Saturday, April 29, 2006

The bats awaken

Well, after lamenting the lack of offense by the Tigers, the bats are thundering again. Detroit beat Minnesota 9-0 and 18-1 in the first two games of their series.

The Tigers scored in every inning but the fifth and ninth, when they didn't bat, on Saturday. They drilled four homers and had 23 hits. Carlos Guillen had two dingers and 5 RBI Saturday. On Friday, Guillen had 4 RBI. The AP reported he had more RBI (9) in 21 hours than he did the previous 22 games (8).

On Saturday, the top five hitters in the lineup -- Granderson, Polanco, Pudge, Maggs and Guillen -- went 14 of 25 with 12 runs and 11 RBI. I think Granderson is going to be a star of the future.

Detroit is 8-3 since Leyland's tirade. The Tigers are 15-9 overall.

The pitching continues to be outstanding. Nate Robertson and Justin Verlander gave up a combined 1 run in 14 inning in the first two games against the Twins.

Friday, April 28, 2006


The O's are 12 - 11 thru 23 games and have fashioned this mark by alternately playing spectacular and horrific baseball.


The O's are 18 for 18 in stolen base attempts. Seattle leads the AL with 19 steals, but have been nabbed 7 times.

The O's offense is 3rd in the AL in Runs, 3rd in 2B, 5th in HR, 2nd in TB, have the 2nd fewest K's, and are 2nd in SB.


The O's offense is 11th in BB. They've got enough pop to be dangerous to any pitcher, but the lineup has no patience. O's hitters get themselves out instead of allowing the opposing pitcher to hang himself.


LaTroy Hawkins to Chris Ray in the 8th and 9th innings has been fun to watch. Hawkins is reliable in the setup role. Ray has 6 SV and 12 K in 9.1 IP. Ray has had some trouble finding the plate in his last two outings and now has 7 BB in those same 9.1 IP. Even still, he got the job done both times.


O's pitching leads the AL in BB by a long shot. O's pitching has given up 105 BB. Tampa Bay is next w/92 BB. The closest team with a winning record is Cleveland with 75 BB.


O's catching has nailed 11 of 21 would be base stealers. Ramon Hernandez has thrown out 10 of 16. The Oakland A's are the only AL team to better this mark, having thrown out 12 of 21 base stealers.


The O's lead the AL in Errors with 18. C'mon glovemen, catch the !#$%^ ball and throw it the the right !#$!%$^ base.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Armed and dangerous

The Tigers’ pitching certainly came up big on their nine-game West Coast trip. Detroit went 6-3, which is great, and is 13-9 for the season. That record is third best in the AL behind Bosox and Chisox.

Detroit’s pitching ranks No. 1 in the AL with a 3.62 ERA and tops with three shutouts. The Tigers are 7-for-7 in save chances, the only team in the AL without a blown save. The Tigers WHIP is 1.15, also No. 1. They are the only staff holding opponents to an on-base average below .300, coming in at .292. Their pitchers also throw the fewest pitches per inning, 15.04.

Chuck Hernandez is the Tigers pitching coach. He previously was the Devil Rays pitching coach, where last year his TB staff had a 5.39 ERA. I guess talent makes a difference? Last year, former Detroit pitching coach Bob Cluck predicted 2006 would be the year the staff took off.

Now if the bats could get going again, like the first week of the season. The Tigers have scored 100 runs, which ranks tied for ninth in the AL. They have 203 hits (5th) and 32 homers (1st). Their OPS is .785 (6th). They should be scoring more runs. The teams above them in OPS also rank in the top six for runs.

Of course, Detroit has 55 walks (tied for 10th) and 148 strikeouts (3rd). Lefthanders have been tough on the Tigers, holding them at .211 in 147 at-bats. They’re hitting .282 in 609 AB against righties.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Mets Week Three: And it all came crashing down

The Mets went 3-5 over the last, oh, let's call it "week." They faced some tougher competition and also embarked upon their first serious road trip. The fact that Carlos Delgado was the only starter who had a big week with the bat had a lot to do with their troubles. Also, Victor Zambrano pitched twice.

