Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New York Mets (at) Detroit Tigers: Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We are at Comerica Park Live-Blogging, as usual.  The Mets are in town again tonight after squeaking out a 14-3 nail biter over the locals last night;

Another beautiful night for baseball here in Detroit.  The sky is as clear as can be and it is 76 degrees as we are a minute or two away from first pitch.  It's a battle of 7 game losers this evening as Phil Coke (1-7) goes for Detroit against Chris Capuano (6-7) for the New Yorks.  The Tigers are 4-9 when Coke starts in 2011.
Jose Reyes, four hits for the Mets last night, hits Coke's third pitch of the game right back up the middle for a single, and that is how we begin.  Are you ready for your Official Game Notes?
Detroit Tigers Media Information.
New York Mets Game Notes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New York Mets (at) Detroit Tigers: Tuesday, JUne 28, 2011

We are once again live-blogging the Tigers game (its the Mets in town tonight for the first of three) right here:

7:13  As we join you six minutes after First Pitch, the Tigers are already down 2-0 on RBI doubles by Daniel Murphey and Angel Pagan (who happens to have one of the more interesting names in Organized Ball, don't you think?)  Rick Porcello is getting knocked around early, continuing a trend. In his last 3 starts, Porcello's ERA is 8.59.  He's pitched 14.2 innings, has allowed a whopping 23 hits, and 14 Earned Runs.  If we factor in the first inning tonight, which just ended by the way, that ERA (now covering his last 4 starts) rises to 9.19.  Or, as we in the industry say, "Yikes!"
Here are your Official Game Notes:
Detroit Tigers Game Information.
New York Mets Game Notes.
b-1: Detroit 0, Mets 2.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thanks, Sparky!

Live blogging the Tigers-D'back game live from Comerica Park here:

Down on the field right now Dan Petry is addressing the crowd, talking about Sparky Anderson.  His #11 is being retired here today for the balance of all time.  Players from back in the 1960′s like Al Kaline and Willie Horton and Gates Brown are among those seated in the infield between the mound and home plate.  Players from the 1980′s, guys who played for Sparky like Lou Whitaker and Tom Brookens and Milt Wilcox are down there, too.  There are 15 or 20 of those former players taking part in the ceremony this afternoon and it occurred to me during the introductions that there is not one of them who I didn’t see play in person. Like it says at the top of this blog, “I saw my first game in 1963…”
I was at the press conference in June, 1979 when Sparky Anderson was named manager of the Tigers.  I was at the press conference in 1995 when Sparky quit.  I was still a baby reporter back there in ’79 and I can tell you that Sparky went out of his way to put me at ease and to give me good material with which to work.  I have never forgotten that, and I never will.  And that’s what I think of Sparky Anderson.  He made me feel like I belonged at a time when I still wasn’t quite sure that I did.
A lot of people here in the press box this afternoon have been asking why the Tigers waited until Sparky was dead to do this.  Why didn’t they honor him while he was still alive.  It’s because they never forgave him for refusing to manager the replacement players back in the early 1990′s during one of this sports many labor disputes.  That’s what I think.  Sparky said at the time that he was a major league manager and that meant he would only manage major league players.  Off all the managers in baseball, Sparky Anderson was the only one who took that stand.  I thought he was %100 right to do so.  The organization disagreed, and that was the end of Anderson’s career here in Detroit.  And there a thing about baseball.  It has a long memory.  A really long memory.  So that’s why I think they didn’t retire Sparky’s number until today.
Just about time for First Pitch, so that means it’s just about time for today’s Official Game Notes:
It’s a beauty day, sunshine at 73.  The start of the game is delayed by the Anderson ceremony, but it won’t be much longer now.

