Friday, May 29, 2009

Eric The Red

I noticed on that it was Eric Davis' birthday. If he is not the classic "what if" player, he is in the discussion.

Never did Davis get more than 474 ABs in a season. The year he got 474, in 1987, he batted .293/.399/.593. He had 37 HR, 100 RBI, 120 R and 50 SB in 129 games. He also won a Gold Glove. Amazingly, that performance landed him only 9th in the MVP voting. That was the year Andre Dawson won with the last-place Cubs, so go figure.

Davis was the first player to hit 25+ HR and steal 80 bases, in 1986. Rickey Henderson later joined him in the club that same season. They are the only two players to accomplish the feat.

WAR. What is it good for?

The wins-above-replacement All Stars in the American League:

C -- Victor Martinez, 2.3
1B -- Justin Morneau, 2.1
2B -- Ian Kinsler/Aaron Hill, 2.3
SS -- Jason Bartlett, 2.7
3B -- Evan Longoria, 3.0
OF -- Torii Hunter, 2.1; Adam Jones, 2.0; Nelson Cruz, 1.9

The wins-above-replacement All Stars in the National League:

C -- Russell Martin, 0.8
1B -- Albert Pujols, 2.3
2B -- Chase Utley, 2.0
SS -- Hanley Ramirez, 2.4
3B -- Ryan Zimmerman, 2.7
OF -- Raul Ibanez, 2.9; Justin Upton, 2.3; Mike Cameron, 2.3

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The RC27 all-stars

With the All-Star voting under way, here are the top American League players by position in runs created per 27 outs, according to

C -- Victor Martinez, 9.47
1B -- Justin Morneau, 10.24
2B -- Ian Kinsler, 7.63
3B -- Evan Longoria, 8.58
SS -- Jason Bartlett, 10.07
OF -- Adam Jones, 10.07; Jason Bay, 9.05; Torii Hunter, 8.63.

Here are the top National League players:

C -- Ramon Hernandez, 4.99
1B -- Joey Votto, 10.72
2B -- Chase Utley, 9.13
3B -- David Wright, 8.30
SS -- Hanley Ramirez, 8.18
OF -- Carlos Beltran, 9.99; Justin Upton, 9.61; Raul Ibanez, 9.50.

O's Sweep Jays

The Baltimore Orioles completed a 3 game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays with a come-from-behind (twice) 12-10 victory yesterday at Camden Yards.  It is the O's first sweep of the Blue Jays since 1994.

Nolan Reimold hit a walk-off 3 run homer in the 11th to cap the final comeback.  It is the recently called up rookie's 4th home run in 49 ML AB's.  

Luke Scott homered on the first pitch offered to him in his return from the DL.

Rich Hill got roughed up in his 3rd start of the season, lasting only 3 1/3 innings and surrendering 7 runs (6 earned).   The bullpen combined for 7 1/3 innings allowing 3 runs and keeping the O's in the game long enough for Jays starter Roy Halladay to depart and the Jays bullpen to take over, setting the stage for the O's 5 run 8th inning to tie the game and 4 run 11th inning to win it after falling behind in the top of the 11th.

The Tigers come to town today for a 4 game set.  David Hernandez (3-1, 2.91 ERA at AAA Norfolk) has been called up to take the start for Koji Uehara, who was placed on the DL yesterday.  Hernandez has 60K in 43 1/3 IP including a 14K performance in his last outing in the minors.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Two outta three ain't bad

Detroit went to KC, its nearest competitor in the AL Central, and took 2 of 3. Considering the loss came against Zack Greinke, you can't hope for better. Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello picked up wins and the offense, with the exception of the Greinke game, was potent. The Tigers scored 13 times in Verlander's start and 8 times for Porcello. With each start, Porcello is removing any doubts that he belongs in the bigs.

The Tigers are now 4 games up on KC and travel to face the resurgent Orioles in Baltimore. The Birds are 14-11 at home, so this will not be easy. Detroit is 2-5 vs. the AL East this year. Armando Galarraga and Dontrelle Willis will be followed by Verlander and Edwin Jackson in the 4-game set. If Detroit can take one of the first two games, it has to feel good heading into the final two contests, although Jackson's history vs. Baltimore (2-4, 5.44 ERA) is unsettling.

