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 DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES

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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Mon Sep 22, 2008 12:53 pm

09/21/2008 6:59 PM ET

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Willis' progress doesn't translate
Lefty makes small steps, but Indians make him pay for mistakes
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- The last time Dontrelle Willis faced the Indians, his command struggles led to his option to the Minor Leagues. He won't have that same fate after Sunday's 10-5 loss, obviously, not with the season just about over. Still, as the season wraps up, the Tigers have to figure out exactly what to do with him.

They were not calling Sunday's outing a setback. Nor were they comparing it to that June night in Detroit, where he struggled with his control until he took velocity off of pitches for strikes and the Indians took them deep for home runs. But Sunday was obviously not progress, either.

At this point, with the Tigers looking ahead to next season and trying to figure out where Willis might fit, it might as well be called the process -- work on mechanics, game plan and execution between starts, then take the mound, test it and try to repeat it. Whether and how he comes out of it remains to be seen. In Sunday's case, he came out of the game with one out in the third inning having thrown 74 pitches, 33 for strikes, and retired seven of the 18 batters he faced.

"It was either hit or miss today," Willis said. "It was just more miss than I wanted."

To Willis, it was more a matter of not executing a key pitch or two when he needed them. And in the flow of the game, there were a couple key points where he could've minimized damage with a pitch or two. Still, the game unraveled when he didn't make key pitches, and as his pitch count climbed, he was unable to recover. The big pitches that he did make, the momentum didn't carry over.

Six days after Willis (0-2) made his first big league start in three months with some encouragement over five innings last Monday at Texas, his follow-up outing saw the left-hander walk four of Cleveland's first seven batters. He walked the bases loaded for Ryan Garko's three-run triple that put the Indians in command in the first inning. Yet he was a full-count fastball away from escaping the frame scoreless, having worked out of a 3-0 count on Jhonny Peralta with a runner on first and two outs.

Willis' payoff pitch hit 90 mph, but missed the inside corner for ball four. He walked Victor Martinez on just four pitches from there. The next strike Willis threw, Garko lined into the gap in right-center field for a 3-0 lead.

"I was into counts where I could make one pitch and get them out," Willis said. "The lefties, I seemed to make [the pitches], and the righties, I didn't. That's better than beforehand, where I didn't make them to anybody. I just take it as a positive, try to work harder to execute somewhere in the zone."

Garko's triple was the only extra-base hit Willis surrendered. Add in four strikeouts on top of the walks, and just eight Indians put the ball in play against him. Five of those, however, went for hits.

Willis recovered from a walk and a single to strike out Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo and Peralta in the second inning, hitters that other Tigers pitchers struggled to retire in any fashion this series. He came back for the third, however, with another four-pitch walk to Martinez ahead of back-to-back singles and two wild pitches -- leaving him with three wild pitches for the game. Asdrubal Cabrera's single ended Willis' afternoon.

"I think he found a little more rhythm [in his last start] in Texas," said hitting coach Lloyd McClendon, who managed the game while Jim Leyland finished his three-game suspension. "Obviously, he battled himself a little bit today with command of the fastball. But I felt the slider was better today. That's certainly something to build on."

The chance to succeed, Willis felt, was there. The velocity was better. The results clearly were not.

"I feel like we had a good game plan," Willis said. "I just didn't execute it the best that I wanted to. I feel like the plan was good, and when we executed it, we got good results. I battled control, but I also struck out a couple guys in key situations."

Garko finished with four hits and five RBIs for the game, falling a home run shy of the cycle. Detroit came back by the middle innings in large part thanks to Edgar Renteria, who doubled and scored in the second inning before hitting his 10th homer of the year in the fifth, but Garko's seventh-inning RBI double off Gary Glover put Cleveland into double digits.

Before the game, Leyland said the Tigers hoped to get Willis one more turn next weekend against Tampa Bay before the season ends. The lefty will go from there into an offseason program that he expects will include his usual amount of throwing, starting in mid-December at his south Florida home with former Marlins teammate Juan Pierre. He'll also be able to get away from the field for a while, and certainly get away from Indians hitters.

The Tigers, meanwhile, have an entire pitching staff to plan out this offseason, and very few certainties within it. They're unlikely to go big on the free-agent market, and even if they do, they're going to hope to get results from guys who had too little of them this year. As Leyland pointed out, they can't solve their problems simply with more spending.

And with Willis under contract for two more years, they have ample reason to try to solve his struggles.

"I'm going to keep grinding," Willis said. "Regardless of what's going on, I'm going to keep fighting, keep trying to go out there and get guys out. I've always been that type of guy, just work hard and never give up until they call down to that bullpen. I was positive out there the whole time. I just didn't play good baseball today."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:36 pm

09/23/2008 12:04 AM ET

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Tigers can't solve Royals in loss
Detroit sees fourth-place lead shrink in defeat to KC
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DETROIT -- This just didn't seem possible when Zach Miner was piling up scoreless innings in Kansas City in July and August, or when Miguel Cabrera was driving home runs to the depths of the outfield at Kauffman Stadium. Even when Detroit needed a sliding throw from behind home plate to throw out the potential tying run trying to score last month, the Tigers seemed to be in control against the Royals.

This was the last race that the Tigers expected to be in when the season began. But as the season closes, the Tigers find themselves in a race to avoid last place. With Monday's 6-2 loss to the Royals, the gap is down to a game in the American League Central. Both Kansas City and Detroit have 71 wins, but the Royals have two extra losses.

Fourth place isn't exactly a consolation for the Tigers, who are trying to evaluate players as they begin to look ahead towards retooling for 2009. That said, they aren't going to adhere to the catch phrase made famous by Will Ferrell: "If you're not first, you're last."

Barely a week after the Tigers were eliminated from contention for first place in the division, last place is becoming a little too close for comfort.

"It's frustrating," Miner said, "but it's one of those things where if anybody knew why or how to fix it, we wouldn't have let it happen in the first place. Obviously, it has reasons. Guys have not played up to their expectations at times, and you can probably name 10 different things why we're in the position we are. But it does us no good to complain about it or second-guess it. You have to try to finish the season up strong, put your best foot forward and hope that next year, whatever the problem was, we correct it."

While the Royals have won nine of their last 11 games, Monday provided a glimpse to some of what has gone awry lately for the Tigers en route to 10 losses in their last 11 games. Much of the trouble took place after Miner, though he left with a deficit against a team he had dominated all summer.

Miner had pretty much no problems against the Royals since joining the rotation two months ago. Not only had he beaten Kansas City three times in as many meetings, he had allowed a lone run over 19 innings in the process. He saw a more aggressive approach from the Royals on Monday, including a more characteristic outing from longtime Tiger killer David DeJesus.

DeJesus entered the night with a .338 career average at Comerica Park and .312 against the Tigers in general, but he was just .186 (8-for-43) off Detroit pitching this year. His leadoff triple and score not only put the Royals in front for good two batters into the game, it set the tone for a 4-for-4, two-run performance that fell a home run shy of the cycle.

Two of those hits came off of Miner (8-5), who suffered his first loss since Aug. 1. The two that came after he left proved particularly painful for the Tigers bullpen, which has struggled for much of the last couple weeks as manager Jim Leyland looks for combinations.

"We couldn't milk a couple big outs out of the bullpen," Leyland said. "We just couldn't get it."

Royals starter Gil Meche (13-11) allowed just one hit over his first five innings on his way to improving to 5-1 lifetime at Comerica Park, but a two-run rally in the sixth -- including a two-out RBI single for rookie Jeff Larish -- put the potential tying run on third before Meche struck out Matt Joyce to end the threat. With the deficit down to a run, Miner walked Royals ninth hitter Alberto Callaspo to lead off the seventh and put a runner on for DeJesus.

