Archive for June, 2006

Friday: 06.30.2006

An All-Star Preview This Weekend.

No, the Tigers aren’t going to see too many All-Stars this weekend, but they are going to PNC park in Pittsburgh, where the Midsummer Classic will be held, for a three-game tilt against the Pirates. The pitching matchups breakdown as follows:

Friday Jun 30 — 6:05 pm Central — K.Rogers vs. K.Wells
Saturday Jul 1 — 6:05 pm Central — J. Bonderman vs. T. Gorzelanny
Sunday Jul 2 — 12:35 pm Central — Z. Miner vs. I. Snell

Gorzelanny is replacing the brutal Oliver Perez, who was finally removed from the rotation. The Tigers could feasibly put up their third straight sweep with these matchups this weekend. Gorzelanny could benefit from being so new, but he has the unfortunate luck of going against Bonderman. Tonight, Wells is making his third start of the season after two brutal ones leading to an 11.88 ERA and 2.52 WHIP.

Offensively, the Pirates have some pop including one of the league’s best outfielders in Jason Bay. Bay is hitting .285/.401/.549 and leading NL outfielders in the All-Star voting at last check. Some may believe he is leading just because the game is in his home park, but he definitely deserves it. Bay, Carlos Beltran, and Alfonso Soriano should be the National League’s starting outfield.

Bay’s cast contains some fine pieces Sean Casey, Jose Castillo & Freddy Sanchez. The Wilsons, Craig and Jack, are also capable hitters. After that, the Pirates don’t offer too much of a challenge from any other avenues. Their best pitcher is closer Mike Gonzalez, but he doesn’t get too many chances to close out a game. He puts on a few too many (1.55 WHIP), but he has yet to a blow save this season.

Wrapping up a shortened preview since I have to go to work, I predict a series win, but play it a little conservative by saying it’ll be 2-of-3 instead of the full blown sweep. St. Louis and Houston are both markedly better than Pittsburgh and both of them were swept, but I just think that 2-of-3 is more how this series is shaping up. I’d love to see the team sweep and prove me wrong, though! A win tonight would give the Tigers a 20-7 June record.

Pittsburgh Pirates
W: 27
L: 53
RS/G: 4.5
RA/G: 5.3
ERA: 4.90
WHIP: 1.58
K/9: 6.5
BB/9: 3.9
HR/9: 0.98
AVG: .262
OBP: .327
SLG: .419
SB: 28-for-39

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Wednesday: 06.28.2006

Another Win.

Just chiming in before work… incredibly pleased with last night’s victory. I’ll write a more substantial post as well as a preview for the Pirates later. Let’s get the sweep this afternoon against the struggling Andy Pettitte!!!!

Tuesday: 06.27.2006

Radio Show Plug: Take 2

At 7pm CST (8PM EST) tune in to 91.7 FM in Austin or www.kvrx.org to check out my radio show entitled Only Pauls Show, where my friend Paul and I wax poetic on a host of baseball subjects. If you listen, you increase your chances of dating her:

Monday: 06.26.2006

Jessica Alba Loves the Tigers

This is actually pretty old, but the team has been playing at almost a Jessica Alba-like status of excellence and thus I figured I’d post a picture from two years ago when the beautiful actress was in Detroit for a Tigers-Yankees tilt:

The Yankees dumped the Tigers by a 5-1 margin that midsummer evening, but I have a feeling that many fans still went home happy.

Tonight, the offense kept rolling with 14 hits and 10 runs including a five run third inning that ended up being enough in the 10-4 win. Clemens is running into a buzzsaw for his second start of the season coming up against a team with 55 hits and 44 runs in their last six games.

Monday: 06.26.2006

Houston At A Glance

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As luck would have it, I didn’t get swamped by too much traffic and I have time to take a quick look at Detroit’s next opponent, the Houston Astros. One quick sidenote about my first day of work, there was a girl in my training class named Jamie Walker. I immediately thought of our lefty specialist out of the pen. I resisted the inclination to reference him right away, but after finding out she was a softball player, I mentioned it. I thought I’d look like a total goofball (nothing new), but the conversation went smoothly:

Ms. Walker – For five years my birth certificate had me listed as a male.
Me – There is a professional baseball player with your name.
Ms. Walker – I know, he plays for the Tigers, right?
Me – Yes.
Ms. Walker – They’re doing pretty well this year…
Me – :thinsktoself: Holy crap, that’s awesome!