Delgado kept on hitting like the first baseman the Mets have been missing in the post-Olerud era. But leadoff hitter Jose Reyes now has a laughable .276 OBP. Paul Lo Duca is hitting like a guy who might lose his job to Ramon Castro were he not such a respected clubhouse presence. And David Wright's OPS has dropped below 1.000. That this happened against pitchers like Kyle Davies, Woody Williams and Clay Hensley is a bit troubling. Carlos Beltran sure picked an inopportune time to get injured again.

The Mets' pitching, on the other hand, had a pretty good week, aside from Mr. Zambrano's Wild Ride. Pedro Martinez and Steve Trachsel pitched well, Brian Bannister continued to get lucky and Tom Glavine had one good start and one bad start. The rotation could be looking excellent right now if they hadn't traded away two guys better than Zambrano and sent a third to the bullpen.

That bullpen was even better than the rotation this week, though. Even Jorge Julio managed to get his ERA under eight. Billy Wagner, Duaner Sanchez and Aaron Heilman have been a dangerous trio thus far, combining for a 1.15 ERA despite a rather pedestrian 28:14 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Mets' bullpen could be either a real asset or very overworked, depending on what becomes of the back of the rotation.

Things don't get much easier in the next week for the NL East leaders, as the Mets finish up their series with the Giants and then head to Atlanta. The rest of the division is still under .500, so they're only catching up by virtue of the Mets losing. 12-7 and three games up in the division isn't a bad position to be in on April 25th. But the Mets need to start winning some games again to avoid squandering the lead the Braves and Phillies have so graciously spotted them.

Progress report

The Tigers are an improved club over the last several years, in part because they're healthy and in part because they're beating the teams they should beat.

Detroit is 12-8. The Tigers have gone 7-1 against teams with losing records (KC, Oakland, Seattle) and 3-1 against a team with a .500 record (Texas). They have gone 2-6 vs. teams with winning marks (CWS, Cleveland, LAA).

The Tigers were a meager 10-9 vs. KC last year, and the Royals lost 106 games.

If Detroit can continue to win against weaker teams and get closer to .500 against the better teams, this could be interesting.

Who am I?

I was a first-round pick back in 1986. I’ve played for six different teams during my career, over which time I’ve posted a .301 lifetime BA with 302 HR and 1,172 RBI.

Five times I’ve batted at least .312 (I was second in the NL with a .355 mark in 2000), five times I’ve driven in at least 106 runs, and five times I’ve hit at least 31 homers.

When you think you know, or get tired of thinking, you can find me here.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bombs away

Ryan Howard hit the longest homer in Zen history today, a towering 498-foot blast that landed in Ashburn Alley. The ball cleared the high brick walls beyond the CF fence, another first. I saw Julio Franco hit one of the walls in batting practice once, and thought that was a bomb. It was nothing compared to Howard's.

It was good to see the normally reserved Chase Utley show some fire, too, and get ejected for slamming his helmet after being wrongly called out on a close play at first base. For all the guys on this team who play the game hard, like Utley and Rowand and Howard, they show very little emotion or passion. As Jim Leyland described the Tigers in the spring, the Phillies, too, are a team without personality. Maybe this signals a change? Probably not, but it was still nice to see, especially as the end result was a win.

Road warriors

The Tigers won their fifth straight on the road today and are 10-2 away from Comerica, the best road record in MLB.

Nate Robertson, Mike Maroth and Justin Verlander all had great starts over the last three days, giving up a total of one run on 10 hits over 20 innings. If the back half of the rotation pitches anything close to this on a regular basis, the Tigers are a post-season contender.

Robertson's start was a good sign, as he'd been roughed up in his previous two outings. Verlander, with the exception of a horrible start against the White Sox in his second trip to the mound this season, has been solid.

I'm most pleased for Maroth, who lost 21 games in 2003. He is 3-0 this season and has allowed just one earned run in 18.1 innings. He's not a hard thrower, but he's only 28 and might just be getting a feel for being a pitcher. Teams are hitting .234 against him this season, well below his .288 career mark.

Maroth never complained while getting beat up in 2003 and never asked out of starts so as not to lose 20 games. You have to respect that.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Fasano delivers

Phils catcher Sal Fasano had 20 pizzas delivered to his "Sal's Pals" fan section in the upper deck of the Zen on Friday night. Classy move.

Unfortunately, the team's play left fans with no appetite.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Walking wild

The Tigers rallied for a great win yesterday, thanks in large part to Brandon Inge's incredible 15-pitch at-bat. Inge was in an 0-2 hole after two pitches, but managed to draw a walk that was followed by Curtis Granderson's walk that forced in the winning run in the top of the ninth.

