Tag Archive: Detroit


ALL THE RIGHT MOVES

The signing of Victor Martinez in the offseason has proven to be a key reason behind the Tigers winning the AL Central this season. (B. Calloway photo)

Dave Dombrowski entered the season with his job on the line.

The  Detroit Tigers general manager was on the final year of his contract and needed to help the team get back to the postseason.

He made several key decisions that helped the Tigers win the AL Central division title – their first division crown since 1987 and first playoff berth since reaching the World Series in 2006. Here is a look at some of the decisions he made that helped get the Tigers back into the postseason.

Signing Victor Martinez in the offseason

This might be one of the single most important decisions Dombrowski made.  The Tigers had several players they could pursue to bolster their lineup with Jayson Werth, Adam Dunn and Carl Crawford also being available. The decision to bring Martinez aboard for four years looks to be the be the best move of the bunch. Dunn, who is in his 1st season in the AL, is hitting .160 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs for the White Sox. Crawford (.254, 11 HR, 18 SBs) is having a down year with the Red Sox and the same has been the case for Werth  (.232, 20 HR, 58 RBIS) with the Nationals.  Meanwhile Martinez has been a leader on and off the field for the Tigers

The switch-hitting Martinez is batting .324 with 12 home runs and 102 RBIs. He has come up with a number of big hits for the Tigers and made teams pay when they pitched around Miguel Cabrera. With runners on base he is hitting .399 and .390 when they are in scoring position.

Trading for Doug Fister at the trade deadline

Since being acquired from the Mariners in July, Doug Fister is 8-1 in 10 starts for the Tigers. (AP)

The Tigers needed pitching at the deadline to bolster their chances at winning the division. Fister has been the answer. Ubaldo Jimenez was considered to be one of the highly coveted players on the market but the Tiger and Dombrowski were smart to work out a trade with Seattle for Fister instead. Jimenez has struggled with the rival Indians, while Fister has become a top of the line starter for Detroit. In 10 starts since being acquired by the Tigers on July 30, Fister is 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA. He has struck out 54 and walked five over 70 1/3 innings. He and likely AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander have formed a formidable 1-2 combination with a combined 14-0 record and 1.61 ERA since Aug. 16. Fister ranks fourth in the AL with a 2.83 ERA. Jimenez is 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 starts since the Indians acquired him from the Rockies.

Landing Wilson Betemit, Delmon Young from division rivals

Dombrowski made trades with division rivals during the season to land players that have been important pieces for the Tigers. In July, he acquired Betemit from the Royals. Betemit stepped in for the struggling Brandon Inge at third base. Betemit has hit .281 with four homers and 18 RBIs since joining the Tigers. Young was acquired in August from the Twins and has anchored left field and the No. 3 spot in the Detroit lineup. He has hit .264 with seven homers with 29 RBIs and four doubles in 38 games with the Tigers. Acquiring Young has proved as extra important with the Tigers having lost Brennan Boesch for the season with a thumb injury in August.

Acquiring Jhonny Peralta from Cleveland and re-signing him

Dombrowski acquired Peralta before the trade deadline in 2010, but the decision has made a big impact on this year’s team. Signed to a two-year contract in the offseason to play shortstop, Peralta has been a valuable contributor to the Tigers offense and has played steady defense. Peralta, who has mostly hit in the No. 6 or 7 spots in the lineup, entered Tuesday’s game hitting a career-best .301 with 20 home runs and 84 RBIs. He also has 25 doubles.

Max Scherzer tossed eight scoreless innings against the White Sox on Sunday to improve to 4-0 on the season (AP)

The Tigers continued a recent string of success against the White Sox by pulling off a series sweep to improve to 12-10 on the season. Detroit outscored the struggling White Sox 21-3 during the series and have won nine straight over the Chi Sox dating back to last season. The Tigers are now 4-2 against the AL Central and 6-3 at home

Win: Max Scherzer (4-0)

Loss: John Danks (0-3)

Save: Jose Valverde (5)

Hero: Max Scherzer

Scherzer delivered another quality start, tossing eight scoreless innings to move to  4-0 on the season. After manager Jim Leyland emphasized the need for Scherzer to be more efficient with his pitches following his start against Seattle earlier in the week, Scherzer did just that. He only needed 104 pitches in his eight innings of work. In his previous starts he had reached the 100 pitch mark by the fifth or sixth inning.

