Blogs > Out of Left Field

A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Audio from Victor Martinez's visit to Tigers clubhouse

Victor Martinez, who had offseason surgery on his left knee, made his first visit to the Tigers clubhouse on Monday, and brought smiles to the faces of his teammates immediately. Before the scene turned into a miniature party, Martinez took a minute or four to talk to the media.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Below joins the rotation — for now

Duane Below can only worry about the here and now.

On April 1, he was informed he’d lost the battle for the fifth starter role, and was sent to Toledo — for now, at least.

Thirty-six hours later, he was told, because of the hamstring injury to Luis Marte, he’d be returning to the Tigers, and joining the bullpen — for now, at least.

Once in the big-league pen, in the lefty long relief role that manager Jim Leyland had coveted, Below pitched the way he’d wanted to in spring training — not allowing an earned run in 12 innings of relief work over five appearances — but was told he’d be staying in the bullpen.

You guessed it, for now, at least.

“He’s done really well. He’s been just what the doctor ordered, so far,” Leyland admitted early last week, only getting terse when the follow-up question was about the possibility of putting Below in the rotation.

“It won’t be here, right now. Just because he’s done good in the bullpen everyone wants to know if I’m going to start him, and the answer is no. Emphatically, no. Right now.

“Doesn’t mean he can’t be a starting pitcher in the big leagues, and here at some point, but the answer to that right now is ‘No.’ ”

Even Below was OK with that.

“Right now, I’m not thinking about that (starting). I’m comfortable in the bullpen, learning things — especially when I’m able to talk to guys that have from starter to reliever to back to starter. It’s just a matter of getting a feel for everything, learning the position, learning my role,” Below said early last week.

“That’s the biggest thing for me right now, is just staying ready on a day-to-day basis, knowing, ‘Oh, I could pitch today.’ ‘Oh, not today? Maybe tomorrow.’ Just make sure that I’m ready, so that when I do come in, I throw strikes.”

And now, that’s all changed.

After fellow rookie Adam Wilk spluttered out in his third start of the season in place of the injured Doug Fister (left side strain), the Tigers announced Friday they planned on inserting Below into the rotation until Fister returned, acknowledging that Below was the best option.

And, yes, that’s for now.

The Tigers announced Sunday that Fister would be making would be making a rehabilitation start at Triple-A Toledo, finally ready to take the next step toward coming back to the rotation after a pair of successful bullpen sessions in the last four days.

Barring another setback, Fister — who has thrown just 14 total innings of game action since March 23rd, including 3 2/3 innings on April 7, his only start of the regular season — could be back in the rotation as early as May 7 or 8. Depending on how the Tigers stack their rotation around an off day on May 3, that might mean that Below only gets one start (his third in the big leagues) before Fister comes back.

So he’s in the rotation for now.

Report: Inge to sign with Oakland

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported Sunday afternoon that Brandon Inge, once he cleared waivers at 2 p.m., was likely to join the Oakland Athletics. He confirmed the signing through a source later in the afternoon:
Inge, who was unconditionally released by the Tigers after Thursday's game, was not claimed on waivers — meaning no team wanted to pay the remainder of his $5.5 million salary (not including the $500,000 buyout for the Tigers) — and will be paid the pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum salary of $480,000.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Justin Verlander meets one of his biggest fans at MLB Fan Cave

Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander made a trip to the MLB Fan Cave while in New York City. Here's a clip of him meeting one of his biggest fans, Shayna Hersh, a youngster born with cystic fibrosis:

Tigers place Delmon Young on the restricted list

Delmon Young, who was arrested for and arraigned on a hate crime harassment charge in New York on Friday, was "placed on the restricted list pending an evaluation at the beginning of the week per a provision in the Major League Baseball Basic Agreement" the Tigers announced Saturday morning.

Reserve infielder Danny Worth was recalled from Toledo to fill the roster spot.

Young was arrested in the wee hours of Friday morning after an altercation outside the Tigers' Midtown hotel (click here for the story). If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail the hate crime charge, which stems from his alleged shouting of anti-Semitic epithets during the fight.

Per The Associated Press, he posted a $5,000 bond at his afternoon arraignment hearing, and was released before the Tigers' night game at Yankee Stadium, but did not play. Young issued an apology to fans and the organization through his attorney before his arraignment.

The restricted list does not have any minimum or maximum time limit for a player's stay.

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski had intended to speak with reporters about the incident either before or after Friday's game, but held off, according to a Tigers spokesman, because he was still working out several issues. The Tigers' only statement to date, issued early Friday, made clear the club's inability to comment on certain portions of the incident, due to legalities, as well as the incident falling under the purview of the MLB Employee Assistance Program, due to its alcohol-related nature.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Delmon Young statement

Delmon Young issued a statement Friday afternoon, shortly before he was to be arraigned in New York. [Click here for the full story.]

"I sincerely regret what happened last night. I apologize to everyone
I affected, the Ilitch family, the Detroit Tigers’ organization, my
teammates, my family, and the great Tigers’ fans that have supported
me since day one. I take this matter very seriously and assure
everyone that I will do everything I can to improve myself as a person
and player.”

From Delmon's attorney, Dan Ollen:
“I represent Delmon Young with respect to the incident that occurred
last night. With this matter now in the legal system, Delmon is
unable to make any further statements or discuss this matter in
further detail. All future press or investigative inquiries should be
directed to me. Let me be clear, there are many false allegations
regarding the actions of my client and I am confident that the legal
process will separate fact from fiction and discredit these reports.”

Tigers issue statement on Delmon Young incident

Tigers outfielder Delmon Young was reportedly arrested in the wee hours of Friday morning after an altercation outside a New York hotel. [Click here to read more.]

The Tigers organization issued the following statement shortly after noon:

"We are aware of the situation, however it is our club policy not to comment on pending legal matters. As we understand it, this is an allegation and we need to allow the legal process to take its course. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time. Per a provision in the Major League Baseball Basic Agreement, any allegation that involves alcohol is referred to MLB's Employee Assistance Program."

