Category Archives: Matt Joyce

at least the Tigers can win when I’m not looking at them


photo by Samara Pearlstein

No, Matt Joyce does not have anything to do with the latest Tigers game, but I was not watching the latest Tigers game. I was at the Red Sox game, watching Matt Joyce and Carlos Pena and all the rest beat the hell up on the Sox. It was not pretty. But it was nice to see Matt Joyce again.

I was sitting with a Red Sox fan, naturally, and I told her the Matt Joyce Kitten Story, which she enjoyed very much indeed. Nobody on the current team has rescued a kitten in the clubhouse. Perhaps this is one of their problems.

So, obviously, I did not choose to watch the correct game. But the Tigers did just fine without me. Maybe they get nervous when they know I’m watching.

Having not seen the game, I have no idea how things went, but I can look at a box score and make some assumptions, and then I can write about them with authority, because this is a blog. I see that Justin Verlander apparently remembered how to be an Actual Pitcher, and I can assume that he was a technical joy to watch, showing a mastery of pitch type and speed and location. I bet it was beautiful, as marvelous as the scruffiness that Verlander is currently cultivating on his face. True, 121 pitches through 7 innings is a LITTLE too rich for my tastes, but it’s not an egregious offense, just mildly annoying to people who get wicked paranoid about his pitch count (i.e. me). Seven Ks and one walk says that he was right around the plate all night.

I don’t know what happened to Freddy Garcia, but I assume it was not pretty.

Brandon Inge homered (#10)!! AND he stole a base. Aces. Not that I expect anything less from such a grand Hero for our times, but it is rather nice to see him be so OBVIOUS about his hero status every so often. Just to keep the rest of us mere mortals on our toes, you know.

Jhonny Peralta went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Now if only we could get him playing right behind Miguel Cabrera… and he hit like this consistently, so that other teams began to fear him and felt they HAD to pitch to Miggy. Yes, if only then. How happy we would be!

On Wednesday Bondo takes on someone or other, I wasn’t really paying attention. I’m not going to watch the game. So if the Tigers could manage to win this one, without the stress of performing for me, splendid.

Roar of the Tigers reacts in a most inevitable fashion to the Matt Joyce trade

I really had more or less talked myself into being OK with the Matt Joyce/Edwin Jackson trade.

I wasn’t overjoyed with it or anything, but I could see the rationale and I was, I think, fairly level-headed about it when I wrote the post about it. After I had that up, though, I went to look at what everyone else thought about the move, and realized

WOE! SADNESS! ANGUISH! DISTRESS! TEARS BOTH SUPPRESSED AND RELEASED!!

And I think we all know how we deal with stuff like that around here.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Click for slightly bigger, as per usual.

SIGH. Have fun playing in a giant beret, Mr. Joyce. Detroit, and perhaps more importantly its kittens, will miss you.

Is Joyce for Jackson just?

photos by Samara Pearlstein

Of course as soon as I bother to dig into the JJ Putz stuff in any kind of depth, it starts looking like Putz is in the middle of some sort of gargantuan Mets/Racist Logos/Mariners threeway, and the Tigers look like they’re about to do something else entirely. The rumor of the hour has them trading Matt Joyce to the Rays for pitcher Edwin Jackson.

Jackson has been used by the Rays as a starter, although I suppose it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that the Tigs could try him as a closer. He’s a 25-year-old right-hander who mostly throws a 93-95 mph fastball, supported by a mid-80s slider. He has not had much trouble with injuries, with his only DL stint to date coming back in 2004, when he had a strained forearm.

Just looking at win shares, this move seems OK for the Tigers: Jackson put up 10 win shares according to the Bill James version of the metric in 2008 and Joyce put up 6. A swap of the two would thus have the Tigers up 4 wins. Yay?