Jim Leyland said Inge's at-bat was so long it was 1 1/2 Marlboros. Maggs told Inge afterward: "Impressive, man. Impressive. Impressive you missed that many pitches."

Detroit won the final two games of the series against Oakland. They drew five walks Wednesday and six on Thursday. The Tigers entered Wednesday with only 28 walks for the season and got 11 in two days.

Bonderman gave up three runs on his first 15 pitches, then allowed one hit over his next six innings. Rodney pitched out of a jam in the bottom of the ninth. Carlos Guillen played first base. Placido Polanco got his 1,000th hit.

It was the type of game that could provide a lift to a young team trying to find its way. Of course, a loss tonight in Seattle probably undoes most of the good feeling.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


As if a regular reader of DTFT, O's manager Sam Perlozzo did have a trick up his sleeve for today's game vs. the Tribe in his efforts to keep the O's speed show on stage.

The Orioles swiped 3 more bases today without getting caught in a 9-4 win over Cleveland. Brian Roberts and Corey Patterson swiped one apiece and the third larceny was committed by none other than quadragenarian Jeff Conine.

Granted, Conines' steal came on the back end of a double steal led by Roberts, but I still think it was tricky.

Turn back the clock

Jeremy Bonderman faces Barry Zito this afternoon as the Tigers look to take 2 out of 3 in Oakland. Bonderman was traded from the A's organization to Detroit as part of the Jeff Weaver deal and is 2-0 against Zito. Both wins came as a rookie in 2003. He gave up just six hits and two earned runs in 13 innings.

Zito is 3-0 against Detroit since facing Bonderman in 2003. Lifetime, he is 7-5 with a 2.79 ERA against the Tigers. Does any pitcher have a career ERA over 3 against Detroit?

O's on the Run

The Baltimore Orioles have 11 stolen bases and 0 caught stealing through 16 games. It is the most impressive short term speed show by an Orioles team that I can recall.

Brian Roberts has 4 SB, Corey Patterson - 3 SB, David Newhan - 3 SB and Luis Matos has 1 SB.

The speed show is probably over, at least for now, as Newhan (broke a leg stealing 2nd) and Matos (shoulder) are both on the DL. Roberts will continue to swipe a few bases and Patterson has the wheels to swipe a lot of bases if he gets on (which he usually does not).

It will be interesting to see if Perlozzo (O's rookie manager) has any tricks up his sleeve to replace this part of the offense, or keep it going with half of the wheels. I'm favorably impressed with Perlozzo so far. The O's are above .500 with a pitching staff that is alternately spectacular and horrific and a defense that has been shaky (13 errors).

The offense has been functional. They are, so far, able to score runs w/o hitting a home run (for the pure NL fans, the AL equivalent of "small ball").

Perhaps the pitching and defense are just bad. But perhaps this is only an April malaise. The defense is certainly expected to solidify. I can't imagine that the O's pitching staff can consistently pitch so inconsistently throughout an entire season. The quality of the pitching will certainly change, the question is which direction will it go?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Let me look at you, you Big Unit

Looks to me that Joe Torre doesn't believe that Randy Johnson is the second most Unsexiest Man in the World, right behind Gilbert Gottfried.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Oh, phuck

After going 4-2 on the road, the Phils returned to the unfriendly confines of the Zen and fell flat again.

Bobby Abreu had difficulty with a few fly balls, drawing the ire of the fans, as usual. Jimmy Rollins got nailed at the plate in the first inning. Charlie Manuel is quoted as saying about the negativity in Philly, compared to Cleveland: "It's a little bit louder here. They swear more here.”

The crowd at the Zen was 20,072, a new low for the park. It's the third time in just seven games this season that the Phils have drawn a new low for the Zen.

I'd say that if the season continues in this direction, the fans will tear down the park. But there would be too few of them.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

He'll manage

Jim Leyland ripped into his team following yesterday's loss to the Indians and his postgame interview with the media lasted 51 seconds. Of course, he didn't mince words, so it didn't need to be longer.

I'm glad to hear it. Leyland's past successes give him the credentials to do this, whereas, unfortunately, Alan Trammell didn't. Plus, Tram was saddled his first year with a team that was barely better than Triple-A, so he couldn't really fly off the handle. It's probably difficult to become tough once guys know you.