Offensively, Detroit continues to get solid contributions from unlikely sources. Ramon Santiago is batting .348/.370/.565 (3 HR-20 RBI in 69 ABs) while Brandon Inge is at .274/.367/.535 (12 HR-33 RBI in 157 ABs). Jeff Larish has seen limited action, but has 4 HR and a .358 OBP despite a .222 BA.

Encouraging signs from Magglio Ordonez and Gerald Laird over the past 7 days, with Maggs at .357/.471/.429 while Laird was at .389/.450/.611.

Curtis Granderson continues to struggle. On one hand, this is troubling. On the other, it's remarkable the offense has been able to produce relatively well with him hitting so poorly. If Grandy can flip the switch, and Carlos Guillen and Marcus Thames come back and hit, and Jeremy Bonderman eventually rejoins the rotation, well, that's a lot of "ifs" but they should worry the AL Central. Detroit is 7 games over .500 without much contribution from those four key players.

One Good Turn

The Orioles most recent turn through the rotation was the best of the year by far and resulted in 4 victories for the Birds.  

The wins came against the lowly Nationals and the slumping Blue Jays.  

It is , nonetheless, encouraging because Baltimore has often been the destination for ailing teams to get well.

5/26/09Jason Berken572Win 7-2
5/25/09Jeremy Guthrie771Win 4-2
5/24/09Brad Bergesen5 2/384Lose 8-5
5/23/09Koji Uehara330Win 2-1
5/22/09Rich Hill5 2/332Win 4-2

Jason Berken pitched as well as could be hoped for in his ML debut.  Jeremy Guthrie finally put together a start without throwing a bunch of fat pitches.  Brad Bergesen pitched well enough to win and left with a lead, however, the bullpen could not hold it.  Not too discouraging considering the bullpen had thrown 12 1/3 innings in the previous two days in nailing down tight victories.  Uehara pitched 3 scoreless innings before leaving with a tweaked hamstring and Rich Hill posted a 2nd consecutive good start which the bullpen finished up in a 12 inning affair.

Uehara is expected to miss his next start with the hamstring problem, which means the next turn through the rotation will have only Guthrie remaining from the Opening Day rotation.  Both Berken and Bergesen are O's minor league products and a 3rd is expected to be called up to take Uehara's next start.

The O's also announced that catcher Matt Weiters will be called up to make his ML debut in Baltimore against the Tigers on Friday night.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

History making (or at least duplicating)

Edwin Jackson faces Zack Greinke tonight. Could be a great duel. Greinke shut down the Tigers in April.

Tomorrow afternoon, Rick Porcello goes to the hill for Detroit. From

"A win in this start would make Porcello the first MLB pitcher 20 years old or younger to win five straight starts since Dwight Gooden in 1985. Porcello is already just the sixth pitcher since 1900 to pitch four straight starts and allow one or no runs before his 21st birthday, joining Kerry Wood, Fernando Valenzuela, Walter Johnson, Christy Matthewson and Chief Bender."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Out on the Lidge

Brad Lidge has been far from "lights out" this season. It seems batters are laying off his slider and Lidge is struggling. His K/9 is 9.6; he's never had a season below 10.3 and last year it was 11.9. His BB/9 is 5.5, which is a full BB higher than last year, which was his worst season going back to 2002. He is allowing 2.75 HR/9, which is well above his 0.84 career average, and foes have a .400 BABIP.

His pitch selection, at least cumulative, mirrors last year. He's throwing 44.8% fastballs (93.4 mph) compared to 43.4% (94.3 mph) in 2008. He's throwing 55.2% sliders (85.2 mph) compared to 56.2% (85.1 mph) last season.

Lidge's first-pitch strike percentage is a career low 49% this season. He is throwing 43.6% of all pitches in the strike zone, which is also a career low. Without tracking every AB, it would seem he is falling behind in the count and having to throw strikes. The batters are taking advantage of those offerings.