In 2008 Jackson put up the following numbers:

4.42 ERA (which y’all know)

1.51 WHIP (the lower this number is, the better, ’cause you want to give up as few walks and hits per inning pitched as possible)

.301 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play; this is kind of a measure of a pitcher’s luck, and unusually high or low numbers indicate that he got either unusually lucky with fielding behind him or unusually unlucky. In this case .301 is only a little higher than typical [around .290ish], so this season probably wasn’t too weighted by defensive luck for Jackson)

5.30 K/9 (the higher this number is, the better, ’cause you generally want to throw a lot of strikes per 9 innings)

1.40 K/BB (the higher this ratio is, the better, ’cause you want to throw more strikes than balls)

10 win shares (up from 2 the previous season)

Just out of curiosity and for the sake of comparison I had a look at Justin Verlander’s numbers again.

4.84 ERA (worse than Jackson)

1.40 WHIP (better than Jackson)

.305 BABIP (definitely getting towards the high side of typical, so he was a little unlucky)

7.30 K/9 (MUCH better than Jackson)

1.87 K/BB (better than Jackson)

8 win shares (down from 15 and 16 in the previous two years, but the fact that ’08 was an off year for Justin shouldn’t surprise anyone)

Jackson was a fairly highly touted prospect with the Dodgers, but no one is going to say that he’s as good as Justin Verlander; I still think it’s at least worth pointing out that Justin in a serious down year still did better than this kid, significantly better in some categories.

And for the lulz, here’s Nate:

6.35 ERA (worse than everyone)

1.66 WHIP (worse than everyone, but not as bad compared to Jackson as one might hope)

.343 BABIP (pretty high; Nate got seriously unlucky with the defense behind him in ’08)

5.76 K/9 (understandably worse than Justin but worryingly better than Jackson)

1.74 K/BB (again worse than Justin but better than Jackson)

1 sad lonely win share (down from 14 and 8 the previous two seasons)

I dunno about you guys, but that does not exactly fill me with confidence.

After the 2008 season I really, really hate to say that the Tigers don’t need extra bats, because that is obviously not true. But I reckon it’s fair to say that the Tigers need pitching MORE. No team can ever have too many arms, and this is doubly and triply true for the Tigers, where the Spazzosaurus runs rampant and the minors are still recovering from past trades.

Jackson has a (to this point) healthy arm and youth (two things not possessed by, say, JJ Putz). Matt Joyce is young and has the potential to be quite a good player, but the Tigers need pitching more than they need outfielders. I assume that this would be the thinking behind a Joyce/Jackson trade, if it does indeed end up goin’ down. I can understand it, but, given what Jackson did last year, I’m not quite ecstatic about it.

(Numberz in dis post mostly from Fangraphs and the ’09 Bill James Handbook sittin’ in my lap.)

What about this Putz fellow?

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

We finally have a developing market! Closers for the win! Let loose the celebratory doves and so on.

K-Rod has gone to the Mets, and Kerry Wood looks like he’ll be getting into bed with the Racist Logos.

The Tigers have not signed a closer yet, but as we all are sadly, painfully aware, the bullpen is an area of DESPERATE NEED for these cats, and the Tigers have accordingly had their paws in discussions about Brian Fuentes, Joe Beimel, possibly Chad Cordero, and JJ Putz. The Putz talks have been pretty active, thus: this post.

As with Jack Wilson, let’s go through and look at this with the clarifying power of bold font.

–What does JJ Putz have to offer us?

–What would JJ Putz cost?

–Is JJ Putz worth that cost? and if not, why not?

–Isn’t ‘putz’ an actual word?

What does JJ Putz have to offer us?

Putz is a power pitcher. He mostly throws a fastball in the 95 mph range (he throws it anywhere from 78-67% of the time, according to Fangraphs), mixing in a mid-80s splitter and a slider with similar velocity, which would probably strain his arm if he was starting but is fine for a closer. He’ll be 32 years old in 2009.

Here comes some boring stuff!