Brandon Inge overflow quotes

Thursday was one of those days where you can never work all the quotes into the stories [click here to read the story], no matter how good they are. Here's a simple summation of what folks said about the release of Brandon Inge:

[To see the fans' reactions, click here.]

Inge on how Thursday started like any other getaway day: "I packed for New York. But I’m not going to New York."

Inge's general thoughts on what happened: "Umm, you know what? It’s one of those things that you can kind of see how things are going before they come. But it’s no hard feelings whatsoever. This is my family, this is where I’ve been my whole career and I’ll miss the guys. I will. But it’s my chance to maybe go play somewhere else. It may be a good thing, a good start for me personally. My heart will always been in Detroit, 100 percent. Forever. I appreciate everything that’s happened here, every opportunity I’ve been given the stuff we’ve accomplished. But, you know, it’s a business when you come down to the end of it. Like I said, I hope the team does well. I hope they go on and win it all."

Inge on whether or not he put too much pressure on himself to turn it around after a poor year last year: "Last year, not this year. I kind of understood my role. I competed in spring training for the spot, didn’t have the averages I really wanted to. I felt good at the plate, but things kind of fell where they may. Skip gave me the info, which was that I was going to be a part-time guy, and I accepted it. As long as I have the information, man-to-man, I accept responsibility for anything, and if that’s the role he wanted me to do, that’s the role I took on. I’m not saying I was very good at it. It’s not easy for me. Like I said, I’d rather be in there every day. There was nothing I could really do. Play as hard as I can. But not much you can do about that."

Inge on how hard it was in the last week to hear the boos at home: "Ah, it’s all right. I’m not worried about that. ... Detroit — this is an emotional city. This is a city that will back you, and you know they want their team to win, want their teams to do well, and when they’re not, they’ll let you know. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That just shows that they’re fans, one way or the other. Doesn’t matter. A fan that dislikes someone or likes someone — they’re still a fan. I respect them all, I really do.And there’s nothing that anyone could ever do that changed my opinion of Detroit, this organization. It’s been a class act, through and through. I’ve actually been very, very proud to be a part of it."

Inge on whether it's been hard walking around with the fans' disapproval: "Nothing that Detroit fans could ever do that would bother me. I know better. I’ve been here long enough to know how it is, and how it isn’t in this whole state. I never get the horror stories that everyone talks about."

Inge on how he thought the experiment at second base went: "I think it went fine. I had just about every test that could be, and I enjoyed it, I really did enjoy it. It’s something that I do understand — that second is a lot more difficult than people know. And it’s something that I was starting to feel comfortable there, so it was a matter of getting in there every single day. Like I said, it’s not easy getting in the game, then sitting for two or three, then getting another game, then sitting for two or three. That’s been more of a hard adjustment for me than second base."

Inge on whether or not he'd prepared for this day after getting DFA'ed last year: "That's just the business side of it. If you've been around this game long enough, you understand. You understand how it works. You don't let it affect you in any way on the field. You prepare yourself. I'm always a guy, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Looks like somebody took out the bridge. I'm gonna find another way around."

Alex Avila's feelings on Thursday: "I'm sure the way we're playing had something to do with it. It's just part of the business of the game, which sucks at times. I've known Brandon for almost 10 years now. It's tough. I really don't' know what else to say about it. It's part of the game that's really hard. It happens to everybody at some point. It's tough to handle, at least for me since I've been here I haven't really had to handle losing a teammate like this. I just won't get to hang out with him as much as I normally do."

Avila on what Inge has meant to the organization, and himself: "I've known Brandon for, like I said, 10 years now. Ever since I came here, since I was just a fan, he's always been like the heart and soul of the Detroit Tigers, always doing so much for the community, kind of like a fixture. When the team was bad to kind of making the turnaround, to being competitive year in, year out. He's always been in the thick of things. Definitely a big part of this community and this organization.
"I'm going to miss seeing his ugly face every day, I really am."
Interjected response from Inge: "That is not even close. You're way uglier than I am."

Avila on what Inge had done for him over the years: "When I was a sophomore in high school and he was just getting started, kind of from the get-go he always treated me like a little brother. I remember when I got drafted and I was catching, he went back to catching, I remember coming in the clubhouse right before I had to leave to West Michigan after I got drafted, he was like, 'Hurry up and get up here so I don't have to catch anymore.' Just stuff like that. Great guy."

Avila on the reaction of the Tigers clubhouse to the news: "I think we all are a little bit (shock). Like I said, he's been here for a long time, he was kind of like that fixture in the clubhouse when the team was making the transition from being really bad for a long time to being competitive every year, kind of in the thick of things, always doing what was asked of him, doing the best he could and working his butt off. Just a good guy that you want on your team."

Ramon Santiago on how the news was received: "It was hard. A great guy, you know? I’m sorry it happened to him."

GM Dave Dombrowski: “Brandon Inge has done a tremendous job for this organization for a long time. I personally want to thank him for everything he’s done for us. He’s been a true soldier throughout the years. He’s been a Tiger. He will always be a Tiger.”

Dombrowski on how much fan reaction/sentiment played in to the decision to release Inge: "None whatsoever."

Dombrowski on the boos for Inge at the end: “I understand at times there's been some ups and downs ... how this guy’s worked, how he’s represented us off the field, you couldn’t find a finer individual. We will be forever thankful for what he has done for us.”

Manager Jim Leyland on Inge and the situation at second base: "He's been a true soldier for a long time, even long before I was here. He's been with me here six-plus years now and like I say, a true solider. I think the big issue really, and Dave touched on it. We've just got a logjam there (2B) and if we're gonna find out if somebody can play or not, you've just got to put somebody in there and let them play a while and see what happens. We're struggling offensively. Santi one day, Raburn one day, Ingey one day, that's probably just not really the best way to go about it. So I think the decision was made, we talked long and hard about it. This is what we came up with. Like I said, he's been a true soldier with a lot of great memories here. It's not my happiest day obviously. But that's the way it is. You have to make tough decisions and I think at the end of the day, it's one we felt we had to make."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fans react to the news of Brandon Inge's release by Tigers

Here's a look at what some of the fans around Detroit and Michigan were saying after Thursday's news that Brandon Inge, the longest-tenured Tiger, had been released by the organization after a slow start to his 12th season.

