Tuesday, June 30, 2009

O's stun BoSox

After losing 8 consecutive games to the Red Sox and trailing 10-1 in the 7th, the O's scored 5 in the 7th and 5 in the 8th to beat the Sox 11-10.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Everything old is new again

I'm a little slow on catching onto some things, but I just saw that Seattle CF Franklin Gutierrez has been given the nickname "Death to Flying Things" in some circles because of his defensive prowess. I guess we will have to start keeping tabs on him.

Mo is no Babe

Mariano Rivera got career save No. 500 last night and also got his first-ever RBI courtesy of a bases-loaded walk. I was thinking about relievers getting saves and also driving in runs, which probably happened more frequently in the past.

That led me to the Tigers' Werner "Babe" Birrer.

Birrer, during his rookie year, got a save against the Orioles on July 19, 1955, thanks to four scoreless innings of relief. He also went 2-for-2 at the plate, with both hits being 3-run homers. Hence, the nickname, no doubt.

It was Birrer's second career save. He finished his career (56 games over parts of three seasons) with four. He finished his career with 2 HR and 6 RBI in 30 PAs.

He played four games for the Orioles in 1956, posting a 6.75 ERA. After being traded by the Orioles, he tossed a no-hitter against the O's Triple-A team.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What Town is This?

The Orioles took an 8-20 road record into Philadelphia over the weekend and improved it to 11-20, evening their June record at 9-9.

Perhaps the sweep merely highlights the Phillies struggles at home (13-22) this season. But perhaps, given Philadelphia's proximity to Baltimore, the young Orioles did not realize they were on a road trip. The O's are 21-17 in Baltimore (3-0 in Philladelphia).

The O's head next to "Philadelphia" to play a 3 game set with the Florida Marlins. Feed 'em some cheesesteaks, skip. Promise them a trip to see "Independance Hall". Or "CheerLeaders".

Nolan Reimold is hitting .287 and slugging .546 with 8 HR in 108 AB. It is far too early to declare the rookie a stud, but he's playing one on TV.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ordering runs

Detroit has won four in a row, which coincides with Magglio Ordonez being benched. Miguel Cabrera was moved to the No. 3 spot, with Marcus Thames take over for Cabrera in the clean-up spot. The change in the order actually occurred the day prior to Ordonez's benching, with Maggs being dropped to sixth that day.

Here are some stats for the four games in which the top of the lineup was Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, Cabrera and Thames. (Polanco did not play today, so that game is not included.)

Granderson was 7-for-18 with 5 R, 4 RBI and 3 HR.
Polanco was 5-for-16 with 5 R, 2 RBI and 2 HR.
Cabrera was 7-for-17 with 7 R, 4 RBI and 2 HR.
Thames was 6-for-16 with 4 R, 7 RBI and 3 HR.

Granted, this is a small sample, but the top of the order certainly seems to have responded to the changes. Those totals are 25-for-67 (.373) with 21R, 17 RBI and 10 HR. Cabrera also had two doubles.

Verlander back in the groove

Justin Verlander rebounded from his ineffective start at St. Louis to beat the Brewers 3-2 and give the Tigers a sweep of the series. Brandon Inge provided the punch with a 2-out, 3-run tater in the sixth. Verlander struck out eight, but also got eight groundball outs, which he attributed to the best changeup he's had all year.

Prior to his start against the Cardinals, Verlander had tossed eight of nine "gems" as defined by the game scores system. His only "non gem" came against the Orioles, in the game Sparky and Stan attended. But he still won.

Jim Leyland is going to separate Verlander and Edwin Jackson in the rotation. The idea is to give the bullpen a break. Having Rick Porcello, Armando Galarraga and now rookie Alfredo Figaro (in place of Dontrelle Willis) pitch on consecutive days was putting too much of a strain on the pen in consecutive games. Seems like sound logic. We'll see if it works out.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Figaro trims Brewers

Alfredo Figaro won his MLB debut today for Detroit. Figaro took Dontrelle Willis' spot in the rotation. Willis' last win was May 19 (maybe that should say "only win") and the Tigers were 1-4 in D Train's last five starts.