Lefty Clay Rapada entered to face the left-handed hitter, but DeJesus poked a line drive inside the left-field foul line for a double that put runners on second and third with nobody out. Gary Glover got a called third strike on Mike Aviles for the first out, then the Tigers intentionally walked the dangerous Jose Guillen in favor of Ryan Shealy.

Glover had Shealy in a 2-2 count, but couldn't find a corner on back-to-back pitches, walking in Callaspo. Brandon Inge's lunging grab of Mark Teahen's line drive started an inning-ending double play, but consecutive hits off Bobby Seay led off a two-run eighth -- one run on a wild pitch, the other on a two-out, broken-bat bloop single by DeJesus.

With that, the Tigers' ERA over the last 30 days grew to 6.16, highest in the Majors. Detroit's bullpen hasn't had a scoreless game as a unit since Sept. 10.

"You try to get situations for guys to see how they respond to them," Leyland said. "I don't really quite understand it. I don't know if they're too tense or what it is. It's hard to figure out. And it seems even sometimes when they don't hit one good, it's a hit. But you can see equipment that you need to use for certain type of hitters, whether you're right- or left-handed, and some of our guys aren't showing that."

The Tigers, meanwhile, have somehow found a tight situation in the standings.

"I try to win ballgames each day I come here, so I don't really get into that as much as everybody else does," Leyland said, "[But] I don't believe that third's not better than fourth. I don't believe that second's not better than third. I can tell you that."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola


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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:57 pm

Monday, September 22, 2008
Royals 6, Tigers 2
Royals walk over Tigers
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- The ever-irritating bases-loaded walk.

After 155 games, 10 of the last 11 of which the Tigers have now lost, it's high time to mention that they have allowed far too many of them this season.

Not enough for the dreaded "BLW" to be listed as one of their major faults, but enough so that when they allowed yet another in Monday night's 6-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals, it warranted some research.

The Tigers have allowed 17 bases-loaded walks this season.

They also hit five batters with the bases loaded, putting them close to the top of the heap of generous teams this season.

And way more generous than they were in the first seasons that Jim Leyland managed them. Last year, for instance, the Tigers allowed nine BLW's and hit four batters with the bases loaded.

Two years ago, their combined total was 10 -- eight and two.

So along with everything else the Tigers have done wrong this season -- including the nine wild pitches they've thrown in the last three games -- the ever-irritating bases-loaded walk is now receiving the attention for which it has clamored.

This one occurred in the top of the seventh inning of a defeat that dropped the Tigers (71-84) precariously close to last place in the American League Central.

It didn't seem possible two weeks ago that the Tigers could finish last, but while they've gone 1-10, the Royals have gone 9-2 and now the difference between them is one game.

Just when the Tigers had reduced KC's three-run lead to one with two runs in the sixth on Magglio Ordonez's 98th RBI (sacrifice fly) and a run-scoring single from Jeff Larish (in the game because Miguel Cabrera experienced "upper back tightness"), the Royals got one back on Gary Glover's bases-loaded walk in the seventh to Ryan Shealy after an intentional walk to Jose Guillen.

The Royals tacked on two more in the eighth, one on an also-irritating, run-scoring wild pitch, of which the Tigers have also allowed several. But the exact number of those is a project for another day.

With his first loss since Aug. 1, Zach Miner's record dropped to 8-5.

Winning pitcher Gil Meche is now 13-11. As a measure of how well he pitched, the Tigers were outhit 11-4.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Tue Sep 23, 2008 10:52 pm

09/23/2008 11:57 PM ET

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Tigers pushed to fifth in loss to Royals
Garcia zapped by nemesis' power, but impresses Leyland
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DETROIT -- The Tigers have been impressed enough with Freddy Garcia that his season-ending results are not going to overshadow his comeback, as the Tigers look towards their pitching staff next year.

They're hoping they can look back in a year and somehow say the same thing about their results as a team in 2008.

For all of Garcia's success over the years against the American League Central, the Royals are the one team in the division that has hit him well. They roughed him up last summer before he went on the disabled list on his way to shoulder surgery. Tuesday's 5-0 loss to what is now the fourth-place Royals was their way of welcoming him back.

In the process, they welcomed the Tigers back to the division cellar.

Kansas City has finished fifth in the AL Central every season since 2004, the year after Detroit's 119-loss 2003 campaign. With wins in 11 of their last 12 overall and back-to-back this series, they've given themselves a real chance to leave the Tigers in the cellar when the season ends Sunday.

The Royals have 72 wins, one more than the Tigers. Since Kansas City has played two more games than Detroit, both losses, the difference is mere percentage points in winning percentage -- .4557 for the Royals, .4551 for the Royals.

If that stands after Sunday, it would be a huge boost to the Royals in their rebuilding project. How much it means to the Tigers in what has long since been a disappointment of a season depends on the outlook.

"Like I said before, I'm just trying to win games," manager Jim Leyland said. "Fourth is better than fifth, third is better than fourth, so I'm not one of those guys who believes it doesn't mean anything. Yeah, it means something to me, certainly. We've obviously had a hugely disappointing year. We all know that. But we have five ballgames left. We'll give it our best, see what happens, and then spend the winter preparing to see what we need to do to turn things around."

It's that turnaround part that is more of third baseman Brandon Inge's focus with this season lost. He was mostly on the bench when the season went south, but has become a regular again over the last two months as the team's summer run eventually faded.

"I know it's not showing it at times, but to me, I'm seeing some positives," Inge said. "I'm seeing some good things turn around. Obviously, we're showing we're trying to tighten up the defense. That's first and foremost that I can tell. We're experimenting with a few things, it seems like.

"I understand what's going on. So last place or not, I'm seeing things develop for next year. It's not like it's only for this year. ... Last place, you don't want to be there, obviously. But my deal is, we're not going to win it this year, so the things that we're doing now, if it happens to get us in last place -- I don't want to be there, but I know it's getting us on the right path to be where we want to be."

Garcia could be a big part of next year -- if the Tigers can re-sign him. He's a free agent this winter and the contract he signed last month was meant to get innings and coaching for him, along with showcasing where he's at before he hits the open market. Tuesday was his second start, but the first truly rough outing at any level.

Against the Twins, Tigers, White Sox and Indians, Garcia owns a combined 35-21 career record with a 3.93 ERA, averaging close to 6 2/3 innings per start. Tuesday's loss leaves him with an 8-11 record and 6.12 ERA in 23 career starts against the Royals, who have hit him for 23 home runs in 132 1/3 innings. That includes three home runs in five innings Tuesday.

Given Garcia's comeback, Leyland was looking past the home runs and towards the stuff.

"I think Freddy's remarkable to come back the way he has," Leyland said. "Obviously, he didn't keep the ball in the ballpark tonight, but he struck out six guys. Once again, that's a lot of progress, I think, for him [considering] Sept. 1 a year ago, he had that major surgery. It's remarkable to me. He actually threw the ball well."

Mixing his upper-80s fastball with a splitter and vast offspeed arsenal, Garcia struck out the side in the opening inning and fanned four of his first five hitters. The exception was Mike Aviles, who took a 90-mph heater deep to left for his ninth home run this season. Ryan Shealy led off the fourth with his seventh homer, before a four-pitch walk to Billy Butler set up Alex Gordon for his 16th.

Shealy's RBI double in the fifth finished Garcia's line with five runs allowed in as many innings with six strikeouts, a contrast to his five innings without an earned run last week at Texas for Detroit's only win in its last 12 games.

Tuesday also likely finished his season. He isn't scheduled to pitch again this week, though the Tigers could need a starter if they make up their rainout at Chicago on Monday. When the season ends, the decision process on Garcia begins.