It will be interesting to see how the Tigers react. They face Esteban Loaiza in Oakland tonight. Loaiza hasn't been able to throw strikes this season, so Detroit's hitters need to be patient.

Of course, Loaiza has been very successful in his career against Detroit, going 11-4 with a 2.58 ERA. Hasn't everyone?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hit parade

I don’t know if the Tigers are worried about Nate Robertson, but I’m growing concerned.

So far this season, Robertson has given up 21 hits in 14.2 innings and is 1-2. In spring training, he yielded 42 hits in 27.2 innings. On the bright side, he’s not allowing many walks.

However, he had a horrible finish to 2005, posting a 5.70 ERA after the All-Star break. Historically, Robertson has been solid early in the campaign and wears down, apparently, as the season goes on. Lifetime, not including today’s loss to the Indians, he’s got a 3.78 ERA in 36 games before the All-Star break and a 5.90 ERA in 39 games after the break.

Might the Tigers move Joel Zumaya from the bullpen, where he’s been a great addition, back to the rotation? That would give Detroit three starters – Bonderman, Verlander and Zumaya – no older than 23, but it might be worth the risk.

Roaring back

The Tigers go for their third series win of the season today when they face Cleveland in the final game of a four-game set. Detroit opened by sweeping a short two-game series from KC, then took three of four in Texas before being swept by the White Sox. They’ve rebounded to win two of the first three against the Indians.

Winning this series after falling flat against the Pale Hose could really help build some momentum and show that maybe this Tiger team is different than those of the last 12 years. Detroit heads to the West Coast after this series, and it would be nice to leave on a good note.

Mike Maroth pitched a great game yesterday for the Tigers and the Red Bull, aka Chris Shelton, continued to swing a menacing bat, blasting his eighth homer.

Tigers face Paul Byrd today, who has struggled so far this season, but owns Detroit. He’s 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA in nine games.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Mets Week Two: Struggling to find things to complain about

The hottest team in baseball kept on rolling this week and they did it against slightly tougher competition. Their 9-2 record is the best start in the majors and in franchise history. Meanwhile, the rest of the division is hardly putting up a fight.

The New York offense is off to a good start, having scored the fifth most runs in the league. A few guys are hitting great, but they've been balanced out a bit by gaping holes in the lineup at second base and, so far, left field. David Wright is hitting .429/.426/.810, as he's apparently been too busy getting extra-base hits and driving in runs to draw walks. But three other Mets have OBPs above .400 and even Jose Reyes is drawing the occasional walk and looking more patient than in his disappointing 2005. Cliff Floyd and Anderson Hernandez are both batting under .200, which is half not a big deal yet and half not at all surprising.

The pitching has been even better, though, as the Mets have allowed fewer runs than any team in the majors. Tom Glavine is off to a great start and Pedro Martinez may be back to his 2005 form. Brian Bannister is getting the job done so far at 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA, but he seems not to have brought his control with him when promoted to the majors. With a 9:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio through eighteen innings he's allowing too many baserunners and having to pitch out of trouble in a way that's likely unsustainable. If he doesn't get it together, the middle and back of this rotation could get shaky, what with Steve Trachsel's early inconsistency and Victor Zambrano's persistent Victor Zambranoness.

As for the relievers, the Mets seem to have about two-thirds of a really good bullpen. Billy Wagner's been okay despite a paucity of strikeouts, Aaron Heilman has been good aside from one rough outing on Friday and both Duaner Sanchez and Chad Bradford have been excellent. Darren Oliver seems like he could be a decent long reliever to be used in blowouts and emergencies. But a team with Jorge Juilo on its roster doesn't really have that luxury.

Julio's been an utter disaster in the early going and is drawing apt comparisons to Mel Rojas in the press. He's got an ERA of 15.43 which actually overestimates how well he's pitched, given the three unearned runs it hides. This probably comes as a surprise to Omar Minaya or someone who hasn't looked at Julio's stats since 2002, but he seems to be the same ineffective pitcher he was in Baltimore. Keeping him on the roster when he can't sanely be brought into a game unless the Mets are leading or trailing by upwards of five runs is going to unduly tax the competent members of this bullpen. Hopefully the Mets will realize this before too long and call up someone like Heath Bell to take Julio's place. We don't need a repeat of last year's Kaz Ishii debacle.