Dombrowski on the release of Inge

Here's the audio of Tigers GM and president Dave Dombrowski, talking about the release of the team's longest-tenured player, Brandon Inge:

Alex Avila reacts to release of Brandon Inge

Here's an audio clip from Tigers catcher, as he reacts to the decision to release the team's longest-tenured player, Brandon Inge:

Call-up to the 'pen: Tigers send Weber down, call up Putkonen

Who’s next?

The Tigers have not made three roster moves in a five-day span, looking for help for a bullpen that’s been overworked by a less-than-effective rotation. 

The latest was Thursday morning, when the club optioned Thad Weber back to Triple-A Toledo, and purchased the contract of right-handed reliever Luke Putkonen.

“Well, first of all, Putkonen’s throwing the ball very well for us at Triple-A, but in addition ... we’re also in a spot where today, Weber’s not going to be able to pitch today, Putkonen could pitch for us,” Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski said. “The combination of he and (Brayan) Villarreal gives us a couple more power arms out in the ‘pen.”

A third-round draft pick in 2007, the 6-foot-6 Putkonen went 3-13 combined with a 6.44 ERA at Class-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie last year, but sported a 1-0 record and 1.38 ERA in six apperances for Triple-A Toledo this season.

The Tigers recalled Villarreal after Wednesday’s game, sending starter Adam Wilk back to Toledo. They’d had to wait the mandated 10 days to bring Villarreal back after he’d originally been sent down on April 14.

Weber had been up since Saturday, when he was called up between games of the doubleheader with Texas in which the Tigers had to use seven pitchers.

Thanks to that twinbill and an 11-inning game Sunday, as well as some tragically short outings by starters, the Tigers have had to use the bullpen for 31 innings in the the last week, or an average of more than five innings per game.

Not a formula for success.

“I’m concerned that we’re using the bullpen too much. ... You just had to be careful. You can’t be crazy and hurt people. You have to watch pitches, and stuff. ... It’s one of the things I always talk about: When you’re using the bullpen because you want to, and not because you have to that’s a good thing. When you’re using it because you have to, that’s not a good thing,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after Wednesday’s game.
“You don’t like it to happen at any time. But they’re beating up on us pretty good. Three of our last five starts have not been good. We’ve been in the bullpen. ... That’s not a good thing when you’re in the bullpen first, second inning, third inning, three out of five nights, that’s not healthy for your bullpen.”

The starter for Thursday’s matinee with the Mariners, Rick Porcello, was one of the culprits, going just more than an inning in the first game of Saturday’s double-header, giving up eight earned runs on 10 hits.

Tigers lineup vs. Mariners, Game 19: Porcello vs. Noesi

The Tigers, losers of five of their last six, sent this lineup out to Thursday's matinee game vs. Mariners rookie Hector Noesi (1-2, 9.43 ERA):

DETROIT TIGERS (10-8, first-place tie in AL Central)
Andy Dirks, DH (L)
Brennan Boesch, RF (L)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B (R)
Prince Fielder, 1B (L)
Delmon  Young, LF (R)
Don Kelly, CF (L)
Jhonny Peralta, SS (R)
Ryan Raburn, 2B (R)
Gerald Laird, C (R)

Noesi was the other player who headed to Seattle in the January trade headlined by Michael Pineda and Jesus Montero.

SEATTLE MARINERS (9-10, third place AL West)
Chone Figgins, LF (S)
Dustin Ackley, 2B (L)
Ichiro Suzuki, RF (L)
Justin Smoak, 1B (S)
Jesus Montero, DH (R)
Alex Liddi, 3B (R)
Michael Saunders, CF (L)
Miguel Olivo, C (R)
Brendan Ryan, SS (R)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tigers lineup vs. Seattle, Game 18: Hernandez vs. Wilk

The Detroit Tigers, who have lost four out of five, dropping to a tie for second in the American League Central Division, sent this lineup out Wednesday night to face Seattle's Felix Hernandez:

Austin Jackson, CF (R)
(.258, 12 R, 10 BB, .355 OBP; vs. Felix — 3-for-10, 2B)
Brennan Boesch, RF (L)
(.211, 6 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI; vs. Felix — 1-for-7, 2B)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B (R)
(.308, 13 R, 13 RBI, 5 HR; vs. Felix — 9-for-18, 2-2B)
Prince Fielder, 1B (L)
(.328, 11 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI)
Delmon Young, DH (R)
(.267, 5 R, 5 RBI; vs. Felix — 3-for-15, 3B)
Alex Avila, C (L)
(.244, 7 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI; vs. Felix — 2-for-8)
Jhonny Peralta, SS (R)
(.246, 5 R, 5 RBI, 7-2B; vs. Felix — 7-for-26, 2B, HR)
Ramon Santiago, 2B (S)
(.154, 1 R, 4 RBI; vs. Felix — 1-for-15; 2B)
Don Kelly, LF (L)
(.214, 3 RBI, 2BB; vs. Felix — 0-for-3)

Hernandez has won his last six decisions vs. Detroit after losing his first two in his career. The 2010 Cy Young winner is 8-0 in his last nine vs. the Tigers with a 3.05 ERA. It's his longest streak vs. any team. Next longest is two straight vs. five different teams.

Adam Wilk (0-2, 4.00 ERA) makes his third career start for the Tigers.

