Category Archives: Ledezma

welcome back, Kenny


photo by Emily Smith

A day of hellos. A day of goodbyes. A day of incredibly weak blog openers.

It was BLOODY GLORIOUS to see Kenny back on the field (that photo up there is from his rehab start in West Michigan, thanks as usual to the genius lens of Em) in any capacity, and to see him pretty much dealing was even better. Two hits over 6 innings… NO walks… FIVE strikeouts… ZERO runs… and, wait, the best bit? Those 6 innings? He only threw 75 pitches.

I know his arm exploded on the inside, and he’s on the wrong side of 40, and he’s already had quite a lot of wear on the blood vessels in that shoulder, but I can be excused for feeling a little optimism, right? It’ll probably be gone soon, so let me bask for the moment.

*does the “Kenny Rogers is back, and Kenny Rogers pitched like woah” dance*

Now, Magglio. See, look, there goes the optimism. Watch it as it flees.

I know, I know: X-Rays were negative. The fact that the ball ricocheted as much as it did, combined with the negative X-Ray, indicates to me that the ball may have glanced off the bat and thus not hit his hand full-on. Which is good! Just a bruise! JUST A FLESH WOUND! OPTIMISM!!

Except that I have my usual paranoid fears, in this centering around the completely unfounded worry that there could be a small fracture in his hand that the X-Ray didn’t pick up… the kind of thing that would enlarge and become problematic if he continues to play without getting it properly treated. Seriously, this is the stuff I worry about.

It’s not as though we haven’t got anyone other than Magglio in the lineup. He can sit out a few days if need be, to let the swelling (if swelling there is) on his hand go down without doing too much damage to the offense. But he IS our best hitter (best hitter anywhere! eee!), and so yeah. I worry. If he has some sort of tiny hairline fracture, and it messes with his grip…. you know where that leads. DL. AND WOE.

Also sad today: being faced with Ledezma, in his brand new capacity as a Brave. Nothing major, I know, but the times, they are a-changin’, and we no longer have anyone on the team named ‘Wilfredo’. This is a harsh blow that was felt more keenly when we had to try to bat against an opposing Wilfredo. Oh, baseball is indeed cruel.

I also heard that Miller is slated to remain in the rotation, with Durbin moving to the ‘pen when Nate gets back from his imaginary injury. Don’t like it. I’ve been telling everyone that I wouldn’t mind seeing Miller head back down to AAA for a bit and making his triumphant return in September, but apparently the team has other plans. Billfer brings up a good point about young pitchers (see: Verlander) and arm fatigue due to a sudden jump in innings pitched (see: Verlander at the end of last season). I assume someone in the Tigers’ organization has weighed all these factors. I’m just setting myself up pessimistically again.

And of course if you see below, you will note by the deformed avian heading that Mike Maroth has been traded to the Cardinals for ANONYCARDINAL, to be recieved at a later date.

But I am happy. HAPPY. LOOK AT MY GRIN. Kenny Rogers IS back, even in the midst of all this turmoil and insanity, and he seems to be REALLY back, so throw your flower petals into the air and dance a merry hippy dance, Tigers fans. For this one thing at least.

be brave, Ledezma


photo by Samara Pearlstein

I heard the news that Ledezma had been traded to the Braves for Macay McBride while I was in the car with my dad, driving to Lowell to watch the Lowell Spinners play the Oneonta Tigers. We both kind of looked at the radio and said, “Wait, what?” I had to admit that I didn’t really know anything about McBride except for the fact that his nickname amongst the Braves was “Fatboy” (not kidding. That’s what Chipper Jones called him).

I’m just a little perplexed by this trade still. We’ve been pretty patient with Ledezma, it seems, because everyone appears to agree that the nebulous Potential is still there, he just has trouble accessing it consistently. So….. we’re willing to sit and wait for four seasons, but suddenly we decide we’ve had enough?

At the start of this season I was in the “he’s still young, and I still think he can put it all together and be pretty darn good” camp when it came to Ledezma. He’s had his ups and downs, but some of his streaks this season have been quite encouraging (although, to be even MORE encouraging, they shouldn’t be streaks at all, of course). And I think people forget how young he is because, like Bondo, he’s been up since ’03. He’s still only 26. It’s not as though he’s a washed-up 35 year old reliever. He’s a kid in his 20s who can still maybe start one day.