In 2008 Putz posted an ERA of 3.88 and a WHIP of 1.60. He threw 10.88 K/9 and had a 2.00 K/BB ratio. Just for comparison, look at what Jonathan Papelbon, a dude we can probably all agree is an elite closer, did last year: 2.34 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 10.00 K/9, 9.63 K/BB. Pretty big difference, right?

Thing is, Putz’s ’08 numbers were very atypical. I know that an ERA of 3.88 seems kind of great because we’ve gotten horribly used to whatever bloated numbers Fernando’s going to put up, but in 2006 Putz had a 2.30 ERA, and in 2007 his ERA was 1.38. His WHIPs in those two years were 0.92 and 0.70. His K/9s were 11.95 and 10.30, and his K/BBs were 8.00 and 6.31. Those are numbers that easily rival Papelbon’s.

The problem, of course, was injury. Two different injuries, to be exact: in early April Putz landed on the DL with inflammation of the cartilage around his ribs, and he hit the 15-day DL again in June with a hyperextended elbow (which was then aggravated in rehab through a comedy-of-errors-esque miscommunication with the team).

His K/9 numbers have been fairly consistent, so even in his down year he was throwing strikes. His K/BB ratio was way outta whack in 2008, though, meaning that Putz was walking many more batters than he usually did. Putz was DL’d on April 2, so by the time he came back he had effectively lost most of April and was playing pitching rhythm catch-up for much of the first half. His timing was all shot to cat poo. It’s even possible that this contributed to the elbow injury that came later; it’s certain that it was a major factor in his unusually high walk rate.

IN SHORT: When healthy, Putz is one of the elite closers in the AL. When in the midst of an injury-dinged season, he walks a lot of dudes and is still not really worse than, say, Fernando Rodney.

Putz is also a Michigan native who grew up in Trenton and went on to become a MICHIGAN WOLVERINE. So at least one tiny part of my brain loves him unconditionally. I feel it’s only fair to mention that.

What would JJ Putz cost?

This is all pure rumor, of course, but the names Jeff Larish and Matt Joyce are being tossed around quite a bit. The most bruited-about seem to be a ‘Jeff Larish plus unnamed pitching prospect X’ rumor, a ‘Matt Joyce plus unnamed pitching prospect X’ rumor, and a ‘Jeff Larish plus Matt Joyce plus maybe unnamed pitching prospect X’ rumor. I would sincerely, SINCERELY hope that that last rumor is unrealistic crazypants.

Putz is set to make $5.5 million in ’09, with either a $9.1 million club option for 2010 or a $1 million buyout. (sauce) There is basically no way in hell that the Mariners would throw in any money, so if you were even tempted to think along those lines, get that nonsense out of your brain. Set in the context of all the money the Tigers did NOT spend on their new catcher or shortstop, though, this is almost a non-issue.

Is JJ Putz worth that cost? and if not, why not?

This really depends on which particular ‘cost’ we’re talking about. Is JJ Putz worth Jeff Larish plus unnamed pitching prospect X plus the at least $6.5 million he’d be owed? I would say YES. Easily.

He had a, for him, very down year. He had injuries. The cartilage inflammation thing skeeves me out a bit because it, like most inflammation injuries, is a repetitive stress injury, and by their very nature those injuries tend to recur. The particular cartilaginous bits we’re talking about with Putz are the ones where the ribs articulate with the breastbone in the center of the chest; a pitcher could get inflammation here either because of back motion (pulling his arm far back near the top part of his delivery) or front motion (pulling his arm sharply across his body as part of his followthrough).

So, yeah, it’s a delivery issue, and I don’t like that, especially for power pitchers (hello, Rich Harden; hello, Kyle Farnsworth).

Buuuuuuuuut, this was not an issue with the arm itself– not the shoulder, not the elbow, not the bicep. It was also not an oblique strain. While there’s potential for recurrence, there is a lot LESS potential for recurrence than most other pitching injuries in the same injury class (i.e. repetitive stress-induced inflammation). The hyperextended elbow I am willing to treat more like a freak injury, especially if his wonky timing from the rib thing contributed to it.