Dustin Ackley, 2B
(.243, 3-2B, 6 RBI, 9 R)
Brendan Ryan, SS
(.190, 11 R, 4-2B, 9 BB)
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
(.297, 8 R, 3-2B, 9 RBI)
Justin Smoak, 1B
(.203, 6 R, 6 RBI, 2 HR)
Jesus Montero, C
(.254, 3 R, 2 HR, 9 RBI)
Alex Liddi, 3B
(.368, 1 R, 1-2B, 1 HR)
Miguel Olivo, DH
(.161, 2 R, 2-2B, 4 RBI)
Michael Saunders, CF
(.229, 6 R, 5 RBI, 5 BB)
Casper Wells, LF
(.286, 1 R, 2-2B, BB)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tigers lineup vs. Mariners, Game 17: Scherzer vs. Vargas

The Detroit Tigers posted this lineup for Tuesday's series opener against the Mariners (7-10) and lefty starter Jason Vargas:

DETROIT TIGERS (10-6, second in the AL Central)
Austin Jackson, CF (R)
Brennan Boesch, RF (L)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B (R)
Prince Fielder, 1B (L)
Delmon Young, DH (R)
Jhonny Peralta, SS (R)
Alex Avila, C (L)
Ryan Raburn, LF (R)
Brandon Inge, 2B (R)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Verlander doesn't make the call

If you were wondering why Justin Verlander — the scheduled starter for Saturday’s game before it got changed into a day/night doubleheader because of Friday’s rainout — pitched in the nightcap instead, the answer is simple. He didn’t care. 

“This is why Justin Verlander is who he is. This is why he’s grown up in so many ways. I gave him the option. And he said ‘Whatever you want, Skip.’ I asked my pitching coach, and he said ‘I like the night game,’ and I said ‘That’s good enough for me.’ So we pitched him in the night game,” Leyland said. 
 “We had a doubleheader, and to Justin’s credit, he probably could’ve pulled rank and said ‘Well, I’d rather have the day game.’ If he’d have said that, I’d have given him the day game. 
But to his credit, to show you what a teammate he is, he said, ‘Whatever you want, Skip.’ ” 

Then again, the truth is, the time didn’t really matter to Leyland either. 

“I’d feel good startin’ him at 4 o’clock in the morning,” the manager quipped.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tigers lineup vs. Rangers, Game 16: Smyly vs. Lewis

The Tigers sent out this lineup against Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis, featuring nine guys who have collectively hit .385 (32 for 92) against him, with seven homers. The game starts at 1:05 p.m., and will be broadcast on both FOX Sports Detroit and TBS, as well as on WXYT-FM (97.1).

DETROIT TIGERS (10-5, first place in the AL Central):
Austin Jackson, CF (R)
Brennan Boesch, RF (L)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B (R)
Prince Fielder, DH (L)
Delmon Young, LF (R)
Alex Avila, C (L)
Jhonny Peralta, SS (R)
Don Kelly, 1B (L)
Ramon Santiago, 2B (S)

TEXAS RANGERS (12-3, first place in the AL West):
Ian Kinsler, 2B (R)
Elvis Andrus SS (R)
Josh Hamilton, LF (L)
Michael Young, DH (R)
Nelson Cruz, RF (R)
Mike Napoli, 1B (R)
Alberto Gonzalez, 3B (R)
Craig Gentry, CF (R)

It's the final game of a four-game series, a rematch of last year's American League championship series.
The Rangers won the first game, 10-3, as Yu Darvish outpitched Tigers rookie Adam Wilk.
Friday's game was rained out, and made up as a day/night doubleheader on Saturday. The two teams split the twinbill, with the Rangers winning the opener, 10-4, and Justin Verlander pitching the Tigers to a 3-2 win in the nightcap.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tigers lineup for Texas doubleheader, Games 14 and 15

The Tigers sent this lineup out to face Texas LHP Matt Harrison (2-0, AL-best 0.64 ERA) in the first game of the doubleheader:

DETROIT TIGERS (9-4, first place AL Central):
Austin Jackson, CF (R)
(.300, 11 R, 6 EBH, 17K, .520 SLG, .397 OBP; vs. MH: 5-for-12, 2 RBI)
Brennan Boesch, DH (L)
(.222, 3 R, 6 RBI, 1 HR, 8K, 3 GIDP; vs. MH: 2-for-6, 2 BB)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B (R)
(.265, 10 R, 10 RBI, 3 HR, .351 OBP, .469 SLG; vs. MH: 7-for-16, 2-2B, 5 RBI)
Prince Fielder, 1B (L)
(.354, 9 R, 2-2B, 2 HR, .418 OBP, .521 SLG)
Delmon Young, LF (R)
(.273, 4 R, 2-2B, 1 HR, 2 BB, 3 HP, .340 OBP; vs. MH: 2-for-11, 1 HR, 3 RBI)
Ryan Raburn, RF (R)
(.081, 3 R, 1-2B, 4 BB; vs. MH: 9-for-15, 2-2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI)
Jhonny Peralta, SS (R)
(.289, 4 R, 6-2B, 5 RBI, 3 BB, .327 OBP, .422 SLG; vs. MH: 2-for-8, 1-2B)
Brandon Inge, 2B (R)
(.100, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 K; vs. MH: 4-for-9, 1-2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI)
Gerald Laird, C (R)
(.500, 3 R, 1-2B, 1 HR, .538 OBP, .833 SLG; vs. MH: 2-for-9, 2B)

Harrison is 1-4 career vs. Tigers, with a 6.89 ERA in 31.1 IP (five starts), having given up 47 hits, 19 walks, for a WHIP of 2.106. Saturday's lineup was a combined 33-for-88 (.375) with seven doubles, five home runs, led by Ryan Raburn's career .600 batting average and ridiculous 1.133 slugging percentage against the southpaw.