Still, the Mets are in excellent shape heading into a series with the Braves. Pedro and Glavine will both pitch in this series and perhaps the Mets can send an early message to the perennial thorn in their side. It's a shame that the Shea Stadium fans won't have anyone to chant "Larry" at.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Gambler a solid bet

It seemed to me that Kenny Rogers always starts the season well. So I decided to check out that theory.

Rogers, who picked up his second win for the Tigers last night, is 192-132 with a 4.21 ERA lifetime. He is 110-73 with a 4.29 ERA pre-All-Star break and 82-59 with a 4.10 ERA post-All-Star break.

May, though, is by far his best month. Rogers is 40-19 with a 3.73 ERA lifetime in May games. He is 29-22 with a 4.21 ERA in Aprils.

Friday, April 14, 2006

O's Lead Majors after 10 Games

Thanks to the Homeric efforts of one Calvin Ebby "Nuke" LaLoosh (aka Daniel Cabrera), the Orioles pitching staff continues to lead the Major Leagues in Bases on Balls. In 6 1/3 IP, the O's fireballing righthander has walked 16 and struck out 11.

When asked to comment on the Orioles pitching staffs' fast start, Baltimore owner Peter Angelos had this to say, "We lead the 2nd place team by 7 walks with fewer innings pitched and this category doesn't even count hit batsmen!"

Deja vu all over again

Jim Leyland must wonder where he is. Could he really have managed the past 3 games in Comerica Park? Spacious, you-can't-hit-'em-outta-here Comerica?

He must, after the happenings of the last few days, believe he's stuck in a time warp, still managing the 1999 Rockies in Coors Field.

Yesterday, the Tigers lost 13-9 in Comerica. In the first three games there, a total of 11 homers were hit! That's nearly 3.7 per game, which is the same rate balls left Coors in 1999, Leyland's final year as a manager before returning this season in Motown.

Now, Coors seems spacious.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Previously on Death to Flying Things:

Justin Verlander goes this afternoon. Tough to ask a 23-year-old making his fourth career start to be your stopper, but that’s what he’s got to be today. I think he’s capable.

Capable, but not able. Verlander didn't make it out of the third inning and yielded seven runs on seven hits, including two homers. One, of course, by Thome. If Thome could have played his entire career to date against the Tigers, he would have 624 lifetime homers. That would rank fifth in history.

Long ball blues

The Tigers have dropped three in a row, but from looking at the team’s pitching stats, it’s no time to panic. After all, the last two losses have been to the defending world champs. Of course, you’d like to beat them, especially at home, but the numbers from the White Sox series aren’t bad.

What’s hurt the Tigers is homers, I think. They’ve given up 4 HR in the first two games of the series. Other than that, the staff has held Chicago to a .197 batting average and yielded just 18 baserunners in 18 innings. You’d have to think you’re going to win most of the time with pitching like that.

Heck, if Thome stayed in Philly the Tigs might be 7-1. He's hit more homers against Detroit than any other team.

Justin Verlander goes this afternoon. Tough to ask a 23-year-old making his fourth career start to be your stopper, but that’s what he’s got to be today. I think he’s capable.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What a pitch

Bobby Abreu is the only Phillies hitter with more RBI than opposing pitchers have vs. Philly. Abreu has 7 RBI. Opposing pitchers are 6 of 17 (.353) with 5 RBI against the Phils.

Overall, the No. 8 and No. 9 batters in opposing lineups are hitting .395 vs. Phillies pitching.

The Phils are hitting .160 with runners in scoring position.

Record crowd goes home sad

The Tigers lost their home opener 5-3 to the defending world champs, but it was good to know there’s a buzz in Motown over the team. A Comerica record 44,179 attended yesterday and Jim Leyland got the loudest ovation during introductions.

Jeremy Bonderman pitched well, but gave up two homers. I think Leyland said afterward something like -- good game, bad result. Jim Thome hit one of the homers for Chicago. It won’t be long before Phillies fans are screaming about his trade.

Tigers are off today, then finish up the series against the White Sox on Wednesday and Thursday. It would be good to take those two, particularly with Robertson and Maroth pitching. And the Tigers need to make some noise against the big boys. Last year, they lost 14 of 19 against Chicago.