McBride, obviously, is also young (younger). I just don’t think he has the same kind of starting potential that Ledezma has/had. Plus, he’s one of those kids who grew up in Georgia (no doubt rooting for the Braves), went to school in Georgia, got drafted by the Braves, and has only ever played for the Braves. I wonder what a move to a team other than the Braves (and a team in the harsh American League, to boot) will do to his psyche.

I suppose what’s most bothering me is that I don’t feel like we’ve gotten back our investment in Ledezma with this trade. Like… really? That was his peak value? A lefty-specialist type no more consistent than he is, and with maybe less upside? If the Tigers didn’t think Ledezma was going to work out, maybe they should have moved him years ago, when he was, y’know, younger and more likely to net us more in a trade. So this “nope, sorry, suddenly decided this is the end of the line” business is weird and I don’t like it.

I think I read somewhere that McBride has options left (and can thus be sent to the minors if need be) while Ledezma does not have options, but this strikes me as an insufficient reason to send 4+ years’ worth of pitching cultivation packing.

Oh, and I guess the Tigers beat up on the Nats again today, but apparently anyone can do that now. No big.

win, release, and Gary Sheffield's bid to remain in blog headlines


Jose Mesa, photo by Samara Pearlstein

It seems like every post I write these days is either about Todd Jones or Gary Sheffield. This blog is going to turn into “A Thousand and One Permutations of Gary Sheffield’s Face”, so here’s a photo of Jose Mesa that I took in Fenway. I REFUSE TO PHOTOSHOP YOU YET AGAIN, GARY SHEFFIELD.

win

The Tigs won their second in a row to split the 4-game series with the Racist Logos. Obviously the team is responding to my determination to remain surly and irritable until the Tigers put together an actual win STREAK, not just a win here and there.

Cleveland scored two runs in the first inning and was shut out for the rest of the game. It was Bondo pitching, which means that you kind of have to write off the first inning and just wait for him to dominate the rest of the thing. I think he HAS been getting better of late, but today was a kind of reversion to his usual form. At least he’s giving himself a tough little test in mental fortitude every time he takes the mound? It takes a strong pitcher to recover from terrible first innings time and time again. Maybe this is all some strange form of Bondoian brain-strength training.

It was another across-the-board offensive outing. Everyone got a hit except for Neifi!!!, and honestly, a day when Neifi!!! doesn’t ground into a double play is an A-double-plus kind of day for Neifi!!!, so this was a true lineup of WIN. Magglio only went 1-for-3 with 2 walks, shock shock horror amaze etc. Only one hit! This counts as a tragic day for Maggs.

The bullpen, once again, managed to not to wee themselves on the mound. Ledezma made it interesting when Bondo came out with 2 down and 2 on in the 7th, but he worked himself out of a bases-loaded jam without costing Bondo any more runs.

I hesitate to say anything because as soon as I do he’s going to do something terrible, like giving up 10 runs in 0.1 innings and eating a live puppy in the postgame press conference, and I will have jinxed him, but Ledezma sure does seem to be coming around a bit. He’s always had quite a lot of potential; imagine if he soon realizes it. Heady stuff.

In the battle of the Jeremys (Bonderman vs. Sowers), Bondo came out on top, going 6.2 with 2 runs and 4 hits. Sowers went 4 with 5 runs and 7 hits. No contest. Our Jeremy is the best Jeremy in the AL Central, possibly the best Jeremy in all of baseball. Chew on THAT, inferior Jeremys.

release

Jose Mesa was released to make room for the impending return of Fernando Rodney. He wasn’t any hot shakes with the Tigers, but he has had a loooong career– he’s in his 19th year as a pro. He may yet glom on with another team, since there’s always someone who could use a veteran reliever in the ‘pen, but this could be the end of the line for him. I trust we will manage to soldier on.

We may as well take this moment of Mesa-reflection to recall one of the more curious age-related controversies in baseball.

Jose Mesa’s listed age is 41, putting his year of birth at 1966. He’s got 6 kids, the oldest of whom has a listed birth year of 1974 (according to his MLB profile)… which would mean that she is older than a number of Mesa’s erstwhile Tiger teammates (Verlander and Bondo, for starters) and was born when Mesa was 8 years old.

The most likely possibility here is that somewhere down the line, in the early 80’s, Mesa lied about his birth date to seem younger than he is, and he’s actually 50 years old or something. He certainly doesn’t LOOK older than Julio Franco, though. I guess it’s also possible that he was just a really, REALLY precocious 8 year old. Which is disturbing and worrisome, but there you have it.