TEXAS RANGERS (11-2, best record in MLB)
Ian Kinsler, DH (R)
(vs. Porcello: 4-for-7, 1-2B, 3 RBI)
Elvis Andrus, SS (R)
(vs. Porcello: 1-for-7, 2 RBI)
Josh Hamilton, CF (L)
(vs. Porcello: 0-for-7, 1 RBI)
Adrian Beltre, 3B (R)
(vs. Porcello: 1-for-10)
Michael Young, 2B (R)
(vs. Porcello: 5-for-10, 2-2B, 6 RBI)
Nelson Cruz, RF (R)
(vs. Porcello: 1-for-10, 4 K)
David Murphy, LF (L)
(vs. Porcello: 7-for-9, 1-2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI)
Mike Napoli, C (R)
(vs. Porcello: 2-for-9, 1-3B, 3 K)
Mitch Moreland, 1B (L)
(vs. Porcello: 0-for-2, 1 K)

Porcello is 1-1 with a 6.30 ERA in two career starts against the Rangers, giving up seven earned runs in 10 innings pitched. Today's Rangers lineup is 21-for-71 (.296) against Porcello, but 12 of those 21 hits belong to Murphy and Young.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Verlander gets his Tiger of the Year award

Justin Verlander received his Tiger of the Year award from members of the Detroit Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. It was the second time in three years that Verlander was voted the recipient of the award, this time by a vote of 25-1. (The other vote went to Miguel Cabrera, who won the award in 2008 and 2010.)

Considering the fact that Verlander has had to make room in his trophy case for the Cy Young and MVP trophies, among a handful of other awards, this one may not get the prominent display it deserves. But it's still a nice looking trophy, as you can see above. 

Tigers complete Miner deal

The Tigers announced Friday morning that they'd acquired 30-year-old right-handed pitcher Zach Miner from the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations.

Miner started 35 games for the Tigers in his four-year span with the club — including 16 in 2006 — but has not pitched in the big leagues since 2009, after having Tommy John surgery in 2010.

"His versatility was, I think, his biggest asset," said manager Jim Leyland. "He could go short, he could go long, he could start."

He spent most of the 2011 season pitching for KC's Double-A affiliate, Northwest Arkansas, but went 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA 12 games at Triple-A Omaha of the Pacific Coast League.

Miner will be assigned to Double-A Erie in the Tigers organization.  He was on a one-year minor league contract with the Royals.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tigers lineup vs. Rangers, Game 13: Wilk vs. Darvish

The Tigers and Rangers meet in the regular season for a four-game set, playing out a rematch of last year's American League Championship series. The Tigers have won 16 of their last 20 regular-season games at Comerica against the Rangers, as well as two of three in the ALCS.
Detroit is off to its best 12-game start since the World Series championship year of 1984 (they were 11-1 that year), and entered the day in a three-way tie for the third-best record in baseball. Of course, they were sitting behind two red-hot teams — Texas (10-2) and the Washington Nationals (10-3)

While the Rangers send much-hyped import Yu Darvish to the mound, the Tigers counter with rookie Adam Wilk, who's making his second career start.

Austin Jackson, CF (R)
Brennan Boesch, RF (L)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B (R)
Prince Fielder, 1B (L)
Delmon Young, DH (R)
Alex Avila, C (L)
Don Kelly, LF (L)
Jhonny Peralta, SS (R)
Ramon Santiago, 2B (S)

Ian Kinsler, 2B (R)
Elvis Andrus, SS (R)
Josh Hamilton, LF (L)
Adrian Beltre, 3B (R)
Michael Young, DH (R)
Nelson Cruz, RF (R)
Mike Napoli, 1B (R)
Yorvit Torrealba, C (R)
Craig Gentry, CF (R)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tigers lineup vs. Royals, Game 12: Scherzer vs. Sanchez

This is the lineup that the Tigers will send out for Wednesday's series finale (Scherzer vs. Sanchez), scheduled for 8:10 p.m. EDT. The game will be carried on FOX Sports Detroit-Plus. (for what channel that is on your carrier, click HERE)

DETROIT TIGERS (8-3, first in AL Central)
Austin Jackson, CF (R)
(.366 AVG, .469 OBP, 11 R, 8 BB, 3-2B, 4 RBI)
Brennan Boesch, RF (L)
(.267 AVG, 1 HR, 3 R, 6 RBI)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B (R)
(.250 AVG, .500 SLG, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 7R)
Prince Fielder, 1B (L)
(.341 AVG, .512 SLG, 2 HR, 6 RBI; 
vs. Sanchez: 5-for-14, .357, 4 BB, 2 RBI)
Delmon Young, DH (R)
(.270 AVG, 4 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB)
Ryan Raburn, LF (R)
(.086 AVG, 1-2B, 2 R, 2 BB)
Jhonny Peralta, SS (R)
(.324 AVG, 6-2B*, 4 RBI, 5 R)
Brandon Inge, 2B (R)
(.167 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R)
Gerald Laird, C (R)
(.444 AVG, 1 HR, 1 2B, 2 R)
* — tied for American League lead

NOTES: As a team, the Tigers are fifth in the AL in runs scored (54), second in average (.272), but also tied for second in double plays grounded into (12). The Tigers are tied for second in team ERA (3.09), second in strikeouts (98) and fourth in batting average against (.237).

• The Tigers already have a two-game lead in the division, and are five games ahead of both Minnesota and Kansas City. According to ESPNStatsInfo, the Tigers are off to their best 11-game start since 1984.

• Like Max Scherzer, who lasted just 2.2 innings in his first start of the season, Jonathan Sanchez lasted just  2.2 innings the last time he took the mound. For the season, the southpaw — acquired in an offseason trade with San Francisco for Melky Cabrera — is 1-0 with just 7.2 innings pitched in two starts, sporting an 8.22 ERA with a 2.217 WHIP.