Hitters are swinging at 29.2% of Lidge's pitches outside of the strike zone, nearly identical to last year. But they are swinging at 64.1% in the strike zone, compared to 59.1% in 2008. Also, they are making contact at 86% in the strike zone, compared to 78% last season and 75% historically.

So armchair analysis would suggest Lidge is the victim of patient hitters/poor control and some bad luck.

V is for victory

Justin Verlander continued his string of strong starts as the Tigers beat KC 13-1 today. It was a good win following disappointing back-to-back losses to Colorado at home.

From "(Verlander's) 0.85 ERA in his last six starts still can't match (Zack) Greinke's 0.82 ERA for the season, but his 5-0 record and 60 strikeouts over 42 1/3 innings in that span means plenty. Not only has he not allowed a home run since April 22 against the Angels, he has allowed just three extra-base hits of any sort in that span."

Best of all, this means Verlander is on target to pitch Saturday in Baltimore when several interested observers will be there.

Detroit has the fifth-best record in MLB and the second-largest divsion lead (the Dodgers have the best in the NL West).

Saturday, May 23, 2009


The Tigers continued to get contributions from throughout the lineup and Rick Porcello's emergence, along with the frequent dominance of Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson, has give Detroit the chance to be patient with the rest of the rotation. Porcello is 5-3 with a 3.55 ERA. His performance this season has allowed the Tigs to live with the inconsistency at the back of the rotation. If Detroit starts getting good outings on a regular basis from Dontrelle Willis, and if Jeremy Bonderman comes back strong, watch out.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Golden opportunity

I know it's too early to get caught up looking at the loss column, or so I'm told, but it's the easiest way to look at the standings. And Detroit has a great chance this weekend to take an early hold on the AL Central.

The Tigers are 23-16 and four games ahead of second-place KC in the loss column. They've got a seven-game edge over Minnesota and Chicago and 10 games over Cleveland. They've won six in a row and here comes Colorado (16-24) to the Motor City.

Hopefully, the Tigs don't start looking ahead to a set against KC following the Colorado series. The Tigers are 42-12 in interleague play over the past three seasons.

Detroit finishes the month with four games in Baltimore. This is a key 10-game stretch because June's slate, beginning with Boston, is tougher.

First strikes

More on first strikes. Here are the leaders in MLB for first strike percentage (above 64%):

Dan Haren, Roy Halladay, Koji Uehara, Kevin Slowey, Randy Wolf, Javier Vazquez, Roy Oswalt, Johan Santana, Joel Pineiro, Jered Weaver, and Jake Peavy.

No one in that group has an ERA above 4.50 and they've combined for a 3.20 ERA.

Of course, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain both have first strike percentages of 54.3, so go figure.

The AL averages for 0-1 counts are .317/.327/.479.
For 1-0, they are .330/.336/.543.

For after 0-1, they are .239/.283/.358.
For after 1-0, they are .281/.399/.471.

So, it still looks like you'd rather start with strike one.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Knapp time

Rick Knapp might be the best addition made by Detroit in the offseason. Pitching coaches are like QBs -- getting too much credit when things go well and too much blame when things go wrong. But one must start to believe Knapp is working some kind of magic with the Tigers. He came with a rep for developing pitchers who throw strikes. Now, consider the following:

First pitch strike percentages by Detroit starters (with career average): Justin Verlander 62.1 (58.3); Edwin Jackson 60.5 (54.9); Rick Porcello 55.5 (N/A); Armando Galarraga 63.5 (60.9); Dontrelle Willis 59.1 (57.4). Tigers closer Fernando Rodney is at 78.8 (56.8).

From what I could find, it seems the average is 58-59. Greg Maddux, as a well-known first strike machine, was in the 65-68 range from the stats I found.

I don't know if first-pitch strikes equal success, but that would seem to be the logic.