Leyland cautioned about getting too high off the 5-0 start, so I’m sure he’ll be keeping things upbeat now so things don’t get too low off two straight defeats.

Chris Shelton was the AL Player of the Week after getting 14 hits, including 5 homers, and nine RBI. He had a 1.458 slugging percentage and .615 OBA. Curtis Granderson called them “Nintendo-type numbers.”

By the way, which of these guys should be Pudge?

What a Relief!

The O's snapped a 4 game losing streak last night with a 6-3 victory over the Devil Rays in Tampa Bay. Eric Bedard had a good start for the O's (7 IP, 4H, 0 R, 2BB, 5 K) to earn his 2nd win in as many starts.

Chris Ray, the O's young closer, earned his 2nd save in as many opportunities. Tim Byrdak started the ninth for the Orioles with a 6-1 lead and promptly surrendered a base hit and a home run. Ray was immediately brought in to close the game. He faced 4 batters, surrendering a base hit and striking out the side. Ray has 43 2/3 IP in the Majors with 46 K and a 1.21 WHIP. In his two save opportunities this April, he's faced 7 batters and recorded 6 outs (2 ground balls, 1 popup, 3 Ks). He's got a wild delivery and somehow throws strikes. It's a lot of fun to watch.

The O's catch a break tonight as Tampa Bay's scheduled starter, O's nemesis Mark Hendrickson, has been placed on the DL.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Who am I?

There are 26 players to have gotten 3,000 hits. I'm 27th on the list, the guy who leads the non-3,000-hit club.

I hit better than .300 in 13 of the 15 seasons in which I played at least 100 games. The other two years I hit .295 and .297. My career average was .322. Only once did I strike out more than 26 times in a season. I also was 1-1 with a complete game and career 2.52 ERA in 9 pitching appearances.

When you've given up, you can look here for the answer.

Mets Week One in review: Fun with small sample sizes

From the "Things We Already Knew" department...

David Wright is good. The Mets' young third baseman picked up right where he left off last year. After finishing 19th in National League MVP voting in his first full year in the majors, Wright is apparently interested in climbing up the list. He's hitting .474/.478/.895 and leading the team with 9 RBI. Those averages may come down in time. Then again, they may not.

The Marlins stink. Surprisingly, they have scored as many runs as they've allowed so far this season. Unsurprisingly, they've still lost four out of five games. They have some good young talent that could turn into a dangerous team a couple of years from now. Right now, they could probably beat just about any AAA team. Probably.

From the "Things We Should Pretend Not To Be Concerned About" department...

Pedro Martinez is not Pedro Martinez yet. After a greatly abbreviated Spring Training, Pedro started the season with a rough five-run outing that included five walks and three hit batsmen over six innings. Given how little time he had to prepare for the season due to his injured toe, there's no reason to be alarmed yet. But it sure would be nice if the 2005 Pedro showed up soon.

Billy Wagner isn't quite Billy Wagner, either. The Mets' closer also missed a bit of time in the Spring, and his velocity has been noticeably sub-Wagnerian thus far. The fact that he has as many walks and as many home runs as strikeouts through three outings totaling three innings is not comforting. Still, at least he's not Jorge Julio.

And yet...

The Mets are 4-1. They're alone in first place. They're the only team in the division above .500. And they get to play the Nationals three more times starting tomorrow. Things could be worse.

Home at last

Jeremy Bonderman goes to the hill this afternoon as the Tigers finally get to play at home. Oddly, Bonderman's stats over the past two seasons were better on the road than in spacious Comerica. You'd think he'd dominate there. Maybe this year.

Some things to like from the Tigers 5-1 start, their best since 1985, other than simply the 5-1 start.

* It was all on the road.

* It was without closer Todd Jones.

* No errors.

* Young guns Justin Verlander, 23, and Joel Zumaya, 21, came out firing.

* Chris Shelton smacked the ball all over creation. Shelton had triples in consecutive at-bats the other night in Texas. Previously, he had three triples in his career, all at Comerica.

One reason for concern. Teams are hitting better than .300 against Rogers, Robertson and Maroth. Robertson was hit hard during spring training, too. Might become a problem if the Tigers' bats cool.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

This Bud's for you...