1:26  I hate to admit this, but I missed the game last night, which means I missed seeing another gem by Justin Verlander.  All he did last night was set a new career high in strikeouts with 14, but other than that, it was no big deal.  I was in Lansing doing play-by-play of a minor league football game which was fun and which was a paying gig and all, but the game took way longer to play than it should have due mostly to the fact that they were using minor league officials to officiate the minor league game and they kept getting confused and had to hold up play whilst they conferred with one another and the like.  Plus, there were a lot of injuries.  A lot.  Half a dozen guys had to be dragged off the battlefield on their shields, or on the shoulders of teammates still standing.  So, I didn't get back to the Detroit area until the game was in the sixth and since I was still half an hour from the ballpark, I figures, "What's the point?"  I'm here today though.  Ready to watch Brad Penny.  It is 1:26 and we are underway.
1:29  For those of you scoring at home, the Tigers are 2-4 in Penny's last six starts dating to May 14.  Just as an aside.
1:32 Penny got them out on 11 pitches in the first, allowing only a two-out single to Justin Upton who happens to have a brother--also named Upton--playing for some other Major League team. Interesting.  I am, for the first time in I don't know how long, maybe 30 years, wearing a sport coat and a tie today here in the Press Box.  It's in honor of Sparky who was a stickler for that sort of thing.  He said to be a professional you had to look like a professional.  Besides, I thought I might have a chance to talk to his widow and I wanted to look like a professional for that.  I was going to tell her that stuff about what it meant to me to have Sparky treat me the way he did, but she did not attend today.  I'll send her a note.  I'll probably write it in my underwear, which would be ironic.
1:40  The Tigers got two, two-out singles in the first, the big news being that Magglio Ordonez went first to third on the second of them, and Victor Martinez hit a for-sure double down the line in left but it was a foot foul.  He striped it, too.  After that, he hit a weak pop foul to first and that was that.
2:21  Sorry, I forgot all about the blog what with the doing the live update on WDFN and the ice cream being served and all, but leading off the second Jhonny Peralta homered to left, a high fly ball right down the line that made it about four rows into the stands, and that's all the scoring so far.  It was Peralta's 12th homer of the year, which is pretty good.  We are in the top of the fourth, and Penny has held them to just two hits, both singles.  t-4: Detroit 1, Arizona 0.
3:01 The Diamondbacks just left two on in the 6th which was more LOB in the inning (2) than they had had in the entire game to that point (1).  Penny has held them to only 4 hits--all singles--but the Tigers too have only four hits--three of them singles--but they also have that just-barely-go-out-of-here homer by Peralta leading off the second.  b-6: Detroit 1, Arizona 0. 
3:03  Wow.  Joe Saunders just got the Tigers out on seven pitches in the bottom of the sixth.  That's 1-2-3 in a hurry.
3:17  The D'backs have taken the lead in a hurry.  Four hits, three singles and a double, have produced two Arizona runs and have driven Penny from the hill after 6 and two-thirds innings of pretty solid work.  Al Alburquerque is in with runners and the corners and those two outs.  None of his first four pitches catch the strike zone and none are offered at by the hitter, so now the bases are loaded and Alburquerque has just thrown his 5th consecutive ball, prompting a mound visit from somebody who came bounding out of the Tigers dugout wearing a Detroit windbreaker and whatever had said worked as Alburquerque finally throws a strike.  Alburquerque gets the strikeout and the inning ends.  But the Diamondbacks get the two runs on the four hits and they lead.  The Tigers have nine outs left to change that.  b-7: Detroit 1, Arizona 2.
3:57  Arizona's Joe Saunders retired the last ten Tigers he faced, but did not answer the bell for the 8th and now the Tigers have two on and two out and Kirk Gibson--he manages the D'backs, as you know--has brought in his second relief pitcher of the inning.  It's a big, big at bat for Magglio Ordonez, what with the game on the line and all.
4:01 It's a 4-pitch walk to Ordonez, all of them inside and Cabrera bats with three men on and two men out.  Cabrera, the scoreboard tells us, is a career .431 hitter with the bases loaded.  That's sick.  And he's hitting better than that, now after lashing a line drive single to left to score two and put the Tigers on top.  That might have been the biggest two-out hit for Detroit this season.  Victor Martinez singles in another and Detroit has a three-run eighth going, still two on and two out.
4:08  The hits keep on coming and Gibby goes to his third bullpen ace of the eighth inning.  Peralta gets a single, his third hit of the game, to plate another Detroit run, their 4th of the inning.  And to think that Detroit was an out away from being retired in this inning without scoring any runs.  b-8: Detroit 5, Arizona 2.
4:13  Inge is up--the 7th Tigerto come to plate this inning with two out, and he singles in two more.  Detroit has sent ten men to the plate in the 8th and have scored six.  It looked like the inning would be over, but the third baseman kicked a totally routine grounder and it's another run for the Tigers, seven in the inning all told.  There are still two out.  b-8: Detroit 8, Arizona 2. 
4:17 Jackson strikes out to end an inning in which Detroit scored seven runs, each and every one of them with two out.  Imagine.  If Cabrera makes an out instead of singling, Arizona still leads this ballgame 2-1.  I think we can start packing up for the trip home.  No locker room today.  I got enough material out of the Anderson ceremony to meet my needs.  We'll be back here tomorrow and we'll talk to you then.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fart in a Mitten

Live-blogging the Tigers game from here at Comerica Park tonight, right here;

The Tigers are opening a 10-game homestand here tonight against Arizona and judging from the ambient noise in here, everybody in the press box seems to have missed everybody else.  A lot of chatter, tonight.
Jim Leyland went off on Jason Beck before the game as Beck, who I think does the best job of covering the Tigers of anybody (he's the beat man for had the temerity, the nerve, to ask about Don Kelly's role with the ballclub now that Brandon Inge is back from the DL and Danny Worth has been sent back down.  For the record, it was a perfectly reasonable, baseball-related question to ask a Major League manager.  Leyland accused Beck of asking a question designed--and I'm cleaning it up here, a little--to stir up trouble:  "Where would you play him?  Do you want me to got tell Inge he's not playing?"  And so on.
So, since the reporters love it when the manager loses it, that's pretty much all they've been talking about tonight.  That and Leyland's comment about Sparky Anderson when yours truly asked him to describe his relationship with Sparky, who is having his number retired here in a ceremony prior to the game Sunday.  Leyland said, and I am not making this up, "He was like a fart in a mitten."  We were all speechless, pretty much.  Somebody had the good sense to ask Leyland to elaborate, and he said, "You know, (I have to tell you, we really didn't) he was always jumping around, always active."  All I could think about was how the fart got in the mitten in the first place.  Maybe this means I am not a good reporter.
Anyway, between the cursing and the farting, Leyland said what I though was the most amazing thing.  He was talking about Al Alburquerque and he said, "He's been a Godsend.  You could make a case for him being an All-Star.  Without him, we'd be six or seven games worse off than we are."  Wow, right?
The other Leyland News today was that he said our new favorite Tiger, Charlie Furbush, the poor rookie relief pitcher who has to carry the gear out the bullpen every night in that cute little pink backpack, might just be better as a starter than a reliever.  So, maybe we'll see him in that role later this season.
Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell are back in town as the Manager and Bench Coach of the D'backs, respectively.  So, they'll be here for the Sparky cerimony Sunday.  They each held a press conference before the game tonight and we'll talk about what they had to say about Sparky a little later on.
Everybody is wondering why Brennan Boesch isn't in the lineup tonight, but Leyland told us the week before last he wasn't going to answer any more questions about his lineup saying, "I'm not answering any more questions about the lineup!  I play the players I think are going to give us the best chance to win!"  So, the answer to the question regarding Boesch is that Casper Wells gives the Tigers a better chance to win, tonight.  You might have thought Boesch was out because Arizona is starting a lefty and Boesch is a left handed hitter, but if you check the stats, you will see that Boesch is hitting .355 off the lefties this season.  So, that can't be the reason.
The Tigers had the two runs in (thanks to a Jhonny Peralta double with the bases loaded), runners on second and third and Alex Avila at the plate when Ron Cameron couldn't help himself.  He said "(Arizona Starter) Zach Duke is hitable.  And they are hitting him tonight."  As soon as I heard that, I turned to the guy sitting next to me and I said, "I'll be you this guy doesn't give up another hit for, like, six and two-thirds."  Avila, for the record, took a called third and the Tigers were out in order in the second.  I remember back in April Eric Bedard was starting for Seattle and Cameron eyeballed Bedard's numbers, a high ERA couple with a low number of wins, and proclaimed it to be "gaurenteed win night" for the Tigers.  I don't recall if Bedard actually shut the Tigers out that night, but I do remember Seattle's victory in the game was decisive, and that's being kind.  Bedard broke their bats in half.
But, maybe that won't happen tonight.  Casper Wells and Magglio Ordonez (no, I have not forgotten that I had him relegated to the minors in this space a couple of nights ago) each doubled to start the third and it's 3-0 and there is stirring in the D'backs pen.
Here are your game notes for tonight:
Detroit Game Information.
Arizona Diamondbacks 2011 Game Notes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sit, Miggy, Sit