To make room for Figaro, the Tigers sent down backup catcher Dane Sardinha. That means Dusty Ryan is the backup now. Ryan is Detroit's catcher of the future.

The Tigers have won three in a row after losing four straight. Detroit has scored 25 runs in its last three games after going seven in a row with 3 or fewer.

The O's do not stink

Phillies fans were talking this week like a sweep of Baltimore was not only a necessity, but as if the failure to do so was the final indication that the Fighins were in an awful funk.

Well, the Orioles took game one of the series last night. Contrary to the opinion of the talking heads in Philly, they are not horrible. And I'm not just saying that because I'm friends with Stan. As of now, they are only 7 games worse than the Phils. Baltimore is young and talented and inconsistent. That's a far cry from being horrible.

Also, Baltimore is the only team in the AL East playing below .500 ball. The O's entered tonight seven games under .500, which to me seems rather good considering their division.

Upon examination, the O's are 7-3 vs. the NL East this season. They're just in the wrong East.

The best teams in the AL, at least by records, are Boston, the Yankees, Detroit, Texas and Anaheim. The Orioles are 8-18 against those five squads. That puts them at 22-19 vs. everyone else.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Porcello = stopper

Rick Porcello helped the Tigers snap their four-game skid last night. Porcello's last 3 wins have all followed Detroit losses. The Tigs are 8-1 in Porcello's last 9 starts.

Really, Porcello didn't pitch great, but he did well enough. The offense busted out for 6 runs, snapping a seven-game stretch of scoring 3 or fewer.

Jim Leyland sat the struggling Magglio Ordonez. Ryan Raburn batted fifth in his place. I'm not sure this an improvement. Hopefully, a little time off can help Maggs get straight. What makes this compelling is that Maggs gets $18 million next season if he reaches certain levels in games started and/or plate appearances. Given his decline, it would seem the Tigers would do what they can to prevent that.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

This and that

Dontrelle Willis is back on the DL with anxiety disorder, Tigers.com reported. He was 1-4 with a 7.49 ERA and 28 BB in 33.2 IP. Detroit will call up right-hander Alfredo Figaro from Double-A Erie to start on Saturday. Figaro was 5-2 with a 4.10 ERA in 11 starts. He had 59 Ks in 68 IP.

Rick Porcello needs to get the Tigers a win tonight. Detroit has lost four in a row.

The Tigers return home tomorrow to face Milwaukee. Then the Cubbies come to visit.

Curtis Granderson hit 2 HR last night from the leadoff spot. Granderson (2) and Ian Kinsler (3) are the only players with multiple multi-HR games from the top spot.

Brandon Lyon has thrown 11 straight scoreless innings, with 13 Ks.

You can turn off the TV after the 6th inning of most Tigers' games. Detroit is 26-2 when leading after 6. The Tigs are 2-24 when trailing after 6. The only drama is if the game is tied; the Kitties are 6-5.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Last night Justin Verlander tossed in a clunker. This is to be expected from time to time. It highlights, though, the trouble with Detroit's pitching. As we've seen, if Verlander and Edwin Jackson aren't picking up wins, the Tigs are likely to struggle.

Pitching won't matter if the hitting remains cold. Detroit has scored 3 or fewer runs in six consecutive games, 7 of 8 and 17 of 24.

Good news: Detroit is 34-30 and still first in the AL Central.

Bad news: The Tigers continue to struggle against quality foes and no longer own Interleague. Detroit is 12-16 vs. teams that are .500 or better (as of this date, not when they met). If you throw in red-hot Colorado, the record is 13-18. Thank goodness the Tigers are 6-0 vs. Texas, otherwise it would be worse.

We anticipated June being a tough month, and Detroit is 6-9.

Dontrelle Willis will not make his next start on Saturday. No word on a replacement, or Willis' future.

It seems more likely that Detroit will be without Carlos Guillen the rest of the year.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The end of the line

Dontrelle Willis can no longer be part of the Detroit Tigers rotation. As much as everyone loves D-Train, he is a wreck at this point. Armando Galarraga is probably approaching the same. Zach Miner can return to the rotation, at least for now, to help.