The point is that, although an injury risk is definite and present, he’s still easily worth Larish + pitching prospect + the money, given the seriousness of the Tigers’ need.

If the trade involves Matt Joyce, however, I am much, MUCH less sure that it’s a good deal for the Tigers. Larish has power, but he is 26 years old and his ‘natural’ position is first base– insofar as he has a position, because despite the training the Tigers have tried to give him at third, he is still probably most and best of all a DH. Joyce, on the other paw, has power, is 24 years old, and plays outfield.

Joyce is a LOT more valuable than Larish, and I’m not just saying that because of the kitten and his burgeoning superheroic tendencies. Powerhouse seafarin’ blog USS Mariner agrees and goes into a little more depth.

A JJ Putz who had not suffered from those injuries is probably well worth a package including Joyce, especially to a team whose current closing situation hinges upon Fernando Rodney staying healthy (not especially likely) and pitching well (not especially likely), and/or Joel Zumaya getting and staying healthy (not especially likely) and having matured somewhat (I’m not holding my breath). But the injuries are canon, so just say no to moving Matt Joyce.

Isn’t ‘putz’ an actual word?

Yes it is. According to my Dictionary Widget, it is “a stupid or worthless person”, or vulgar slang for, uh, male anatomy. However, I think putz-the-noun is usually pronounced with the same kind of very short U as the U in the word “butts”, as in “of all third baseman butts, Brandon Inge’s is the finest.”

JJ Putz’s name is pronounced with a slightly longer U, like the one in “puts”, as in “it puts the lotion on its skin”. I have heard lazy sportscasters pronouncing Putz with a wicked long U, like it rhymes with “flutes”, but this is apparently incorrect. And now you know… the rest of the story.

Roar of the Tigers comics introduces a new hero

This is totally true. Absolutely something that happened.

As before, click each page to make it larger/more readable.

eta: If your comment does not show up right away, don’t fear! Because the spam blocker on the new MVN is weird and, well, new, I’m having to ‘teach’ it what’s OK and what isn’t, and sometimes (at this point, often) stuff goes into the Moderation Queue of Limbo Doom instead of posting right away. I’ll approve comments as soon as I can get to them. Yes, this is annoying for me too, but I tried turning it off and, surprise! We got a ton of spam.

So comment away– it will definitely show up on the site. It just might not be immediate.

eta 2: OK, the settings have been changed and comments should show up more easily. If spam also shows up, I’ll deal with it when I get home on the later side of Monday afternoon. Hopefully there will be no spam, only the soothing presence of Matt Joyce with sci fi weaponry.

Tigers win like yesterday, only more so.


Matt Joyce, photo by Samara Pearlstein

Mmm, victory. Sweet, tasty victory.

The Tigers have been taking an odd approach to Ranger pitching: nap through the first half of the game, then wake up and realize they’re facing Ranger pitching in the second half. I don’t know what’s wrong with staying awake for the whole 9 innings, but I guess it’s late in the season and everyone’s basically just a bunch of oversized tired kittens out there.

Arrrrmando fulfilled everyone’s dreams by getting the win against his former, now deeply chagrined organization. Although he gave up three runs, it was really the result of only one bad jam and a wanker of a hanging slider to Chris Davis, who smashed it out of the park. Arrrrrmado did not pitch like a jerk with something to prove, which was basically the key to the game; if he had been too fired up, the damage probably would have been much worse.

The best part of the game, of course, was that wondrous 7th inning, where the Tigers scored NINE runs on six hits, three walks, and a very silly-looking error. That included back-to-back home runs (a three-run blast from Matt Joyce, and an unlikely single-shot from Edgah) off of Vicente Padilla. Four Tigers batted twice in the inning.