Alex Gordon, LF (L)
(vs. Scherzer: 5-for-13, .385, 1 HR, 3 K)
Yuniesky Betancourt, 2B (R)
(vs. Scherzer: 2-for-6, .333, 2B, RBI)
Eric Hosmer, 1B (L)
(vs. Scherzer: 3-for-8, .375, 2B)
Billy Butler, DH (R)
(vs. Scherzer: 7-for-28, .250, 2-2B, 3 RBI, 5 K)
Jeff Francouer, RF (R)
(vs. Scherzer: 6-for-20, .300, 2-2B, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, 7 K)
Mike Moustakas, 3B (L)
(vs. Scherzer: 0-for-8, 1 K)
Humberto Quintero, C (R)
(vs. Scherzer: 0-for-3, 3 K)
Mitch Maier, CF (L)
(vs. Scherzer: 5-for-9, 2B, 3B, RBI, 2 K)
Alcides Escobar, SS (R)
(vs. Scherzer: 2-for-12, 1 HR, 1 K)

Smyly keeps his cool

The essence of good headline writing is using silly puns, plays on words and phrases.

So it was inevitable that Drew Smyly's name would fit that bill perfectly. 

[Look no further than our own "Rookie pitcher puts Smyly face on 5-1 homestand" to see what I mean.]

But the funniest part of the whole thing? It's kind of an oxymoron. At least when he's on the mound, Drew Smyly isn't tremendously smiley. 

He seems to be no-nonsense. All business.

That's the thing that — apart from his clear propensity to throw strikes — his teammates and manager have noticed most about the 22-year-old through his first big league spring training and the start of the regular season.

"The thing is, he’s a really — he doesn’t show any emotions. He could be doing bad, but you can’t really tell," said Tigers catcher Alex Avila, who wasn't really sure how the rookie was faring emotionally, when he loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning of his MLB debut last week. 
"You really get to know guys now, how they react in adversity, times like that. But he’s a cool customer. You can tell. He doesn’t get rattled easily. His demeanor, his poise, everything is very good. Even when he was struggling a little bit, just got back up there, and went right after them. You like that. You want that in guys. You can teach that. You’ve gotta be born with it, and he is. He’s pitched in big situations before, in circumstances where things are on the line, and he’s been through it, just fine. I know he was pretty excited about this one."

The Tigers might want to get a little excited about this one, too.

Despite not having pitched above the Double-A level in his first year of professional ball, Smyly's credentials as the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year earned him a spot in the six-man derby for the fifth starter role. Even before spring training began, General Manager Dave Dombrowski tabbed him as one to watch, saying that some in the organization felt he might be the most ready.

In the end, it was his composure that may have won him the job. More than anything truly impressive that he did, it was the fact that didn't let the mounting pressure — as the competition narrowed from six to just three late in camp — get to him at all that separated him. His competitors can't necessarily say the same, as two of them — Andy Oliver and Duane Below — both had shaky starts in the final week of the competition.

So far, it doesn't look like joining the big league rotation has ruffled Smyly's feathers all that much, either. In his first start, despite the fact that he lasted just four innings, as his pitch count hit 90 way too early, he kept the Tigers in the game. He was disappointed he didn't go deeper.

In Tuesday's second start, he was much more efficient, doing just what he'd promised he'd do, going six innings, giving up just one unearned run. That came in the third inning, when he was hit by Alcides Escobar's line drive in the small of the back, on the first truly hard-hit ball of the evening. 

"It was pretty scary. He got smoked in the back pretty good," manager Jim Leyland said in his postgame TV interview.

Smyly tracked the ball down near the first-base line, and still tried to get Escobar out at first, but fired a bullet low, near the shoetops of Prince Fielder, and on past. The error put Escobar on second, and he'd come in two pitches later, as Alex Gordon singled to center on an 0-2 pitch to tie the game at 1-1.

Another instance where Smyly could have folded under the pressure, and let the inning snowball. He certainly could have come out of the game after getting dinged by the line drive.

Instead, he calmly got a fielder's choice to end the third, then wiggled out of a two-on, two-out jam in the  fourth to keep it 1-1. He'd last three full innings after getting hit by the line drive, coming out after throwing six innings, giving up the lone unearned run on seven hits, striking out four. His only walk was an intentional pass to Jeff Francouer in the sixth. 

While he still has yet to get a win, he's already shown that he deserved the trust the Tigers organization has placed in him. He'll do exactly what's expected of the fifth man in the rotation: Keep the Tigers in the game.

"That’s what we want him to do. As our fifth guy, pitch five, six innings, keep us in the game, give us a chance to win," Avila said. "That’s it."
So far, he's done that perfectly. He left his first start with the Tigers down 1-0. He left his second with the score tied 1-1. 

With a team that has the potential to score a ton of runs, that's perfect. 
"You’re not worried about being down 1-0, or 2-0, or whatever. You know this team’s going to go out and score runs every game," Smyly said after his debut. "So you’ve gotta stay within yourself, make sure you keep getting outs, keep it close."

And stay cool.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tigers lineup vs. Royals, Game 11: Smyly vs. Chen

The Tigers will throw the following lineup on the field in Tuesday's game against the Royals and lefty Bruce Chen. Just as a reminder, the game (an 8:10 p.m. start) will be broadcast on FOX Sports Detroit-Plus because of the Red Wings playoff game.

DETROIT TIGERS (7-3, first AL Central)
Austin Jackson, CF (R)
(.405 AVG, .703 SLG, 11 R, 6 EBH; vs. Chen: 2-for-15, 1-2B, 1 HR)
Brennan Boesch, RF (L)
(.244 AVG, 6 RBI, 2 R; vs. Chen: 1-for-4, 1-2B, 3K)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B (R)
(.222 AVG, on 0-for-21 skid, 9 RBI, 7 BB; vs. Chen: 9-for-18, 2-2B, 3 HR)
Prince Fielder, 1B (L)
(.324 AVG, 6 RBI, 7 R; has not faced Chen)
Delmon Young, DH (R)
(.273 AVG, 3 RBI, 3 R; vs. Chen: 6-for-11, 3-2B, 1 HR)

Alex Avila, C (L)
(.310 AVG, .621 SLG, 6 R, 6 RBI; vs. Chen: 1-for-3)