Of the 21 best "game scores" by Detroit pitchers this year (65 points or better, which Bill James qualifies as "gems"), Justin Verlander has 8, Edwin Jackson has 7 and Rick Porcello has 3. The Tigers have 9 game scores between 55-64, with Porcello getting 4, Miner getting 2 and Jackson and Verlander picking up 1 apiece.

So that means Galarraga (3) and Willis (1) have combined for only 4 of Detroit's 30 game score starts of 55 or better. Also, Miner has made only 4 starts, so his 2 are more impressive.

This might not be Spahn and Sain and pray for rain, but it is clear that the Tigers are getting great performances on a regular basis from the top of the rotation and holding their breath on the rest.

Of course, this is only part of the trouble. The offense, which has been more prone to slump than bop, is a whole other story.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Not Just Yet

The "other shoe" hasn't dropped yet. Today, Brad Bergesen tossed a complete game 5 hitter allowing 2 earned runs in 112 pitches against Atlanta.

Bergesen now has 32 innings pitched allowing 6 earned runs for a 1.69 ERA in his last 4 starts.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fair or foul

Umpire Jim Joyce has had a tough week. Some might argue a bad week. Last night, in the Phillies-Red Sox game, Joyce ruled a potential game-winning HR of the bat of Philly's Greg Dobbs was foul and refused to go to video review. The video most likely would have proved inconclusive, but why have video review if it's not going to be used in a situation like this? In fairness to Joyce, it was a tough call and several Phillies believe he got it right. From what I've read, some fans at the game who were sitting down the line, think otherwise.

Joyce also was involved in a call at home plate in the Tigers-White Sox series earlier this week. He called a Chicago runner out -- on what would have been the game-winner in the ninth -- although replays indicated he was safe (at least that's what Hawk Harrelson repeatedly told me). Again, it was a very close play.

Still, it makes for a tough week.


Rick Porcello pitched a great game last night for the Tigers and also drove in two runs with two-out hits. Porcello is the first Detroit pitcher since Woodie Fryman in 1972 to get a win, two hits, and two RBI in a game. (Of course, pitchers haven't had many chances.)

Curtis Granderson is batting .315-3-11 in his last 19 games. He also has three doubles and a triple. So far, Grandy only has seven two-baggers and two three-baggers this year. He had 26 and 13, respectively, last season. He had 38 and 23 in 2007. His line drive percentage is 18.1, his lowest mark since playing 9 games in 2004. He's also got more infield flies (14.4%, double his career rate) and only one infield hit (compared to 14 each of the past two seasons). Hopefully, he's starting to find his groove.

Detroit has 95 doubles as a team. Only the White Sox, with 83, have fewer. The league average is 113.

The Tigers are 44-14 in Interleague play since the start of 2006. That's not the best record in the bigs, though. Oddly, another AL Central team -- the Twins -- own that mark. Minnesota is 45-13.

Armando Galarraga pitches tonight for the Tigers. Galarraga was terrific in 3 of his first 4 starts this year, awful in his next 4 and fair in his most recent 4. With the way the top of the rotation is going, I can live with fair. If he can continue at that rate, Detroit will be OK, even with Dontrelle Willis as the No. 5 starter. If he returns to earlier form, the Tigs will be in very good shape. If he regresses, it will be a struggle, with Porcello holding the key.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder

I've got it
I've got it
I've got . . . doh!

Friday, June 12, 2009

You cannot be serious

I would like to argue that tonight's loss by the Mets to the Yankees was perhaps the worst June loss in the history of the sport of baseball. Sure, it can't compare to some of the worst September or October losses suffered by this team or others, but I don't see how a loss in June could get much worse. Let's review the facts.

The starting pitching matchup was Livan Hernandez vs. Joba Chamberlain. In spite of this epic mismatch, the Mets entered the bottom of the ninth with a one-run lead. They had this lead because they came from behind on three separate occasions. They had this lead because Chamberlain was so wild that he only lasted four innings and the Mets scored two runs in the third without a hit or even a sacrifice. They had this lead because, with two outs in the top of the eighth and the score tied at seven, Joe Girardi brought in Mariano Rivera to face Carlos Beltran and David Wright and the Mets' two studs proceeded to put a run on the board against the greatest closer who ever lived with a walk and a double.