Live-blogging Tigers at Dodgers again tonight here:

Here's your pregame.

We should have some kind of pool tonight to see who can come closest to predicting the inning of the Tigers-Dodgers game during which I fall asleep. I'm old, it's late and I'm sitting in the glider rocker which we got to put our daughter to sleep when she was just a baby, but which never once helped her to do so, not once.  Me?  That's another story.  All I have to do is kick back in the thing and start counting down from 100.  I won't make it to 88.

With last night's 4-0 loss, during which the Tigers were held to a season-low two hits, Detroit has now lost 7 of the last 13 overall and three of four so far on the road trip.  They remain a game behind Cleveland as the Indians also lost last night, beaten at home by Colorado 8-7.  Those same two teams are playing again tonight and are scoreless in the third.

Those Dodger Notes last night were as prescient as any I've ever seen, what with the prediction that Juan Uribe would homer in the series against Detroit--which he did, in the first innning during his first at bat--and the note about Clayton Kershaw being tied for the ML lead in hits.  Kershaw's 2-run single in the eighth gave him the outright lead in hits by pitchers this season (10).

Miguel Cabrera sits tonight.  Jim Leyland says he needs a rest and tonight's just the night to give it to him says the Skip as Cabrera is 0x12 lifetime against the LA starter.  I've read some comments from angry Tigers fans wondering why Leyland doesn't wait till he gets home to rest Cabrera as Detroit is de facto shorthanded already tonight with no DH and I think they make a pretty good point.  I don't agree with Leyland on this one.  We note that Leyland has managed over 3,000 games in the majors compared to, well, none for me, so if I were you I would give that stat some weight.
Here are your notes.  As always, we admonish you: READ THE NOTES.

Detroit Tigers Game Information.
Los Angeles Dodgers Game Notes.

10:10 first pitch and we will be back for that, unless, as I say, I fall asleep.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Somebody's Got To Go

We will be live-blogging the Tigers at Dodgers game tonight here:

Here's your pre-game coverage.

Let us take a moment to reflect upon the moundsmanship (a word I seem to have made up, just now) Justin Verlander's thrown in our direction of late. Here's JV's line--that's what they call him, you know, JV--starting with his May 7 no-hitter in Toronto and running through his win over the Rockies yesterday:

Not bad, eh?  The number I like best there is 59 strikeouts and 9 walks.  Or, actually, maybe the number I like best is 7-0.

In hockey you often hear the phrase "men v. boys" to describe a mismatch and it so happens that that is the best way to describe Verlander's pitching for the past month and a half.  But no matter what you choose to call it, I can tell you that I cannot recall watching a Detroit pitcher since the Denny McClain of 1968 and 1969 or the Mark Fydrich of 1976 who overwhelmed the opponent the way Verlander has of late.  I perk up every time his turn in the rotation comes around because I know I am going to see something memorable.
Here's the funny thing.  I don't know if you remember this, I didn't until I looked it up, but through May 2, Verlander was 2-3 and the Tigers were 2-5 in games he'd started.  And on May 2, the Detroit Tigers were 8 games out of first place.  Here's another phrase you often hear in hockey is applicable to the current discussion:  You figure it out.

All right, then.  I've been thinking about what Jim Leyland was talking about late last week in a couple of those press gaggles he conducts in his office three and a half hours before game time.  When he talks at these things, it's sort of like trying to decipher what the head of the Federal Reserve really means when he speaks publicly.  Leyland was saying things like, "I am not one of those managers who thinks that you automatically get your job back when you get back from being hurt."  And, "I'm not talking about [Brandon] Inge."  And, "You guys are going to have a field day pretty soon.  We've got some tough decisions to make when Inge comes back.  You guys will have plenty to write about."

So, who's gonna go to make room for Inge?  Will it be Andy Dirks or Ryan Raburn or Danny Worth or Don Kelly or Casper Wells?  Or will it be Inge himself?  Or somebody else?
All of us in the press box love Dirks' glove, and Leyland might too, but he's not wild about his bat: (.263 BA/3HR/10RBI).