Ryan Raburn, 2B (R)
(.065 AVG, on 0-for-22 skid, 2 R, 2 BB; vs. Chen: 5-for-20, 2 HR)
Ramon Santiago, SS (S)
(.091 AVG, 1 RBI; vs. Chen: 1-for-2)
Andy Dirks, DH (L)
(.300 AVG, 3 R, 2 EBH; vs. Chen: 1-for-2, 2B)

Chen career vs. Tigers: 4-3, 11 GS, 5.95 ERA, 1.387 WHIP


Monday, April 16, 2012

The one where JV does a fastball Heimlich

If you haven't seen enough of Justin Verlander in Major League Baseball commercials, commercials for the MLB2K video game, on "Conan" and ... oh, yeah, on the mound for the Detroit Tigers, he's in another commercial. This one's for Fathead, and in it, his Fathead likeness comes off the wall to save a choking fan. Two things to note while watching: 1) how do you think a Verlander 98-mph fastball to the solar plexus would REALLY feel, and b) note that Verlander fields his position shockingly well in this ad.

Tigers lineup vs. Royals, Game 10: Verlander vs. Duffy

Following is the lineup manager Jim Leyland jotted down for Monday's series opener in Kansas City, which represented the Tigers' first night game of 2012 (8:10 p.m. EDT — TV: FOX Sports Detroit; Radio: 97.1 [WXYT-FM])
DET: Justin Verlander, RHP (0-1, 2.20 ERA)
KC: Danny Duffy, LHP (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Austin Jackson, CF (R)
(.412 AVG, 10R, 3-2B, 3 RBI, .512 OBP — vs. DD: 7 AB, .143, 1-2B)
Brennan Boesch, RF (L)
(.243 AVG, 2R, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5K — vs. DD: 0-for-2, BB)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B (R)
(.242 AVG, 7R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, .545 SLG — vs. DD: 8 AB, .375, 2-2B)
Prince Fielder, 1B (L)
(.353 AVG, 7R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .559 SLG — has not faced Duffy)
Delmon Young, DH (R)
(.310 AVG, 3R, 3 RBI, 7K — vs. DD: 5 AB, .400, 1-2B, 2K)
Ryan Raburn, LF (R)
(.074 AVG, 2R, 2BB, 6K — vs. DD: 5 AB, .400, 1-2B, 1 HR)
Jhonny Peralta, SS (R)
(.273 AVG, 4R, 3BB, 4 RBI, 7K — vs. DD: 0-for-6)
Alex Avila, C (L)
(.320 AVG, 6R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, .680 SLG — vs. DD: 0-for-5)
Brandon Inge, 2B (R)
(.000 [0-for-3] — vs. DD: 0-for-3)

Duffy career vs. Tigers: 3 starts, 0-2, 16.0 IP, 15 H, 10 ER, 5.63 ERA, 1.375 WHIP

Alex Gordon, LF (L)
(.118 AVG, 3 RBI, 1 HR — vs. JV: .30 AB, 133, 1-2B, 1 HR, 11K)
Chris Getz, 2B (L)
(.333 AVG, 3 RBI, 2 EBH — vs. JV: 16 AB, .313, 1 BB, 1 K)
Eric Hosmer, 1B (L)
(.216 AVG, 7 RBI, 2 HR — vs. JV: 8 AB, .125, 2K)
Billy Butler, DH (R)
(.287 AVG, 8 RBI, 5-2B — vs. JV: 39 AB, .359, 2HR, 4-2B, 5 RBI)
Jeff Francoeur, RF (R)
(.286 AVG, 2-2B, 2 RBI — vs. JV: 13 AB, .385, 1-2B, 1 HR)
Mike Moustakas, 3B (L)
(.258 AVG, 5-2B, 6 RBI — vs. JV: 5 AB, .200, 1 BB, 1K)
Humberto Quintero, C (R)
(.333 AVG, 3-2B, 1 RBI — has never faced JV)
Mitch Maier, CF (L)
(.167 AVG, 1 HR, 3 K — vs. JV: 8 AB, .125, 4K)
Alcides Escobar, SS (R)
(.265 AVG, 2 RBI, 2-2B — vs. JV: 8 AB, .125, 1 BB)

Verlander career vs. Royals: 19 starts, 13-2, 124.0 IP, 2.40 ERA, 118 K, 1.073 WHIP, 8.6 K/9

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Brandon Inge starts at DH, and Twitter (obligatorily) explodes

You kind of had a feeling that Brandon Inge's first start was going to cause some consternation among the Tigers followers who aren't real big fans of the infielder. Then Sunday's lineup came out [click here to see] and he was listed as DH, making the explosion just that much more emphatic.

Here's a sampling of some of the fan reaction:

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Tigers lineup vs. White Sox, Game 9: Sale vs. Porcello

The Detroit Tigers (5-3) try to snap a two-game losing streak in Sunday's series finale with the first- place White Sox (5-2), sending Rick Porcello to the mound vs. first-year starter Chris Sale. Here's the lineup the Tigers will use (including Brandon Inge's first start of the season):

Here's manager Jim Leyland's explanation for Inge at DH, Raburn in RF, courtesy of Tom Gage of the Detroit News (@Tom_Gage on Twitter): "Boesch not in vs LHP so Raburn in RF and Santiago at 2B cuz as only extra SS, he can't DH ... day off for Boesch vs LHP because two more lefties in first 2 games at KC - mgr felt it was the right time to sit him."