Detroit's staff is 2nd in the AL with a .321 OBP and 3rd with a 1.35 WHIP. The Tigs are 3rd in K/BB ratio, at 2.07 and lead the AL with 7.49 K/9.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

D Train rolls

Dontrelle Willis got his first win since Sept. 25, 2007 as the Tigers beat Texas 4-0. Willis went 6.1 innings and gave up 1 hit, 2 walks and struck out 5 to get his first victory for Detroit. Four relievers tossed hitless ball from there as the Tigs continued their mastery of the Rangers.

Willis' performance was solid; he retired 17 in a row at one point. On the surface, it seemed Texas might be a bad matchup because the Rangers entered averaging 5.65 runs/game, the second best in the AL, and topped the league in homers. But Texas was 13th in walks and 3rd in strikeouts, so their weaknesses were perfect for the heretofore erratic Willis.

That being said, Texas hit better against lefties this year, so it was nice to see Willis in command. Willis threw 101 pitches, 61 strikes.

It would be foolish to declare Willis back, but it is nice to be able to even have reason to consider it.

Detroit has 6 shutouts this season. The Tigers are 17-0 when allowing 3 or fewer runs. All other MLB teams are an average of 11-3 when giving up 3 or fewer runs.

News and notes

Detroit has won 11 of its last 14 against Texas. The Tigers are averaging 8.5 runs/game during that span.

The Tigers have commited only 18 errors this season.

Wilkins Ramirez will join the big club to take Magglio Ordonez's spot. In 30 games at Triple-A Toledo, Ramirez hit .316-5-13 with 14 SB. Ordonez was placed on the bereavement list.

Detroit is 12-3 when getting a quality start. The Tigers are 17-7 when scoring first. They are 17-3 when they outhit their foes.

AL shortstops have combined for a .709 OPS this year. Detroit's getting .780 production from its shortstops (Adam Everett and Ramon Santiago).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Going to 11

The Tigers rallied from a 6-0 second-inning deficit yesterday to beat the A's 11-7. Armando Galarraga's recent struggles continued -- he failed to get out of the first frame -- but there are little signs Detroit could have some magic this season. After all, it was Ramon Santiago, with his 4-for-4 effort, who keyed the Tigs comeback. Come September, this might be one of those games that takes on added meaning.

Granted, Oakland is reeling, so this might not be the best test. But there's no need to apologize for beating weak teams.

The Tigers have scored at least 9 runs in four of their last five games. Now they face first-place Texas, but Detroit has fared well against the Rangers in the past, sweeping three games in early April.

O's Treading Water

The O's have managed a 7-6 record in the 13 games since a season high 6 game losing streak to end April and start the month of May.

Pitching woes continue to plague the Orioles, whose starters have the highest ERA and the lowest IP per Start in the AL.  Only the Oakland A's starters have fewer Wins than O's starters.

The O's bullpen has started to round into form with merely the 10th highest ERA in the AL.  If the starters don't soon start pitching deeper, this trend will not last for long.

Defensively, the O's have tightened up over the last 13 games.  They now have only the 10th highest number of errors in the AL, but still have surrendered the most Unearned Runs.

The O's offense is playing respectable baseball, ranking 6th in Batting Average, 7th in Slugging and 8th in Runs in the AL.  The offense has been carried by Roberts, Jones, Markakis and Huff. If the rest of the roster gets "off the schnide", there is still hope for a potent offense.

The highlight of the last 13 games is this.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fire Steve Phillips

I don't know if there's anything worse than ESPN's current Sunday Night Baseball announce team. I don't mean in terms of announce teams, I mean I don't know if there is anything worse in the world. Steve Phillips is completely intolerable, at the same time encouraging Joe Morgan's worst tendencies and making Morgan seem reasonable by comparison. Tonight they've spent entire innings pontificating on "edge" and "leadership" and "why David Wright and Carlos Beltran are not totally awesome but actually kinda suck." All this while the Mets are in first place and have won eleven of thirteen.

I put forth that this booth is worse even than Fox's Joe Buck/Tim McCarver dream team of awfulness. True, Jon Miller is better than either of those guys, but at least BucCarver will give you a break every now and then by spending an inning or two not even talking about baseball. Steve Phillips will not stop talking and as long as he is talking he will be talking about the things that the best players on the Mets do wrong. Joe Morgan of all people had to defend Carlos Beltran on the basis of his great statistics. Phillips thinks the Mets need to consider getting rid of the best center fielder in the league because he's not enough of a leader in the clubhouse.