"This is a real difficult one after that type of surgery," Leyland said. "He had several days before he pitched and several days' rest between the next time out. You have to try to make a decision. What's he going to look like pitching every day? How's he going to hold up? There's a lot of things that go into this.

"All I can tell you is we've been very impressed with his approach, his attitude, professionalism, and his ability to pitch. I really like him, but there's a lot of factors that go into it. I don't know how it'll play out, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to manage him. I've been very impressed with him."

A healthy Garcia could have a big bearing on the Tigers in 2009. He could only do so much for the Tigers' late-season slide in 2008.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola


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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:15 pm

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Royals 5, Tigers 0
Tigers save worst for last (place)
Royals send $138M team to Central cellar
Ted Kulfan / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Now it's officially the last-place Tigers.

The season to forget, now only days away from ending, reached a new low Tuesday when the Tigers were shut out by the Royals, 5-0.

With the victory, the Royals moved ahead of the Tigers in the American League Central standings by percentage points.

"We've had a huge, disappointing year," manager Jim Leyland said. "We all know that. We have five games left, we'll give it our best, and we'll start preparing for next season and what we have to do to turn it around."

As often was the case this season, the Tigers' offense stalled. This was the 12th time they've been shut out this year.

"It's one of those things that happens in baseball," said Brandon Inge, "although we don't want it to happen."

Facing Royals pitcher Zach Greinke (13-10) didn't help. The right-hander pitched seven innings, allowing four hits, and likely would have shut out many other teams on this evening.

Tigers starter Freddy Garcia (1-1) went five innings, allowing all five Royals runs on seven hits. He did strike out six, allowing only two walks. In two starts for the Tigers, Garcia has left quite an impression with Leyland.

"I really like him, he's a professional," Leyland said. "I'm impressed with his approach, his professionalism and his ability to pitch. He doesn't get excited. He knows what he's doing."

Garcia is just one year removed from rotator cuff surgery. How much the Tigers, or any other team, is willing to gamble financially to sign Garcia will be an intriguing topic to watch this offseason.

"The arm strength, I'm surprised he's throwing as hard as he is," Leyland said. "But saying that, if you have 35 starts, I don't know (what his arm strength will be). I'm not smart enough to know that. As we speak, he's healthy."
'We stunk, I stunk'

Leyland already is thinking to next year and Tigers players are forewarned: Things will be different under Leyland in 2009.

"I'll tell you the facts, people have to step it up," Leyland said. "It's as simple as that. I have to, the coaches, the players.

"The fact is, we stunk. I stunk. We stunk. It's as simple as that. No bull about it. Step up to the plate and show you're one of the best. You do that, and you'll pitch or play."

A major turning point for the Tigers, Leyland said, was the shoulder injury that more than a month ago cut short closer Todd Jones ' season.

Relief pitchers then were cast into roles they couldn't handle.

"That's a big trickle-down effect," Leyland said. "We got in total disarray. You put people into situations they shouldn't be in, but it's also an opportunity for them, and not many have taken advantage of it."
Around the horn

Leyland suggested to left-hander Dontrelle Willis that he pitch in winter ball. Leyland believes Willis would benefit from the experience, in that Willis -- because of an early season injury and season-long control problems -- hasn't pitched many innings this season.

"How that'll play out, I don't know," Leyland said. "You don't make people go. It's an individual decision.

... With a total of 35,121 tickets sold for Tuesday night's game, the Tigers season attendance surpassed 3 million (3,009,750) for the second time in franchise history. They also did it last year (3,047,139).

... Miguel Cabrera experienced back tightness in Monday's game but was in the lineup as the designated hitter Tuesday. He was 1-for-4 with a single.

You can reach Ted Kulfan at (313) 223-4606 or ted. kulfan@detnews.com


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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:17 pm

09/24/2008 10:07 PM ET

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Robertson, offense have off night in loss
Left-hander gives up seven runs in 4 2/3 innings
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DETROIT -- The last Royals sweep at Comerica Park started the Tigers on this disappointing season. Their latest, capped by Wednesday's 10-4 Tigers loss, might just seal Detroit's final place in the standings this year.

When Kansas City took three straight from Detroit to open the season, the wins provided shock value. After all, the Tigers entered the year expected to be among the American League contenders. That series provided the first hint that it wasn't to be.

Detroit's fate out of the playoff picture was sealed long before the Royals came to town this week, but it was the decisiveness of the three games that provided the shock factor. The Royals didn't merely win, they controlled the series. The Tigers never led at any point in the three games, and they were held scoreless over an 18-inning stretch between Jeff Larish's sixth-inning RBI single in Monday's opener and Mike Hessman's seventh-inning solo homer Wednesday.

For all the success the Tigers had in Kansas City this summer, the Royals won seven of nine games at Comerica Park, their best showing since 2003. Six of those wins came in what might well serve as part of the bookends on the Tigers' frustrating season.

"We're just in a horrible funk," manager Jim Leyland said after Wednesday's loss. "We're way out of sync right now, and we have been for a little bit. It's not a matter of guys not caring, guys not trying. That's not it. We're just in a year-end funk, and to be honest with you, I think it plays mind games with you. You're trying to run as hard as you can, and sometimes you can't.

"Kansas City, I thought they kicked our fannies. They're pumped up. They're trying to accomplish something -- obviously to stay ahead of us. I don't mean to say it's any different for us, but I'm sure the games between the White Sox and Minnesota [this week] are a little more intense -- crowd, players, meaningful games."

There was intensity evident on Tigers starter Nate Robertson's face, as he tried to get through the decisive fifth inning. Unfortunately, the emotion was not working in his favor.

His misstep to not step on first base for what would've been the final out of the second inning came back to haunt him with an unearned run, but he had recovered to pitch relatively well through four innings. He was inducing ground balls, in stark contrast to his home-run troubles earlier this summer, and he was denying extra-base hits.

Then came the seven-run fifth inning.

"I was throwing the ball well -- that's what really stinks about it," Robertson said. "I didn't really carry any baggage into this one. My mindset was [that] what's done is done, go out there and finish strong. I was throwing the ball well and I gave them an early free pass in the fifth. It just went the wrong way."

It started with a leadoff single from Michigan native and former University of Toledo product Mitch Maier, but to Robertson, the key was his one-out walk to Esteban German two batters later. He had recovered from Maier's single to get a first-out flyout from Joey Gathright, and then he fell behind on a 3-0 count to German with the middle of the Royals order.

"There were no real threats at that point in time," Robertson. "To give him a free pass, that's kind of a no-no."

A Mike Aviles single loaded the bases to set Jose Guillen's RBI fielder's-choice ground ball for the second out -- not what Robertson wanted, but still a reasonable deficit at 3-0. But five straight Royals reached base safely from there, the first three off Robertson.

"He was aggressive," Leyland said. "I thought he had some life to his ball. But every little thing that doesn't go right, you can't let it ruin your evening."

Again, Robertson gave up a five-pitch walk, this time to Ryan Shealy with two outs. Alex Gordon singled in a run, then Robertson and John Buck battled to a 2-2 count. Robertson looked for a called third strike on the inside corner but didn't get it, and he showed his frustration in home-plate umpire Tom Hallion's sight when he got the ball back.

He missed on the payoff pitch to walk in Guillen. As he walked to the dugout, he glared in Hallion's direction and exchanged words.

"I'm kind of ashamed of myself, showing the emotion and frustration right there, slapping at the ball like that," Robertson said. "That can't happen. I guess it just came to a head there, letting frustration out."

It was partly the frustration of a season where the finishing pitches didn't seem to be there often enough. He held opponents under a .200 average in two-strike counts in each of his previous four full Major League seasons, but that average rose to .234 this year with a .290 on-base percentage entering Wednesday. With two outs and runners in scoring position this year, he had given up a .351 average and .448 on-base percentage entering this start.

