Good night for Magglio

Looking for a bright spot from the Tigers’ offensive effort Friday night? It’s a short list, and it begins with the man whose struggles have been used almost as a crutch at times for the Tigers’ hitting woes as a team.

“I was encouraged a little bit tonight by the way Magglio swung,” manager Jim Leyland said after Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Angels. “I think he looked like himself a little bit more tonight.”

Ordonez had two hits and drove in Detroit’s lone run, and he made Ervin Santana pay for walking Miguel Cabrera with two out and a shutout bid on the line in the ninth. But it was Ordonez’s other hit that raised some eyebrows.

If not for Comerica Park’s cavernous right-center field around the out-of-town scoreboard, Ordonez’s fifth-inning leadoff drive might have been gone. As it was, he got it to the warning track and over center field Torii Hunter, sending him around second. It was his first extra-base hit in almost a week, but more importantly, it was a ball that Ordonez centered and drove instead of trying to go the other way with it. He has had a lot of opposite-field hits on his way to a .280 average this season, but hasn’t mixed it up with many pulled shots over the last few weeks, if not longer.

“The one he drove to center was encouraging,” Leyland said. “He hit that ball a long way, so hopefully that’s a sign of some things to come.”

His other hit went to right, but it went there with some authority. It was Detroit’s lone hit with runners in scoring position Friday.

Yes, the lack of production is startling in a bad way, as many have been writing about. But before people write off Ordonez as a hitter, consider this: He’s batting .350 (28-for-80) with eight doubles, seven RBIs and 13 runs scored over his last 21 games, and virtually that entire stretch has come while he worries for his wife and cares for his kids. He’s batting .362 with runners in scoring position this season, and he’s 8-for-13 with a runner on third and two out, including his ninth-inning single Friday. He’s now batting around .320 on balls put in play, down from his past two seasons, but still better than his .315 BABIP in 2006 or his .316 career clip.

Is he a hitter on the downside of his career? Sure looks like it at age 35. But save the dramatics for the DH in Boston. Unlike David Ortiz now and Gary Sheffield last year, Ordonez is still hitting, but without the same authority. It isn’t what the Tigers need right now, but it’s better than what they could be getting.

For what it’s worth, he feels like he’s coming around.

“Mentally, I feel more relaxed, now that everything’s now fine, everything’s taken care of,” Ordonez said. “I’m just going to go out there, have fun, and try to help my team to win.”

17 Comments

Well Rich and everyone I don’t know if you saw my last post, regarding last nights game?? But I couldn’t be more disguested with the efforts that are being put forth regarding these hitters. I am really sick and tired of having a struggling pitcher or that AAA call up that everyone seems to be able to hit but the Tigers. It gets sugar coated as those the guy just had the best night. Well if that is the case he comes out of it for one night and then well he is scuffling again on the mound. I might buy it a few times but it happens time and time again. And frankly it is real boring and unentertaining. As much as I love em I am completely frustrated. But it is like an accident that I can’t look away from.
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One thing is very clear to me that Polanco is killing us right now behind the plate, all he does is hit weak popups to right or a ground out to second. Having Guillen out of the lineup is killing us. Even though he was struggling himself, he was just another offensive threat. And with out Cabrera in the lineup, I am sure that pitchers are just not that fearful..
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I don’t know something has got to give pretty soon because if this goes on well, we will be looking way up, like last year. And wouldn’t ya know it Minnesota won last night. They are now only 1.5 back. WATCHOUT TIGERS.
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GO WINGS
GO TIGERS
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GK

Ordonez isn’t the problem. The problem is he’s surrounded by youngsters playing because of injuries, and some veteran hitters who are having unbelieveably bad years.
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The reality is, however, that we committed this season to winning with pitching and defense. We’re getting both. I seem to recall a whole bunch of people crying out for more speed and youth and we have that. There will be periods when we don’t hit. If we can keep pitching as we have, we’re in it for the long haul.
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A thought on not getting home runners on third with less than two out. There was a time in most of our lifetimes when that run was a gimme, hitters used to find ways to get that run in. That’s not the case anymore. Throughout baseball, you’ll see that runner being stranded by all teams. Want an example? Look at the Angels last night with 1st and 3rd and 1 out and Bad Vlad at the plate. Doubleplay. No run. It’s frustrating, sure, but it also works in our favor. I’ve just adjusted my expectations in those situations, brought them in line with today’s game. The automatic sac fly is going the way of the complete game. I don’t know if there are stats to back that up, but if anyone wants to take a stab at that, it would be interesting.
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And the Twins are 9 over .500 at home, and 9 under on the road. They’re not scary yet.
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–Rich