Then Francisco Rodriguez, heretofore perfect in save opportunities, put a couple of runners on base in the bottom of the ninth, as is his wont. But he got a couple of outs, too. The game came down to a New York Post headline writer's dream matchup of K-Rod vs. A-Rod. The Met closer threw three straight balls to the three-time MVP. But then he got a strike. And then, at long last, he got a lazy pop up to second base. The kind of pop up that would likely have, had there been fewer than two outs, caused an umpire to call the infield fly rule, declaring A-Rod out. But in this case, no umpire could declare A-Rod out. Because there were two outs. And, oh yeah, because LUIS CASTILLO DROPPED THE BALL.

The Mets' losses to the Phillies this week were pretty disheartening in that a Mets team half-full of scrubs came agonizingly close to winning two or three from the defending champs. But this game against the Yankees, where the Mets had the lead in the bottom of the ninth against all odds and got the third out only to have it taken away in this most unlikely manner this side of bird interference, is even worse. It would be easier if I could blame Jerry Manuel for his terrible bullpen management or Omar Minaya for assembling a team that has Omir Santos on the field in the bottom of the ninth in a tight ballgame, but no. The Mets were put together and managed well enough to win this game except that Luis Castillo forgot how to catch a baseball. If I hadn't watched the Mets for the last three years and the twenty before that, I could hardly believe this happened. It's too ridiculous a series of events to actually take place in the real world. But any long time Mets fan can believe it. This is just a little worse that what we've seen so many times before. Could this happen to any other team?

News, notes and random thoughts

Jim Leyland returns to Pittsburgh. Looks for his initials carved in Pirates dugout, along with a pack of Marlboros left behind from 1996.

Red Wings vs. Penguins in Game 7 of NHL Stanley Cup finals tonight. Tigers vs. Pirates. I believe this is the first time since 1971 (Montreal vs. Chicago) that the cities involved in the Stanley Cup final also met on the baseball diamond during the series.

Dontrelle Willis gets to hit on Sunday. Now we'll see why the Tigers acquired this guy.

Six of Detroit's last eight games have been decided by a run. The Tigers won five.

Detroit took 3 of 5 in Chicago; can't expect better. Mostly feared worse.

The Tigers cannot solve Gavin Floyd. He's 5-0 with a 3.55 ERA in 11 starts vs. Detroit. His career ERA is 4.97. Go figure.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Well balanced

There is only one team in MLB that has a winning record against every division and Interleague. That teams is the Philadelphia Phillies. The Fightins are 18-12 vs. the NL East, 5-3 vs. the Central, 9-7 vs. the West (no thanks to Brad Lidge) and 2-1 vs. the AL.

Los Angeles has the MLB's best record at 40-21, but it appears to be largely the result of playing in the NL West. The Dodgers are 26-10 in their division; 14-11 elsewhere. Consider, the NL's worst teams outside of the West -- Florida, Washington, Pittsburgh and Houston -- are a combined 25-19 vs. the NL West.

If the Phils can ever figure out how to win at home (12-14) they might be the best team in baseball.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Raul Ibanez is being forced to answer questions about PEDs.

I think Citzens Bank Park is the PED in question here. From 2004-08, Ibanez averaged .291/.354/.477 for Seattle. His AB/HR was 26.93. Those are pretty decent numbers, particularly because Seattle is not considered a hitters' park.

Now, let's look at Pat Burrell, the man Ibanez replaced. When Burrell played in Veterans Stadium, his numbers were .253/.348/.473. His AB/HR was 19.95. Those figures are not far off from Ibanez's.

When the Phils moved into the Zen, Burrell's numbers became .261/.382/.495. His AB/HR was 16.76. Only once in the Vet did Burrell slug for better than .500, but he did it his final four seasons in the Zen.

This is not a perfect comparison, for one thing Burrell was righthanded and Ibanez is lefthanded, but it's probably not bad. Certainly, it was reasonable to expect Ibanez's numbers to improve with the Phillies. Not only is the ballpark a factor, but Ibanez is in a more productive lineup with the Phillies. Last year, Philly scored 799 runs; Seattle scored 671.

