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 Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'

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PostSubject: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:38 pm

TIGERS SPRING TRAINING
Tribe, Tigers rivalry already intense; Garko: Detroit 'just raised the bar'

BY JOHN LOWE • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • March 12, 2008

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Cleveland Indians first baseman Ryan Garko was working out on the treadmill in December when the bulletin crawled across the TV screen.

The Tigers, second to the Indians in the American League Central last season, had traded for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.


"When I saw that, I turned the treadmill up a couple of notches higher," Garko said. "I thought, 'We'd all better start working a little harder. The Tigers just raised the bar a little bit.' "

Cleveland infielder Josh Barfield was away from home when he heard about the trade.

"I remember thinking, 'There's no way that can be right,' " Barfield said. "I had to check it out on the Internet when I got home."

He learned Florida had sent Cabrera, the slugging third baseman, and Willis, the durable and energetic left-hander, to Detroit for six young players.

"It's a great deal for the Tigers," Barfield said recently at training camp.

Indians pitcher Paul Byrd said: "Cabrera and Willis are two young cornerstone players who can change a game all by themselves. Add those two to an already great lineup, and you have an All-Star team in Detroit."

There are no big newcomers in Cleveland's spring clubhouse to equal Cabrera, Willis and Edgar Renteria, the Tigers' new shortstop.

The Indians' one notable off-season acquisition was right-handed Japanese reliever Masahide Kobayashi.


But the Indians have all of their front-line folks back -- every everyday player, starting pitcher and top reliever who got them past the Tigers and into the postseason.

That means Rafael Betancourt is still in the bullpen. The Betancourt of last season was what the Tigers had with Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney in 2006. And he's exactly what the Tigers didn't have when Zumaya and Rodney were hurt or ineffective most of last season.

The Tigers lost several games last season they led in the seventh inning or later. Betancourt had a 1.47 ERA as the Tribe's top setup man. Betancourt issued six unintentional walks all season. That's one per month. He had 80 strikeouts. That's an unfathomable strikeout-walk ratio of better than 13-to-1.

"There is something special about his fastball -- it seems tough to put the barrel of the bat on it," said Cleveland designated hitter Travis Hafner. "He comes right after people. He throws strikes."

Betancourt was the only reliever in the majors who pitched throughout last season without allowing more than one run in a game.

But against the Tigers, he was better. His performance against them was the best by any reliever against any team in baseball. In 10 outings against the Tigers, Betancourt pitched 13 2/3 scoreless innings. Research done through baseball-reference.com shows it was the most innings any reliever pitched against any team last season without allowing a run.

Betancourt thinks he might have done so well because the scoreboard kept demanding it. "It seemed like every game we played the Tigers was close," he said.

The Indians won the season series against the Tigers, 12-6. That accounted for most of the eight-game gap between the clubs in the final standings. Many of the Tigers-Indians games were decided in the late innings -- typically when the Indians came back against Detroit's bullpen or when Betancourt held a lead.

Betancourt didn't land on anyone's 10-man ballot for American League MVP. But in the Tigers-Indians season series, he was the MVP.

The Tribe also made five notable additions during last season, all from their farm system. "Difference makers," manager Eric Wedge calls them.

They were starting pitcher Aaron Laffey, relievers Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis, rightfielder Franklin Gutierrez, and, above all, second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, who showed he could be a catalyst in all three phases: hitting, defense and baserunning. Once all five got in place in Cleveland, the Indians began to pull away from the Tigers.

This season, Cabrera and Gutierrez remain in the lineup, and Perez and Lewis will stay in the bullpen. Laffey might be the fifth starter.

"This will be their first full year, and they will have a whole new set of challenges," Wedge said. "It's always different coming up with some momentum out of Triple-A during the season versus having expectations for your first full season. But they understand that."

The Indians, who won 96 games last year to tie Boston for most regular-season victories, are speaking the same language this spring that manager Jim Leyland wants the amped-up Tigers to speak: Regardless of talent, the path to the postseason is by playing right, one game at a time.

Byrd, who has pitched for six teams, said: "I do like our team. If we don't worry about other people and just do the things we do well and play defense and get guys over, I think we're going to win a lot of games. I'm excited."

Said Garko: "It's about being consistent this year. Continuing to pitch well and play defense and, hopefully, improve offensively. It's also important to focus on the day-to-day aspect. We can't get caught up in the September run to the championship in April. We need to focus on our first game against the White Sox."

That will be March 31 in Cleveland. On the same day, the Tigers open the season at home against Kansas City. It could be cold that day on the Great Lakes, as cold as it would be for postseason ball in October. In between for the Indians and Tigers lies a long summer's path that, like Garko's treadmill, could get steeper and steeper.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:04 am

This should be a very enjoyable summer of GREAT Tiger baseball....
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Sat Mar 15, 2008 12:11 pm

It sure will! I Can't Wait!
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Sat Mar 15, 2008 7:51 pm

gulp! Let's just say I won't schedule a doctor appt during baseball season! she's a diehard Indians fan!
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Sat Mar 15, 2008 8:01 pm

You will have to wait until November. Eat healthy, exercise, take vitamins and knock on wood ya don't get sick
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Sat Mar 15, 2008 8:06 pm

I do all those already! short of something really major I won't have to see her until July for the annual checkup! Won't even bring up baseball!
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:21 pm

Smart thinking! go team


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:59 pm

GO tiger BEAT TRIBE
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Sat Mar 15, 2008 10:10 pm

lol... Good luck not getting sick!

Can't wait until March 31st, first day... then we will all see our team in action and be able to say whether all of what is being said about our AMAZING team is, in fact, true! Big Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Sat Mar 15, 2008 10:11 pm

GO tiger BEAT ROYALS!
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Sat Mar 15, 2008 10:28 pm

GO tiger ...BEAT....EVERYBODY!!
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Sat Mar 15, 2008 10:29 pm

damn straight!

hi Saint miss ya lots!
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Sat Mar 15, 2008 10:30 pm

tigersaint wrote:
GO tiger ...BEAT....EVERYBODY!!


Saint! :back_hug: Long time no see!
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Sat Mar 15, 2008 10:32 pm

I'll second that! Hug
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:27 pm

Gonna have to get your girl interested in the Tigers and this board, Saint!!!!


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Tribe, Tigers rivalry; Detroit 'just raised the bar'   Sun Mar 16, 2008 6:11 am

no more Red Sox!!
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