The 40-game mark

I alluded to Sparky Anderson’s old milestone for evaluating a team when I was writing about last night’s game, a mark that basically gained steam from the Tigers’ 35-5 start in 1984. This year’s team isn’t anywhere near that, and they’re not using 40 games as a benchmark. Still, this season’s 24-16 record through 40 games is the fourth-best such mark since that ’84 squad. The ’06 World Series squad went 27-13. The ’93 and ’88 teams both went 25-15. The ’07 and ’85 Tigers also went 24-16. All of those teams finished with winning records, though only the ’06 team went to the postseason.

The thing that stands out about this year’s start is more than the record, but the way the Tigers have been winning. Detroit entered Saturday second in the AL in fielding percentage, barely behind Minnesota. The 3.96 ERA from the overall ranks third in the AL, and the 3.85 ERA from the starters is second only to the Angels. The Tigers have had quality starts in nearly half their games, 19 out of 40.

“If we continue to pitch and catch the ball, we’ll be OK,” manager Jim Leyland said.

The defense feeds into the pitching with outs they might not have otherwise had last year. The pitching feeds into the defense by working efficiently, especially with the much-improved Justin Verlander and the revelation that has been Edwin Jackson.

The other facet is how the Tigers basically transitioned their offense after the season started because of injuries and deals.

“It’s been interesting,” Leyland said, “because we’ve been a different type club recently than we were before. So when our other guys come back, we’ll be relying more on hitting the ball in the gaps and out of the ballpark and driving in big runs. But when we’ve had this group, we’ve relied a little bit more on some defense and speed. But the bottom line, the common denominator, is the pitching continues to pitch good.”


Why Raburn? Larish and Anderson are riding the pine against the RHP?
I guess it’s good to give Raburn a game but I honestly feel he is the guy that is going when either Carlos or Macus returns.

Marquis has given up higher average and more damage to right-handed hitters than left-handed hitters over the last couple years. The difference isn’t as vast over his career, but it’s been big recently.

Oh–that’s why! Thanks JB

Pretty aggressive baal by te Rockies. Sending Fowler home with Helton on deck was a gamble–that paid off.

Marquis seems to be acquitting himself rather well. G-Man finally got a scoreless inning–hope he can back it up because runs will be difficult to get against this guy.

Boy I’m sure tired of G-Man giving up taters and long fly balls. He is not fooling hitters lately.
Funny thing-3-0 pitch and Helton hits it out–if he walks JL probably takes G-Man out. He yards one and gets to start al over!

I hope G-Man can rediscover himself. It is strange to see someone pitch so effectively and exude so much confidence and then become the quickly become the polar opposite.
Too many fly balls and too many guys teeing off on him right now. He is a candidate for Toledo.

Tough break for MCab on the fould drive. Ordonez is crucial offensivel for this team. If he struggles this year I hope they have the courage to try something different.
Giving Maggs a SB on that play is ridiculous. Another example of lousy official scoring. He reached 3rd and scored on the error by Stewart. The throw was dead on and in time–how the heck does Ordonez get a stolen base and the catcher an error?
Be nice if we could steal this one but then weewould have to assume Nate holds them scoreless. Somehow I don’t see that happening.

I stand corrected. Nate actually did the job. But in my book there is no way he comes out for another inning.

Well next inning (provided we can hold ’em) will be big. The top of the order has been largely unproductive lately. Granderson needs to to do something special. As I mentioned in another post–I think he needs a blow. Unless he hits a big fly- he just seems listless.

That’s a great job by Marquis tonight.
Also a smooth move by Hurdle. Not sure JL would make a move like that under the circumstances.
Thomas is gonna have trouble with this guy. And there is no one that can pinch-hit for him with Raburn already in the game. Like I say-smooth move by Hurdle

What is wrong with Curtis?
For that matter what is wrong with Polanco and Ordonez too?
If the team could steal one tonight it would be miraculous.

Got a break on ball 4.
Can anybody spell pinch runner?

With Maggs on , he has to pinch hit Ramon for Raburn.

Well it would have been nice but the truth is they didin’t deserve to win that one anyway.