It would seem unlikely Ibanez can continue his torrid pace. Maybe he's just enjoying a hot streak, energized by his new surroundings. But it seems there are plenty of valid reasons for his numbers other than medicine.

Walk away

The Tigers won an ugly one last night against Chicago. Detroit blew leads of 3-1 and 6-3 and might have gotten help from the umpire as well on a play at the plate in the bottom of the ninth.

Detroit yielded 12 walks and still won. The teams combined for 20 BBs and 14 hits.

Each team managed to produce a 3-run inning with the benefit of only 1 hit.

The Tigs are 2-1 during this 5-game series in Chicago and 13-10 vs. the AL Central this season.

AttaBoy Rook!

Baltimore stopped the bleeding (at least momentarily) last night with a 3-1 victory over Seattle.  O's rookies provided much of the heroics.

In facing Seattle for the 2nd time in consecutive starts, Brad Bergesen tossed 8 innings of 5 hit, shutout baseball using only 97 pitches. Bergesen has 23 IP with 4 ER in his last 3 starts.  The first of those 3 starts coincides with the callup of catcher Matt Wieters.

Nolan Reimold hit his 7th HR in 78 ABs.  Reimold also produced an RBI single later in the game.

Last nights game was as enjoyable as the recent west coast road trip was painful. While simultaneously expecting the "other shoe to drop", I shall wait with great anticipation for Bergesen's next start. 

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

No. 1 hit

When making the first overall pick in the MLB draft, it's been historically wise to take a hitter. The likes of Justin Upton, Joe Mauer, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Pat Burrell, Darin Erstad, Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., B.J. Surhoff, Shawon Dunston, Darryl Strawberry, Bob Horner, and Harold Baines were all No. 1 picks over the past 30-some years. Heck, even a guy like Phil Nevin was productive.

The pitchers taken No. 1 were David Price, Luke Hochevar, Bryan Bullington, Matt Anderson, Kris Benson, Brien Taylor, Ben McDonald, Andy Benes, Tim Belcher, Mike Moore, Floyd Bannister, and David Clyde. Certainly, there are some decent pitchers in there, but none that match their hitting counterparts.

Is This It?

The O's return to Baltimore tonight after completing a dismal 6 game west coast road trip to Seattle and Oakland.  The O's left for the west coast at 5 games under .500 and return at 9 games under.  They scored 10 runs in the 6 games. O's starting pitching managed a total of 4 2/3 IP in the 3 contests in Oakland.

The O's managed a 14-15 month of May despite turning over nearly the entire starting rotation.  The optimism generated in May by  the young starters from AAA, the promotion of Matt Wieters to the starting catcher spot and the hot start by rookie left fielder Nolan Reimold, did not even get a chance to dissipate.  The 1-5 start to June on the west coast simply crushed it.

Considering the O's penchant for tanking mid to late season, this trip is even more the disappointing.  Yet, the O's are a younger team now than they were even a month ago.  The question is:  Are they resilient?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

For starters

Baseball-reference.com posts the "game scores" for starting pitchers, but until yesterday I didn't know what to make of them. The stat was created by Bill James and while reading the terrific Bill James Gold Mine, I came across this note: In the major leagues as a whole in 2008, the winning percentage of teams with a Game Score of 50 or above by the starting pitcher was .683 --- an 111-win pace.

An explanation of Game Score follows, from baseball-reference.com: Start with 50 points. Add 1 point for each out recorded, (or 3 points per inning). Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th. Add 1 point for each strikeout. Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed. Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed. Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed. Subtract 1 point for each walk.

So, I wondered how the Tigers have fared so far this year when their starters have posted 50 or better. The answer, entering Sunday's game, was 24-5 (.828).

By pitcher, with starts in parentheses, it was Justin Verlander (12) 6-2, Edwin Jackson (12) 6-2, Rick Porcello (10) 6-0, Armando Galarraga (11) 3-1, Zach Miner (4) 2-0, Dontrelle Willis (5) 1-0.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Stonewall Jackson

The Tigers scored only two runs again tonight, but Edwin Jackson made those runs stand up. Jackson fired a 4-hitter, on 109 pitches, against Anaheim. He struck out five and lowered his ERA to 2.16 for the year. He is 5-1 with a 0.76 ERA in his last six starts.