ESPN's baseball coverage has been bad for years as they'll always choose the ex-player who'll spew platitudes about grit over anyone who might have anything interesting or insightful to say, but I think having Steve Phillips in the booth for games is a new low. I just don't understand who the audience is for this. Does anyone want this? Does no one actually like baseball?

Since I don't have any time in my schedule right now to drive up to Bristol and throw eggs at ESPN headquarters, I'll just post this link for old times' sake.

Playing catch up

Some thoughts after several days on the road:

Dontrelle Willis pitched OK. Not good, not horrible. The Baseball Tonight crew, however, made it sound as though Willis tossed seven frames of shutout ball. It was unbelievable. Willis gave up 4 runs in 4.2 IP and allowed 10 baserunners (8 hits, 2 BBs). Someone on BT said the Tigers, with their offense, would happily take Willis giving up 4 runs a start. Perhaps . . . if it was over seven or eight innings. Heck, even six. Not 4.2. But he's worth giving another chance.

As soon as I declared to a friend, "The bloom is off the Ryan Raburn rose," the dude goes crazy with three hits, two homers (including a grand slam) and eight RBI. He homered in back-to-back games for the first time in limited career.

The last time the Tigers hit two grand slams in the same game, as Raburn and Brandon Inge did on Friday, was 1968. Not a bad year in Tiger lore.

Detroit's bullpen was a nightmare in Minnesota, costing the Tigers two wins. I'll forgive one because you expect bullpens to fail every once in a while. But blowing a 5-0 lead for Justin Verlander was sickening.

The Tigers' 14-10 loss last week in Minny was their first loss this year when scoring 8 or more runs. Detroit is 9-1 in such games. Interestingly, the Tigs are 1-6 when giving up 8 or more runs.

Edwin Jackson has been pretty much terrific. With Verlander and Jackson dealing the way they have been the past couple weeks, Detroit's top of the rotation is as good as any. Rick Porcello has been solid in his last several starts, too.

Jeremy Bonderman could return to the squad shortly. According to the Free Press, that means Armando Galarraga needs to get his game figured out quickly because Willis has an edge being the rotation's only lefty.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Welcome back

Dontrelle Willis is schedule to make his 2009 debut tonight. If nothing else, it will be interesting.

Hopefully, some how, some way, Willis can recapture a bit of his 2005 magic. In 2005, Willis was 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA. He had 5 shutouts. He gave up only 0.4 HR/9. He gave up only 2.1 BB/9 and had 6.5 K/9.

Since then, his ERA has gone 3.87 to 5.17 to 9.38. His HR/9 increased 0.8 to 1.3 to 1.5. His K rate was practically unchanged but his BB/9 went 3.3 to 3.8 to 13.1. Yep, 13.1. Granted, last year's numbers are based on only 24 IP, but it's still scary. Also, he plunked 34 batters over the past three season compared to 19 in his first three seasons.

The Tigers need to figure out what to do with Willis. Here's the thing: He doesn't need to be an All-Star (even though his contract will pay him as such). He doesn't even need to be a No. 2. Heck, if Jeremy Bonderman comes back and pitches well, Willis could be the No. 5 through no fault of his own. Or he could be in the pen. Wherever he ends up, I would take anything in the neighborhood of average.

Speaking of Bonderman, he is supposed to pitch at Single-A West Michigan on Saturday.

Monday, May 11, 2009

First-place break

The Tigers are 17-13 and tied for first with KC in the AL Central (as if the 2008 standings turned upside down). There are many reasons for joy -- being in first place among them. There are also still reasons for concern.

Detroit caught the Indians, who have the worst record in baseball, at the right time. But there's no reason to feel badly or give anything back. The Tigers are 5-1 vs. Cleveland and that's what good teams should do against bad teams.