Gary Sheffield’s bid to remain in blog headlines

Gary Sheffield is crazy. That’s all there is to it. The guy is insane. Let us look at the evidence.

Exhibit A:

First, the Detroit Tigers designated hitter said that umpires have been missing pitches on him all year, that major league baseball is trying to silence him and that while he plans to restrain himself, that major league baseball is trying to silence him and that while he plans to restrain himself, “they’d better restrain themselves.”

“Umpires do lie, too,” said Sheffield, who appealed the suspension and was in the Tiger lineup Friday night. “(Gibson) just told a bald-faced lie. He’s a bald-faced liar.”

He also said that baseball doesn’t want him to speak out.

“Basically, they want me to be on the field with handcuffs, and duct tape on my lips,” Sheffield said.
MLive.com article

See, there was the Photoshop temptation right there. Gary Sheffield in handcuffs, with duct tape over his mouth. I’m resisting, though. I’ll hold it in reserve for the next time he does or says something batguano insane and we HAVEN’T had Gary Sheffield-a-thon over the previous week.

I also particularly enjoy the imagery of Greg Gibson as a vulture.

Exhibit B:

“I know one thing, I can’t hold him [Sheffield],” Leyland said. “I did the best I could, but I’m glad somebody else finally got in there. I don’t know where the heck (first-base coach Andy) Van Slyke was. He lifts weights six days a week.”
Detroit News article

Leyland here is talking about holding Sheffield back so that he doesn’t pulverize Gibson’s face. Sheffield was so intent on umpire dismemberment that JIM FREAKIN’ LEYLAND couldn’t hold him back. Uh, holy cats.

(It was Pudge, by the by, who had to come in and ultimately help restrain him.)

Exhibit C:

“I called it years ago. What I called is that you’re going to see more black faces, but there ain’t no English going to be coming out. [It’s about] being able to tell [Latin players] what to do — being able to control them,” he told the magazine.

“Where I’m from, you can’t control us. You might get a guy to do it that way for a while because he wants to benefit, but in the end, he is going to go back to being who he is. And that’s a person that you’re going to talk to with respect, you’re going to talk to like a man.

“These are the things my race demands. So, if you’re equally good as this Latin player, guess who’s going to get sent home? I know a lot of players that are home now can outplay a lot of these guys.”
GQ via ESPN

OMG OMG OMG. WHAT!

We need to break this down, because it is too… too INSANE to examine whole.

1. “What I called is that you’re going to see more black faces, but there ain’t no English going to be coming out.” Wow. Gary, if a white person said this, you would call them racist and/or xenophobic, and you would be right. Next time Sheffield makes a rant about discrimination (probably next Tuesday), he needs to take a nice long look in the mirror.

2. “[It’s about] being able to tell [Latin players] what to do — being able to control them.” I might, MIGHT be able to see where he was going with this. Latin players sometimes are “controlled” via threats about green cards and things like that. In the developmental leagues, some of those guys view baseball as a way out and up, and would do anything to get there. I guess some organizations maybe exploit that, and use their influence over these young guys to mold or “control” their behavior. I might have thought Sheffield was making a semi-valid point here. Unfortunately he goes on to disprove this.

He also makes a horrendous sweeping generalization about something that might happen to some extent in the minors and developmental leagues, and seems to try to apply it to the Majors. I would not say that Carlos Zambrano is ‘easily controlled’, nor would I say that Pudge is being kept on a short leash at the hands of Evil Whitey. Who exactly does he think is ‘controlling’ Ozzie Guillen? Or does he no longer count since he’s a manager?

3. “Where I’m from, you can’t control us.” Gary Sheffield is from Tampa, Florida.

4. ” You might get a guy to do it that way for a while because he wants to benefit, but in the end, he is going to go back to being who he is.” The implication is that a Latin player would not “go back to being who he is,” due to some imagined universal difference of temperament between black American men and Latin men. When you ASSUME, Gary, you make an ASS out of U and ME… only in this case it’s more U.

5. “And that’s a person that you’re going to talk to with respect, you’re going to talk to like a man.” Gary Sheffield talks to other black baseball players as men. I’m not sure how he talks to his Latin teammates. As little boys? I’m sure Pudge, Guillen, Omar, Placido, Magglio, Ledezma, and Neifi!! appreciate being told that they aren’t Real Men on the Gary Sheffield Scale of Manliness.