Another Bill James nugget: Jackson was the only starter in MLB to make more than two-thirds of his starts (44 of 62) against teams that finished .500 or better over the previous two seasons. He faced playoff-bound teams 13 times in 2007 and 8 times in 2008.

Gold Mine gem

Tigers catcher Gerald Laird caught some flak (and later was plunked) for bunting to lead off the sixth inning against Boston's Josh Beckett, who at the time was tossing a no-no, during a game earlier this week. Detroit was losing 4-0. Laird's attempt was foul.

So is it a no-no to bunt at that point in a no-hitter? I'd say not. Laird was trying to get something started for his team, which was struggling to get anything going.

Tonight, I was paging through the Bill James Gold Mine and came across this entry regarding Laird: "Gerald Laird 'bunted' .545 last year (six hits in 11 at-bats). He's bunted 49 times over the last three years, going 23-for-39 (.590) with 10 sacrifice."

Given those numbers, Laird was playing his game. It wasn't as though he was doing something out of the norm simply to break up Beckett's no-hitter. If this game was say 6-0 or 7-0 in the eighth or ninth inning and Laird bunted, perhaps that could be labeled bad form. But Laird's job is to help the Tigs, not aid Beckett's no-hit bid. Especially when the score still was such that Detroit could put itself in position to tie the game with one swing.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Getting the runs

For the second consecutive year, the Tigers have shown the ability to put up runs in bunches. For the second straight season, they've shown an inability to score consistently.

Entering tonight's game against Anaheim, Detroit was sixth in the AL with an average of 5.1 runs per game. That seems pretty good, on the surface. But the Tigs, following their 2-1 loss this evening, have won just 4 games in which they've allowed more than 3 runs. They are a terrific 24-2 when holding foes to 3 runs or less.

It just seems amazing to me, though, that a team can average more than 5 per game and yet cannot win when giving up more than 3. Detroit is 3-16 (.158) when allowing 4 to 7 runs. The rest of MLB was playing at a .396 clip when giving up 4-7 runs, entering tonight. Given the expected prowess of the Tigers' offense, one would expect them to be able to win more often than .158 in that range.

The Tigers .750 OPS entering tonight was below the AL average of .765.

Willis and Koufax

Dontrelle Willis joined Sandy Koufax in baseball lore yesterday. Unfortunately, it wasn't in a way he would have preferred, even if it did involve allowing no hits.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Getting himself out

Garrett Atkins is on one of my fantasy teams and is really struggling. One good thing about the advanced stats on Fangraphs, you can try to see what's wrong. Surprisingly, Atkins' strikeout rate is lower than last year and his walk rate is improved. So that's not the answer.

Last year, Atkins batted .286/.328/.452 with 21 HR and 99 RBI. This season, he's .188/.264/.273 with 3 HR and 17 RBI. He only has 6 doubles and zero triples.

Of concern, Atkins' power stats have dropped steadily since 2006, when he posted a .965 OPS. His line drive percentage this season is a career low 14% compared to 22-24% the past several campaigns. He seems to be seeing fewer fastballs and more curves, but not a huge difference.

The most noticeable difference is in his contact rate on pitches outside the strike zone. His overall contact rate is almost the same as last year, but he is seeing fewer pitches inside the strike zone and making contact at 5.5% higher rate. I guess he is putting weak balls into play rather than driving balls. Hence, his struggles.

Slumping Tigers

Detroit has won just 4 of its last 11 and has not looked good at all against Boston.

The offense is .243/.309/.353 during that span. They have left an average of nearly 7 runners on base per game. This is an offense that can drive you crazy, scoring double digits one night and scuffling the next. Other than Miguel Cabrera, no one has been consistent. The Tigers, as a team, are below average in almost every measurable way.

At some point, you start to worry that these are not slumps, but trends. I'm not sure we're at that point, but we might be by the All-Star break.

The pitching has given up an average of 4.3 runs over the past 11 games and has a 4.12 ERA. Those numbers don't look too bad on the surface, but the Tigers have gotten only 4 above average starts during that span (based on the pitcher's "game score" on baseball-reference.com).