"He was upset," Leyland said, "and probably had a right to be. But that's just the way it is. You can't let every little thing ruin your outing time after time. That can't happen. ...

"I actually thought Nate threw the ball a little better, but I can't sit here and tell you when you give up 10 runs that the pitching was pretty good."

Four of those runs came in the two batters after Robertson left. Chris Lambert lost Tony Pena Jr. to another bases-loaded walk, before Maier's triple cleared the bases and essentially put the game away.

Placido Polanco's three-run homer in the ninth closed the gap, but the Royals still swept by a combined 21-6 margin.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola


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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:21 pm

GoGetEmTigers wrote:
Robertson, offense have off night in loss

This team has too many "off nights" rant


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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Thu Sep 25, 2008 9:14 pm

09/25/2008 6:24 PM ET

Box >

Homer-happy Tigers down Rays
Five long balls, including two by Santiago, give Galarraga win
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DETROIT -- Armando Galarraga has had his share of quality outings end up without a victory, even with as many wins as he's had. He closed out his remarkable rookie season for the Tigers with a win that included help from some of the least expected sources.

On a day when Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco and Edgar Renteria were all out of Detroit's starting lineup, the result was a season high-tying five home runs. Ramon Santiago, who entered the day with seven homers for his Major League career, hit two. And with Thursday's 7-5 win over the Rays, the Tigers not only delayed Tampa Bay from clinching a division title, they did it by scoring more runs than they did in their entire three-game series against the Royals.

As it turned out, the 83-degree game-time temperature in late September was just the start of the surprises.

"Everybody will say, 'Oh, it was great today. They had more energy.' It wasn't more energy," manager Jim Leyland said. "We just got some hits."

Compared with Tampa Bay, the difference in energy was understandable, considering the Rays flew in from Baltimore in the early-morning hours after a night game against the Orioles. Rays starter Scott Kazmir, however, flew in earlier Wednesday night, and he carried on a 3.36 ERA with him. He blanked the Twins for six innings five days earlier, but gave up nine runs over three innings to the Red Sox in his start before that.

Six pitches into Thursday's outing, he had given up his first run. However, it wasn't to usual leadoff threat, Granderson. It was Santiago, owner of only one previous home run off a left-handed pitcher back in 2003 against former Blue Jay Mark Hendrickson. On Thursday, he was the recipient of a 2-2 fastball from the left-handed Kazmir (12-8) that he lofted to left field and just over the bullpen fence.

Sometimes, Leyland has said in the past, a home run can be the worst thing for Santiago's hitting, because he can start trying to put the ball in the air rather than look for line drives and ground balls. After taking back-to-back strikes to fall in an 0-2 hole leading off the third inning, he got another fastball over the plate and drove it even further. The ball hit off the roof of the bullpen dugout.

It was actually the second career multihomer game for Santiago, who hit two off the Red Sox as a rookie with Detroit in 2002. With Renteria limited by a strained left pectoral muscle, Leyland said he'll start Santiago again at shortstop on Friday. He just doesn't want Santiago getting carried away.

"If he lives in the air, he won't hit much," Leyland said. "But today, he was swinging pretty good and got a couple out."

Santiago capped his day with a more typical hit. His seventh-inning single off reliever Jason Hammel tied his single-game high with his third hit, setting him up to come around to score on Marcus Thames' ensuing double and left fielder Eric Hinske's error.

Home runs from Mike Hessman in the fourth inning and Dusty Ryan in the fifth had padded the lead before that insurance tally. Once Miguel Cabrera's sacrifice fly plated Thames, Granderson -- who entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Hessman in the sixth -- added to the power display with his 21st home run on the year.

Rays shortstop Ben Zobrist also got in on the home run parade, having started it with a first-inning solo shot for his ninth homer on the season. However, Galarraga (13-6) shrugged off the shot and turned on a display that answered any lingering questions over whether he was tiring going into the offseason.

A pair of walks comprised the lone baserunners he allowed between Zobrist's first homer and Evan Longoria's solo shot in the seventh. Not only did he retire 17 of 19 hitters in between, he allowed just three balls hit in play out of the infield.

"My body feels strong," Galarraga said. "My arm, my shoulder feel strong. This is really important for me. I'm happy I got the win the last time I pitched this year."

Not until back-to-back singles leading off the eighth did the Rays threaten to close in on this game. Galarraga answered with fire, giving a small fist pump after he caught B.J. Upton looking at a called third strike for the second out. He was one out away from getting out of it with eight innings of two-run ball, but he'd have to retire Zobrist.

Given how he has performed this year, plus the fact that he was under 100 pitches, Leyland felt he warranted the shot.

"He deserved it," Leyland said. "We let a couple get away from him [this year]. He should actually probably have 15-16 wins."

After falling behind in the count, Galarraga challenged Zobrist on the payoff pitch. Zobrist drilled it 424 feet to straightaway center for a three-run shot, narrowing the gap to two runs and ending Galarraga's outing.

Fernando Rodney's walk to Carlos Pena brought up Longoria as the potential tying run, but Rodney spotted a changeup on the outside corner for a called strike to end the threat on his way to his 11th save. With that, Galarraga had the cap to a year neither he nor the Tigers expected with the kind of win that was surprising in its own right.

"For him, outstanding," Leyland summarized Galarraga's season. "For us, probably surprising. We didn't really expect that, to be honest with you, but he was outstanding."


Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Thu Sep 25, 2008 10:13 pm

Watch, we dont hit anymore dingers this year.
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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Thu Sep 25, 2008 10:16 pm

Just as long as Gala got the win!
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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Fri Sep 26, 2008 11:29 pm

09/27/2008 2:31 AM ET

Box >

Verlander battles struggles in win
Right-hander earns 11th victory with gutty five-inning outing
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DETROIT -- Justin Verlander was down to his last hitter. Not just for the game, but for the season.

The Tigers seemed to be on their way to a win, an eventual 6-4 victory over the Rays, but it was uncertain if their ace would last long enough to earn the win. Verlander was quickly approaching 110 pitches in the fifth inning and had just given up three straight two-out singles. Cliff Floyd stepped to the plate with a chance to tie the game with a home run. Pitching coach Chuck Hernandez walked out to the mound just to give Verlander a moment to collect himself.

"You could see he was fighting to get it," manager Jim Leyland said. "It's been that kind of year for him."

After a first-pitch fastball off the plate, Verlander got his form back. He challenged Floyd with back-to-back fastballs that the slugger fouled off. He came back with his 113th pitch of the night, a changeup that sent Floyd down on a checked swing.

With that, the long, flustering, 17-loss enigma of a season for Verlander was over. And yet after that victory, he still wished he could go back out again.

Verlander felt he was in the right form once he got going. Now, he has to put it on the shelf for the winter.

"I wish the season was a little bit longer," he said, "so I could go out and build upon what I did tonight. But it's not."

It wasn't consistent dominance. Leyland called Verlander's form "in and out" for much of the outing, and a 30-pitch opening inning set him up for a high pitch count by the middle of the game. When he was in, though, it was the sight that Leyland has wanted to see from his young hurler for much of the second half.

"I saw some things I liked," Leyland said. "When he got smooth and pitching downhill, he threw the heck out of the ball. He really looked good. He just has to do it more often, more consistently."

Until Verlander has a chance to get back on a mound again, he just has to remember how it felt.

That marathon opening inning wasn't a result of a wild early form. The only baserunner Verlander allowed in that frame was a one-out walk to B.J. Upton, and he left him there by sending down Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria swinging -- Pena chasing a 97-mph fastball, Longoria whiffing an offspeed pitch. But all four batters Verlander faced went to full counts. Six of those 30 pitches were two-strike foul balls to extend at-bats.