Neifi!!!, as everyone knows, is actually a sea slug, and not a man at all, but this doesn’t excuse Sheffield’s attitude towards the rest of the Latin players.

6. “These are the things my race demands.” LOL WHAT. What does that even mean?? If you’re black, you better act like A MAN? Gay, trans, and genderqueer black Americans are no friends of Gary Sheffield! In fact if you’re a black man and you don’t completely conform to Gary Sheffield’s personal standards of hypermasculine, stereotypically male behavior, you aren’t giving your race what it demands. Watch out, guys. Penalties for misbehavior to be meted out as Gary Sheffield sees fit.

7. “So, if you’re equally good as this Latin player, guess who’s going to get sent home? I know a lot of players that are home now can outplay a lot of these guys.” I can’t even really comment on this, because I don’t know how true it is or not. Again, though, it’s a possibly valid point that Sheffield absolutely destroys by surrounding it with his racist chauvinistic wank.

The other day I was trying to rationalize Gary Sheffield’s behavior, because I have, in my capacity as a Sox and Tigers fan, hated him for a good long time. I was happy in my Sheffield hatred. It was a comfortable place to view him from, and I was unconflicted, because he was a freakin’ Yankee. Before that he was a National Leaguer, and I therefore didn’t think about him at all. Now that he’s on the Tigers, I have bit by infinitesimal bit been trying to come to terms with the fact that I have to root for him now. I was TRYING.

Now, I give up. That’s it. Gary Sheffield is not the kind of person I can root for. And no, Gary, I don’t say that because you’re black or because you’re spirited or whatever crazy thing it is you convince yourself people hate you for. I don’t like you because of stuff like this right here. Because you’re a hypocritical racist wanker.

I’ll be happy when Sheffield hits a home run for the Tigers, like he did today. But I’ll be cheering because a TIGER hit the ball. I will blank out Gary Sheffield and replace him with, I dunno, Paws or something like that. We can all cheer for Paws. He’s orange AND black AND white. He’s like the best of all worlds.

Sheffield and friends, if by 'friends' you mean 'offensive insanity'


photo by Samara Pearlstein

Well, I guess the offense from this game made up for all the offense we HADN’T had in the previous, what, 4 games?

The score today was 14-2. There were 2 runs tacked on by the Tigers in the 9th, when they already had a 12-2 lead. Now that’s just mean.

Everyone had a hit. Every single person in the lineup had a hit. Curtis Granderson pinch ran and he came away with TWO hits. Brandon Inge nudged his average up until he’s ALMOST hitting .220! Pudge was a triple short of the cycle! Curtis Granderson tripled! Gary Sheffield hit TWO home runs!

Now, you all know my feelings on Gary Sheffield. But even I have to acknowledge the charming majesty of hitting two big home runs (for a total of 5 RBI) in a game. Five RBI are enough to win some games by themselves. Today it was just a drop in the bucket of offense we decided to dump all over the Rays, but it was a mighty fine drop nonetheless.

Polanco went 3-for-6, Carlos went 1-for-5, and Maggs went 2-for-5, if you were wondering how the big consistent bats did in a game like this.

This was also another encouraging outing from Bondo. He didn’t go particularly deep (only 6.1 innings), but he didn’t walk a single guy, and he got out of the first inning unscathed this time around. I believe we may declare his blister/cut/whatever now healed. The key is to keep it from recurring… hopefully the training staff has that under control and is monitoring the Bondo fingertip situation closely.

The whole thing was even MORE encouraging because Wilfredo Ledezma was the only reliever who had to come in, and he did his job quite well. If the only guy we can trust in the ‘pen right now is Wilfredo Ledezma… well, we’ve got issues. Not necessarily with Ledezma himself (might he finally be coming into his own? like we’ve been hoping for years?), but with everyone else in the ‘pen. Which is what I’ve been sayin’. Eh.

As I always say after big offensive days, we have to just hope the bats aren’t all dead tomorrow as a result. I’m all in favor of disproving old axioms, and the “score big one day, quiet bats the next, you used them all up” schtick is one of oldest and most persistent.

double the games, double the losing


photo by Samara Pearlstein

I want to point out that this is a photo of Wally the Green Monster sitting in the stands, gesturing in the general direction of Omar Infante, who is in the visiting dugout, looking back at Wally skeptically. Wally had been doing his rounds of the ballpark and spotted this empty seat up near the field, so he went to sit down and harass/amuse the fans near him. Omar, who was leaning on the rail, started watching him. I’m not sure whether or not Wally was gesturing TO Omar, but Omar seemed to be intrigued by his antics regardless. It was a completely bizarre and glorious interaction and so I share it with you.