Meanwhile, I probably mumbled something stupid like “Gee whiz, they sure are!”

On to the Astros, tonight they throw Wandy Rodriguez against Zach Miner. They are getting to Miner early as they are up 1-0 in the top of the 1st with the bases loaded. Update: Preston Wilson pulls a “himself” and gives Miner a GIDP to get out with just the one run.

Tuesday features the “Rocket” Roger Clemens, who wasn’t too bad in his first start last week. In the series finale, the Tigers face Andy Pettitte, who has been pretty awful all year long. The Tigers will be the favorite in at least two of three games, if not all three, and should deliver a sixth straight series win.

Astros at a glance:

Category Rank
Runs 14th
HR 13th
AVG t16th
OBP t12th
SLG t21st
ERA 16th
OAVG 13th
WHIP t7th
K/BB 6th
K/9 13th

I might drop back in after bowling league tonight.

Sunday: 06.25.2006

Welcome to Sweepsville.

Population: The St. Louis Cardinals.

I start my new job tomorrow, so I won’t have time to do the Houston preview before the conclusion of the first game, but I will still put it up tomorrow evening. The Tigers have done a fine job at beating the teams “they’re supposed to” and Houston is definitely one of those teams. As with Milwaukee and St. Louis, Houston will bring their best arm forward when Roger Clemens pitches on Tuesday night.

Friday: 06.23.2006

Albert and the Cards Come to Town

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The Cardinals and Tigers can commiserate this weekend. Both have been swept by the Chicago White Sox this season. St. Louis comes to Detroit fresh off of that sweep and outside of last night’s pitching battle, it wasn’t even close. Mark Mulder and Jason Marquis were absolutely obliterated, before Anthony Reyes figured the Sox out and held them to one hit, unfortunately it was a (who else?) Jim Thome home run that ended up being the difference in the 1-0 game. Mulder, who would’ve gone on Sunday against Detroit, finally hit the disabled list with a shoulder strain. As highlighted in the trade redux a few days ago, he simply hasn’t been anywhere near the pitcher he was in Oakland. At 42-29, the Cardinals hold the National League’s 2nd best record behind New York as well as a four game edge over Cincinnati in the Central division.

Rotation
As with Milwaukee, the Tigers will face the best that St. Louis has to offer. Chris Carpenter takes the hill tonight against Justin Verlander in a potential pitcher’s duel tonight. Verlander stood toe-to-toe with Johan Santana earlier in the season and he will have his work cut out for him again facing arguably the National League’s best pitcher. Carpenter, the reigning Cy Young winner, has picked up right where he left off in 2005. At just 6-3, Carpenter is one of those guys that shows you why you can’t look at record to determine a pitcher’s worth. In 84 innings, he has a 2.46 earned run average, 1.24 WHIP and 3.0 K:BB. He has experienced a career rebirth since joining St. Louis with a 3.00 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 3.9 K:BB in 507.7 innings. Carpenter offers a mid-nineties fastball, a curveball, a changeup and a cutter. After Carpenter, the Cardinals offer very little in their rotation. Mulder’s move to the disabled list will force them to spot-start Sidney Ponson on Sunday while Jeff Suppan will pitch the middle game of the series. The two have combined for 134.3 horrible innings with a 5.16 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. On the road, they are even more susceptible to failure with a 7.73 ERA in 54.7 innings allowing 13 home runs and yielding 23 walks against just 29 strikeouts.

Bullpen
One silver lining to the abysmal rotation has been a the bullpen. In terms of earned run average, their bullpen rates 5th-best in the majors (3.67), two slots ahead of Detroit (3.76). Their .233 batting average allowed is best in the National League and second only to Detroit’s .221 in all of baseball. Jason Isringhausen is the closer, but it’s the lead up to him that has helped the Cards most. Adam Wainwright (2.34 ERA), Braden Looper (3.07) and Randy Flores (3.22) don’t allow free passes with just 21 walks in 86.3 innings. Izzy has 24 saves in 28 opportunities with a troubling 24 walks in 29.3 innings of work.