Make sense? Either way, here's the lineup:

Austin Jackson, CF
(.433 AVG, 5 EBH, 6BB, .528 OBP, 1.228 OPS)
Ramon Santiago, 2B
(0-for-6, 2K)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B
(.286 AVG, 7R, 3HR, 9 RBI, .643 SLG)
Prince Fielder, 1B
(.345 AVG, 6R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .552 SLG)
Delmon Young, LF
(.280 AVG, 3R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, .367 OBP)
Ryan Raburn, RF
(.080 AVG, 2R, 6K)
Jhonny Peralta, SS
(.267 AVG, 3R, 3-2B, 4 RBI, 7K)
Brandon Inge, DH
(no stats)
Gerald Laird, C
(1-for-5, 1 RBI)

(Lineup courtesy @BaseballPress on Twitter.)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tigers lineup vs. White Sox, Game 8: Floyd vs. Wilk

Here's the lineup the Tigers are sending out against Gavin Floyd at the White Sox on Saturday, behind rookie starter Adam Wilk:

Austin Jackson, CF
(.385 AVG, 9R, 10H, 2-2B, 1-3B, 1 HR, 6BB, .500 OBP)
Brennan Boesch, RF
(.258 AVG, 1R, 5 RBI)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B
(.333 AVG, 7R, 3 HR, 1-2B, 9 RBI, .750 SLG, 1.202 OPS)
Prince Fielder, 1B
(.346 AVG, 6R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .577 SLG)
Delmon Young, LF (.292 AVG, 3R, 1 HR, 3 RBI)
Alex Avila, C (.364 AVG, 6R, 1-2B, 1-3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, .773 SLG)
Jhonny Peralta, SS (.296 AVG, 3R, 3-2B, 4 RBI, 1 BB)
Andy Dirks, DH (.333 AVG, 3R, 1-2B, 1-3B, 2RBI)
Ryan Raburn, 2B (.091 AVG, 2R, 5K)

Brandon Inge is back and everyone is __________

As expected, Brandon Inge was activated Friday off the 15-day disabled list after his rehabilitation stint at Triple-A Toledo. And, as expected, there was a very large, very vocal group of fans who were not happy.

Here's a sampling of the reaction (at least the printable, PG-rated ones) from social media:

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Tigers lineup for first road game, Chicago's home opener (G7)

The Tigers will put this lineup out at U.S. Cellular Field, as Max Scherzer (0-0, 23.62 ERA) pitches against Jake Peavy (0-0, 4.50 ERA). Game time is 2:10 EDT. The game will be on FOX Sports Detroit and WXYT-FM (97.1).

Austin Jackson, CF (.435 AVG, 10H^, 9R*, 2-2B, 1-3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 5 BB, .536 OBP)
Brennan Boesch, RF (.222 AVG, 1R, 5 RBI)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B (.381 AVG, 6R, 9 RBI#, 1-2B, 3 HR, 5 BB, .857 SLG)
Prince Fielder, 1B (.364 AVG, 6R, 2-HR, 4 RBI, .636 SLG)
Delmon Young, LF (.286 AVG, 2R, 1 RBI, 1 SF)
Alex Avila, C (.389 AVG, 6R, 6 RBI, 1-2B, 1-3B, 2 HR, .889 SLG)
Jhonny Peralta, SS (.304 AVG, 3R, 2-2B, 4 RBI)
Andy Dirks, DH (.400 AVG, 3R, 1-2B, 1-3B, 2 RBI)
Ryan Raburn, 2B (.105 AVG, 2R)

* — tied for MLB lead
^ — tied for American League lead
# — leads American League

The Tigers are atop MLB in: Runs scored (40), AVG (.304)
They lead the AL in: Triples (3), RBI (35), OBP (.357), SLG (.483), OPS (.840), and wins (5)

NOTES: According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Tigers are the first MLB team to win at least five of their first six games of a season, without a starting pitcher earning a win. Austin Jackson has scored in each of the Tigers' first six games, the first player to do that for the team since Darrell Evans scored in the first eight games of the 1986 season.

Rookie puts a Smyly face on Tigers' 5-1 homestand
Boesch bashes on his birthday, driving in four in 7-2 win

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tigers were ‘quietly interested’ in Rodney

The Tigers made no secret of the fact that they were in the market for bullpen arms this offseason, swapping Ryan Perry for Collin Balester, adding Octavio Dotel, and kicking the tires on a few more free agents. They were wondering if the budget would stretch far enough for another reliever when Mike Ilitch authorized the addition of Prince Fielder.

One of those options they explored was apparently former Tiger Fernando Rodney, who got his third save of the season for the Rays in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over the Tigers.

“Well, he was a guy that, actually, we were quietly interested in. But he got signed,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Thursday.

Rodney signed a two-year, $11 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim after his 37-save season with the Tigers in 2009, but finished just 17 games in two seasons — three last year — for the Angels.

He signed a two-year, $4.25 million contract with the Rays on Jan. 4.

“I don’t think Fernando Rodney ever got the credit that he deserved in Detroit. You talk about a warrior — he was a warrior,” Leyland said. “That last game in Minnesota, that playoff game (Game 163 in 2009): He wouldn’t come out. I have the utmost respect for him.”

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Dead horse, meet whip

There wasn’t a lot of surprise that Tigers manager Jim Leyland began to get a little testy with repeated questions in spring training about his defense, which everyone was patiently waiting to display itself as being as porous as they’d expected.

To borrow Leyland’s parlance, repeated questions about the defense is ‘beating a dead horse.’ Even if you're asking about a good play, there's not a lot of upside in the discussion.

“There’s no sense talking to it because it’s a no-win situation for a manger. We’re not playing Miguel Cabrera at third and Prince Fielder at first for their defense. That’s not why we’ve got them there. We got them there because of those big bats,” the manager said.

“That’s not why they’re on the corners. They’re power guys on the corners that work on both sides of the ball. And, they’re working their (butts) off. I really believe that Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera’s work in spring training have helped them. There’s no question about that. They worked hard. And, it’s paying off. I’ve said all along that I think Miguel Cabrera has great hands and a great arm.”

Nobody in the Tigers organization has ever espoused the theory that three of the four primary infielders — Cabrera, Fielder and Ryan Raburn — are going to win Gold Gloves.

All Leyland asks of them is they make plays on the balls hit to them.

So far, they have.

Coming in to Thursday’s games, the Tigers were the team in MLB with the fewest errors (one).

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