So. I should mention that due to a last-minute decision on the part of my brother, I ended up going to BOTH games yesterday, meaning that I was at every game of this series. I’d also never been to a Major League double header before (I’ve been to college DHs, but those are only 7 innings per game), so that was new. You can see how I might be a little frazzled by all that baseball (and all the time wasted getting downtown and back for the game that wasn’t on Wednesday).

The last two games were frustrating. The first game of the series was a solid loss and was hard to be upset about, because sometimes you’re just gonna run into Daisuke Matsuzaka and there’s not a thing you can do about it. The second game was, of course, glorious. These games were slow, grinding, and filled with the kind of “unclutchness” that makes you tear your hair out. I mean, in the first game of the DH, there were NO EXTRA BASE HITS. None. At all. On either side. Agonizing.

The second game saw a ton of doubles for the Tigers, and a ton of walks, and a ton of not bringing those guys home. Twice on the day (over the course of both games) the Tigers ended an inning with the bases loaded, and a couple more times they had two or three guys on, one of which was eliminated by inning-ending fielder’s choices, which is kind of like leaving the bases loaded to end an inning, and is certainly deeply annoying to watch.

It’s hard to be mad at our starters. Miner did better than his line shows, and he certainly kept the Tigers in a close game (against Julian… freakin’…. Tavarez). Durbin wasn’t QUITE pimptacular, but he also didn’t really do any worse than Curt Schilling. They both struggled with the temperature and the wind and threw a ton of pitches early, so, eh.

It’s even hard to be mad at the ‘pen, for once. Tim Byrdak was AWESOME, pitching two perfect innings’ worth of ball in the first game, with 5 (!!!) strikeouts. This of course just makes his removal for Bobby Seay in the first game even more galling, but if he’d gone longer then he probably wouldn’t have been able to go as long this time around. Still. He struck out Wily Mo Pena, Doug Mirabelli, Julio Lugo, Coco Crisp, and David Ortiz (!!!!!!). That’s bloody impressive, that is. You can tell by my use of startled parenthetic exclamation points.

Mesa and Jonesy also did what we asked of them, getting out every guy they had to face. Hard to get much better than that.

Wilfredo Ledezma, however, made stinky excrement smears all over the second game. Why Ledezma was left in to face Hinske despite his rather ugly numbers against lefties this year, is beyond me. You know it’s bad when you’re clamoring for a guy to come out when it’s obvious the manager intends to leave him in, thus inciting your fan-ly rage, and the batter goes and hits a two-run homer to bust open the game, thus vindicating and rather exponentially increasing your fan-ly rage. Hideous.

Oh well. Onwards, upwards. I have a billion photos to process for you kids, and Andrew Miller goes tonight, weather permitting, so be sure to tune into that so we can all judge for ourselves the color of the FUTURE. ‘Tho please do recall that when Verlander first came up, he didn’t have his offspeed stuff working at all and consequently got knocked around a bit…. and I think he’s working out in the big leagues OK.

I also want to point out that I have now been to 5 Tigers game in person this season, and Brandon Inge has homered in 3 of them. All the guy needs is love, guys. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again. This is proof positive of it.

Virgil Vasquez learns a valuable lesson about suffering in baseball


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

So, you know what happened. Virgil Vasquez made his major league debut. Virgil Vasquez already had to suffer the indignity of making his debut in a nationally televised ESPN game, which means that everyone’s first major league impression of him will be tainted by the inane ramblings of Joe Morgan and Jon Miller.

He then had the rest of his dignity torn from his body, shredded into tiny strips, ground into the dirt, peed upon, and handed back to him on the business ends of a bunch of Twinkie bats.

But he learned something very important! Something that he can carry back with him to the minor leagues, and that he will hopefully remember for the rest of his baseball playing days.

The best way to get away with terrible baseball is to play it in a crowd.

That way, not as much of the blame lands squarely on your shoulders. I mean, look at last night. When Vasquez left the game, we were throwing our hands into the air and bemoaning our fate. Then Grilli came in and got roughed up, and we started rending our hair and clothes. Then Wilfredo came in and got roughed up, and we began vomiting up blood. Then Jose Mesa came in and laid the final crowning rotten egg of shame on the evening, and by this time we were so horrified and shocked that we were just sitting there, stunned, as our eyeballs exploded and the eyeball goo ran down our ravaged cheeks.