Nobody is wild about Raburn's bat, .207/6/25, but Leyland stands up for him with comments like, "Look at what he was hitting in early June last year." So I did look.  Raburn was .188/1/13 at this time a year ago in about half the at bats he's had this season.  My thought is that when Leyland says to look at where Raburn was a year ago, what he's really saying is to look at the fact that he hit .315 after the break last year with 13 HR and 46 RBI.  I'm thinking Leyland's thinking the same thing could happen this year, and if it does, it would do the Tigers no good if Raburn were doing it in Toledo.

Worth would seem to make sense.  He's only played 23 games.  But he is hitting over .400.  Kelly has played a lot of third since Inge has been out.  He's versatile.  Wells is an extra outfielder, a guy you can bring in late to upgrade the defense when you've got the lead.

What about Inge himself?  He's hitting .211 with but a single homer and only 11 RBI, but he is far and away the best glove the Tigers have in the infield.

But, remember what Leyland said about now getting your job back just because you are back from an injury?  He said he wasn't talking about Inge. Besides, Leyland likes defense.

What about Magglio Ordonez?  He was hitting .172 when he went on the DL.  He's hitting .215 since returning on 3x14--all singles.  Leyland complained about how the Tigers blew the game Friday in part because they got only one run out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the first.  Ordonez was up with everybody on and one out and he failed to hit it out of the infield.  (And then some reporter asked Leyland after the game if he thought Ordonez was coming around because he got a couple of singles later in the game.  I'll bet you whatever you want to bet that Leyland didn't give a hoot about those hits.  He wanted a hit when a hit would have meant something.  That's why he brought up Detroit's first-inning failure in the first place.) And you saw that pinch-hit at-bat Ordonez had Saturday night with the tying run on second in the sixth.  It was sad.  That's the only way to describe it.  I don't think Mags came within a foot and a half of hitting the ball. Leyland was steaming, I'm sure of it.  He didn't play Ordonez yesterday.  Now, Ordonez is back in the Detroit line-up tonight, but I'm pretty sure that he'd better start hitting and he'd better start hitting soon because I think he is running out of time.  Inge is slated to re-join the Tigers when they come home from the road trip.  That means Friday.  That means somebody who is a Tiger today won't be by weeks end.  Somebody has to go. I think Leyland was trying to tell us something last week.  I think he was trying to tell us that the somebody is going to be a big name guy.  Somebody like Magglio Ordonez.

Tonight's game notes:
Detroit Tigers Game Information.
Los Angeles Dodgers Notes.

10:10 (Eastern) for first pitch.  We'll be back with you then.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Seattle Mariners 1 (at) Detroit Tigers 4: Thursday, June 9, 2011

We are here at Comerica Park and will live-blog tonight's Seattle at Detroit game on our mlb blog right here:

Feel free to join us there.  We will paste and copy the night's effort in this space at the conclusion of the game.

It's a beautiful night for baseball here, by the way.