The error, which caused a great many lulz in the RotT household, came during Joyce’s second at-bat of the inning. He hit a big fly ball to left center. Brandon Boggs and Josh Hamilton converged on it, and it looked like an easy out to everyone in the ballpark, including Joyce, who slowed on his way to first and (FSN’s cameras focused in for this) made a very distinct ‘awww, shucks’ face. There were two outs at the time and the bases were loaded, so it seemed like it was just another routine mass-stranding on the part of a Tigers batter.

BUT WAIT! The ball, inexplicably, dropped between Boggs and Hamilton. Joyce sped up and made it around to second, while everyone who had been on the bases came home. Both Boggs and Hamilton were RIGHT there. They didn’t collide or anything. They just both stopped running, both looked up at the sky, and PLINK! the ball landed between them. I assume there was some sort of mix-up with the calling. Doesn’t matter, as it was completely hilarious, and pretty much hammered the last nail into the coffin of this game.

On Wednesday Nate goes up against Kevin Millwood. Millwood’s middle name is Austin, continuing the grand tradition of baseball players with Texas names. It’s starting to get a little creepy, to be honest. Next thing you know someone will tell me that there’s a Saltalamacchia county somewhere in the state. And then the world will collapse into a rip in the fabric of spacetime, and all that we know shall come to an end. Go Tigers!

the midseason report card, Roar of the Tigers style


photo by Samara Pearlstein

OK, I’ve seen a lot of blogs on the magical internets doing these midseason report cards and scorecards. I am currently being bored to tears by the All Star game, so what the hell. Obviously this is going to be RotT-style, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

PITCHERS

Jeremy Bonderman
Grade: n/a
Reason: deceased

the Bovine kid
Grade: C
Reason: Every time he goes out there and doesn’t sit down on the mound and start screaming, it’s a plus for us. He’s not handling major league hitting all that well but then again nobody really expected him to do so. In an ideal world (or a less-than-ideal world that nonetheless did not include the destruction of Bondo and Dontrelle) he wouldn’t be anywhere near the big league roster right now.

Freddy Dolsi
Grade: A-
Reason: I saw the very first ever pitches he threw in the big leagues in person, and it seemed eminently likely that the poor kid was going to be scarred for life. This has not been the case. Leyland has been leaning on him awfully hard and he’s bearing up under the pressure remarkably well for a kid who is 12 years old and weighs about 100 pounds.

the Fossum Possum
Grade: D
Reason: Look, it’s Casey Fossum, what do you expect? He doesn’t fail because a) he’s a lefty and b) he gives me an opportunity to say ‘Fossum Possum’.

Arrrrrrrmando Galarrrrrrraga
Grade: A
Reason: The thing with Arrrrmando is that he SHOULD be like Bonine– every time he goes out there and doesn’t start screaming hysterically on the mound, it’s a major plus for the Tigers. But Arrrrmando has been serviceable. Heck, more than that, he’s actually been GOOD. He has been performing so far above any reasonable expectations that it would be downright churlish to give him anything other than an A and a bunch of extra Rs in his name.

Rollercoaster Jones
Grade: B-
Reason: I know this is going to seem insanely generous to a lot of cats, but Jonesy is dead weird and cannot be graded according to the standards of normal people. Sure, his ERA sucks. Sure, his WHIP sucks a LOT (a 1.54 WHIP is pretty bad for a starter, let alone a closer; the best closers in the league right now all have WHIPs under 1.00). Sure, he only has 17 saves– of course the Tigers haven’t given him a ton of save opportunities. But, insanely, he only has 2 blown saves. This compares favorably with some of the best closers in the league. Mariano has none, but Joe Nathan has 2 and Papelbon has 4. Jonesy is frustrating in the extreme but he’s not ACTUALLY deadly most of the time. It’s weird. So, B- .

Aquilino Lopez
Grade: A-
Reason: He’s been fairly good, and kind of flying under the radar. It’ll be interesting to see if the Tigs do manage to convert him to a 5th starter at some point. The best thing about him is still the fact that his name is Aquilino.

Zach Miner
Grade: D
Reason: CONTROL. GET U SUM.