Negatives that could be turned into positives: Detroit has only three regulars --- Miguel Cabrera, Brandon Inge and Curtis Granderson --- who are hitting above average (using OPS+). So there is much room for improvement from proven hitters like Magglio Ordonez, Placido Polanco and Carlos Guillen.

The starting pitching has been above average. In fact, from Edwin Jackson (184 ERA+) to Justin Verlander (106 ERA+) all five starters are above 100.

Jackson has been particularly good, with no run support. Detroit was shutout once and scored four or fewer runs on four other occasions when Jackson was starting. Jackson's BB/9 is 2.2 this year (it was 3.78 last year) and his K/9 is 7.0 (it was 5.3 last year). His BABIP is low (.264) but he has a solid defensive team behind him and he's allowing only 16.8% line drives while getting 28.3% infield flies. Maybe he's making good pitches.

As for pitch selection, Jackson is throwing fewer fastballs and changes while throwing more sliders and curves. His first-pitch strike rate is 58.4%, which is up from 54.7% last year.

He's only 25. Maybe he's learning to pitch. I wonder how much credit goes to new pitching guru Rick Knapp?

Pitching and defense

Since April 22 when Detroit's OPS was .821, the Tigs have batted .229/.300/.368 in 16 games. They were scoring 4.1 runs per game, but managed to go 9-7 during the span. In their first 14 games, Detroit batted .293/.370/.450 and went 8-6. They averaged 6 runs per game.

The pitching, though, improved as the hitting slumped since April 22. The Tigers posted a 3.38 ERA in the past 16 games. They gave up only 11 homers. In the first 14 games, the ERA was 4.36 with 18 HRs.

In the last 14 games, the ERA was 2.95 (and the Tigers were 9-5).

Defensively, using Hardball Times' data, the Tigers for the season had a team range-zone rating of .782 in the infield and .926 in the outfield entering Sunday. The league averages were .769 and .901, respectively. The Tigers had 42 out-of-zone plays in the infield and 60 in the outfield. The league averages were 43 and 55.

Looking at defensive stats on, the Tigers turned 70.5 percent of balls in play into outs this season. This was third best in the league. The AL average was 69.2.

Gone! No Wait…

Nice catch Curtis.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Weekend warriors

Detroit completed a sweep in Cleveland today with a 5-3 victory. The Tigers are 10-0 on Saturdays and Sundays this season.

Howard with a "D"

Much as been made during the first month of the season about Ryan Howard's loss of some weight and improved play at first. I wondered if it was true, or a mirage. It seems to be real.

So far, Howard is errorless, which alone is noteworthy given he had 19 errors last year. Using's rating for the number of runs above or below average a player is per 150 defensive games, Howard is +11.3. Last year he was +2.4, which was his career best.

Looking at Hardball Times' range-zone ratings, Howard is No. 1 among NL first basemen, at .944, although his "out of zone" plays are low (tied for 12th). Last season, Howard's zone rating was .743, which was sixth among NL regulars.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A new man

Justin Verlander pitched his third career shutout last night in a 1-0 gem against former nemesis Cleveland. Verlander, who had a 9.00 ERA after four starts this season, is 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in his last three outings (23 IP). During that span, he has 31 Ks and 5 BBs. Foes are batting .141 vs. Verlander and have a .369 OPS. Yes, .369 OPS.

Of course, Verlander got a little help last night. Curtis Granderson saved the game by taking away a 2-run homer from Grady Sizemore in the ninth inning.

Still, Verlander seems to be back challenging hitters and throwing gas. He has fanned at least 9 batters in three consecutive starts for the first time in his career. I believe Verlander has credited getting comfortable with his mechanics as a key to his recent success. According to, Verlander's fastball is averaging 95.4 mph, which is well above last year's 93.6 and in the neighborhood of his 95.1 in 2006 (when he was 17-9 with a 3.63 ERA).

Also, Verlander seems to have added a slider to his repertoire. He's not throwing it much, but it's an 89-90 mph weapon.