Ervin Santana is an excellent pitcher. His numbers were terrible coming into the game because of the fact that he was just activated off the DL and was getting arm strength back.
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Just imagine what teams who faced Verlander felt like when he came in with a really high ERA and then shut them down completely. Or Rick Porcello, a kid who hadn’t pitched above A ball and had a 6.75 ERA in April. Or when Dontrelly allowed one hit in that one game. This happens to all teams, and the Tigers are in first place, so we really need to keep some perspective. If our record looked like Cleveland, that would be bad. But, if our pitching falls off a little bit and our bats warm up a little bit, it may cancel out. Better that than winning every game 16-2 right now and then losing a bunch of 7-3 games later in the year.
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Ask me about this again in a week, if we are still losing, and I might feel otherwise :-)

Let’s look at tonight’s pitcher, Mr. Kelvim Escobar. This guy is an authentic Tiger killer, 8-0 vs Detroit, who won 18 games in 2007 before going down with an injury. This is his first start since then, and he’s had a very good minor league stint in preparation.
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You also want to look at the game preview page on the main site. At the bottom, it lists the hitters for both teams and how they’ve done vs that night’s starter. What strikes me this year is how often half or more of our lineup has never faced that pitcher. You can look at video, and the veterans can give you some clues, but until you step in there, you really don’t know what to expect.
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If you look at that page for today’s game, it doesn’t look too promising for us. Of course, “that’s why they play the games” as they say, but you can get a good idea that this could be another tough evening. The one thing they can try is to run up his pitch count to about 90 and get him out of there, getting into their weak bullpen. They also have to think one run at a time. Start the runners (as JL has been doing) and you may even try a safety squeeze if the situation presents itself. A suicide squeeze is often just that, suicide, but a good bunter can work the safety and either score the run or get on himself. I don’t think we’re going to bang out a dozen hits against this guy, but we’ve got our own strong starter. It’s 1968 baseball here.
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–Rich

The hitting woes go much deeper than the young kids. No one is hitting well with runners in scoring position. Polanco, (my favorite) has been horrible. He is hitting more than 50 points less than his career batting average. They have all got to step it up. And they can make all the excuses they want, they need a lot of work when it comes to hitting.
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Yes Santana is a good pitcher but in the 18 innings he had pitched so far this year he had allowed 31 hits, and 8 base on balls. You cannot convince me that he is going to go from horrible to unhittable in 5 days. Something in between yes but not to unhittable. We use this as an excuse a little too, much in my opinion.

Incredible performance by Jackson. Even better than the one I saw on Sunday, and that was the best I’ve seen in quite some time. A complete game that stopped a losing streak, that’s big time pitching right there.
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Jim Leyland has done nearly everything within his power to get this team scoring opportunities, but no one can get the big hit. Caps off to JL for the effort, though. I did find it interesting that, after my post on the lost art of the sac fly, the deciding run scored on one by Granderson.
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So Larish is optioned to Toledo, which can only help him, and Thames returns. If Cabrera can’t go tomorrow, do they slot Marcus at firstbase? I know it’s been awhile, but he did learn the position a couple of years ago.
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The standings have returned to where they were yesterday. It’s that kind of year. The Twins, 21-12 at home and 7-17 on the road, are somewhat of a joke in this regard. What are they going to do next year when their warehouse is gone? If we can get some runs tomorrow and a win, we’re in as good a shape as possible going into Chicago.
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Since I seem to be talking to myself anyway, I wonder if Dontrelle Willis could convert into a firstbaseman, ala Rick Ankiel? A big LH hitting and throwing firstbaseman. Might be one way for him to keep those paychecks coming in. I understand the guy has hit .234 with 8 homers as a pitcher. What if he hit everyday?
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–Rich

Everyone watching the Wings go, lucky one Detroit team knows how score.
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Don’t stop there Rich with the Willis ‘left field’ ideas. You could then get him to close games to keep his pitching arm from getting too stale!! :-)

Good night for the D. Both teams were awesome. Edwin, was terrific, and I won’t say the hitting was good, however at least they were patient and made the guy throw some pitches. That to me is an improvement.
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Wings were awesome. They looked more like themselves. Whether is was a 5-0 win or a 5-4 win they still played more like the Wings.
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GO WING
GO TIGERS

Sklant, I agree. I just want to differentiate between guys like Matt Palmer and David Hernandez shutting them down and Ervin Santana or Kelvim Escobar, who are capable of turning it on in a hurry. Remember Verlander was terrible and then started his amazing string the next start after giving up 7 runs in 5 innings.
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Rich, Jackson was phenomenal. Pitched the 9th like a flame-throwing closer, even after already pitching 8 innings! I like your Willis idea. I remember reading quotes from Leyland last year saying he wouldn’t use Willis as a pinch-hitter and it irritated me. Why not use your entire team to its full advantage?