Detroit still holds 3.5 game leads over the Twins and White Sox in the AL Central. But the Tigers have fattened their record by going a combined 11-1 vs. Texas and Cleveland. For some reason, Detroit owns the Rangers, and the Tigs caught the Tribe in a freefall.

The Tigers are a combined 5-15 vs. Chicago, Minnesota, Boston, Anaheim, New York and Toronto. The White Sox and Twins are their primary pursuers while, outside of Texas, the remainder are the best teams Detroit has faced so far.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

No joy of six

So much for the solid run by Rick Porcello. Oh well, these kinds of nights are to be expected with young pitchers. This was Porcello's worst outing since April 29 vs. the Yankees. If Porcello follows this setback with another five wins in a row, we'll take it.

Meanwhile, the news from Tigers.com is that Jeremy Bonderman is awaiting word on his next start. Bonderman fired eight shutout innings on Sunday for Triple-A Toledo. He has not been told when, or where, his next appearance will be.

Marcus Thames is nine games into a rehab stint at Toledo, where he is batting .263-1-5.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Porcello growing up fast

Rick Porcello starts tonight vs. Boston. The Tigers could really use a solid outing, considering Armando Galarraga and Dontrelle Willis are the next two in line. Porcello showed a little moxie last time to the hill, winning at KC to give Detroit the series. This might be his first really big start at Comerica.

Detroit's schedule is fairly tough this month, mainly because the NL Central seems so competitive and that's who the Tigers will see in Interleague play. Of course the NL Central might only seem competitive when compared to NL clubs. But the NL did better the first time round in Interleague this season.

Just a side note from the Tigers press jottings: Curtis Granderson homered from the cleanup spot on Sunday, making him the first player this year to homer from starts in the leadoff spot and cleanup. He is the first Detroit player since Bobby Higginson in 1996 to accomplish the feat.

That Bastardo

I think the Phillies made a good move in promoting Antonio Bastardo to fill Brett Myers' spot in the rotation, although it puts Philly in the unusual situation of having four lefty starters in the rotation. Phillies fans are going nuts about losing Myers and needing to trade for, among others, Jake Peavy. While I think Peavy is a great pitcher, I'm not sure the Phils have the talent to offer San Diego, nor am I sure they want to take on Peavy's salary.

Myers was pretty much statistically average this year, so if Bastardo can be statistically average, it's a wash. He might even be better. I don't think he will be much worse. One thing I give the Tigers credit for -- they're not afraid to use talented young players if they believe those players give them the best chance to win. The Phillies always seem afraid to do anything with young players, and I think that goes back even to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. So this is a stunning move; I fully expected them to bring back Kyle Kendrick.

So let's see what Bastardo can do rather than run out and trade for Jason Marquis. Bastardo had 51 Ks and 10 BBs in 47.1 IP at Double-A and Triple-A. His strikeout rate has always been good and he's lowered his walks substantially. He's got 265 IP in the minors. It's time.

Baltimore 1 Seattle 0

Monday, June 01, 2009

Triple trio

Sparky and Stan were in attendance when Orioles catching phenom Matt Wieters got his first MLB hit --- a triple. We wondered, how many catchers had their first hit be a triple? I don't know the answer to that question, but research revealed the following bizarre factoid:

When Wieters hit his triple, the Tigers' Dane Sardinha was the catcher.

Dane Sardinha's first MLB hit was a triple.

The catcher when Sardinha hit his triple was Colorado's Yorvit Torrealba (in Interleague play).

Yorvit Torrealba's first MLB hit was, you guessed it, a triple.

That is too weird. Keep an eye on catchers looking for their first MLB hit when Wieters is behind the plate. Chances are it'll be a three-bagger.

At least Halladay's in the AL

I have no idea who Craig Stammen is, other than he pitches for the Washington Nationals, is a rookie, and is making two starts this week. As if being with the Nats wasn't punishment enough, the young Mr. Stammen, who has 11.1 IP in the bigs under his belt, will be matched against Tim Lincecum and Johan Santana. Check please!

In the Short Term

The O's are 5-2 over the last 7 days with a team ERA of 3.18.

I could stand a few more days like this.