Back breakers

Tigers radio announcer Dan Dickerson has experienced the misery of this season up close. Probably to up close. What makes him a professional is that when the Tigers surrender a late inning homer to blow a lead, or a game, he doesn’t get to swear like the rest of us do. I bring this up because Dan passed along some research he did about the Tigers proclivity for allowing especially demoralizing homers late in the game. Ten time in fact. Since the All Star Break.

Tigers opponents have hit 10 HR in the 8th inning or later that either tied the game, broke a tie, or changed the lead (turned Tigers’ lead into opponent’s lead). Those HRs came in 8 games, and the Tigers are 1-7 in those 8 games. You might want to double-check to see if I missed any, but the 10 HR I found were: July 19th (2), July 25th, July 30th, August 3rd, 5th (2), 25th, September 14th and 19th.

Relievers have been equal opportunity givers: Farnsworth has given up 3 of the 10 HR, Zumaya 2, Seay, Dolsi, Jones, Glover and Fossum have all given up 1.

I was actually surprised it was only 10, but I came up with the same numbers as Dan. In that August 5th game Aquilino Lopez allowed a homer with 2 outs in the 7th that tied the game, so you can almost count that as 11.

What makes it a little more painful (like we need more pain) is that 6 of those 8 games were against the White Sox and Indians.


  1. RudeMood19

    September 22, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    This is precisely the reason why I love being a Tigers fan *sarcasm*

  2. mark_in_gr

    September 22, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    But we are undoubtedly leading the AL in wild pitches. Dusty Ryan must be thinking to himself, “WTF did I get myself into w/these losers?”

  3. Eric Cioe

    September 22, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Keep Seay. Keep Rodney if they don’t get a great offer on him.

    Other than those two, there are 5 spots in the pen. Get 20 arms – start with those pitchers who the Tigers control next year (Rapada, Fien, Dolsi, Cruceta, etc.), and include some of the older starting pitching suspects (Bonine, Lambert). Get some other arms through minor trades, minor league FA signings – and let those 20 arms duke it out for the 5 spots.

  4. greg

    September 23, 2008 at 2:12 am

    Interesting stat.

    I wonder if we could classify/quantify, statistically these gut wrenching loses. If you figure in Boneheaded defenses misplays that were key in a loss, I’d imagine the number would shoot up to up to 20-25 total. (unfortunately, since so many routine plays that defenders misplay aren’t ruled errors, errors are an inadequate stat).

    Now, if you did this for all teams, to come up with a number that’s typical for a given year, then look at the teams that far exceeded the average, I wonder how often such teams see a significant improvement next year simply based on no longer having ‘bad luck.

  5. Coleman

    September 23, 2008 at 3:59 am

    greg: re: bonehead defense…

    I have assumed the defense has been costing games but now I’m not so sure–it may just be that blowing the lead earlier with bad defense was just saving the bullpen the trouble, the way certain diseases seem to be getting worse all the time, as other diseases are cured, leaving people healthy enough to live long enough to die of something else.

  6. Coleman

    September 23, 2008 at 4:02 am

    I’m fairly new here, and don’t know the ins and outs, but the above comment was just in case there is a “most depressing” comment top 10 award…

  7. Smoking Loon

    September 23, 2008 at 11:07 am

    That wasn’t so depressing, Coleman. You can do better.

  8. Smoking Loon

    September 23, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Here’s a depressing comment, all the more so because it’s simple fact.

    Starting June 10, the Tigers went on a 31-16 tear. They followed that by going… 16-31.

  9. jim-mt

    September 23, 2008 at 11:18 am

    It seems like most of those homers were on 0-2 counts or preceded by 4 pitch walk or HBP.

  10. Coleman

    September 23, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Flaming Grebe: See, now I don’t find that depressing, because of its symmetrical nature. If they went 31-16 and then 15-34, that would be far more depressing…

  11. ron

    September 23, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Leyland said they won’t blow up the team.

  12. Coleman

    September 23, 2008 at 11:33 am

    jim-mt: The 0-2 info is odd…(not the walk/HBP). For instance, I can imagine if I were to walk the bases loaded (not that a professional ballplayer such as plays for the Tigers would ever do something so silly), I would guess that the odds are pretty high that the next better either walks a run in, if I’m trying not to give up the grand slam, or knocks a few runs in, if I’m trying hard not to fall behind in the count.