Clay Rapada
Grade: C
Reason: Eh. Sometimes he pitches OK. Mostly he comes up when we need a spare left hand in the bullpen, and gets sent down when more reliable options become healthy/available/sane. Probably the coaches have a good reason for this.

Nate Robertson
Grade: C+
Reason: Nate has had some hard luck this season, we all know that, and he’s pitched some amazingly amazing games, but he’s also pitched some awful games. In a beautiful world filled with fluffy kittens and the ballplayers who hug them, Nate would be a #5 starter. Unfortunately, we do not yet live in that world, and Nate has to play like a less marginal pitcher because we barely have 4 starters, let alone 5.

Fernando
Grade: C-
Reason: Watching Fernando fail on the mound, when I KNOW that he has the latent ability to throw deadly, unhittable pitches, is one of the most frustrating things in the whole wide world of baseball. Fernando makes me want to pull out my own hair and at the same time reach through my TV screen to strangle him. It’s very healthy. He doesn’t get a D because he is at least still (slowly) (incrementally) dragging his numbers back down towards respectability, and because he’s from a city that’s only one letter off from my name. I dig that.

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Kitten Power gets the Tigers to the All Star break


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Hey there folks and felines, hope you all had a good weekend! I’m back from the Cape, where all my expectations for the vacation came true (i.e. there was fun baseball, there was good food, I managed to get a terrible sunburn despite SPF 70 sunscreen). I saw bits and pieces of the Red Sox games during that time, but no Tigers games. I see that we lost three out of four, which does NOT make me happy, but at least they managed to salvage the Sunday game and head into the break with a win. That’s something. I guess.

A much bigger something is the apparent Kitten Power, which has taken over Matt Joyce with its radiant fuzzy awesomeness. Remember, Joyce rescued a kitten right before the July 8 game. In the 5 games since then he has homered 4 times. He had homered 5 times in the previous 29 games.

There can be only one explanation, and that explanation is kittens. OBVIOUSLY.

Going into the break, things are looking up, kind of, sort of, maybe. The Tigs are playing with more consistency than they did in, say, May. Verlander is starting to look like he’s less freaked out by his own pitch counts. Zoom is back and throwing hard. Inge is back and able to spell Pudge behind the plate again. Jonesy is as elastic of spirit as ever. A bunch of cats who were batting in really atrocious ways to begin the season have started hiking their averages back up around the .280-.300 range. Granderson’s hitting lefties on occasion. The River Thames has been stupidly fun to watch. Maggs is starting his rehab assignment at West Michigan on Monday. Dolsi has been unexpectedly good. Cabrera has been earning his keep of late.
We’re 7 games out of first, 5.5 games behind the second place Twins. We’re squatting squarely on top of .500. We only have one player going to exhaust himself at the All Star game festivities.

Of course things are not nearly as good as they could be. Guillen makes terrible throws from third almost as often as he makes spectacular stops. Arrrrrrrmando does not seem like he’s on a sustainable path. Zoom can’t throw anything BUT a fastball. We don’t actually have a 5th starter and we are NOT a team that can scrape by with grit and guile and 4 starters. Edgar Renteria exists. All the obliques are rebelling against their human hosts. We are, y’know, 7 games out of first and clinging tenuously to a .500 record.

These are fairly big problems, but then I remember Matt Joyce and his kitten– his KITTEN POWER! It really has given him magical ability, or something. Ability to make amazing dives (hopefully EVENTUALLY ability to read the ball correctly off the bat and move into the proper direction), ability to hit the baseball. It is a beautiful thing.

The Home Run Derby is tomorrow, and the ASG is Tuesday, for your apathetic and bored viewing pleasure. Real baseball resumes Thursday in Baltimore at 7 pm. I’m actually planning (weather permitting, as always) to be at the Orioles/Tigers games that Saturday and Sunday, so if you’re gonna be there, drop me a line!