BP: We're about an hour from first pitch and we are excited about getting to see (6-3) Justin Verlander, in the parlance of the game, toe the slab tonight.  The Tigers, 7-3 losers last night in Texas, have nonetheless won 8 of their last 10 and have pulled to within a game and half of first-place Cleveland in the American League Central Division.  The Indians are idle tonight.  They open a series at Yankee Stadium tomorrow night.
Let's go back to when this current Detroit hot streak began.  It was a week ago Sunday--May 29--and the Tigers were playing the back end of  day/night twin bill against the Boston Red Sox here at Comerica Park.  Boston had won the opener a few hours earlier when David Ortiz broke a 3-3 tie (the Tigers had rallied from 3-0 down to even the score) by going yard in the 9th off Jose Valverde.  The Tigers were staring a four-game sweep by Boston right in the eye.  Also, when they took the field that night against Boston, Detroit trailed the Indians by 6 and a half games.  Verlander was the Tigers starter in that game against Boston, and he, simply put, turned in one of the most impressive pitching performances I have ever seen.  He was dominant. He was in command.  You could see it.  Verlander threw a career-high 132 pitches and the Tigers beat the Red Sox 3-0.  Since then, as we say, the Tigers have been on a nice little run.  The win over the Red Sox was the first of what turned out to be a four-game Detroit win streak.  After losing the first game of their just-completed road trip, the Tigers reeled off another four-game win streak before losing that game at Texas last night.  The Tigers didn't arrive back in Detroit until 3:15.  Seattle--which blew a lead in Chicago late before coming back to beat the White Sox in 10, 7-4.  The Mariners had to wait out a storm sitting in their plane on the tarmac at the Chicago airport.  They didn't arrive in Detroit until 3:45 this morning.
Here are tonight's Official Game Notes for you:
Detroit Tigers Game Information.
Seattle Mariners Game Information.
First pitch is set for 7:05 EDT.  A moment of silence for the late Jim Northrup precedes the start of tonight's game here at Comerica Park.  We will be here to keep you abreast of developments here all evening long.
7:23  We are into the second inning here.  Verlander got them out on 18 pitches in the top of the first--10 of them to Brendan Ryan who did something I'm pretty sure I've never seen before.  After beating out a grounder to shortstop Jhonny Peralta for an infield single, Ryan noticed that nobody was paying attention to him and he noticed that nobody was covering second so off he went and he made it without a throw.  More than one of us in the press box looked up to see him standing at second and asked, "How'd he get there?"  And, how exactly to you score that?  The base has to be accounted for.  What do you call it?  An infield double?  Official Scorer Chuck Klonk watched the replay and ruled it a single with the runner taking second on the throw.  As we say, it was a very unusual play.  And speaking of unusual, Miguel Cabrera came up with runners on first and second, meaning Seattle starter Diug Fister had to pitch to him, and, first ball hitting, Cabrera grounded into a 5, 5-3 double play as Luis Rodriguez fielded the hard grounder, stepped on third for a force out and fired across to complete the 7th double play Cabrera has grounded into this season--tops on the Tigers.  Verlander walked Mike Carp with one out in the second and then promptly picked him off first which is a really good way to respond to a base on balls.  b-3:  Detroit 0, Seattle 0.
8:01  The Tigers just did something silly.  Alex Avila led off the third with a triple--he gapped it to right-center for his second 3-bagger of the season and the 8th by the Tigers as a team--and Detroit let him die there as Ryan Raburn popped to first, Austin Jackson took a called third (I wasn't wild about the call, for the record) and Don Kelly hit a routine fly to right.  Geez.  b-4: Detroit 0, Seattle 0.
8:06 You know you've had a good trip when you go ox5 in the last game of it, and still wind up with a .444 average on 12x27.  That's what Brennan Boesch did on the 6-game trip to Chicago and Texas, and he's 1x1 tonight with a lead-off single here in the 3rd.  Cabreara bounced to the right side to move him to third with one out.
8:08 Victor Martinez's fly to center wasn't deep enough for Boesch to score, so, for the second inning in a row, the Tigers have a man at third with two out, and for the second straight inning the man at third is still there as the innings ends as Andy Dirks pops up to the catcher.  t-5: Detroit 0, Seattle 0.
8:23  The other night I was explaining how you score it when the catcher fails to catch a third strike and the batter-runner reaches first.  It's a strikeout and either a wild pitch or a passed ball.  We just had one here, and it cost the Tigers a run.  Greg Halman was on 3rd (he showed good hustle moving up from second on a 2nd-out fly ball to deep right) and he scored when Verlander threw a strike-three wild pitch to Jack Wilson, enabling Wilson to reach first safely as Halman raced home from third.  But, in the bottom of the inning Peralta singled and Avila tripled him home.  Don Kelly plated Avila with a two-out single to left to give the Tigers the lead, 2-1.  Avila is the third Detroit catcher known to have hit 2 triples in the same game, joining Brad Ausmus (1999) and Lance Parrish (1980). And now, Boesch has homered to right.  It's his 8th of the year and with a man aboard, it makes it a big inning, a four-run inning for the Tigers.  b-5 Detroit 2, Seattle 1.
8:42 We are wondering up here in the PB how much long Verlander will go tonight.  He is through 6.  He has thrown 103 pitches.  I think the number tonight is 115.  Others think he will still be out there in the 8th.  I'd love to get another inning out of him.  I know the bullpen's been great lately, but I don't like turning a game over to the pen with 9 outs to get if you don't have to.  We are in the bottom of the 6th.  Verlander has 8 strikeouts tonight, and he just struck out the side in the top of the inning, with a single mixed in.
8:53  Perfect.  Verlander gets the side out in order on 11 pitches in the 7th.  At 114 pitches, his night is done.  I'm almost sure of it.  With the Tigers up by 3, I look for Joaquin Benoit in the 8th and El Papa Grande  in the 9th. Verlander has fanned 9, matching his season high.  And here's something you will only find here (and don't tell anybody until after the game because I'm going to use it when I talk to Jim Leyland in the post-game presser): If Verlander wins tonight, no pitcher Leyland has had in his 20-year managing career will have won more games for him than Verlander.  Doug Drabek won 90 games for Leyland in Pittsburgh.  A Verlander win tonight would be his 20th with Verlander as manager.
9:00 I am wrong.  Verlander comes out to start the 8th inning for Detroit.  t-8: Detroit 4, Seattle 1.
9:08 Perfect, again.  Verlander needs only 11 pitches to retire the side in the 8th.  He gives up his 5th hit--all singles--but he also racks up his 10th strikeout, a season high.  b-8: Detroit 4, Seattle 1.
9:20 Jose Valverde on in 9th.  Two out, none on...walk.  We'll have to wait a moment.  Who am I kidding?  This is baseball.  Sometimes you have to wait a long time for the 27th out.  Sometimes it doesn't come in time.  But not tonight.  Valverde gets a bouncer to 3rd to end it.  Off to the locker room.  FINAL: Detroit 4, Seattle 1.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tigers 8 (at) Texas 1: Tuesday, June 7, 20011