    HRs on 0-2 counts suggest that either the pitchers are trying to throw one out of the strike zone and missing, throwing it over the plate (which maybe is a nice companion skill to throwing balls when they try to throw it over the plate), or that the batters are guessing correctly where they are pitching it.
    (Sometimes I have wondered this season if guys are tipping their pitches or our signs are being stolen…)

  13. Kevin in Austin (now Dallas)

    September 23, 2008 at 11:37 am

    What makes all of this so tough is that this season has been so demoralizing, that I can not imagine any off-season moves that will sufficiently rally the troops. The team is indifferent, the announcers are frustrated, the fans are downtrodden…is there anyone out there that thinks this team has any chance of being competitive next year?

    I realize that miracles happen from time to time, but we are going to be getting worse at every spot in the lineup next year save Granderson, Cabrera, Joyce, and the C, the same can be said defensively, we have two legitimate starters (Verlander and Galarraga) and one guy in the pen (Seay). I’m sure that I’ll be excited when P&C report in Feb as always, but I think I will have more free time next summer than in the 3 previous ones.

    Sorry, just had to get it all out.

  14. Smoking Loon

    September 23, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    July 19: R Hernandez vs. Zumaya, solo HR on first pitch to tie game 10-10; L Scott vs. Dolsi, solo HR with 1 out and 0-1 count for Orioles win

    Zumaya starts inning, first pitch is HR.

    Dolsi starts inning, gets groundout, then the HR.

    July 25: J Dye vs. Jones, 2 run HR with 2 outs and 2-0 count to put White Sox ahead 6-5

    Jones starts inning, popout, flyout, single, then the HR.

    July 30: K Shoppach vs, Rodney, solo HR with 1 out on 1-0 count to tie game 12-12

    Rodney starts inning, K, then the HR.

    August 3: E Hinske vs. Farnsworth, solo HR with 0 out on 2-1 count, 3-2 Tigers, then B. Upton vs. Farnsworth, 2 run HR on a 3-1 count, 4-3 Rays

    Farnsworth starts inning, HR, K, single, then “the” HR.

    August 5: A Ramirez vs. Farnsworth, solo HR with 2 outs on 1-1 count to tie game 6-6; N Swisher vs. Zumaya, 3 run HR with 2 outs on 2-1 count for White Sox win

    Seay starts inning, flyout, groundout, Farnsworth in, gives up HR.

    Zumaya starts inning, single, popout, double, run-scoring error by Renteria, K, then the HR.

    August 25: F Gutierrez vs. Glover, solo HR with 1 out on 0-1 count, 4-3 Indians

    Fossum starts inning, popout, Glover in, gives up HR.

    September 14: D Wise vs. Farnsworth, grand slam with 2 outs on 0-1 count, 11-7 White Sox

    Seay starts inning, single, sacrifice, intentional walk, flyout, Farnsworth in, single, then the HR.

    September 19: S Choo vs. Fossum, 3 run HR with 2 outs and count 1-0 to tie game 5-5

    Galarraga starts inning, groundout, popout, double, Fossum in, walk, then the HR.

    Who are these sluggers (SLG% – OPS+)?

    R Hernandez .409 – 88
    L Scott .484 – 116
    J Dye .542 – 126
    K Shoppach .529 – 126
    E Hinske .460 – 110
    B Upton .398 – 111
    A Ramirez .485 – 106
    N Swisher .413 – 94
    F Gutierrez .387 – 80
    D Wise .538 – 120
    S Choo .548 – 146

    Against relief pitchers, then?

    R Hernandez .381 – 86
    L Scott .440 – 108
    J Dye .573 – 165
    K Shoppach .462 – 130
    E Hinske .390 – 96
    B Upton .373 – 98
    A Ramirez .479 – 109
    N Swisher .395 – 94
    F Gutierrez .415 – 107
    D Wise .535 – 129
    S Choo .477 – 138

  15. Smoking Loon

    September 23, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Bituminous Hominid: In truth, the Tigers have to date followed their 31-16 stretch with a 16-32 mark. Asymmetry. Not even perfect asymmetry.

    Hmmm. Stretch. Mark. So they even have stretch marks.

  16. Smoking Loon

    September 23, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    The good news? I don’t expect to see Kyle Farnsworth face another batter as a Tiger, especially as he is “day to day with a sore back.” Uh-huh.

  17. Andrew in Toronto

    September 23, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    But June 9 was also a loss, so it is still symmetrical.

    If it continues, we win our next two then lose our last 4.

  18. Smoking Loon

    September 23, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    OK, symmetry is preserved. It was the symmetry that I found so depressing anyway, so what was I talking about?

    I think September has officially eclipsed the 0-7 start as the 2008 Tigers’ darkest hour.

  19. Smoking Loon

    September 23, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    “If it continues, we win our next two then lose our last 4.”

    Aha. Now I get it, Andrew. That’s quite a likely possibility, really. Better to drop 4 to the Rays than 3 to the A’s. Ray’s, A’s. More symmetry.