In his first start for the St. Louis Cardinals, Sydney Ponson earned no decision throwing 5 innings, giving up 7 hits, 3 earned runs and 0 walks. That's zero walks. Zero.

I believe I'll have some Budweiser delivered to the O's clubhouse c/o Leo Mazzone.

O's Solid in Pursuit of Major League Crown

Entering today's game leading the Major Leagues in Bases on Balls, the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff delivered 6 more BBs in another league leading performance against the Boston Red Sox. Staff ace Rodrigo Lopez got off to a shaky start, delivering a mere 1 BB through the first 5 innings. After craftily walking 3 in the 6th, however, Lopez left no doubt as to why he is Baltimore's Number One.

Relievers John Halama and Tim Byrdak tacked on 1 BB apiece to complete a solid day's work for O's pitching.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, who started the day trailing Baltimore by 1 BB, could only muster 3 BBs in 9 innings of work.

Orioles owner Peter Angelos had this to say regarding the O's pitching performance thus far, "It's very encouraging to see that we can widen our lead, even on a day when we only use 3 pitchers."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

It was 20 years ago today

Dwight Gooden opened the Mets' world championship season with a complete game, 6-hit, 4-2 win at Pittsburgh.

Some of us remember it fondly, even though we're not Mets or Pirates fans. The Pirates threatened in the ninth, but Gooden stayed out there firing away and shut down the Bucs. I remember Johnny Ray -- already with two hits and an RBI -- coming to the plate in the inning, the crowd going crazy, and the organist playing "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." He didn't.

Hard to believe there was a time when baseball started so "late" in April. And that there were organists.

We missed the only homer of the game, R.J. Reynold's lead-off blast in the first off Gooden, but heard the roar of the crowd as we walked from the car toward Three Rivers Stadium. I can still hear that roar. You knew it was a home run.

Rick Reuschel got the loss. Gooden struck out six. The game took 2:24 to play.

Sadly, Sammy "The Egyptian Boy Wonder" Khalifa was hitless.

As they say, you can look it up.

Phils postponed! Phils postponed!

That's as good as a win for the Broad Street Bummers.

There's still time for the Phils to turn things around. A four-game losing streak in the middle of the season doesn't seem as bad as one to start the season. Especially a year that many thought would be different for Philly.

One thing I've hated is the bottom of the Phillies order. Bell and Lieberthal were rally killers last year and there's no speed ahead of them.

Here's what should be done. Rollins bats leadoff followed by Nunez, who hit .352 in 105 AB in the No. 2 slot last year. Abreu, Burrell and Howard follow. Utley bats sixth. Utley hit .343 in 105 AB in that spot last season. Rowand, who is a good No. 2 hitter, bats seventh, where he also has had success in the past.

Having Utley and Rowand together in those spots gives you a chance to manufacture some runs. Interestingly, Rowand has really flourished the last two years hitting in the No. 5 and No. 6 spots. Against lefties, I'd switch Howard and Rowand in the lineup.

Of course, none of that matters if the stating pitching doesn't come around.

Tigers, Tigers burning bright

The Tigers are the only remaining unbeaten in the AL. As I read in the Free Press, they haven't made an error yet, their starters have issued just one walk and they've hit a ML record 16 homers in their first four games.

Plus, Detroit is hitting .327 as a team. Baseball is a simple game. You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball.

Another note from the Free Press: The Tigers have ensured they will open the season with a winning mult-city road trip for the first time since -- 1984.

Cabrera the Embarassment

Daniel Cabrera has solved his problem of only throwing strikes to right handed hitters. Now he doesn't throw strikes to any hitters.

Cabrera's line in his start against the Red Sox last night reads 1 1/3 IP, 3H, 7 BB, 7 ER throwing 60 pitches- 22 for strikes. Several of those strikes were balls that Red Sox hitters helped him out on.

It is time for the Orioles to recognize that the American League is one of the two Major Leagues and that their pitchers must be Major League pitchers. Cabrera has not thrown strikes for a year and a half. Send Cabrera down now. Do not give him another start in the Majors until he proves he can throw strikes.

Friday, April 07, 2006


Would someone please let the Phillies know the season has started?

I hate to be pessimistic so early, but the bugaboos of last season have returned. Namely, Lieberthal, Bell and bullpen. Oh well, at least there's Ryan Howard.