By that point, we barely even remembered the offenses of Virgil Vasquez! Isn’t baseball a marvelous thing? Vasquez’s performance alone would stand out horribly in our minds, but with other performances just like it, it melts into a background of woe. Like penguins! One penguin alone is a funny, portly little chap, but a whole bunch of penguins together is just a seething mass of collective penguinflesh.

All kidding aside and in all fairness, we weren’t expecting much of anything out of Vasquez here. He was just up for the one start, and he was only ever supposed to be a place-holder. But even without EXPECTATIONS, I think it’s fair to say that we all had HOPES. We didn’t exactly dare to hope that he’d mow down a major league lineup, but I personally at least was hoping for some serious inning-eating, even if it was mediocre-to-bad in quality.

As we all know, this failed to happen.

One of the reasons why Vasquez’s bad (awful) start shouldn’t be held too much against him is that, once he left the game, our HOPE remained the same: someone needed to come in and eat some catdamned innings. That’s it. The game could be a writeoff. It’s gonna happen a few times over the course of a season. The remaining innings didn’t have to pitched spectacularly. They just had to be pitched. Preferably by mostly one dude.

Vasquez lasted 2.2 innings. Grilli lasted 2.1. Ledezma lasted 1.1, and Mesa lasted 1.2.

That’s a team effort of FAIL. If just ONE of those guys could’ve gone 5 innings, we would be in much better shape right now. And don’t think Leyland wasn’t trying to coax them through it, because he was. But there’s only so long a manager can leave a guy in there when he’s getting the oxygen beaten out of his blood cells.

‘Cause now we’re heading into Boston, and our bullpen is going to be all huddled up against the back of the Green Monster, sobbing quietly. And you don’t win ballgames when your bullpen is acting like a bunch of exhausted 12 year old girls.

SPEAKING OF THE BOSTON SERIES.

As you are all aware, I am a Massachusettian by birth and thus equal parts Red Sox and Tigers fan. I spend the summers in MA. More to the point, I AM GOING TO THREE OUT OF THE FOUR GAMES OF THIS SERIES AND I AM SO EXCITED I MAY HAVE A HEART ATTACK OF GLEE ON THE SUBWAY.

I leave in about an hour for tonight’s game, I’m definitely gonna be there Wednesday, and either Tuesday or Thursday (I’ll go to one, and my brother will go to the other). So posting may be sporadic and psychotic during this series, and I will take many photos, which will be entirely uploaded and organized probably not until the end of it. Just so you know.

If you’re going to be in Fenway, well, you know what I look like, and I’ll have the neon orange hat on. Come say hi!

TCFP: Thank Cats For Polanco


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Saving us once again from the ignoble jaws of utter defeat in the stinky-sock-drawer maw of the Wrong Sox: Placido Polanco. Our hero. Our savior. Our…. TIGER!

(Who’s YOUR Tiger??!?!?!?!?!?!*insert a thousand more punctuation marks here*)

You will of course immediately note that Fernando Rodney did not get into this game. And it was an extra innings game. And we won. I mean, I don’t need to comment on Fernando any further right now, do I?

Wilfredo Ledezma acquitted himself very well, very well inDEED. Three innings of four-hit, one-walk ball? No runs? Hot kittens! It’s games like this where Ledezma’s spotty starter-bullpen-starter-bullpen-nobody-knooooooows history actually HELPS him. Right now he’s an inbetweenie pitcher, not quite good enough to go 6 or 7 innings consistently, but with more stamina than your standard reliever. So when he comes on for the 9th and has to keep going… and going… well, he’s able to. Luckily we were able to follow him up with Grilli, who is still wavering on the lines of the Coprolites List, but who is currently in fashion simply because he’s neither Rollercoaster Jones nor Fernando F’in Rodney.

Now, I didn’t see the start of this game (Michigan baseball, you know how it is), so I didn’t get to REALLY see how Verlander did. Looking at his line, I guess it could have been worse. But I don’t like those 5 walks over 7 innings. That’s kind of a lot of walks. Now, maybe he was getting squeezed, but seeing as Garland only gave up one walk over 8, and this was a home game, I tend to doubt that. Granted, Verlander had more strikeouts than Garland too, but I’d rather he get outs other ways and cut down his walk total.

