July 27th, 2010

Tuesday: Tigers at Rays

OK, that lineup could’ve gone better Monday. Now what?

Well, the Tigers have a few changes at the bottom of the order. Alex Avila gets the start behind the plate, Scott Sizemore slots in at third, and Ramon Santiago is back at short. They’ll be facing James Shields, who has spent July going six innings or so and giving up three or four runs.
  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Rhymes, 2B
  3. Damon, DH
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Boesch, RF
  6. Raburn, LF
  7. Avila, C
  8. Sizemore, 3B
  9. Santiago, SS
P: Justin Verlander
  1. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  2. Carl Crawford, LF
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B
  4. Carlos Pena, 1B
  5. Matt Joyce, RF
  6. Willy Aybar, DH
  7. John Jaso, C
  8. B.J. Upton, CF
  9. Jason Bartlett, SS
P: James Shields

Bonderman to be skipped this weekend

Had a question pop up yesterday asking whether the Tigers would start Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander this weekend in Boston. Turns out, the answer is both.

The Tigers have released their rotation for this weekend’s series against the Red Sox, and Jeremy Bonderman will have his spot skipped. The rotation order would’ve brought up his spot Friday or Saturday, depending on whether Jim Leyland wanted to start him or Armando Galarraga first.

Instead, Galarraga will pitch Friday night at Fenway, then Scherzer, then Verlander. It also means Verlander will not pitch next week against the White Sox.

Manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday afternoon that he wanted to keep Scherzer and Verlander on their regular four days of rest. Verlander talked last month about how he has trouble pitching on extra rest. Scherzer said it doesn’t really make a difference with him.
Leyland added that Bonderman will start on three days’ rest after his next outing. Next Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader against the White Sox left the Tigers with a choice — calling up a spot starter or going with a bullpen start. This gives them Plan C.
“What we wanted to avoid,” Leyland said, “is sending somebody down and bringing somebody up.”
Bonderman is 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA in five career starts at Fenway, but he has only pitched there twice since 2004 — a start each in 2006 and ’08. Of greater concern for the Tigers would be Bonderman’s recent struggles: He’s 2-2 with a 7.29 ERA over his last six starts, allowing 46 hits over 33 1/3 innings and giving up seven home runs.

Bonderman’s road numbers have been bad for most of the year, but all four of his July starts came at home, and he went 1-1 with a 7.77 ERA in those.

It isn’t an easy decision either way. One philosophy would suggest saving one of your front-line starters for the White Sox, especially in a series that starts with a day-night doubleheader. A Verlander start Tuesday sets you up to conserve your bullpen for the nightcap. On the other hand, the way the Tigers have struggled lately and struggled on the road all year, there’s a case to be made to give the team any chance it can to win this weekend.

Leyland: Foster said I spit on him

Obviously, the no-hitter is the big story coming out of Tropicana Filed last night. But for Tigers fans, there’s yet another chapter in the ongoing saga of Jim Leyland and umpires, and it was uglier than the blown call in the would-be perfect game or the blown call that ended a game at Atlanta.

This time, Marty Foster’s blown call on a B.J. Upton stolen base brought Leyland out of the dugout in a huff. But it was a Foster accusation that really set him off.
“He accused me of something I didn’t do, and that ticked me off,” Leyland said, “and that’s what got me going. I had some sunflower seeds in [my mouth] when I was talking. Some sprayed on him, and he indicated that I deliberately spit on him, and I’m not going to take that from anybody. I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to take that kind of accusation from anybody. That’s a blatant lie.
“Now, did some of the sunflower seeds spray on his shirt? Yes, they did, without any question. [But] I don’t even spit on the ground. But I’m not going to take that. I’m tired of protecting umpires, tired of not being able to say anything. I’m defending myself. If they want to kick me out, that’s fine, I don’t care about that, because [seeds] sprayed on his shirt. But when you start accusing somebody of deliberately doing something, you better be careful. 
“I don’t give a care what [Foster] says, and I don’t give a care about what anybody else thinks when they read it in the [Commissioner’s] office. I’m tired of not saying anything. I don’t care that he missed the play. That’s part of the game. When you make an accusation that’s a total, blatant lie, that’s upsetting to me.”
Keep in mind, this is the same umpiring crew that handed Leyland his other ejection during that series in Atlanta June 27, the day after crew chief Gary Cederstrom rang up Johnny Damon on strike three to strand the tying run on third with a pitch that was clearly outside on replay.
That reaction is likely to get a reaction of some sort from the Commissioner’s office, even if Leyland is one of the prime figures on the 14-person Special Committee for On-Field Matters that the Commissioner put together to look at ways to improve the game. 
“I asked [Foster] if he was going to write me up,” Leyland said. “He said, ‘You spit on me.’ I said, ‘You mean to tell me that you’re going to write up that I deliberately spit on you?’ He said yes. I said, ‘Well that’s a blatant lie.’ I’m tired of protecting them, worrying about what you should say and what you can’t say. I don’t care that he missed the play. I don’t care that he threw me out. But when you make accusations like that, I’m not going to accept that. That’s a blatant lie. I don’t even spit on the ground. That’s a serious accusation, and I’m not going to accept that.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do, and I don’t give a care. They can do whatever they want to do. I’m tired of it. I don’t care that they missed the play. That’s part of the game. I don’t care that he ran me. That’s part of the game.”

No-hitter facts and opinions

It’s pretty easy to look at the lineup the Tigers fielded — without Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen or Brandon Inge — and knock down Matt Garza’s no-hitter a peg. He threw more than 100 fastballs, and it can be tough to imagine Ordonez not taking one of those high fastballs to the opposite field for a single, making it at least a one-hit shutout instead of a no-no.

If you do that, though, you’d better be willing to put the same conditions under Armando Galarraga’s would-be perfect game, because that was a short-handed Indians lineup that Galarraga tamed with terrible plate appearances.
Truth is, a no-hitter is a no-hitter, and there were more than enough quality hitters in the lineup that the Tigers had their solid chances at a hit. Very few hitters, even Miguel Cabrera, could center that Garza fastball. It was simplicity in approach, but beauty in results.
“He threw high fastball after high fastball,” Leyland said. “We just didn’t get to any of them.”
Asked if there was anything to say to the team about it, though, Leyland said no.
“There’s not anything to say,” he said. “It’s part of the game. It really doesn’t matter. We got shut out 5-0. We lost. That’s the most important thing. The no-hitter is something for them to celebrate. It’s not something for us to mourn. What’s the difference? You got beat 5-0. That’s what’s important.”
Now the facts: 
  • The first no-hitter in Rays history is also the first no-hitter against the Tigers since Randy Johnson did it June 2, 1990 at the Kingdome.
  • The Rays have been involved in three no-hitters this year — two against them, and now one for them. They’re the first team in 93 years to be involved in three no-nos in the same season. The 1917 St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox were the last teams to do it. The Browns threw two no-hitters and suffered one, all against the White Sox.
  • No Rays pitcher had so much as taken a no-hitter into the ninth inning in history. Dewon Brazelton and Tony Saunders shared the record for longest no-hit bid at 7 2/3 innings — Brazelton against the Marlins on June 25, 2004, Saunders against the Orioles on April 22, 1999.
  • It’s the second time this year that two pitchers have taken no-hit bids into the sixth inning in the same. Gavin Floyd and Ted Lilly took their bids into the seventh when the White Sox took on the Cubs June 13.
  • It was the first no-hitter broken up by a grand slam in the sixth inning or later since then-Met Frank Viola walked the bases loaded ahead of a Dickie Thon grand slam with one out in the sixth inning on July 23, 1990 at Philadelphia.