Batting Practice:  We'll do it a little differently tonight.  I'll post a link to the Game Notes so you can study up before first pitch at 8:05 Eastern and then I'll be back with you around game time, maybe a little before.  It was a long night last night.  The Nationals at Giants went 13 and didn't end until 2:45 in the morning my time.  Good game, though.  The Giants trailed 4-0 after six and came back to win 5-4.
We'll tell some stories tonight about the time I went to The Ballpark in Arlington, taking Troy Aikman's parking place, and the Texas School Book Depository Building.  All while we stay on top of the Tigers game.  It should be a well-rounded evening.
So, here you go.  Don't forget: READ YOUR GAME NOTES! (You never know what you might learn.)
Here's the Detroit Tigers Game Information sheet.
And here's something from the Tigers Game Information sheet:
Brennan Boesch established career highs with five hits, two home runs and five RBI last night at Texas. It marked only the seventh time since at least 1919 a Tigers player has collected at least five hits, two home runs and five RBI in a single game. Carlos Pena was the last Tigers player to accomplish the feat when he finished with six hits, two home runs and five RBI on May 27, 2004 at Kansas City.
Boesch became only the fifth player in Tigers history to collect at least three runs scored, five hits, two home runs and five RBI during a single game last night at Texas. He joined Ty Cobb (1925), Hank Greenberg (1937), Charlie Gehringer (1937) and Carlos Pena (2004) in doing so. (Source: Elias Sports Bureau)
Tonight's Rangers Game Notes are here.
As an aside, we note that, right now, it is 96 degrees in Arlington, Texas and 92 here in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan.
8:53p No score in Arlington after 3.  Around the League, Cleveland has a 1-0 lead over the Twins as they bat in the bottom of the 7th.  Indians starter Carlos Carrasco was perfect through 4 innings tonight, he has allowed 3 hits now through 7.  Try to find the video of the Cabrera to Cabrera double play turned by Cleveland in the 7th--you won't see a better one all year. The White Sox just jumped into a 5-0 lead over King Felix and the Mariners in the bottom of the third in Chicago.  The Mariners come to Comerica Park for the first of four Thursday night.  Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game at Yankee Stadium tonight with a homer, and Yankees starter Freddie Garcia last only 1.2 innings and allowed 4 runs.  Boston leads the Yankees 4-1 in the 5th.  Mark Texiera--second in the majors with 18 home runs, left the game in the first, helped from the field after taking a Jon Lester pitch off his right kneecap.
9:06  The Tigers just got a break.  Austin Jackson struck out but umpire Ed Hickox ruled his third strike foul tip was not caught by Texas catcher Mike Napoli.  Hickox was wrong.  At least that's how it looked on the replay.  It should have been strike 3. So, Jackson's still up with the bases loaded and a full count and a run in.  Will he take advantage of the gift?  Yes!  He singles to right and two score.  Danny Worth is out at the plate which isn't good baserunning, but I'll give him points for aggressiveness. Casper Wells doubles in Jackson.  Top 4: Detroit 4, Texas 0.
9:24  Cleveland has defeated Minnesota 1-0 on an unearned run and 8.1 innings of 3-hit ball from Carrasco.  The Tigers thus need to win tonight to stay 1.5 games behind the AL Central-leading Indians, which strikes me as a really strange sentence to write, the AL Central-leading Indians, I mean.
9:54 Quite a win for the Pirates tonight over Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell and the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the 8th in Pittsburgh, the Pirates scored 5 runs before they made an out in the inning and they went on to win 8-5.  Lyle Overbay hit a bases-loade, bases-clearing double to cap the rally.  The Rangers are on the board in the 6th with a run in, two on, and one out.  Action in the Tigers pen.  Is Rick Porcello tiring?  B-6: Detroit 4, Texas 1.
10:11 Three singles give Detroit what is known in the business as an "add on" run in the 7th.  Jhonny Peralta (who mis-spells his first name; I don't know if he knows that) gets the RBI.  Texas goes for a pitching change.  T-7: Detroit 5, Texas 1.
10:13  I just saw the graphic: In going 2x3 tonight, Brennan Boesch is now 12x21 on the road trip. This wasn't on the graphic: That's a batting average of .571.
10:43  Miguel Cabrera has driven in his 45th run as the Tigers score again in the 8th.  He is 3rd in the American League in RBI's.  Boston's Adrian Gonzales leads with 50.  T-8: Detroit 7, Texas 1.
11:00 It's 11:00 and there are still 7 games going on in the majors.  8 are final.  I don't think I'm going to be able to stay up for the west coasters tonight, but we'll see.  I think maybe I'll file my material for the Michigan Talk Network and call it a day.  T-9: Detroit 7, Texas 1.
11:28 It's over.  It's been over for some time now, but, after 3 hours and 17 minutes, the last out has been recorded and it was a terrific running catch by Andy Dirks.  The Tigers had a season high 18 hits on Monday.  Tonight, Tuesday, the Tigers had a season-high 20 hits.  Detroit has won 4 in a row and 8/9 and remain 1.5 games behind Cleveland.  FINAL: Detroit 8, Texas 1.
12:48a Still here.  The Giants game is the only one still going--Washington leads 2-1 in the 9th--and I'm watching Pittsburgh's bottom of the 8th rally to beat Arizona from earlier this evening.  I have the Arizona broadcast on which is some guy and Marik Grace.  Why did I choose to watch the Arizona feed?  I love to hear broadcasters cry, and I know these two are going to have a long, hard, good one.   I can hardly wait. Then I will sleep.
12:56  Poor Tram.  He's managing tonight because Gibby is serving a one-game suspension for what the announcer called "the incident on Sunday."  I don't know what that means.  I suppose I should find out.  You ought to see the look on Trams face as this one slips away.  Lyle Overbay is up, and in a pitch or two he will hit a bases-loaded double, scoring 3 and breaking a 5-5 tie.  I hate to think how Tram will look then.  Oh, he's pissed.  He's coming out to change pitchers and Alan Trammell is NOT a happy guy.  Too bad for Tram.  He's one of the good ones.  He got the shaft here in Detroit when Leyland got his job, so I feel for him, but this is baseball and some nights you just get the hell kicked out of you no matter what you do.  Good night, all.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Note on the Stanley Cup Final

Early in this years playoffs, the buzz was about the success being enjoyed by road teams.  From we learn now that this is no longer the case.  Want to bet to win?  Bet on the home team...

Visiting teams won 26 of the 49 games played in the opening round, with San Jose going 3-0 at Los Angeles and Tampa Bay winning its last three games in Pittsburgh. The visitors also went 11-10 in the second round, with the Canucks winning all three of their games at Nashville and the Predators taking two of three in Vancouver.