"In defense of Verlander," Leyland said, "his stuff's so good, he throws so hard, the ball's live, and they do foul pitches off. Well, [against] other guys, they put it in play and either get a hit or make an out. They foul his off."

Leyland also felt, however, that Verlander was a little hyped for a matchup with the eventual American League East champions, though Friday's loss meant the Rays wouldn't clinch that title until the Red Sox lost later in the evening.

Once Magglio Ordonez doubled in two runs ahead of Gary Sheffield's solo homer in the opening inning, Verlander could calm down a bit. Ramon Santiago hit a two-run shot for his third homer in two days and Verlander was in command.

Verlander (11-17) had enough to turn it into his first win since Aug. 22, walking three and striking out eight.

"He needed to win," Leyland said. "He deserved to win."

It was more than the simple result, though Leyland kept Verlander out there that long to get it. He ensured that he won't lead the Majors in losses on his own, since San Francisco's Barry Zito also has 17 defeats. More than that, for Verlander at least, was the stuff.

"I feel like tonight, for the most part, was a major step forward for me," he said. "I think a lot of the game, I was in a good, consistent groove, where I wanted to be. I was able to repeat my delivery and move forward on what I've been working on for the last couple months."

So how does he keep moving forward when this step came in his last start of the year?

"You just have to be able to remember," Verlander said. "I know I'm more than capable to turn this around, and I know what I need to work on."

His turnaround, of course, is key to the Tigers' turnaround next season. Verlander's 1-7 record through the season's first month and a half coincided with the Tigers' season-opening skid. His dominant stretch in the early summer and into the All-Star break timed with Detroit's rise back over .500.

The only other pitcher who is sure to be in the Tigers' rotation next season is Armando Galarraga. The key is for Verlander to be sure in his stuff. This was big for that, even if he has to take it home with him.

"The kid's had a tough year [with] a lot of expectations," Leyland said. "Sometimes I think we don't really understand what a young pitcher this guy is yet. I certainly give him the benefit of the doubt. Is he home free? No. He sped up his delivery a little bit, cut off his breaking ball a few times, and things of that nature. But I saw some good signs, too.

"I'm happy he got a win. He deserves it."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola


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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Sat Sep 27, 2008 1:32 pm

Saturday, September 27, 2008
Tigers 6, Rays 4
Tigers' Sheffield reaches 499
Slugger hits pair to close in on HR milestone
Ted Kulfan / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Maybe Gary Sheffield just needed a few days off.

Returning from a four-game suspension, Sheffield hit two home runs to lead the Tigers to a 6-4 victory over the Rays.

The home runs gave Sheffield 19 for the season and 499 for his career. Sheffield's pursuit of 500 will provide excitement for the regular season's final weekend.

"I didn't think it would sink in, but it is," Sheffield said. "I never envisioned this, but when it comes you have to savor the moment. Just to play the game for 20 years was special. But to get to this point, it's a great feeling."

Sheffield called his uncle, former pitcher Dwight Gooden, to make sure Gooden will be here this weekend for the potential special moment.

"I feel good up there. Hopefully I can get it over with," Sheffield said. "This is something I can build off."

Both home runs were solo home runs. In the first, Sheffield capped a three-run Tigers outburst with a drive to right field for a rare opposite-field homer.

"Where has that swing been all year?" Sheffield said. "It's a testament to feeling better. Hit the ball where it's pitched and that's what I do when I feel good at the plate."

In the eighth, Sheffield lofted a drive into the left-field grandstand to the Tigers a 6-3 lead.

Manager Jim Leyland said he hasn't decided whether to move Sheffield up in the batting order in the final two games to possibly get him some extra at-bats.

Leyland, for that matter, didn't want to talk too much about the accomplishment. Yet.

"The more you talk the more pressure can put," Leyland said. "Let it play out."

Sheffield's homer run came in handy as the Rays mustered a late rally against Tigers reliever Fernando Rodney.

They scored once, and had two runners aboard, before Rodney forced Jason Bartlett to fly out to Magglio Ordonez.

The much-maligned Tigers bullpen made another escape act in the eighth. Clay Rapada got Carlos Pena to line to center fielder Curtis Granderson with two outs and the bases loaded in the 8th inning and the Tigers clinging to a 5-3 lead.

Thoughts of spring

Spring training is months away, but Jeremy Bonderman already has it on his mind.

After missing most of this season, Bonderman can't wait to get 2009 started, and with hopes he'll be ready to pitch after requiring surgery to repair a blood clot in his right shoulder.

"I'd better be (ready for spring training)," said Bonderman, in town for the team picture and to take his season-ending physical. "If I'm not, it's going to be a miserable year for me."

Bonderman was limited to 12 starts with a 3-4 record and 4.29 ERA. His departure from the starting rotation was one of many reasons the Tigers stumbled this season.

Bonderman is optimistic he'll rejoin the rotation next season.

"I've improved tremendously," said Bonderman, who had surgery on June. "Hopefully in the next couple of months I'll be out there playing catch. I'm going to go to Florida right after Christmas so I'll be ready to go."

These days, Bonderman is staying as active as he can.

"Just rehabbing and trying to get ready for spring training," Bonderman said. "I'm a ways away but I'll be ready probably in a month or so to play catch and stuff, get back into baseball activities. I've just been rehabbing and hanging out.

"I go to the therapist three days a week and do shoulder stuff and I work on my scap(ula) and try to build up the strength again.

"I've been fishing quite a bit actually."

Bonderman hasn't begun throwing, but is anxious to do so.

"As soon as I'm ready, as soon as I get the range of motion, I can start throwing," Bonderman said. "Right now I just don't have the range of motion."

Something different

Manager Jim Leyland started Dane Sardinha at catcher, instead of Dusty Ryan , on Friday.

Leyland wanted to see Sardinha and pitcher Justin Verlander together.

"He can really catch," Leyland said of Sardinha. "It's just a matter whether he'll hit enough."

Poor Twins?

Leyland isn't surprised the Twins are contending for the AL Central title on the final weekend of the season.

"They're just a well-rounded team, they can beat you in a lot of different ways," Leyland said.

Leyland calls Twins manager Ron Gardenhire one of the best.

But, Leyland also believes many people underestimate the talent on the Twins.

"I keep going back to when they had the Most Valuable Player (Justin Morneau ), and batting champion (Joe Mauer ) and Cy Young (Johan Santana , who was traded to the Mets before this season)," Leyland said. "Poor Minnesota my butt. They're real good. They have good players and a heck of a team."

Around the horn

Placido Polanco twisted his left ankle sliding into home plate in the first inning on Ordonez' two-run double. Polanco is listed as day to day.

... Verlander got the victory to finish his season 11-17.

"I don't want to say it was a good learning experience, but it was a learning experience," Verlander said. "When you look back at the year, there are many lessons that are learned."

... Ordonez's two-run double in the first gave him 100 RBIs for the season. He's the first Tiger to reach 100 RBIs three straight seasons since Cecil Fielder (1990-93).

... Jeff Larish extended his career-high hitting streak to eight games.

You can reach Ted Kulfan at (313) 223-4606 or ted. kulfan@detnews.com


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Sat Sep 27, 2008 11:32 pm

09/28/2008 12:25 AM ET

Box >

Tigers win third in a row over Rays
Willis ends season with solid outing; Renteria comes through
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DETROIT -- Gary Sheffield didn't get the 500th homer, but he got a healthy ovation nonetheless. Todd Jones got a huge ovation. So, for that matter, did Dontrelle Willis.