They did the mash

If the Tigers are going to blast seven homers a game and average 9 runs, Stanley and I might be able to form the back part of the rotation.

Nice to see Maggs go yard twice. Chris Shelton certainly looks good too. Shelton's OPS is a mere 2.406.

The Tigers 15 HR in their first three games is a ML record. No team has ever hit more than 10 in the first three games of a season. As one Detroit scribe wrote, “... at this rate, the Detroit Tigers will hit 810 home runs. And Chris Shelton will hit 216. And the Tigers will never lose.”

Jim Leyland believes a good lineup is one that can be effective 1-9 or if you flipped it 9-1. Detroit doesn’t have any top stud, but they’ve got guys that can hit 1-9 and a lineup that easily could be turned 9-1 and be just as good.

You wouldn’t think twice if you saw Inge, Guillen, Monroe hitting 1-2-3 or 9-8-7. Same thing with Granderson, Polanco and Pudge.

The Tigers blasted six homers off knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, tying a ML record. Don’t throw knucklers against the Tigers. They hit six off Tim Wakefield in 2004.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Royal butt kicking

It won’t be long before they start construction on a Jim Leyland statue for Comerica. I’d say 162-0 is unrealistic, but maybe 120 wins are within reach.

OK, so that’s a little overboard. After pummeling the Royals, this is where we start to see what kind of season the Tigers could have. Rogers and Bonderman did what was expected/hoped. Now, it’s up to Robertson, Maroth and Verlander to give us an idea whether a winning season is a realistic goal.

Detroit needed to take two from KC. Good teams, playoff contenders, generally take care of business against the weaker squads. This is even more important with the unbalanced schedule. Last year, though, the Tigers were 10-9 against the Royals. Since the start of 2003, the Royals have a 34-23 edge. So this wasn’t a gimme.

Love the potential for the Granderson, Polanco, Pudge top of the order. Imagine if Maggs starts to hit like the old days. Could be lots o’ runs. Yesterday, the top three went 11-for-15 with 9 runs, 7 RBI and two dingers.

Now comes a four-game set in Texas. Kenny Rogers faces his old mates on Sunday. Two former Phils, Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla, will toss for the Rangers over the weekend.

O's take two

With a 16-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays last night in Camden Yards the Baltimore Orioles are 2-0 for the first time since 1997.

Team Start Finish
1997 Orioles 2-0 1st
2006 Orioles 2-0 4th

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Opener in KC is OK

The Tigers couldn't have asked for a much better opener. Jim Leyland gets a win in his debut as manager and Kenny Rogers looks sharp in his debut as staff ace. Plus Chris Shelton blasts two homers to show why Carlos Pena is no longer around.

Detroit has now won three openers in a row, beating KC the last two.

I like Leyland's decision to bring in flamethrowing 21-year-old Joel Zumaya yesterday, even though it was a one-run game and Zumaya is untested. Leyland figured, correctly, that Zumaya's 100-mph heat combined with the late-afternoon shadows would create problems for the Royals. Zumaya tossed two innings of scoreless relief, striking out three.

Tigers play in KC again Wednesday. It's important for Bonderman to throw a good game and establish that the top of the rotation will be a tough 1-2 punch. Plus, the Tigers need to take advantage of weaker teams, like KC, if they want to contend for a playoff spot.

O's win opener (me so happy...)

Rodrigo Lopez collected an Opening Day victory over the Devil Rays yesterday. Lopez threw 7 innings giving up 7 hits, 6 runs (5 earned) and 1 walk on 90 pitches. It was by no measure a "good" start. It was, however, a good "bad start". Considering the number of bad starts the O's rotation might reasonably be expected to turn in, credit Lopez for showing the way to pitch poorly.

Yesterday was the first time I'd ever seen Ramon Hernandez (O's catcher acquired from San Diego via free agency in the offseason) play. He's been described as one of the "premiere" backstops in the Major Leagues. He looked it in yesterday's game. He has a cannon. An accurate cannon. Given the Orioles pitching staffs' weakness in holding runners close, he has a shot a the record for "runners caught stealing" in a season. I don't know if they even keep such a statistic (I couldn't find it).

The Orioles homered 4 times on Opening Day for the first time since 1982.

1982 Orioles94682nd
2006 Orioles104th

Luis Matos became the first Oriole since Frank Robinson ('69, '70) to homer on consecutive Opening Days.