But home teams have dominated since then, winning nine of the 12 games in the conference finals as well as the opener in the Stanley Cup Final. That has put home teams back over .500, with 43 wins in this year’s 83 playoff games. 

Last season’s winning percentage of .517 was the lowest since 2001, when home teams split the 86 games. The last time visiting teams won more than home teams was 1999, when the road teams won 44 of 86 games.

This year’s pattern is much the same as last season, when home teams were 35-39 after the conference semifinals but won 11 of 15 games in the last two rounds to end up 46-43. The two finalists, Chicago (8-3) and Philadelphia (9-2) both dominated at home --just as this year’s final two have done. Vancouver, despite the two losses to Nashville, is 8-3 at Rogers Arena; Boston is 7-3 at TD Garden but has gone 7-1 since dropping the first two games of the opening round to Montreal.

That is all...for now.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Detroit 4 (at) Chicago 6: June 3, 2011 The Live-Blog

0p:  I know we are getting to you a little late tonight but, well, that was exciting, wasn't it?  Young Mr. Oliver loaded 'em up in the bottom of the first and got out of it, nicked for a mere run and he shouldn't even have given them that.  And if you are wondering what he was thinking when he went to first and ignored the almost for-sure double play on that one-hopper back to the mound with the bases loaded, what he was thinking was is that he's 23 years old and he's making the 7th start of his major league career and, by God, he just got out of a bases-loaded none out situation surrendering only one run and it could have been so much worse.  So, let's give the kid some credit, okay?  A little more experience and he'll make the right play. Andy Oliver's first inning tonight is somewhat eerily similar to his first inning of work in his last start, which was his first of 2011 for the Tigers.  Against the Red Sox at home in the day part of the day/night doubleheader last Sunday, Oliver allowed Boston but a single run in an inning in which the Bostons stole four bases.  I can't remember the last time I saw a team steal four bags in an inning, but they did, and Oliver responded be getting the last two hitters and leaving runners stranded in scoring position and with Detroit, as they are tonight, down by only a run.  Oliver would surrender 2 solo homers later which cost him, but he was no decisioned when the Tigers rallied from 0-3 to tie, only to lose in the 9th when David Ortiz won the mano-a-mano showdown with Jose Valverde by hitting a game-winning homer. I asked Oliver--noting that it was something like his 23rd inning pitched in his big league career--if working out of that first inning mess was the most important thing he's done so far in The Show and he said it was.  Chicago is threatening again in the second with two on and two out, but again young Oliver escapes.  The Tigers, just as an aside, are asking a lot of  the youngsters, don't you think?  Oliver is, as mentioned, only 23.  The starter in Detroit's last game, Rick Porcello, isn't even that old.  He's 22.  T-3 Detroit 0, Chicago 1.
OUT OF TOWN:  Texas has the lead in Cleveland 2-1 in the 7th and bat with runners on the corners and 1 out.  The other game we are watching is quite entertaining.  Oakland 5, Boston 5 in the 4th at Fenway Park.   UPDATE!  3-RUN HOMER BY JOSH HAMILTON!!!  TEXAS 5, CLEVELAND 1, T-7. UPDATE, UPDATE: Nelson Cruz hits 2-run homer in 7th.  Texas 7, Cleveland 1, t-7.  (The Tigers can pick up some ground on 1st-place Cleveland here, but none of this will matter, of course, unless Oliver works out of another jam: runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out on the 3rd.)
9:08p  He did it again!  Oliver fans Brent Lillibridge on a full-count heater and gets big, old ugly Adam Dunn (he's cultivating the big, old ugly look--unshaven, looks like the evil Yankees slugger in the movie Major League, etc.) to bounce to first.  At second and third, Chi runners die  and Detroit is still only a run down.
9:17p  2 on, 2 out for Detroit in the 4th and it's time for a couple "Did You Knows?" Did you know the Tigers have won 9 in a row against the White Sox?  I did not know that until I read the game notes this morning.  And, did you know that tonight's Chicago pitcher, Mark Buerhrle, is 16-9 all-time versus Detroit and is 8-3, 2.93 against the Tigers at US Cellular Field?  He is, according to The Notes.  (There is an anomaly tonight in the Official Game Notes.  The Detroit notes say the Tigers 9-game win streak against the White Sox is the longest since the Tigs beat Chicago 10 straight back in 1920.  The Chicago notes say this is the longest win streak by Detroit against the White Sox, ever.  This hardly ever happens because, simply put, the The Game Notes are never wrong.  Ever.  Never, ever.  But, tonight, somebody is wrong!  I swoon.)  The Tigers can't cash in in the 4th, by the way.  And in the bottom half, Chicago again has 2 on--just as they have the entire game so far.  This time, Andy Oliver pays and pays the Maximum Price.  Carlos Quentin hits The Big Fly and its a 3-run homer with 2 out and the hill just got steep.  Oliver exits, one pitch away from still having his team in the game, but they aren't anymore.  B-4: DETROIT 0, CHICAGO 4.
9:32p Hey, it's Charlie Furbush!  #49 for Detroit and one of my faves.  He's pitched exactly 9 innings in his ML career to date and has not allowed a run.  And he's done this in spite of being humiliated each and every night.  See, somebody has to carry the snacks and junk out to the bullpen before every game, and what they use to do the toting of the snacks and junk is a bright pink vinyl backpack.  The kind which would be, I suspect, VERY popular with your average middle school girl.  It is Charlie Furbush who has to sling that thing on his back every night and carry it from dugout to bullpen, somewhere between the singing of the National Anthem and the throwing of the first pitch.  I asked, "Why you?" and his one-word answer was: "Rookie."  All in all, small price to pay to be living your dream, though.  Wouldn't you say?