All three have had their share of boos in this city this season, part of the Tigers' struggles that left them with the disappointment of spending October at home. All three, however, were the talk of the park on Saturday for entirely different reasons.

Before the Tigers' 4-3 win over the Rays, Tigers fans honored the end of Jones' accomplished career. Then, they eagerly anticipated Sheffield's career accomplishment. The cheers for Willis were more like the potential turn of a career -- in some ways, maybe the hope for a career turnaround. His accomplishment, while the smallest of the three, could eventually begin a big impact on the Tigers' future.

"I think progress has definitely been made," manager Jim Leyland said after Willis' 5 1/3 innings of three-run ball. "The thing that I liked tonight is, he didn't let [the game] get away from him. Progress, you're looking for any signs of that, and I think we got some of that tonight."

It wasn't dominance, but it was the look of a pitcher in a groove. The results painted the same image.

Willis walked the first batter he faced to lead off the opening inning and the last batter he faced with one out in the sixth, but walked just one in between and reached just one other three-ball count. He gave up just one hit to a hitter other than shortstop Ben Zobrist, who has had a torrid series for the Rays (96-65). And after allowing the first two batters he faced to score, Zobrist's fifth-inning solo homer was the only run he surrendered.

"I felt the same," Willis said in comparing the night to his previous outings. "Just the results were different. As far as confidence, I've always felt that. Sometimes it's good to get hit in the mouth early and answer back. It shows the makeup of a ballclub. So I'm glad we won this ballgame."

While Willis was warming up for his outing, Jones was trying not to tear up on the field. The Tigers' career leader in saves was instead the opening act, honored with a pregame ceremony and presented with a career montage in video and art to mark his retirement. He had his share of cheers and boos here, but the overwhelming reception fans gave him for his speech made him more emotional.

It had an effect on some of the players, too.

"That's a special moment," Sheffield said. "It's nothing to be sad about. You have to celebrate. I was proud to be a part of it."

Sheffield would've been proud to be a part of history Saturday night, but it wasn't meant to be. The night's milestone home run came from Miguel Cabrera, whose 37th homer of the year pushed him past White Sox slugger Carlos Quentin for the American League lead. It left Cabrera poised to become the Tigers' first home run champion since Cecil Fielder in 1990.

Sheffield's mark on this contest, instead, came without a big swing. Showing the calmness to avoid swinging for the fences at bad pitches, Sheffield drew a sixth-inning leadoff walk that set up the game's deciding run on Edgar Renteria's go-ahead double off Jeff Niemann (2-2).

"A couple pitches, I thought about it," Sheffield admitted later. "But at the same time, the most important thing is to try to win the game. You have to play it that way."

The rally came too late for Willis to get the victory. That didn't dampen the feeling coming out of his season-closing performance.

Willis has battled control issues virtually all season, and he spent two and a half months in the Minor Leagues working on his mechanics before being called up to the Tigers (74-86) in September. The accomplished left-hander showed progress in his return start Sept. 15 before walking six batters over 2 1/3 innings at Cleveland last Sunday. His season finale was arguably his best outing of all.

It didn't look promising when four of Tampa Bay's first six batters reached base safely, including two walks and a Rocco Baldelli two-run double. Willis, however, settled down from there to retire 11 of 13 batters, including the side in order in the second and fourth innings. He nearly accomplished a quality start before a Dan Johnson walk with one out in the sixth ended his night two outs shy.

As he headed for the dugout, he received a solid, appreciative applause.

"I was being booed in the first, and they clapped for me in the sixth," Willis said. "That was a quick turnaround. I appreciate it."

It's arguably a solid snapshot of his season. Yet for all he has been through, it was a nice finish.

"It's definitely good to throw the ball well," Willis said. "But in the end, I know I've done everything I could to play the best baseball I could, so I have nothing to be ashamed of. I just have to make some adjustments for next year, but again, regardless of what the outcome's going to be, I know I worked very hard for this."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola


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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Sun Sep 28, 2008 12:19 am

Saturday, September 27, 2008
Tigers 4, Rays 3
Tigers win, but no homer for Sheffield
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Not this time.

Needing one to become the 25th major-league player ever to hit 500 home runs, the Tigers' Gary Sheffield went 0-for-2 with two walks in the Tigers' 4-3 victory Saturday night over the Tampa Bay Rays.

With more cameras flashing with each at-bat, as fans tried to capture the moment, Sheffield popped out to short in the second, lined to third in the fourth, walked in the sixth, then walked again in the eighth -- the crowd groaning with disappointment after his last at-bat.

History was put on hold.

On Sunday, Sheffield will hit second in the lineup, the first game he'll start at that spot in the batting order since July 14, 1990, with Milwaukee.

"It's one of my theories to have some pop in the second spot," manager Jim Leyland said. "With Placido (Polanco) out, I'm going to go with that theory."

Dontrelle Willis' best start as a Tiger wasn't put on hold, though. After a shaky first inning, in which he allowed two runs on 35 pitches, Willis settled down to allow just one more run while lasting 5 1/3 innings.

He didn't last long enough to get the victory -- as the Tigers didn't take the lead until the bottom of the sixth -- but his best start of the season was encouraging enough.

"He kept his composure, didn't let it get away from him and that was a real bright sign," said Leyland. "Progress has definitely been made."

Of the early runs he allowed, Willis -- who finished 0-2 with a 9.38 ERA in eight games, seven of them starts -- said, "Sometimes it's good to get hit in the mouth early and answer back.

"It feels good to throw the ball well. In the end I know I've done everything I could to play the best baseball I could so I don't have anything to be ashamed of."

Of how the fans gave him a nice ovation when he departed, Willis said, "I was getting booed in the first and they clapped for me in the sixth. That's the quickest turnaround I've ever seen.

"I hope they see this means a lot to me. It's not just a job. It's not about the money. I care about the game of baseball, I care about my teammates and I care about the city of Detroit."

As for winning three in a row, Leyland said, "You can't wash away the fact we underachieved. If I start talking about how great we're playing now, everyone will say it's too late.

"But the point that's important is that we're still playing hard. That's what I'm pleased about because it's just not as easy to go out there right now as if you were in the playoffs.

"The fans have been so unbelievable, it was almost like a playoff atmosphere in the ninth inning. That's a credit to the people of Detroit. The fans put on the best performance tonight."

Miguel Cabrera hit his 37th home run in the second for the Tigers to take sole possession of the American League lead. Edgar Renteria's sixth-inning double drove in the run that held up as the difference. Renteria is hitting .302 in his last 51 games.

Aquilino Lopez, with 2 2/3 innings of shutout relief, was the winning pitcher. He's 4-1. Fernando Rodney pitched a scoreless ninth for his 13th save.

You can reach Tom Gage at tom.gage@detnews.com


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola


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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Sun Sep 28, 2008 8:56 am

uh, they won't spend October at home!
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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Sun Sep 28, 2008 7:20 pm

09/28/2008 5:11 PM ET

Box >

Tigers fall to Rays in extra innings
Lambert allows blast in 11th after Ordonez's homer in ninth
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DETROIT -- The Tigers ended their 2008 home schedule with some of the late-inning woes that marked their season as a whole. After Magglio Ordonez's two-run homer in the ninth sent the game into extra innings, Ben Zobrist's 11th-inning solo shot denied the Tigers a four-game series sweep with an 8-7 loss to the Rays on Sunday at Comerica Park.

Curtis Granderson added a three-run home run and a bases-loaded walk in support of Zach Miner's solid pitching in the finale, but the Tigers lost for the 13th time this season when leading after seven innings.

This one came against a Tampa Bay club headed for the postseason after clinching the American League East title two days earlier. Sunday was one final regular-season tuneup for the Rays, who pulled starter James Shields after a 10-pitch opening inning to prepare him for the upcoming AL Division Series.