Lineup
The Cards lineup returned baseball’s best hitter last night when Albert Pujols came back from a strained oblique. Despite missing two weeks, he is still tied for the home run lead with Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard and sits just one RBI behind him. Being that he is fresh off of the disabled list, it will be interesting to see how much Leyland pitches to him this weekend. His supporting cast includes the 6th and 7th ranked batting average leaders in Scott Rolen (.335) and David Eckstein (.317). Rolen also ranks 8th in the National League with a .408 on-base percentage. Former Detroit Tigers outfielder, Juan Encarnacion, has been on fire in June with a .405/.429/.635 batting line including 11 extra-base hits and 15 runs batted in. Jim Edmonds has played just 57 of the 71 games, but remains a threat when in the lineup. Their role players bring some pretty good production to the table as well. The entire lineup ranks 6th in batting average, tied for 7th in on-base percentage (Texas) and 12th in slugging percentage.

Wrap-Up
This is another elite test for the Tigers, but they should be able to take a series win against these Cardinals at home. This lineup can and will take advantage of mistakes, but Carpenter is the only plus starter we’ll face this weekend. It would have been great if Pujols had come back for the Cleveland series, but his return doesn’t change my thoughts on whether or not we can take the series from these guys. In terms of the National League, they are probably the second best team, behind the Mets, but they are in the latter half of the top 10 in the entire league. I ranked them 8th in the Sportsblurb.com Power Poll on Wednesday. I will step out and predict a win versus Carpenter that will lead to a series victory.

Thursday: 06.22.2006

Two Tigers Named to Futures Roster

The Futures Game, comprised in a US v. World format, is one of the best extras during All-Star Weekend. It’s the league’s showcase of up-and-coming talent on the Sunday afternoon before the midsummer classic. This year, the Tigers landed two invites, one for each team. Cameron Maybin, arguably the team’s brightest prospect, will represent the United States, while Humberto Sanchez will play for the World. Maybin missed some time for the West Michigan Whitecaps, but is back and continues to knock the cover off of the ball. In 130 at-bats, he has a .315/.412/.500 with 16 extra-base hits, 90% steal rate (9-for-10) and a 2.0 K:BB. Sanchez, recently promoted, dominted AA with the Erie Seawolves. In 11 starts, Sanchez (5-3) went 71.7 innings with a 1.76 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 3.2 K:BB. He has actually improved with the call-up to Toledo, tearing up the opposition in three starts. He is 3-0 with a 0.47 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 3.4 K:BB in 19 innings of work.

Here are the full rosters for both sides:
UNITED STATES:
P — (RH) Nick Adenhart – Cedar Rapids (LAA)
P — (RH) Homer Bailey – Chattanooga (Cin)
P — (LH) Gio Gonzalez – Reading (Phi)
P — (LH) Tom Gorzelanny – Indianapolis (Pit)
P — (RH) Nick Pereira – Fresno (SF)
P — (RH) Jason Hirsh – Round Rock (Hou)
P — (RH) Phil Hughes – Trenton (NYY)
P — (RH) Eric Hurley – Bakersfield (Tex)
P — (RH) Matt Lindstrom – Binghamton (NYM)
P — (RH) Adam Miller – Akron (Cle)
C — Kurt Suzuki – Midland (Oak)
C — Neil Walker – Lynchburg (Pit)
INF — Ryan Braun – Brevard County (Mil)
INF — Stephen Drew – Tucson (Ari)
INF — Josh Fields – Charlotte (CWS)
INF — Alex Gordon – Wichita (KC)
INF — Howie Kendrick – Salt Lake (LAA)
INF — Joe Koshansky – Tulsa (Col)
INF — Eric Patterson – West Tenn (Chi)
INF — Troy Tulowitzki – Tulsa (Col)
OF — Travis Buck – Midland (Oak)
OF — Billy Butler – Wichita (KC)
OF — Cameron Maybin – West Michigan (Det)
OF — Hunter Pence – Corpus Christi (Hou)
OF — Nolan Reimold – Frederick (Bal)
Manager — Gary Carter
Coach — Tim Bogar – Akron (Cle)
Coach — Stan Cliburn – Rochester (Min)
Coach — Stu Cole – Tulsa (Col)
Coach — Jackie Moore – Round Rock (Hou)
Coach — Jayhawk Owens – Chattanooga (Cin)
Pitching Coach — Stan Kyles – Nashville (Mil)