Key sequence: The bottom of the sixth

With the Tigers holding on to a 1-0 lead, they added a pair of big runs with two outs. Alex Avila started the rally with his two-out single and came around to score on a double by Brandon Inge. Austin Jackson followed with a double to score Inge and push the Tigers lead to 3-0.

Brad Penny pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just one hit to earn his first victory as a Tiger on Saturday (AP)

The Tigers move above .500 for the first time this season with their shutout of the struggling White Sox.

Win Brad Penny (1-2)

Loss: Edwin Jackson (2-2)

Hero: Brad Penny

Penny entered the game with an ERA in 8s and struggled toward the tail end of his last start but he didn’t have any struggles against the White Sox on Saturday. Penny carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning – his bid ending on a controversial scoring play. He ended the day by throwing seven shutout innings, only allowing one hit in what was his best start by far as a Tiger. Penny struck out three and walked two while lowering his ERA to 6.35.

Key sequence: The Tigers broke the scoreless game open by plating five runs in the fourth inning. Alex Avila had one of the biggest hits, coming up with a two-RBI triple off former Tiger Edwin Jackson during the inning. Brandon Inge and Ryan Raburn also had RBI hits in the inning, while Magglio Ordonez drove in a run on a fielder’s choice.

Avila went 3 for 4 in the game to boost his average to .327 – third on the team behind only Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera, who were each hitting .338.

Ryan Raburn (left), shown being congratulated by Austin Jackson (14) following his two-run homer, had four RBIs in Detroit's 9-3 win over the White Sox on Friday (AP)

Justin Verlander recorded his 1,000th career strikeout and limited the White Sox to just three solo home runs as the Tigers opened their three-game series with a win over Chicago.

Win: Verlander (2-2)

Loss: Mark Buehrle (1-2)

Hero: Ryan Raburn

Raburn went 2 for 5 with four RBIs to power the Tigers offense in the win. His two-run home run in the third put the Tigers ahead 4-0 and drove in what would prove to be the winning run. Friday marked the second straight contest in which Raburn homered.

Key: Raburn’s two-run homer was definitely the difference maker, but this was one of the best showings by the Tigers offense this season. The team generated runs throughout the entire contest with two in the second, two in third, one in the fourth, one in the sixth and three in the eighth. Casper Wells added two RBIs from the No. 9 spot, while Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta and Brennan Boesch also drove in runs.

Strong night: Other than allowing a pair of solo homers to Carlos Quentin and a solo homer to Paul Konerko, Verlander was dominant against the White Sox. Verlander struck out eight and didn’t issue a walk while tossing seven innings.

Up next: Vs. Chicago, 4 p.m. Saturday

D-Train back on track?

Making strides?: Former Tiger Dontrelle Willis is 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA in three starts at Triple-A Louisville this season. He has walked just five in 17 innings for the Cincinnati Reds top affiliate. (B. Calloway photo)

The past three seasons had been a struggle for Dontrelle Willis.

Since being traded from the Florida Marlins to the Tigers in a deal that involved Miguel Cabrera, Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller in December of 2007, the one-time National League rookie of the year struggled on the mound.

Willis won just three games in the majors from 2008-2010 and had a hard time finding the strike zone. He had 119 walks and 82 strikeouts in 123 1/3 innings in that three-year span. His numbers weren’t too much better in the minors.

After the Tigers traded him to Arizona last year, Willis was sent to the minors and made eight appearances as a reliever where he had a 6.14 ERA and had given up five earned runs in 7 1/3 innings. with five walks and six strikeouts.

Despite the control issues and high ERAs, being a lefty helped Willis land an opportunity with the Cincinnati Reds and he has taken advantage of it so far. Pitching at Triple-A Louisville, Willis has shown better control and is off to a fast start for the Reds top affiliate. He is 2-0 with a 0.53 earned run average in three starts.