Shields and Mitch Talbot combined to retire Detroit's first seven hitters before Brandon Inge's one-out double and a nine-pitch walk to Ramon Santiago set up Granderson's 22nd home run of the year.

By contrast, much of the damage in the fourth came from free passes, and they ended up providing the final difference in the game. Talbot recovered from Edgar Renteria's leadoff single to retire Dusty Ryan, but he walked the next four batters. Walks to Granderson and Gary Sheffield came with the bases loaded, allowing Renteria and Brandon Inge to score.

After Jonny Gomes' two-run double off Freddy Dolsi tied the game in the seventh, Zobrist pulled the Rays ahead with an RBI single ahead of a bases-loaded walk to Eric Hinske. Sheffield, who went homerless in his quest for 500 career dingers, instead hit a leadoff single in the ninth ahead of Ordonez's 21st home run on the year.

Zobrist's deciding shot off Chris Lambert (1-2) was his fourth home run of the series. He finished the four-game set by going 7-for-16 with seven RBIs. Jackson (14-11) earned the win for the Rays.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Sun Sep 28, 2008 10:31 pm

Sunday, September 28, 2008
Rays 8, Tigers 7
Tigers lose to Rays in 11 innings
Bullpen lets another lead slip away; Detroit plays season-finale Monday in Chicago.
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Two heads have rolled. Don't look for any more.

Baseball becomes a blame game when a season is defined by frustration and underachievement.

On Sunday, blame claimed the jobs of Tigers pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and bullpen coach Jeff Jones.

The Tigers didn't announce they were fired, but when asked after an 8-7 loss in 11 innings to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Tigers' last home game of the season, manager Jim Leyland said the two will not be returning.

Hernandez and Jones reserved comment until Monday while they're in Chicago for the Tigers' final game, but reaction in defense of both came quickly in the Tigers' clubhouse.

"This was wrong," Brandon Inge said. "We're dropping probably the two best coaches on this team. They don't deserve it because they've done so much for this staff.

"I can't stand that someone has to be blamed and that it falls on those guys. This is so stinking frustrating. They were the best at their job that I've known. Given the hand they were dealt, they did an unbelievable job."

Justin Verlander, who acknowledged that his 11-17 record this year probably influenced the decision to fire Hernandez, said, "You hope something like this doesn't happen, but you don't control it.

"It's tough because I know I'm partially to blame for this but I really learned a lot from (Hernandez). What he taught me will have a lasting influence on my career."

Meanwhile, Sunday turned out to be a microcosm of what's gone wrong and been wrong with the Tigers all year. They had an early lead but couldn't hold it, rallied to tie in the in the ninth, but lost it in the 11th on Ben Zobrist's fourth home run of the series.

Ordinarily, it would have been the Tigers' final game. But because of an earlier rainout, and because the White Sox won on Sunday to prevent the Minnesota Twins from clinching the division outright, the Tigers flew to Chicago after the game to play a Monday afternoon game at U.S. Cellular Field.

Not only will it give the Tigers a say in who wins the division, but it also gives Gary Sheffield one more opportunity to hit the 500th home run of his career.

Sheffield went 1-for-5 in Sunday's loss, his last at-bat coming in the ninth with the crowd loudly urging him on, but instead a liner into the left field seats, he lined a single to left.

But the game itself could not have been more typical of the Tigers' shortcomings -- being, as it was, their 27th blown save of the season.

When asked after the game to sum up the season, Leyland said, "We've already summed it up. Except for one game, it's over. We've had a bad season, but we've talked about that a million times.

"It wasn't just a bad season today, it's been bad along. This is sort of the icing on the cake. It's no secret we've let a lot of games get away late. We played hard enough, we just didn't play good enough.

"I can't grab wins off trees," he added, "but I'm not down about this club. I think we have an excellent nucleus. I'm disappointed like everyone else, but I'm tired of talking about it.

"We've been disappointed for the last three months. It's not a shock we're disappointed."

Not everything went wrong, however. With 37, Miguel Cabrera is one game away from becoming the first Tiger since Cecil Fielder in 1990 to lead the American League in home runs.

"He's one of the most dynamic young players in baseball," said Leyland, "one of the most dynamic I've ever seen, but what we learned is it's not enough."

In short, the Tigers didn't have enough firepower, as the manager called it, to overcome their shortcomings on the mound. But they've known that for months, too.

What wasn't previously known to the extent it was learned on Sunday is how much shortstop Edgar Renteria hopes to be back. Saying he's been embarrassed by how he played for much of the season, Renteria said he'd consider signing with the Tigers as a free agent if they don't -- as they almost certainly won't -- pick up the option on his contract.

"I want to come back," he said.

Whether he will be is uncertain, of course. Leyland wouldn't comment on the shortstop situation. Then again, he had other things on his mind like one more game with two coaches who've already been let go.

You can reach Tom Gage at tom.gage@detnews.com


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–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:50 pm

09/29/2008 8:23 PM ET

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Tigers unable to end rival's season
Garcia pitches well before leaving game against former team
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

CHICAGO -- For the White Sox, it was win or go home. The Tigers' season was ending anyway, but they wanted to send out the Sox with them.

They almost did.

The 8-2 loss in Monday's makeup game won't reflect the Tigers' effort. Yet, for about half an inning, the Tigers had the White Sox staring at elimination, with Chicago's former big-game pitcher putting the pressure on them. With each quick out from Freddy Garcia, the Minnesota Twins were looking like pending American League Central champions without having to take the field.

With a tweak of Garcia's surgically repaired shoulder, the momentum completely changed in the bottom of sixth inning. And within five batters, the White Sox had a five-run inning, Alexei Ramirez had his fourth grand slam of the season and the Tigers had another demonstration of the problems that left them going home from here.

"Maybe this is justice, who knows?" manager Jim Leyland said. "Maybe this is the way it's supposed to be. The two best teams in the division all year have to play one game to see who goes [to the postseason]."

While the White Sox will go on to host a one-game tiebreaker against the Twins for the AL Central title on Tuesday night, the Tigers went their separate ways after the game -- some of them back to Detroit to pack, others directly to their offseason homes. They took with them a last-place finish in the division for the first time since Detroit's 119-loss 2003 season. Yet for a team that had little at stake in this makeup of a mid-September rainout, the Tigers put up a fight that seemingly surprised the Chicago crowd.

"We came in here to play hard," Miguel Cabrera said. "We don't give up. We showed them we're ready to play today. We were ready to play baseball."

Garcia, facing his old club for the first time since the White Sox traded him after the 2006 season, walked his first two hitters and gave up an ensuing RBI single to Jermaine Dye, putting Detroit's bullpen into surprisingly quick action to warm up. From there, however, he settled down to retire 15 of Chicago's next 16 hitters. He cruised through the second inning in seven pitches, the third in six and then the fourth with seven more.

"We were swinging at all kinds of things," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.

It was vintage big-game Garcia, the kind of effort that used to doom the Tigers in the past. His fastball was approaching 90 mph, and his other pitches hit the corners. For a pitcher whom Guillen openly wondered two months ago whether he would pitch in the big leagues before the season was up, Garcia had a real chance to end Chicago's season right here.

"Freddy was a perfect guy for that game," Leyland said. "He wasn't going to get excited. He's been in big games before. The timing of the rotation worked out, but you could see, he wasn't going to get excited about anything."

The lingering doubt wasn't so much Garcia's arm or mindset, but the lead he was protecting. The Tigers had three straight hits leading off the fifth inning and ended up with a lone run to tie the game, unable to score with runners at first and third with nobody out thanks to back-to-back Gavin Floyd strikeouts. They took the lead when Floyd retrieved a would-be inning-ending comebacker from Ryan Raburn and threw it away, allowing Cabrera to score.

