July 2010

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.

Monday: Tigers at Rays

If you’re counting the rookies, the Tigers have four of them in the lineup tonight, including the double-play combination. Will Rhymes gets his second start in as many games at second base, while Danny Worth and his hot bat are back at short. 

TIGERS
  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Rhymes, 2B
  3. Damon, DH
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Boesch, RF
  6. Raburn, LF
  7. Kelly, 3B
  8. Laird, C
  9. Worth, SS
P: Max Scherzer
RAYS
  1. Ben Zobrist, RF
  2. Carl Crawford, LF
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B
  4. Carlos Pena, 1B
  5. Matt Joyce, DH
  6. Jason Bartlett, SS
  7. Reid Brignac, 2B
  8. B.J. Upton, CF
  9. Kelly Shoppach, C
P: Matt Garza

Ordonez, Guillen heading to DL

UPDATE: Another source confirms Blade report: Larish and Rhymes are heading to Detroit.

Late news from Detroit and Toledo is that Carlos Guillen will join Magglio Ordonez on the 15-day disabled list Sunday morning. With Guillen’s right calf strain and the Tigers already short-handed, they couldn’t wait it out. Ordonez is expected to miss 6-8 weeks with a broken right ankle.

According to the Toledo Blade, the Tigers will purchase the contracts of slugging corner infielder Jeff Larish and second baseman Will Rhymes from the Mud Hens on Sunday. Both were supposedly informed of the moves after the game. Neither is on the 40-man roster, so the Tigers will have to make some moves.

The 27-year-old Larish, a Tiger for parts of the last two seasons before being taken off the 40-man roster over the offseason, is batting .275 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs for the Hens. He can play third base, has been there much of the season for the Hens, and probably will get some time there in Detroit now with Sizemore still being treated cautiously with his hip injury.

Plus, plain and simple, Larish is a left-handed power hitter. If he’s right, he has a chance to be a run producer, and the Tigers desperately need some of that with Ordonez out.

Rhymes, also 27, has never been in the Majors, but he has hit his way to the cusp of the big leagues this season. His .304 batting average ranks fifth in the International League to go with a league-high six triples, 19 doubles, 34 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. He has a chance to play a bigger role than one might expect in Detroit.

Saturday: Tigers vs. Jays

Same lineup for Tigers as last night, except no Johnny Damon. Hes sick. Ryan Raburn starts in his place.

TIGERS
1. Jackson, CF
2. Raburn, LF
3. Ordonez, DH
4. Cabrera, 1B
5. Boesch, RF
6. Guillen, 2B
7. Laird, C
8. Kelly, 3B
9. Worth, SS
SP: Rick Porcello

BLUE JAYS
1. Dewayne Wise, LF
2. Yunel Escobar, SS
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Adam Lind, DH
6. Aaron Hill, 2B
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. John Buck, C
9. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
SP: Shaun Marcum

Leyland: Nothing imminent going on

Tigers manager Jim Leyland indicated Saturday that to his knowledge the Tigers had no deals imminent on the trade front, but that team president/GM Dave Dombrowski is working the phones and talking to scouts as he tries to find a match.

To my knowledge, we have absolutely nothing [going on] other than the standard procedure, Leyland said Saturday.

That doesnt mean nothing is going to happen, but it means nothing is close enough that it has reached his attention from Dombrowski.

Leyland said he hadnt heard anything involving Mike Lowell or Ted Lilly. It doesnt mean that nothing will happen with those two, but any interest apparently hasnt progressed far.

Tigers looking at hot corner of trade market

It isn’t just pitching the Tigers are eyeing on the trade market. With Brandon Inge out 4-6 weeks with a broken left hand, they’re making it clear that they’ll look at help if they think they can swing a deal for a third baseman.
Asked if Inge’s eventual return, potentially ahead of schedule, affects their approach on the trade market, manager Jim Leyland chose his words carefully.
“I think it’s part of the equation,” Leyland said, “but I also think that a month to six weeks is a long time to go without him, if you’re fighting for a pennant. That doesn’t mean I don’t have confidence, but I don’t expect Scott Sizemore to be Brandon Inge. If anybody else does, they’re crazy.
“A month to six weeks is a long time to go without Brandon Inge right now. Then again, what does that mean? Is there somebody out there that makes sense, or somebody you don’t have to give up an arm and a leg for? That’s a tough call. I’ve thought about that, and that’s my answer. Four to six weeks is a long time. You can read into that whatever you want.”
There are options on the market at various prices. CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler wrote Friday that the Tigers expressed some interest in Mike Lowell, who’s set to begin a rehab assignment in the Red Sox farm system shortly. Boston has been trying to trade Lowell at various points this season, and likely wouldn’t require a lot, but the 36-year-old hasn’t played third base on an everyday basis since last year.
Jose Bautista is another rumored option on the market, and the Tigers will get plenty of looks at him this weekend with the Blue Jays in town. But with Bautista leading the Majors in home runs in his suddenly scintilliating season, Toronto could demand plenty in return.
Inge is a free agent at season’s end, as is Lowell. Bautista is arbitration eligible for another year.