Finally, Verlander's first-pitch strike percentage is 62.2, which is much better than the 57.8 of last year. Furthermore, batters are making contact at lower rates, both inside and outside the strike zone, than at any point in Verlander's career.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Oh, those bases on balls

Last night, Armando Galarraga's first inning went as such: Walk, flyout, groundout, walk, single, double, homer, foul out. Five runs allowed. It was the seventh time the Tigers allowed five or more runs in an inning. They've allowed 4 runs in a frame on six occasions.

From the Free Press story: (Jim) Leyland wondered if Galarraga was pitching around Thome, who’s batting .205 this year (and walked with 2 outs). (Gerald) Laird seemed to agree with that assessment. “We kind of pitched around him,” the catcher said. “That kind of hurt us. That early in the game, you’ve got to go at guys and make them beat you.”

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Magglio Ordonez's struggles continued the other night as he saw his batting average drop to .232 and his OBP fall to .315. He's slugging .293.

This is pretty much uncharted territory for Maggs. His numbers have not been this poor this late into a season since mid-July 2005. That was Ordonez's first year in Detroit, following his knee injury woes in Chicago. He finished the year .302/.359/.436 in 343 PAs.

But in 2005, Maggs missed time on the DL for hernia surgery and by mid-July had only played 14 games. So, it was essentially his April. The last time he saw his OBP this low this late in a full season was 2001. quoted manager Jim Leyland as saying, "He's struggling. He's got some other things on his mind." Leyland declined to elaborate.

Ordonez's worst big league season came in 1998 -- his first full campaign -- when he batted .282/.326/.415 (all career lows).

Stormy weather

Detroit and the White Sox got rained out last night for the second time this season. They also had three games against each other rained out last September.


Manny tests positive. Barry smiles.

This should have no dramatic impact on the Dodgers and their ability to win the NL West. After all, Manny took off the first half of 2008 before arriving in LA in July to salvage their season. And this year, the Dodgers have gotten a head start.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


For the first time this year, Curtis Granderson did not bat leadoff and Magglio Ordonez did not hit in the No. 3 spot. Josh Anderson was put in the one hole, and went 2-for-5 with a run and RBI. Clete Thomas, just up to replace DL'd Carlos Guillen, went 3-for-4 with 2 runs and 2 RBI in the No. 3 hole. Granderson homered in the No. 5 spot and the Tigers scored 9 times on their way to a 9-0 victory.

Rick Porcello, Nate Robertson and Juan Rincon combined on the 5-hit whitewash. Detroit has thrown 3 shutouts this season, which surpasses last year's total of 2.

The Tigers are now 7-0 when scoring 8 or more runs. Detroit has scored 8 or more in 27% of its games so far and 50% of its wins.

Miguel Cabrera is 14-for-21 with 3 HR when putting the first pitch in play.

Detroit begins an 8-game road trip tonight in Chicago.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Crooked numbers

Detroit was locked in a 1-1 tie with the Twins last night when the wheels came off. The Tigers yielded 5 runs in the top of the seventh and lost 7-2. It was the sixth time this year Detroit has given up 5 or more runs in an inning. They've given up 4 runs in an inning also six times.

Eight is enough

Detroit is 6-0 when scoring 8 or more runs this season. The Tigers are 7-12 when scoring 7 or fewer runs. They are 2-5 when scoring either 5 or 6 runs.

The Tigers are 3-12 when allowing 4 or more runs.

Monday, May 04, 2009

O's Week Four

The O's took on "Oh-fer" in Week 4 losing 6 straight to complete the month of April at 9-13 and currently stand at 9-16.

The highlight of the week was Jamie Walker's post-game comments disparaging MLB Umpire Angel Hernandez after Tuesday's loss to the Angels.  Walker's comments were apt, for which the AL fined him.

O's hitting ranked 13th in the AL for the week.  The offense is currently broken.  No one on the team can lay down a sacrifice bunt, hit to the right side w/a runner on 2nd and no outs, steal a base, etc....  Late in the week, the hitters seem to have lost their patience at the plate as well.  Everyone is in a hurry to make an out.

The defense continues its' poor play, although they no longer lead the AL in errors.

Starting pitching logged a 5.45 ERA and did average a smidge over 6 IP per start.
The bullpen logged a 5.71 ERA and blew 2 save opportunities.

