was just looking at the box score and thought how nice those 8 BBs looked in the bottom line. Same goes for only 2 Ks.

Brian P April 9, 2008 at 11:39 pm

I’m relieved Belliard straightened Guillen out this afternoon. But that’s what he’s paid to do. Consequently, Guillen made an error-saving pick on a Renteria throw. One of many positive developments tonight.

JOE Z April 10, 2008 at 12:59 am

i am so ready for the weather to heat up, i have to believe the tigers bats will be great then. LETS DO THIS

Chris in Nashville April 10, 2008 at 2:03 am

Ahhh…finally got through watching the DVR version of the game at 1 AM central. I couldn’t agree more Bilfer, what a RELIEF. I’ve been getting a tad worried as the losing streak kept getting longer, but there is just no way this team is going to look as bad as it did for that long of a stretch. There is just too much talent offensivley. I think they are about to get hot. The AB of the season so far was Guillen in the 4th (I think it was the 4th), he just kept battling and worked a walk to get 2 guys on with one out and finally somebody delivered (should have been bases loaded since Maggs was safe on that first play of the inning). I felt a relief and you could tell the guys felt the relief. Pressure is off. They may not win 7 in a row, but you should start seeing this team win more games like this, grind out at-bats, get walks, get runners on because eventually someone is going to get a good pitch to hit and do something with it.

I was impressed with Bautista tonight as well, the Beltran kid I’m not too sold on yet, his mechanics look kind of awkward and look like he could lose his arm slot on a fairly regular basis..but he got the job done when we needed it. Good stuff ladies and gents, good stuff. That was the real ’08 Detroit Tigers first baseball game tonight.

Chris in Nashville April 10, 2008 at 2:09 am

Oh yeah, forgot to mention….not trying to start anything on here at all, and I know this is a baseball site, but since I’m in Nashville, I would just like to say that I bet the Wings did NOT want to face the Preds. I grew up a Wings fan and I can’t root against them, but I was at the first ever Preds game and go all the time. I’m probably what is best known in Nashville as a PredWing fan.

Nashville gets a bum rap as a hockey town, and deservedly so, but people just don’t know hockey down here. Whenever I take someone to a game, they fall in love with the sport. It’s growing and a big playoff series win would be huge for this team’s standing in the city after 3 consecutive first round losses. The Wings will probably win in 6, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Preds pull off an upset. As a long time Wings fan as well, I know all too well their propensity to get knocked out in the early in the playoffs when they win the President’s Trophy. I have a feeling it will be a very entertaining series, I can’t lose either way. Best of luck to the Wings.

Anne April 10, 2008 at 6:35 am

After Sunday night’s debacle against the White Sox, when we were “only” 0-6, I thought that just winning one game would be too little too late. I guess I was wrong. This win feels like 10.

Mike April 10, 2008 at 8:33 am

What is up with Bonderman’s velocity. His fastball used to come in at 95 and now he seems to be topping out at 91. I know the big thing was if he doesn’t throw it as hard he gets more movement but he doesn’t seem to be able to control that movement, so why not add the extra mph and blow it by some guys. Then the difference between his slider and fastball will be even more. His slider seemed slower too in the high 80s when before it was low 90s.

Have we seen the best Bonderman has to offer?

rings April 10, 2008 at 8:37 am

I’ve said it before, but I’m saying it again: GIVE MARCUS THAMES AT-BATS!

Enough of this Craig Monroe, Jaque Jones, Timo Perez garbage. Thames is never going to hit .300, but he consistently hits the ball out of the ballpark at a historically prolific rate and will do so about once every 15 AB’s or so.

jason April 10, 2008 at 8:51 am

So a 7-game streak would be like starting the season off 0-0, but with a shortened 148 game season….

is that good or bad?

tiff April 10, 2008 at 9:12 am

Marcus Thames power is historic. The amount of HR he hits based on the ABs he gets (from off the bench no less) just blows my mind.

And I want to give some credit to The Great Clete Thomas for laying down the perfect bunt, setting up those Inge Insurance Runs in the later innings.

Anne was right, this win feels like 10. All is right again.

T Smith April 10, 2008 at 10:03 am

Nice to see Renteria mash a bit. But one development that is somewhat unsettling to see unfold is Renteria’s defense. He has yet to look comfortable at the position, as far as I can tell, and Guillen had to pick far too many routine throws. Bad throws across the diamond/Guillen at first bespeaks of impending errors any way you slice it….

By the way, the Beantown announcers pointed out something I was unaware of — I assumed Renteria’s lost season in a Sox uniform was based on his lack of offense — according to them, however, Renteria’s main failure at Boston was not due to lackluster offense (although it was down somewhat from carreer numbers) but completely sub-par defense. When Renteria doubled, they specifically mentioned that his approach at the plate was reminescent of his approach when he hit at Fenway in a Sox uniform. Then they pointed out he made 30 errors and came unglued defensively, implying defensive production was what drove him out of town on a rail, not a lack of offensive production.