Garcia seemed capable of carrying it into the late innings, though he was working into the sixth for the first time this year after coming back from shoulder surgery. After a leadoff walk and a Dewayne Wise stolen base, the Tigers' dugout noticed something was wrong.

"About two pitches before [the stolen base], we noticed he was kind of moving [his shoulder] around," Leyland said. "I don't know whether he pinched something up there. It's too bad."

Leyland wasn't going to risk Garcia's health. After a quick visit to the mound, he promptly went back to the dugout and called to the bullpen for Armando Galarraga, who won 13 games as a Tigers starter this season and last pitched on Thursday.

Leyland said he went to Galarraga in hopes of getting his breaking ball to induce a ground ball to the left side that would keep Wise at second base. He got the hard breaking ball, but not the swings. Instead, Galarraga skipped a pair of sinkers in the dirt for wild pitches that brought Wise around to score and put Dye on base with a walk.

"Obviously, you could tell Armando wasn't used to that," Leyland said of the situation.

Leyland promptly removed Galarraga in favor of Bobby Seay, who threw another wild pitch that put Dye in scoring position but struck out Jim Thome for the first out. After an intentional walk to Paul Konerko, Seay faced Ken Griffey Jr., who walked unintentionally on four pitches to load the bases.

"The key to the whole game," Leyland called it. "That turned the whole game around. And we've done that way too much. I mean, you just strike a left-hander out and you get another left-hander two hitters later, and you walk him on four pitches. That was the kiss of death."

With that, Leyland went to right-hander Gary Glover. Ramirez belted his first pitch out to left, sending the White Sox into their tiebreaker.

It didn't send the Tigers anywhere they weren't already going, but they would've loved to have this one on their way out.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola


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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:52 pm

2008 = Neutral No fingers rant ashamed go team Frown Mad
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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:55 pm

laprimamirala wrote:
2008 = Neutral No fingers rant ashamed go team Frown Mad

Better drink a double, Lap! At least the torture is over for us fans, this year!


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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:58 pm

Cheers 2 Group Hug
In the long run, it doesn't matter that much though. Win or lose, I love 'em. I hate to see 'em lose, but hey! there's always next year!
(p.s. GO )
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PostSubject: Re: DET. TIGERS 2008 REG SEASON SCHEDULE & SCORES   Tue Sep 30, 2008 10:24 am

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
White Sox 8, Tigers 2
Not-so-grand finale for Tigers
Ramirez's rookie-record 4th slam wins it
Lynn Henning / The Detroit News

CHICAGO -- Just to rub in their frustrations a bit deeper, Monday's game actually meant something to the Tigers.

Even if it was the White Sox who found themselves with a postseason invitation on the line, the Tigers grudgingly were glad to at least have a shot at determining the AL Central's playoff representative.

A last-place team's proud effort lasted five innings. But after taking a 2-1 lead that threatened to turn Chicago's South Side into a bereavement zone, the Tigers reverted to the form that has left them with one of the most failed seasons in recent baseball history and an unfathomable 74-88 record.

The bullpen went to pieces as the Tigers lost, 8-2, to secure sole possession of last place.


Alexei Ramirez ripped a grand slam off Gary Glover, the fourth Tigers pitcher of the sixth inning. A 2-1 lead turned into a 6-2 runaway for the White Sox, who moved into a one-game playoff tonight against the visiting to determine which team takes the Central title and a playoff slot against the Rays.

"This game was kind of the way it has gone for us this year," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who likely will file 2008 into the same place he tosses his cigarette butts. "The key to the whole ballgame was one at-bat."
'I wanted to win this game bad'

The game-changing plate appearance was a sixth-inning, four-pitch walk by Bobby Seay to Ken Griffey Jr., two batters after Seay struck out Jim Thome. Seay had relieved Armando Galarraga, who had come on to pitch to one batter after starter Freddy Garcia was forced to leave a game in which he had pitched beautifully because of tightness in his right (throwing) shoulder.

Seay's walk loaded the bases. It brought on Glover to pitch to right-handed Ramirez, who drove Glover's first pitch, a fastball right down Michigan Avenue, into the left-field seats. It was his fourth slam of the year, an MLB rookie record.

"He just strikes out one batter and then walks the next one on four pitches," said Leyland, almost seething. "That was a disaster for us. It's just a shame we lost it like that. Freddy (two hits, three walks and two earned runs in five innings) was a perfect guy for that game. He wasn't too excited. He's been in big games. He was in charge."

It seemed appropriate that a season so long and miserable saw Monday's game delayed more than 3 hours by rain. It was rain that washed out a White Sox-Tigers earlier this month, necessitating the make-up.

The Tigers went after the White Sox as if it was the Tigers gunning for the playoffs. Leyland had set Chicago reporters straight when they implied before Monday's game that the Tigers were upset about having to make a one-day trip to Chicago to finish a season that was supposed to have ended Sunday.

"I wanted to win this game bad," said Leyland, who had baserunners moving constantly (four stolen bases) against White Sox starter Gavin Floyd and his balky delivery.

Leyland was as aggressive with his pitching staff. He used Galarraga in relief in an attempt to coax a ground ball in the sixth after Garcia exited and after the leadoff man, Dewayne Wise, walked to start the inning.

"I wasn't trying to knock the White Sox out," Leyland said. "I just wanted us to be professional and to go about our business."

'Glad to get it over'

After the White Sox used a hit and two Garcia walks to take a 1-0 lead in the first, the Tigers tied it in the fifth on Ryan Raburn's single and Brandon Inge's double against the left-field fence.

They took a 2-1 lead in the sixth on a double by Miguel Cabrera, who will finish as the American League home run champion (37) -- the Tigers' first since Cecil Fielder in 1990-91. Cabrera later scored on a throwing error by Floyd.

It was the last lead the Tigers would know in 2008. It also was Gary Sheffield's last chance this year to hit his 500th home run. He went 0-for-3 and was hit by a pitch.

"When I got to spring training, if you'd have told me that we'd finish in last place, I never would have thought it," said Marcus Thames, Monday's left fielder who was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. "It was a long, frustrating year. I can't believe it went the way it did."

Raburn, who started at second base in place of the injured Placido Polanco, said: "I hate to end the season this way, but I'm glad to get it over and to start fresh next year. I just hope I'm part of this team next year."

Curtis Granderson's season began with a month layoff because of a broken hand. It finished with an 0-for-4 day that saw his batting average, which just earlier this month was above .300, sink to .280.

"The toughest thing to figure out what went wrong," said Granderson, who believes a mixed bag of failings and personnel losses doomed Detroit. "Out goal was the playoffs -- nothing else."

'It seems like a mountain'

Leyland was composed as he sat in his office, rising once to hug Kenny Rogers as the Tigers left-hander departed Detroit's clubhouse for perhaps the last time.

"This hasn't been a very good year or a very happy ending, with the dismissal of two coaches (pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and bullpen coach Jeff Jones)," Leyland said. "But it's pretty blatant what our needs are. They're not that hard to identify.

"I'm sure Dave (Dombrowski, Tigers president and general manager) will try to fix us up as much as he can.

"It seems like a mountain, but it's not really so."

Leyland shrugged his shoulders. There was little consolation Monday except, perhaps, for what the White Sox and Twins had to look forward to tonight.

"Maybe this is justice," Leyland said. "The two best teams are playing one game to see who goes to the playoffs."

Left unsaid in another quiet Tigers clubhouse Monday:

Neither of the two teams meeting tonight is from Detroit.

You can reach Lynn Henning at lynn.henning@ detnews.com


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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