Move over CC, here comes Mr. Jackson. Well, maybe not quite that far, but Jackson sure gave us a game. That last inning had me sitting on the edge of my seat with goosebumps. Just a spectacular effort. That crowd got to witness something real special.

Great hit by Inge here in the first. I don’t think he ever would have done that last year. Maybe Thames will be the catalyst to get the offense going, at least I hope.

And there ya go, the season has been saved again. :-) Nothing that 9 walks and a grand slam can’t fix.
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I didn’t know that Raburn also played firstbase, and he played it pretty well. Since he’s also an emergency catcher, that means he can do everything but pitch. I think I’d keep someone like him on the roster too.
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Zumaya got carried away with himself today, to the team’s detriment. He’s got to realize this isn’t a rock concert and you don’t necessarily want to always be “giving the fans what they want to see” as he puts it. He was really overthrowing in the 8th inning.
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Good win. Having Thames helps, because they have to deal with him even if he doesn’t get any hits.
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The postgame show on FSN was a very revealing look at Tiger fans. If you didn’t see it, you won’t know what I’m talking about. ;-)
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–Rich

Rich I couldn’t agree with you more. I also think that Thames helped. Not only did he get a couple of hits, he is a real threat that opposing pitchers have to concern themselves with. And I liked how they made Saunders work and work, they didn’t let him off the hook with easy innings. Clete was just icing on the cake. I could be wrong, but I think that is the first real come from behind late inning win we have had this year. It wasn’t in the ninth, but I will take the eighth. But again it was being patient and making them work.
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I do think that Zumaya was getting a little fastball happy. Don’t know if he wasn’t feeling his offspeed pitches or if he was just in love with the radar gun today. According to the gameday, he threw 21 pitches at 100 mph or higher. (there were also a few that hovered right around 98-99. Hopefully Knapp will straighten him out on that.
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Regarding Raburn there was one other game that he went in at first when Cabrera had been pulled for a pinch hitter. My guess is that they knew Larish was going away and want to get him some time there. He did look okay though even though nothing grand had to be done there.
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GO TIGERS
GO WINGS

Well, I apologize for dissing on Clete Thomas. He did a great job in that AB. Maybe he does have a place on the team, after all. Nice to finally see him show some personality, too.
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Leyland oughta be spanked for intentionally walking Itzuris, though. That was Izturis’s second intentional walk of the series, actually, which is bizarre. Is this guy more dangerous than Vlad or something?
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And bringing in Rodney for the ninth seemed unnecessary. Now the Tigers have another crucial arm tired as they head to Chicago for a doubleheader and five-game series. Why not pitch Lyon in a situation like that, and only bring in Rodney if a run scores?
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But all in all, a great game, and great series.

I’ve been one of Jim Leyland’s chief critics here, but I’ve liked nearly all of the moves he’s made lately. He’s probably had to manage the games themselves more than he’d like, but I’ve been happy with what he’s doing. Which means he’s doing what I would do, of course. :-) Just thought that was worth mentioning, since I sure get on him at times.
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I see some discussions of trades that could be made. One of the few guys I wouldn’t mind getting is Adam Dunn. Strikes out a lot but walks a lot. Good eye, is on base often, and can sure give you some longball. I don’t think he’d disrupt team chemistry either.
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It’s past time to begin putting this White Sox curse to rest, and this is a good opportunity coming up. Doubleheader Monday, and Verlander and Jackson on Wednesday and Thursday, sandwiched around Tuesday’s Willis start. If we can keep the Sox in the yard, they won’t stand a chance. Let’s get three of these games and head on to Pittsburgh.
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–Rich

Well I was just watching the weather and it looks as though they are expecting some severe weather in the Chicago area. (all day long) Hopefully they can get at least one of the games in and put the double header for a day later. I am just waiting for Chicago to pull another stunt. They as we all have discussed before seem to be a little dirty.
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Still thinking about going to Pittsburgh on Sunday for the game. But it would just be a drive in and drive out? We’ll see. Might be a last minute decision. What would be funny is if the Wings win the Cup this week to wear Wings gear? (NO I wouldn’t do that?????)
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GO BONDO
GO WINGS
GO TIGERS

Great job to Edwin Jackson – what a great find this guy has turned out to be – stellar. And glad to see him get to finish the game, I was hoping Verlander would have gotten the opportunity to do so as well for his game. Bats were pretty quite again, but way to go Clete, such excitement in yesterdays game – I was standing in front of the tv, husband couldn’t figure out why I was doing that, but I was too jacked waiting to see what was going to happen!

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