June 26th, 2009

Thames in left, Magglio in right

Just got back from the Astros clubhouse at Minute Maid Park and a good chat with Pudge, who looks and sounds rejuvenated a bit here in Houston. Look for highlights of that on the blog a little later tonight.

As for the game, you’ll see in the lineup that Marcus Thames is in left. Jim Leyland said he had weighed starting him or Ryan Raburn, but wanted to put in Thames for the quick at some quick offense against Wandy Rodriguez. Magglio, meanwhile, is back in right.

As for Curtis Granderson, he said he isn’t as worried about the hill in center field as he is about playing the short dimensions in left. Keep in mind, the Tigers played two games here at the end of Spring Training last year.

TIGERS

  1. Granderson, CF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Cabrera, 1B
  4. Thames, LF
  5. Inge, 3B
  6. Ordonez, RF
  7. Laird, C
  8. Everett, SS
  9. Verlander, P

ASTROS

  1. Michael Bourn, CF
  2. Jeff Keppinger, 3B
  3. Miguel Tejada, SS
  4. Carlos Lee, LF
  5. Lance Berkman, 1B
  6. Hunter Pence, RF
  7. Ivan Rodriguez, C
  8. Kazuo Matsui, 2B
  9. Wandy Rodriguez, P

Price and Keating team up again

Tigers radio play-by-play man Dan Dickerson is moving around a little better in the weeks since his leg injury a month ago in Kansas City. Unfortunately, he hasn't been cleared to travel quite yet. You know the deal by now: FSN Detroit's Tigers Live pregame show host, John Keating, will join Jim Price in the booth while the Tigers are on the road for this three-city, 10-day trip. Had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Keating call some play-by-play during the series in St. Louis a week and a half ago while I was back in Detroit; he sounded like a natural.

Attendance note

A little note before taking off for Houston: Thursday’s sellout crowd of 42,332 was the largest crowd of the season besides Opening Day. Yes, the largest non-opener crowd was a weekday afternoon game. Moreover, the total for the three-game series against the Cubs was the largest of any three-game set this year (they can probably thank some Cubs fans for that, admittedly). The Tigers drew at least 38,000 for all six games of the just-finished homestand.

A lot has been made about the drop in attendance at Comerica Park compared to last season, and understandably so given the economy. But last season aside, the Tigers usually don’t regularly draw packed crowds until the summer, when Michigan weather finally warms up and the kids are out of school. So really, comparing early-season crowds this year with the average from every game last season is a little skewed. We’ll get a better idea what’s going on this summer.

For what it’s worth, the Tigers are still somehow fourth among AL teams in attendance, averaging 30,205 per game. The three teams ahead of them are the Yankees, Angels and Red Sox. Obviously, the Tigers are getting a big number of walk-up ticket sales. It’s a factor not lost in the clubhouse.

“The buzz in the ballpark, I think, is so good because of what’s going on,” Leyland said. “It makes you feel good because of obviously what’s happening in the community and everything. It’s a little more stressful right now, not that it wasn’t in 2006, but it’s good to see people coming out. It’s a tough, resilient town, and they’re going to make it. …

“I wish I could give every one of them a ticket, to be honest with you, for one game. But I can’t. But I wish I could, because the support’s unbelievable.”

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