9:47p:  For my money, the play of the week prior to tonight was the sac bunt laid down by Wells that put runners at 2nd and 3rd in the 8th inning of a 7-7 tie against Minnesota Tuesday night.  A perfect lay-down and it meant that Brenan Boesch's fly to right would be a sac fly and the game winner.  Wells told me after the game that it was the first sacrifice bunt of his life, ever.  Which stands to reason.  He's always been the best player on his team--Big Leaguers are always the best players on their team until they get to the Big Leagues--and who asks their best player to bunt?  Anyway, now, tonight, he hits the big home run to get the Tigers back in the game.  Here's something I looked up a little earlier today.  The Tigers hit 17 three-run homers last year.  This year, they had hit two heading into the game tonight, (Wells' is #3) putting them on pace to hit 6 for the year.  I don't know what it means, I just thought it interesting. Lillibridge homers off Furbush in the Chi 5th.  b-5 Detroit 3, Chicago 5.
9:58p  I forgot.  It's over in Cleveland: Rangers 11, Indians 2.  If the Tigers come back, they will be 3.5 back of the Tribe.  The last time the Tigers were that close to first place was May 15, as I am sure you are aware.  And a HUGE double play gets Furbush out of a fix in the 5th!  Chi had 'em loaded with one out and all they get is the single run on the Lillibridge homer.  The fellows have been dancing on the razor's edge tonight like you hardly ever see.  On to the 6th...
10:16p: We've got 4 west coast games getting underway, plus they are only in the 7th at Fenway, etc.  Kevin Youklis just got hit by a pitch.  75th time in his career--the most in Red Sox history.  You'd think over the years opposing pitchers would have found somebody (Ted Williams?) better to throw at than Kevin Youklis, wouldn't you?  The Angles--turning 50 this season--are wearing throwback caps with a stripe around the top which is supposed to look like a halo but which makes them all look like convicts.  They are hosting the Yankees, by the way.  Tampa is at Seattle and the Mariners are wearing the sea-green jerseys they only wear at home and only on Fridays.  They are very nice.  I can't remember who else is where, but we'll get caught up.  I watch a lot of baseball.  A lot.  That play where Buster Posey broke his leg?  Watched it happen.  12th inning of a night game in Frisco.  No big deal.  I had to stay up, anyway.  The game in Philly went 19 innings that night.  I watched a Dodgers game this season that didn't end until 4:15 AM.  You get, you know, invested.  I called the radio station in LA carrying the game during a rain delay to let them know I was still following the game but I got trumped.  Somebody called in from Germany, somebody called in from Israel, somebody called in from Japan.  So, big deal, Detroit guy.  On to the 7th in Chicago. It's hard to believe we still have a third of a ballgame to go, but we do...  T-7 DETROIT 3, CHICAGO 5.
10:40p:  Boesch just flied to center with the tying runs on to end the Detroit 7th.  Since his average stood at .350 on April 28, Boesch is hitting .183 (19 x104) and, yes, that includes his 2 for 4 in the game tonight.  The other reporters love him, but I don't think he's particularly what we call in the business "good copy".  He doesn't seem to like being interviewed and I don't think he gives us great stuff.  But, night after night, the press gaggle is there to surround him.  I think he'd be better off if he got a few nights off from those of us with the notebooks and the microphones.
10:52p:  Of all people, Ryan Raburn (.194) just got a hit and the Tigers have the bases loaded with one out in the 8th.  This is probably the old ballgame, right here.  Alex Avila (.275) is the hitter.  Great catch by Juan Pierre in left on a drive by Avila over his head.  The runner scores from 3rd on the sac fly and it's a one-run game again.  That one run is, of course, the run Oliver let them score in the first when he went to first on a bouncer back to the mound when it would have been equally as easy to get the force at home and prevent a run from scoring.  But, we discussed that earlier.  Pitching change: Chicago.  T-8  DETROIT 4, CHICAGO 5.
10:57 Ramon Santiago is up against new pitcher Sergio Santos and the first pitch is high and they call it a strike anyway and now Santiago is in a 1-2 hole.  Santos freezes him on a curve and that is that.  The Tigers are down to 3 offensive outs left in the game and they are still down a run.
11:02p  Pierre, who ruined the Tigers rally with that catch off Avila in the top off the inning, may have doomed Detroit in the bottom of the 8th.  He hits a solo HR off Gonzales and the Tigers will be down 2 runs, at least, when they come to bat in the 9th.  b-8: DETROIT 4, CHICAGO 6.
11:10p  They walked the leadoff guy and that's never a good thing when one is protecting a lead.  Jackson is on first base for Detroit.  Everybody talks about Jackson's strikeouts--he's among the league leaders--but would it surprise you to know that the only Tiger this season to walk more often than Jackson is Miguel Cabrera?  It's true.  Jackson makes it to second but now there are 2 out.  But, with first base open, they are pitching to Cabrera!  The strategy works.  Mighty Casey, er, Cabrera, has struck out.  The game is over:  FINAL DETROIT 4, CHICAGO 6.  The Tigers 4 game win streak is over (as is their 9 game win streak over the White Sox) and Detroit (29-27) remains 4.5 games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland. But, hey, Justin Verlander is pitching tomorrow.  Game time is 7:10 EDT and we'll be with you then.  As Vin Scully always says, "Good night, everybody!"

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tigers vs. Twins: June 1, 2011

We are live-blogging tonight's Tigers-Twins game tonight on our mlbblog page here and will post the post in its entirety later tonight here....