WORLD:
P — (RH) Yovani Gallardo – Brevard County (Mil)
P — (LH) Jaime Garcia – Quad Cities (STL)
P — (RH) Jose Garcia – Carolina (Fla)
P — (RH) Radhames Liz – Frederick (Bal)
P — (RH) Edgar Martinez – Portland (Bos)
P — (RH) Carlos Carrasco – Lakewood (Phi)
P — (LH) Davis Romero – Syracuse (Tor)
P — (RH) Jae Kuk Ryu – Iowa (Chi)
P — (RH) Juan Salas – Durham (TB)
P — (RH) Humberto Sanchez – Toledo (Det)
C — George Kottaras – Mobile (SD)
C — Salomon Manriquez – Harrisburg (Was)
INF — Joaquin Arias – Oklahoma (Tex)
INF — Yung Chi Chen – Inland Empire (Sea)
INF — Luis Cruz – Mobile (SD)
INF — Yunel Escobar – Mississippi (Atl)
INF — Joel Guzman – Las Vegas (LAD)
INF — Ching Lung Hu – Jacksonville (LAD)
INF — Pablo Sandoval – Augusta (SF)
INF — Joey Votto – Chattanooga (Cin)
OF — Wladimir Balentien – San Antonio (Sea)
OF — Anderson Gomes – Kannapolis (CWS)
OF — Carlos Gonzalez – Lancaster (Ari)
OF — Trent Oeltjen – New Britain (Min)
OF — Jose Tabata – Charleston (NYY)
Manager — Ferguson Jenkins
Coach — Dave Clark – Corpus Christi (Hou)
Coach — Todd Claus – Portland (Bos)
Coach — Chip Hale – Tucson (Ari)
Coach — Razor Shines – Charlotte (CWS)
Coach — John Shoemaker – Jacksonville (LAD)
Pitching Coach — Juan Nieves – Charlotte (CWS)

Here is a list past and present Tigers that have appeared in the game:
Nate Cornejo — P (2001)
Franklyn German — P (2002)
Alexis Gomez — OF (2003)*
Omar Infante — IF (2002)
Brandon Inge — C (2000)
Wil Ledezma — P (2004)
Justin Verlander — P (2005)
Joel Zumaya — P (2005)

* – with Kansas City

I’ll be back with a St. Louis preview later today.

Wednesday: 06.21.2006

The MLB.tv Problem

Two excellent columns, the most recent written yesterday, by Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan regarding the joke of MLB blackout rules. For me, living in Texas and being a Tigers fan, I’m ok as I don’t miss too many games, but I simply couldn’t imagine living in Las Vegas where six teams are routinely blacked out.

First Article
Second Article

Ridiculous Blackout Map (too large to embed here).

Instead of penning meaningless open letters to the fans, how about you actually do something about a problem that greatly affects the fans, Mr. Selig???

Wednesday: 06.21.2006

Two Down; One To Go.

After a pitcher’s duel between Jeremy Bonderman and Doug Davis ending in a 3-1 Detroit win on Monday night, the Tigers took the lumber to Rick Helling & Carlos Villenueva on Tuesday with a 10-1 victory in Milwaukee. The two Brewers pitchers allowed four home runs including Magglio Ordonez‘s 14th and 15th on the season. His four runs batted in boosted his total to 52. Despite the gaudy margin of victory, the most impressive feat of the night came on the hill for Detroit. Rookie Zach Miner not only tossed a complete game, but did so with just 84 pitches. He put on just seven base runners while striking out five and inducing 11 groundballs against nine flyballs. Miner, 3-1, dropped his season ERA to 2.01. Not only is absolutely wonderful to see that kind of success from the youngster, but also it gives the bullpen a full day of rest and keeps them fresh for Wednesday’s afternoon tilt where runs may be in short order against Chris Capuano. Nate Robertson will take the hill for the 1:05 Central start time.

If you didn’t get to hear the debut of my radio show tonight, don’t worry as my co-host and I will be back on the air again next week. We hope to archive each show online in the very near future and when we do, you can guarantee they’ll be available here. Also, future airings will feature some big-name guests, so stay tuned for that.