Go AL (insert reluctant and subdued cheer here), and go Tigers!

a much-needed victory for the Tigers, a long-awaited victory for Polanco


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

First off, congratulations to Placido Polanco, who became an American citizen in a ceremony with a bunch of other cats at the ballpark before the game. Yay! Of course, he apparently passed the citizenship test THREE YEARS AGO, but had to wait for a security check. His wife and kids were already citizens, he’s lived here for 16 years, he’s a professional baseball player with the relatively public life that comes with such a job, but hey, sometimes those are the sneakiest ones!!

Oh, I know the whole system’s woefully inefficient and whatever, but three years, seriously? Ugh. OK. YAY FOR PLACIDO!

“It means a lot, because I’ve been here [in Detroit] for what, four years, and now the Tigers feel like part of my family,” Polanco said. “I feel like I’ve been here forever, and this is the organization that has given me the chance to play every day finally. To become a citizen here, it’s a very important thing for me to do this in front of all these fans that I really appreciate.”

“I’ve lived half of my life here [in the US],” Polanco said. “I went to college here. My kids were born here. My wife is a citizen, so now, I [was] the only one missing. I’ll be part of the family now.”
Scott McNeish/MLB.com article

Awww, Placido, you already were.

After the ceremony there was, of course, a game, and the Tigers did manage to win. Unfortunately so did the Wrong Sox (thanks for nothing, ROYALS), but the Red (Correct) Sox beat the double out of the Twins this afternoon, hopefully tenderizing them a little for us. So we’re still 7 back from the top of the division, but we’re only 3.5 games behind Minnesota and we’re a couple games over .500. I know I keep harping and such, but all of this seemed nearly impossible at the end of the first two months of the season, so thank cats for small favors.

I’ll be honest: I did not really think we were gonna win this one. Byrd was ON and Bonine was… well, pretty much the opposite of whatever kind of ON Byrd was. Casey Fossum came in and tried his hardest to save our stripey bums– 6 Ks in 3.1 innings! From CASEY FOSSUM! It was unexpected and amazing. But it looked for all the world like this was going to be another game where whatever hole the Tigs had dug for themselves early on would prove too steep to climb out of, because the offense could get NOTHING going for most of the game. Then a magical thing happened.

Rafael Betancourt came into the game.

I don’t want to take anything away from the Tigers bats who finally came around. Matt Joyce’s home run was a thing of glory and happiness and OBVIOUSLY GOOD LUCK AND KARMA BECAUSE OF THE WHOLE THING WITH THE KITTEN FROM YESTERDAY (moral of the story: kittens lead to home runs, therefore we must have more kittens, and most especially more ballplayers interacting with kittens). But Betancourt was breathtakingly bad.

Even with his terribleness, we very nearly let this one get away. I was not keen to see it possibly go to extras, not with a day game tomorrow. Miguel Cabrera also did not want it to go to extras, so he hit a walkoff home run. You know, as he does. So far this month he has been slugging .958 (not a typo!!), and I don’t think that’s counting this game. Obviously that’s a small sample size kind of number– his slugging percentage is, in a good year, generally around .560 when all is said and done– but it’s still so pretty. Mmmm, power.

In other Tigers news:

–Edgah finally batted a run in, and promptly did something to himself on the basepaths and had to come out of the game. Figures. Last I heard he was day-to-day. It looked like he maybe just tweaked a hamstring or somesuch.

–They’re demolishing Tiger Stadium. I don’t want to talk about it.

–Inge should be back on Thursday. I realize that these are big divisional games, right before the break, but honestly? I would let him rest up until after the All Star shenanigans were over. If it was an injury with a clear timetable like a bone break or surgery healing I’d say sure, bring him back, but I think the longer he’s on a light workload with that oblique, the better it’s going to heal (and the less likely it is that he’ll reinjure it straight off). I’m probably being crazy and neurotic, but it’s not like baseball in general or the Tigers specifically have a great track record dealing with guys with strained obliques, so I feel justified in my neuroses.