  20. Smoking Loon

    September 23, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Asked why he has been so public about retribution, Sheffield said, “When I challenge a man, I challenge him to his face. I’m not going to surprise you with anything. You’re going to know I’m coming. That way, you’re ready. I want you ready, just like I’m going to be ready. That’s what kind of man I am.”

    I’ve changed my mind about Sheffield. I want him back for 2009, even if he hits .220 again. He definitely makes the Tigers a more interesting team.

  21. jim-mt

    September 23, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Smoking Loon sure shot down my subjective opinion about 0-2 counts with his terrific database research.

    However, I have convinced myself that the statistical randomness of baseball that found the Tigers on short end so many times will reverse itself in 2009 and instead of GIDPs in clutch situations, the ball will fall in somewhere.

    They might have played the worst baseball this year, but it is not the worst group of players (except maybe the bullpen).

  22. jim-mt

    September 23, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Is Sheffield talking about Carmona or someone else? I thought Carmona faced him man to man–at least until he got him in a headlock and pounded on him.

    I wish he wouldn’t be back-not a team guy.

  23. Smoking Loon

    September 23, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Didn’t mean to shoot you down, jim-mt. I was curious, in part because what you suggested sounded plausible.

  24. Smoking Loon

    September 23, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Sheffield was talking about the guys who were punching him or trying to while Carmona had him locked.

    I’m only half-serious about wanting him back. Nice to see some sign of a pulse from a Detroit Tiger lately, though.

  25. Dave BW

    September 23, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    “I’m only half-serious about wanting him back. ”

    I’m not. This is the most entertaining story we’ve had from this team maybe all year.

  26. Smoking Loon

    September 23, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Are you over 50% serious, Dave? In that case, between the two of us, that would make us more than serious. That might qualify as a movement.

  27. greg

    September 23, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I don’t want Sheffield back because he’s a slacker, and the mere acceptance of slackiness can doom a franchise. I’ve said for years that the Reds will never win until they get rid of Dugout Country Club Moguls Dunn & Griffey. Reds record with Dunn 52-67, since Dunn left 21-16.

    To anyone who’s watched more than 5 Reds games this year, its no surprise….the turnaround was expected.

    I say get rid of Sheff and his loafing. Take you’re ‘I’m too good to play hard’ attitude elsewhere.

    Honestly, I still can’t get over the fact the organization tolerates his act. Probably won’t renew my season tickets because of it.

  28. Chris in Dallas

    September 23, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    I can’t wait until the first Tigers-Indians series in ’09, provided Sheffield is still with us. It may resemble a scene from ‘The Last Boy Scout’.

  29. greg

    September 23, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    The Tigers should Trade Sheff to the Indians, that would serve him right.

  30. Smoking Loon

    September 23, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    What would be really funny is if Sheffield ended up with the Indians next year (they do need a DH).

  31. Smoking Loon

    September 23, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    I see that great minds think alike, Greg.

  32. Coleman

    September 23, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    greg: “get rid of Sheff and his loafing. Take you’re ‘I’m too good to play hard’ attitude elsewhere.”

    I thought his problem was he’s too hard to play good?

    Anyway, he doesn’t want to loaf–he wants to play Left! Then everybody will be happy, including Thames, because he will be losing his spot to a Veteran, which causes great respect and happiness all around. Or something.

    Although it occurs to me that the Sheff Loaf could be something to hold us over until we get the Ham Sandwich…

  33. Coleman

    September 23, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Puff Loony: “The good news? I don’t expect to see Kyle Farnsworth face another batter as a Tiger, especially as he is “day to day with a sore back.” Uh-huh.”

    Actually I think he did injure his back, performing the awkward movement of holding himself back from joining the Sheffield brawl…

  34. Smoking Loon

    September 23, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Puff Loony? When someone calls Smoking Loon out, Smoking Loon answers that call. Are you calling me out? I want you ready, just like I’m going to be ready. That’s what kind of ambiguous and unknowable cyber-entity I am. What I’m trying to say is… I liked Flaming Grebe better.

    Farnsworth. Must be good times to be him. On a lousy team he doesn’t want to be on, pitching like crap, and hurt. I wonder if he finds the clubhouse atmosphere stale and stagnant.

  35. jud

    September 24, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    only 11 late inning HR shoot I thought Farnsworth-less gave up that many himself.

    another great stat would be the number of first batter walks (who eventually scored) given up when a reliever entered the game….almost a damging as those HR’S …Seemed like it happened 100 times

  36. Smoking Loon

    September 24, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    jud, there was a time when I would have been happy to research first batter walks by Tigers relievers in 2008. That time ended approximately last night.