I suppose high walk AND strikeout numbers just means that he’s generally unhittable. I still worry.

The real story here though are the hits, and not just any hits, but the CLUTCH hits. Oh yes, there is no such thing as clutchness, but it is SUCH an appealing myth, yes? And here we have two of the clutchest of mythical clutch hits; the tying home run in the 9th to keep a previously lost effort alive (thank you Marcus), and the walkoff hit in the 12th (the magical magnificent Placido Polanco).

The River Thames has that occasional power. It’s always great to see him go yard, never loses its luster, all that, but it’s something that we can’t count on every time. There is, one would assume, a pretty good reason why Thames isn’t an everyday player by now. This makes him no less a hero of the game, I am just saying so in order to set up a comparison to

Placido Polanco

so that you may see how truly amazing Polanco is. He’s actually not very clutch at all, because “clutch” implies an ability to perform under certain stressful conditions, and Polanco hits ALL the time, not just at certain vital junctures. He just seems to because we notice it more under those circumstances.

I refer you back to the sonnet for Placido Polanco post. Once again, it more or less accurately sums up my feelings on the matter.

Chad Durbin, sacrificial ram


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Of course I probably would have said something similar about Zach Miner when he first popped onto the roster last year, but I reckon poor Chad Durbin is just getting thrown to the wolves for a bit so that we can groom the real Next Big Tigers Pitching Prospect… that being, of course, Andrew Miller.

Durbin gave up six runs to the mighty Oriole bats (I almost, ALMOST managed to type that with a straight face… sorry Mike) in 4.2 innings. Ennnh. Not good, but not really all that unexpected. I mean, the poor guy hadn’t pitched in the Majors since 2004, which tells you something right there. It is 2007 now. That is 3 seasons. That is… well, I don’t want to be too hard on him, so we’ll just leave it at that.

Andrew Miller right now is what Justin Verlander used to be: the hot prospect that the organization wants to be somewhat tentative with, but for whom we will soon be hearing clamorous cries from the fans. Verlander came up (a little too early in my well-documented opinion, but what do I know? nothing, clearly) and pitched like a big doofy dream. Will Miller do the same? He too is awkwardly tall and thin, and he too seems to have a preternaturally serene take on big league bats.

I do think he’ll be up this year, especially if Kenny takes his sweet time recovering from his blood clot… which he should do. I wouldn’t mind seeing Ledezma for a bit, but to be honest I’m starting to give up on Ledezma just a little. He simply hasn’t showed consistency or any particular mental fortitude yet, and I think he should have by now. I still very much want him to get some innings and for that time to be exactly what he needs to finally put it together and come into his own, but I’m less sure now than ever before that he’s capable of doing this. Barring an unexpected skill up-bump from Ledezma, he too would only be another stopgap measure on the road to Andrew Miller.

And in the meantime, we offer Chad Durbin up on the bloody altar of the pitching mound, where his throat is bared to the knives of such beastly batters as Jay “People used to call me ugly and then they saw Chris Shelton” Gibbons and Kevin “I miss Manny because without him I have no sufficient outlet for my not-very-secret cuddling desire” Millar.

Offensively, we were blah again. I am not worrying. I am not worrying. I am not worrying. I am waiting for the bats to get on track, as I am so very certain that they will. I… totally… believe… this.

(It may be helpful for you to imagine me typing that with my teeth gritted and eyes valiantly squinted.)

Curtis Granderson continues to do Good Things That Make Us Love Curtis Granderson, and it was nice to see Maggs’ bat going, especially in the face of his recent defensive issues (which I still think are mostly due to the cold). We were pretty well smothered by Daniel Cabrera, though. All credit to him and his absurdly enormous self…. but the offense has been doing this against everyone of late. We’ll snap out of it. Totally will. Absolute confidence. Just a matter of waiting them out.

Don’t even get me started on Brandon Inge right now. He is… taking his sweet time. And that’s OK. I fully expect him to go on some kind of ridiculous hitting tear in July that will singlehandedly (singlebattedly?) boost us to the top of the division and reduce the Wrong Sox to a collective blubbering mass of tears. His slow start at the plate is just his way of revving up for this near-future magical production. Just you wait and see.

the woe of Wilfredo

It was interesting, if rather agonizing, to see Ledezma stick around in the dugout even after all his baserunners had come around to score. Usually guys wait to see how much damage is going to be done to their ERA, then they book it for the clubhouse. Ledezma seemed intent on beating himself up over it, though.