Sardinha was DFA’d to make room. With the anemic nature of his bat I reckon the chances of him ending up back in the Tigers system are quite high, but who knows, it’s a crazy world out there for catchers.

–We also brought Jeff Larish back up and sent the Bovine kid back to AA. Ouch. Too bad it would be COMPLETELY BATGUANO CRAZY for us to just go with a 4-man rotation, because that’s functionally what we’ve been doing for (what feels like) most of the season now.

–Dontrelle has tendonitis in his knee. As with the injuries of everyone else on this team, that means it is not going to go away easily and is only going to get worse if he keeps using it. Aweeeeesome. Lingering, likely-to-recur injuries are our specialty this year!

Thursday’s game is Kenny Rogers vs. Kevin Slowey, at 1 pm EDT. Kenny is 21 years older than me. Slowey is one year older than me. Strange and pointless facts of the day! Go Tigers!

Miguel Cabrera is the Puma


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Why didn’t anyone tell me that Miguel Cabrera is in some circles nicknamed ‘the Puma’ (not, I don’t think, ‘the Big Puma’, which is Lance Berkaman)??? THIS IS VITAL INFORMATION, PEOPLE! Plus it meant that during today’s game we got the following glorious series of exchanges between Rod and Mario…

Mario: You know what a puma is, right?
Rod: *uncertain pause* Cat. *another pause* Big cat.
Mario: Jamie Walker’s nickname was ‘the Cat’.
Rod: Uh huh!
Mario: Not the big cat. More like medium cat. *pause* Medium-sized cat.

Oh man you guys I love baseball so hard.

The Puma went yard twice off of Racist Logos pitching today, which is excellent, because the Puma still cannot run much on his bum hip. After each home run he lumbered around the bases, returned to the dugout, and consumed a deer haunch. He then buried the rest of the deer carcass under the pitching mound so that he could come back to eat it tomorrow (true puma behavior FACT!).

The River Thames, sensing competition, also homered, as is his wont. It was one of those ridiculous little afterthought bat-flips that makes you squeal in high-pitched appreciation for The River’s power, because a swing like that should in no way result in a home run, especially in a park like Comerica. There is of course no telling how The River’s power will hold up after the All Star break, but he is certainly seizing his moment as best he can.

To add insult to the already emotionally injured Racist Logo pitching, Pudge also homered. Pudge this season has all the power of a pygmy marmoset (this was only his 4th home run, and pygmy marmosets have wee tiny hands that can barely hold baseball bats), so if the R.L. pitchers weren’t already planning to cry themselves to sleep tonight, this would have cemented it.

I must say that I was pleased to see the R.L.s wearing their alternate hats for this game. I find it much easier to spend 9 innings looking at that swoopy I, as opposed to the horrific Chief Wahoo.

ALSO THIS HAPPENED:

Their afternoon visitor didn’t seem like a good sign. With rain forcing the Tigers inside for batting practice, they were in the cage when someone heard the sounds of a cat’s meow. Matt Joyce grabbed a chair, took a look above the cage and inside the stadium and found a black kitten tangled in wires and cables.

Joyce and some teammates took the kitten into the clubhouse and fed it a little. Then Tigers personnel found an animal rescue program to help out. But the superstition was not lost.

Some players got a kick out of it. Others stayed away. Starting pitcher Justin Verlander stayed away because he’s allergic to cats. Cabrera avoided it for the superstition.

“I thought that was hilarious,” Joyce said. “I said, ‘Yeah, this thing’s gonna bring us good luck.'”
Jason Beck/MLB.com article

DEAR MATT JOYCE,
WE LOVE YOU FOREVER.
-ROAR OF THE TIGERS

Although it’s very disappointing to hear that Justin is allergic to cats. I guess this could explain some of his struggles this season… Paws needs to stop with the pregame hugs.

Wednesday’s game is at 7 pm EDT and pits Eddie Bonine against Paul Byrd. Misspelled cows vs. misspelled avians! ANIMAL FIGHT!! Go Tigers!