Friday rainout, day-night doubleheader Sunday

A line of storms across Michigan featuring heavy rains and lightning postponed Friday night’s game between the Tigers and Blue Jays at Comerica Park.
The game will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader Sunday at 1:05 and 6:05 p.m. ET. Tickets for Friday’s game will be honored for the second game Sunday, with no need for exchanges. Those with tickets who can’t attend Sunday night’s game can exchange their unused tickets for available tickets to another game within the next 12 months, not counting Opening Day.
This weekend is the Blue Jays’ only trip to Detroit. Thus, the clubs would have to either make up the game this weekend or find a common off-day between now and season’s end. Saturday’s forecast called for more storms, so Sunday ended up making more sense to try to play two.
Sunday’s second game means a late night of travel for the Tigers to begin their road trip next week. They’ll fly after that game to Tampa for a four-game series against the Rays beginning Monday night at Tropicana Field.
Both teams decided to push back their scheduled starters. Rick Porcello and Shaun Marcum, Friday’s scheduled starter, will instead pitch Saturday night. Jeremy Bonderman will now face Brett Cecil Sunday afternoon, with Armando Galarraga pitching opposite Jesse Litsch Sunday evening.
FSN Detroit will broadcast Sunday’s afternoon game as scheduled, but not the Sunday night. ESPN’s national exclusivity window doesn’t allow for local broadcasts for games starting after 5 p.m. ET, according to a Tigers release.

Rain delay

What looked like a brief storm has instead blossomed into a full-blown storm system passing through Detroit tonight, bringing a downpour on Comerica Park and a lightning show in the sky out beyond left field. The game is delayed, and so far there’s no target for when to start.

If and when it does start, note that Magglio Ordonez is still at DH, and will remain there until he says his sore right ankle is fine. Manager Jim Leyland said Ordonez injured it when he caught his spike in the dirt at the plate during an at-bat last weekend in Cleveland.

Interesting to note that Gerald Laird is back behind the plate against right-hander Shaun Marcum. Laird worked well with Rick Porcello in his return last weekend, as he did so often last year when Porcello rarely ever shook him off on his way to 14 wins. And let’s face it, Laird at least is putting together the signs of a good stretch at the plate.

With the Jays scheduled to start lefty Brett Cecil Saturday, Laird could end up with four straight starts.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, LF
  3. Ordonez, DH
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Boesch, RF
  6. Guillen, 2B
  7. Laird, C
  8. Kelly, 3B
  9. Worth, SS

SP: Rick Porcello

BLUE JAYS

  1. Dewayne Wise, LF
  2. Yunel Escobar, SS
  3. Jose Bautista, RF
  4. Vernon Wells, CF
  5. Adam Lind, DH
  6. Aaron Hill, 2B
  7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
  8. John Buck, C
  9. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B

SP: Shaun Marcum

Thursday: Tigers vs. Jays

Two lineup adjustments of note: Magglio Ordonez is at DH today because he’s nursing a sore ankle that has supposedly been bothering him since last weekend at Cleveland. He was a question mark for manager Jim Leyland this morning until he said he could at least hit. Carlos Guillen is out competely for a previously scheduled personal day. Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth comprise the starting double-play combo today, batting eighth and ninth respectively.

TIGERS
  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, LF
  3. Ordonez, DH
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Raburn, RF
  6. Sizemore, 3B
  7. Laird, C
  8. Santiago, 2B
  9. Worth, SS
P: Justin Verlander
BLUE JAYS
  1. Dewayne Wise, LF
  2. Yunel Escobar, SS
  3. Jose Bautista, RF
  4. Vernon Wells, CF
  5. Adam Lind, DH
  6. Aaron Hill, 2B
  7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
  8. John Buck, C
  9. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
P: Ricky Romero
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