And I have to say, I’ve never seen anyone dismantle their own hat, rip off the brim, and then start tearing out threads with their teeth like a rabid squirrel. I think it’s safe to say that Ledezma felt pretty upset about his performance.

Nothing seemed to go right. Too many dinky little Twinkie hits bouncing across the turf for extra bases, too many Tigers left on base. And that ball that tipped off of Inge’s glove was killer. Ugh. And then he goes and sticks his throwing hand between a base and an oncoming set of spikes.

Still, all is not lost. Maybe Nate can get some run support tonight.

didn’t you know? a full-grown tiger eats a bear cub every time.

I’m still kind of shaking from this series. What can you say? WHAT THE HECK CAN YOU SAY? You can say that the Cubs are a dead team headed by a manager who makes the pancaked squirrel on the road on your way to work look like a baseball genius, and the only way to make Mark Prior less durable would be to dip him in liquid nitrogen so when you took him out you could shatter him with one blow of a hammer and be done with it already.

And we had Vance Wilson batting third. Vance! Freakin’! Wilson! Batting third! And he was PRODUCTIVE. This is all SO WEIRD. Vance Wilson shouldn’t be seeing the sunny side of .200, let alone sniffing wetly at the heels of .300 like he is right now.

Shelton, maybe this was what he needed to get back on form. The River Thames has been booming. Inge is streaky, but he’s been on the good side of the toilet paper when it comes to streaks of late.

Kenny Rogers got his 200th win, and hasn’t killed any members of the media or other civilian-staffed collective entities yet.

Pudge still isn’t dead.

Justin Verlander and Jeremy Bonderman are going to have a mud wrestling match in an inflatable kiddie pool to determine who will be The Best Young Tigers Starter. Don’t deny. I would totally watch that and so would you. Maybe there could be big red plastic Ks in the mud that they’d have to scramble for or something like in a Nickelodeon show. If it’s Ks they’re after Bondo would win, paws down, but I would still watch that.

Zach Miner is… what the freakin’ freak is Zach Miner and how the heck is he pitching? I mean. Effectively? 2.65 ERA? Since when does that kind of thing happen to the Tigers?

Placido Polanco is still the hardest guy in the majors (or at least the AL, I’m too lazy to check) to strike out.

Zoom continues to make elderly male baseball analysts pee themselves under their desks when they see him pitch. Fat old men saying, “Thuh fastball! Is SOFASTWOW. Looka those numbers is so biiiig! Aw ga’d Scooter explain it t’me. What? Scooter en’t real? Then gimme Tim McCarver, he awways makes sense.” I am not making this up, it actually happens.

Granderson… I can’t even pretend to be rational about Granderson. I love Curtis Granderson and you all know it and he is glorious so I will hear nothing against him. I haven’t heard one single solitary gripe about how we should have stuck by Nook in center field. I mean, I appreciate Nook Logan as much as the next Tigers fan who appreciates pathetically weak-hitting speedsters, honest. My iPod is named The iNook. But my love for Curtis Granderson surpasses even this. I only have one iPod, but if I ever get a new computer (’cause this one is rapidly becoming inadequate, memory-wise, for the amount of photography I do… I hope my parents are reading this) I might give it a name that’s got something to do with Mr. Granderson. If it fits.

In fact, I have now gotten myself into such a frenzy of Granderson love just by contemplating him that I shall post this photo for no discernible reason.

See, that just automatically made this post and site 1,024 times better. And if you click for slightly larger, why, it’s triple that. One should never really require a REASON to bask in the warm, glorious glow of grinning Curtis Granderson and that’s just what we’re about here at Roar of the Tigers… a pleasing lack of reason.

I can’t believe, somehow, that Wilfredo Ledezma is back. It’s just too insane and crazy and holy freaking cats, it’s possible, just barely possible, that we can afford to do that now. His old nickname, according to the inimitable expert also sometimes referred to as the blogger, was Metropolis. Ten kibble points to the person who can remember where that one came from.

We beat the Brewers tonight, taking that last wasted Bondo outing and learning from our mistakes. See, kittens? See what happens when you pay attention the first time you screw up and you learn for the second time around? DO YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENED THERE, BULLPEN?

We took the first one from the Brewers today. This whole thing just keeps getting more and more surreal in my mind. I don’t even know this team anymore.