So, the O's are in Tampa Bay for 2 games then back home for the Twins and Yankees in Week 5.


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Justin time

Justin Verlander was dealing today. He allowed only two hits and one run while striking out a season high 11 (following a 9 K effort in his last start vs. NY) to do something he rarely does, beat Cleveland.

Verlander has been awesome his last two starts. I wish I knew what the change is. It appeared he's been more aggressive in going after hitters; he had a ton of first-pitch strikes today. He also is pumping the fastball around 100 mph again.

The key today was pitching out of a bases-loaded jam (on a walk, double and intentional walk) in the seventh inning, with the score 1-1. Kelly Shopach popped to right, Matt LaPorta (making his MLB debut) got fooled with a hook after seeing a steady diet of 99 mph fastballs and Luis Valbuena grounded out.

Detroit appeared fired up by Verlander's effort. In the bottom of the seventh, Dane Sardinha led off with a double and scored when Curtis Granderson followed with a double. Granderson scored on a single by Magglio Ordonez.

Fernando Rodney tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for the save in the 3-1 win. The Tigers won the series, 2-1.

Now, to backtrack a moment. In the top of the seventh, LaPorta hit a foul ball just out of play on the first-base side. Miguel Cabrera hustled to make the catch and the ball tipped of the end of his glove. But in this case, it probably was a huge break he failed to make the catch. I think the runner scores from third if Cabrera makes the catch because he was falling over the railing. The commentators didn't bring up this point, so maybe I'm wrong, but I was relieved Cabrera missed the ball.

Brandon Inge homered for the Tigers and has reached base in every game this year. It's now the longest such streak for Detroit since Ron LeFlore's record 30 in 1976.

Entering today, the bottom of the Tigers' order (7-8-9) combined for 43 runs, 6 HR, and 42 RBI this season. The top of the order (1-2-3) combined for 40 runs, 10 HR, and 42 RBI. The bottom of the order had a .788 OPS; the AL average was .724.

Rodney has been generally good in the closer role so far. Entering today, he was allowing .167/.211/.333 in save situations. He only improved those stats this afternoon.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Tigers end slide

Detroit snapped a three-game losing streak this year and eight-game slide against Cleveland dating to last year with a 9-7 win Saturday. The Tigers blew a 5-0 lead, thanks in part to Ryan Raburn misplaying a bases-loaded flyball, but rallied in the eighth from a 7-6 deficit thanks to Curtis Granderson's eighth dinger of the campaign.

Adam Everett hit a grand slam for Detroit. It was his second career salami and first since 2003.

Joel Zumaya got the win for the Tigers. It was Zoom-Zoom's first victory since Sept. 15, 2007. He's pitched 4.2 scoreless innings since his return this season.

Detroit can take the 3-game series vs. the Indians on Sunday when Justin Verlander faces Cliff Lee. The Tigs won 1 series vs. Cleveland in 2008. (They split 3.)

Verlander is 4-10 with a 6.70 ERA in 15 starts against the Indians. He was 1-5 last season.

Tigers backup catcher Matt Treanor had hip surgery and is likely done for the year. This very well is the end of the Treanor Era in Motown.

Friday, May 01, 2009

News and notes

Detroit's next 13 games are against teams from the AL Central. The Tigers did not have a winning record against any Central team in 2008, going 27-45 overall.

Miguel Cabrera has hit 10 HR and driven in 25 runs in 24 career games against the Indians, who visit Comerica this weekend.

Brandon Inge has reached base safely in 21 consecutive games to begin the season. It equals Inge's mark for the longest such streak since Alan Trammell reached in 22 in a row in 1990.

Detroit has lost seven in a row to the Tribe since last July.

Armando Galarraga starts tonight for the Tigers. He is 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA. I think his stats look fairly honest. Two areas that are fluky -- he's stranding 88% of baserunners and he's allowing only 0.39 HR/game. But his K/G is up to 9.3, which helps. His groundball rate is up a bit too.

Cleveland's Grady Sizemore has 18 career leadoff HR, which is tied with Kenny Lofton for the most in franchise history.