JL and his big ball mentality. Going to Larish hitting .081 with RISP. Good that he showed restraint to get the walk although his pitches were way off.
Criminal for Ramon to remain on the bench in that game. Polly should have gone after his second of four groundouts.

Oh by the way, Ramon is .409 with RISP.

Well, the Metrodome debacle so demoralized the Tigers that they ran off seven wins in a row. Take that, Dr. Phil.
End of streak. I’d rather have it end in a blowout but it’s usually a close one. Galarraga was better but not good. Tomorrow will be another test, as we’ll see if Willis can carry on and perhaps begin establishing himself as a reliable member of the rotation.
JL has already said that Santiago will start at second tomorrow, giving Polanco a blow. If Razor has another big day, you really have to think about finding a way to get him in there more. My complaints from years past of getting him more PT have been put to rest, as he’s gotten much more time this season. But if he continues to do what he’s been doing, we may have to re-think it again.
I’m not worried about Polanco, or even Ordonez, but Granderson is making me scratch my head. I agree that he needs some days off, and it’s not like we don’t have the people to plug in there. I hate to say it, but he’s bringing absolutely nothing from the leadoff spot. Someone who hits .245 with 12 homers would fit nicely in about the six hole. You’d need a replacement at leadoff and I’m not sure who that could be. Santiago, but he doesn’t play everyday. I would, however, like to see that tomorrow since he is in there. The more the big boys begin to return to the club, the more Grandy is pushed into the leadoff spot. So, is Curtis too busy being Curtis Granderson? Did the WBC claim another victim? He’s someone we usually don’t need to discuss. Thoughts?

Yeah Dave. We didn’t need a HR there with Josh on second. It would be refreshing if JL would finally show some confidence in and appreciation of Ramon by inserting him into a clutch situation and seeing how he reacts. Larish has a good eye and drew the walk but they weren’t going to let him beat them anyway, and basically took the bat out of his hands. Of course it put the winning run on but, a simple line drive single would have tied the game and swung the momentum back our way.
As already stated, the logical move would be to send Larish down when Carlos comes back, and then Raburn down when Marcus returns. Josh and Clete will cover defensively in the outfield with Clete getting the greater playing time while Josh is used more as a late inning defensive replacement for Magglio, pinch running, plus the occasional start.
Pitching and defense are carrying the team but it’s becoming more apparent that an offensive infusion of pure hitting and power hitting are needed. Hopefully Carlos and Marcus will provide it. But they’ll both need to start producing right away. Otherwise some of the present chemistry that is bringing success might be lost.

Had time to cool down about our offense mismanagement. JL did however use his relief pitchers well with Nate and Lyon both doing well in a close game we were behind in. Crazy what a difference one or two runs can make in a pitchers mind when a loss or blown save is out of the equation.
Our clutch players in RISP this year in order of batting average with (AB’s) are Miggs .410 (39); Ramon .409 (22); Maggs .368 (38); Josh .364 (22); Binge .333 (39); Raburn .333 (6); Everett .308 (26); Polly .290 (31); Clete .25 (12); Curtis .237 (38); Laird .2 (25) and Larish .081 (11).
Maybe Josh is more than just fast legs if given some regular playing time and not just once a week. And I say again, Ramon at 9??? Thats assuming he is even playing.
Maggs, Miggs, Polly and Carlos all have 6 GDP’s, with Detroit occupying 4 of the top 17 AL positions. We have all witnessed the extra bases we are regularly getting after poor throws on a base steal. JL has to break up the old guard to also minimise these innings killing DP’s. Looking at his RISP stats and base stealing will help in his thinking.
Oh well. Ended back on our offense mismanagement.

Here we are wondering if Willis will be a productive member in the rotation when in essence, we were all wondering if he would ever make it back to the show.
One game doesn;t mean he has made it back but truthfully, in this situation, it does mean quite a lot. He may get tagged and he may have bouts of wildness, but he did show he can pitch up here. I only hope he gets even better.

“JL and his big ball mentality.”

Uhm… big ball? You mean the manager who starts the runners, bunts, squeezes, and other NL styles of small ball? JL is far from a big ball manager.

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