Chris in Dallas April 10, 2008 at 10:14 am

Well for what it’s worth, E-Rent (sorry, had to channel my inner Linda Cohn there) hit at a .276/.335/.385 clip in Boston. Kind of meh. Especially if you consider the 30 hatchet jobs in the field. I’ve heard scouts remark about his declining arm strength, which causes him to play shallower at short thereby causing more balls to get by him. If he hits like last night, though, he’ll make up for it.

Chris April 10, 2008 at 10:50 am

Yes, this win was a big relief, but there is nothing to celebrate here is April. Assuming the perfect storm of multiple player slumps is over, the Tigers now find themselves in a big hole they have to crawl out of if they are going to contend. The margin for error is gone and we can only hope that this slump is indeed over and there isn’t another one this year. We will be lucky if this team is 500 by the all-star break.

Andrew April 10, 2008 at 11:01 am

Favorite Leyland quote in the paper today (Detroit News) regarding Thames –

“He’s hit a home run off him [Wakefield],” Leyland said. “I like home runs, and he’s hit a lot of them.”

:)

tiff April 10, 2008 at 11:22 am

if Leyland likes home runs, he should consider putting Thames in the lineup a little more often.

ron April 10, 2008 at 11:41 am

25% of today’s comments are from Chrises all across the country. That is the stat of the day. Go Tigers.

Mith April 10, 2008 at 11:50 am

We will be lucky if this team is 500 by the all-star break.

If that’s true, then this was never a playoff team to begin with. If they’re the 95 win team everyone expected them to be, then they should get back to .500 much sooner than the All-Star break.

I know everyone is giddy about this game, but I think everyone will be back in the dumps if they lose tonight. It’s a big deal for them to string together a nice 8 out of 10 or something similar to make up the lost ground quickly.

Kurt April 10, 2008 at 12:49 pm

I’m not exactly sure I’d call 2.5 games behind the Yanks, BoSox and Indians a big hole. The Tigers got very lucky that all the main competitors stumbled as well, because it certainly could have been a big hole.

Somehow I don’t think that Kansas City in first place thing is going to continue all year.

Kyle J April 10, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Kurt makes a good point. We’ve had the worst combination of performance and luck in the league so far, but we should remember that other good teams struggle on occasion, too.

Was thinking about that last night when Mario and Rod were talk about Ortiz’s .094 batting average (Rod: “That’s a bingo number!”). Good hitters go into slumps; it’s just that all of ours did it at the same time.

T Smith April 10, 2008 at 2:56 pm

It’s not such a huge hole — especially relative to the aforementioned contenders — but I’m not so sure KC will sink to the cellar as quickly as expected. They may be the surprise team in the Central this year.

If the game yesterday marks the upside direction of whatever funk they were in, it’s no big deal at all. The real question is, how many cylinders will this team fire on from out here on out? If the offense is akin to the legendary Ferrari 60° V12 engine with two overhead camshafts, I would say yesterday there was spark in about 6 or 7 of those cylinders — enough for a win against a team not necessarily on their A-game. We could be 2 games up by the end of April if we start firing on 9, 10, or 11 cylinders and continue to do so for a significant stretch. Then again, these high-preformance engines tend to easily break down and/or require continual tweeking/maintenence. Let’s hope the analogy isn’t too accurate.

Ryan in Brooklyn April 10, 2008 at 3:55 pm

Agree with rings, et al. FREE MARCUS THAMES!

Chris April 10, 2008 at 3:55 pm

“If that’s true, then this was never a playoff team to begin with. If they’re the 95 win team everyone expected them to be, then they should get back to .500 much sooner than the All-Star break.”

I disagree.

Most winning teams go long stretches in the season at 500. The Red Sox were a 500 winning team for almost three months last year.

The ’06 Twins and the ’07 Yankees are examples of teams that were near or below the 500 mark at the allstar break and cought fire in the second half. Twins did it with pitching, but the Yanks did it by turning into an offensive football team and scoring touchdowns almost every night. If there is any potential for the ’08 Tigers to do the same, it would likely be simular to the Yanks of ’07.

The unfortunate thing about this early stumble into 1-7 is that the Tigers have to be a relativly hot team in order to just get at 500. And then we have to hope that there is no other slump in the season anywhere close to this or the one last August.

Walt at CMU April 10, 2008 at 4:07 pm

I didn’t get to see the game until the pistons game was over, but I think that Bondo’s fastballs at 91-92 are his two seamers. I seem to recall reading that he is trying to throw this pitch more often to get ground balls earlier in counts as opposed to striking everyone out, in order to keep his pitch count down.
Did he not throw any 4 seamers at around 95-96 last night?

Mark in Chicago April 10, 2008 at 4:32 pm

The Tigers have to play .539 ball in order to be at .500 (I assumed a record of 42-42) by the All-Star break. This is not an impossible pace, it translates to 87 wins over a 162-game season.

Chris, you’re right that it reduces our margin for error, but only modestly, since this streak occured so early in the season. BP puts their postseason odds (using PECOTA) at 43%. This is not much different than a coin flip, which is about what the odds were at the beginning of the season.

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