More impressive is that he has 15 strikeouts and just five walks in 17 1/3 innings. He also has only allowed 14 hits and the opposition is hitting just .222 against him.

Willis pitched six scoreless innings in his season-opening starter against Toledo (the Tigers farm team) and followed with six shutout innings against Indianapolis (the Pirates farm team). His scoreless streak of 17 innings to open the season ended when Cleveland Indians prospect Chad Huffman hit a solo home run against him Wednesday.

While Willis has not been issuing walks, he threw 62 strikes and 50 balls in Wednesday’s outing against Columbus. He had 56 strikes and 45 balls against Indianapolis and 47 strikes and 23 balls in the win over Toledo. Only 58 percent of his pitches have been strikes and that number could use some improvement, but his early success is an encouragement. This is the best amount of success he has had since his days with the Marlines.

Great birthday: Miguel Cabrera played a key role in Detroit's 8-3 win over the Mariners on Monday at Safeco Field.


The Tigers used another big inning, which was aided by Seattle fielding errors, to open their three-game set with the Mariners with a win. Max Scherzer turned in another quality start for the Tigers and upped his pitching record to 3-0.

Hero: Miguel Cabrera / Brennan Boesch

Cabrera, who was celebrating his 28th birthday, had a key RBI hit on a 3-0 pitch that helped key Detroit’s big inning.

Boesch was also a key component for the Tigers

Key sequence: With the bases loaded, Jhonny Peralta broke the game open with his bases clearing triple

Up next: At Seattle, 10 p.m. Tuesday

Hot start: Scott Sizemore is off to a .387 start with Toledo this season.

In five of their 16 games this season the Detroit Tigers have been held to two or fewer runs.  They are 0-5 in those games.

On eight occasions this season the team has scored three for fewer runs ans has a 2-6 record in those games. Factor in Friday’s game in which they only scored one run in the first nine innings before a huge scoring outburst in the 10th, that is nine times where the Tigers bats haven’t really done much.

Detroit ranks eighth of 14 American League teams with a .240 batting average and ninth of 14 with a .312 on-base percentage. They clearly will need to find a way to generate some offense if they hope to contend in an AL Central that has seen surprising starts from the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals through the first few weeks of the season.

Getting leadoff hitter Austin Jackson going will certainly be a key to improving offensively considering the Tigers will need his defense in the spacious outfield at Comerica Park. Jackson is batting .175 with 19 strikeouts in in 16 games in his sophomore season, but his strong rookie year provided a sign that he can hit and be a strong top of the order hitter for the Tigers. Victor Martinez is also off to a slow start but he has a track record and is a former All-Star and will eventually round to form.

Which leads us to Will Rhymes, who has manned the No. 2 slot for much of the season. Rhymes is  batting .222 with no extra-base hits and has scored just two runs. While Rhymes did hit .300 in limited action in the majors last year, he has a replacement that is off to a hot start in Triple-A Toledo and the Tigers should look his way if they continue to struggle at the plate. Scott Sizemore, who battled Rhymes for the second base job this spring, is batting .387 (12 for 31) through his first nine games for the Mud Hens this season. While batting at the top of the Toledo lineup he has scored eight runs and has a pair of doubles, four RBIs, five walks and six strikeouts.

With the Tigers offense struggling, it wouldn’t hurt to call up a hot hitter like Sizemore in order to possibly provide a jump start and be a way to ignite the team. If the Tigers were hitting, it would be fine to leave Rhymes in and give him a chance to work his way out of his early season struggles. Since that isn’t the case the Tigers should opt with Sizemore to see if he can provide a spark.

The Tigers made a move with their bullpen last week with the promotion of Al Alburquerque to the bigs. Alburquerque was effective in his debut with two scoreless innings and three strikeouts during Friday’s win over the Athletics.

Detroit should in turn make a similar move with its struggling offense since there isn’t much else to lose. With its starters giving quality outings of late, its a shame a lack of offense has been the cause of several recent losses.

Thoughts on Game 16 of 162

The Tigers dropped to 7-9 with their loss to the Athletics, which led to a split of a four-game series. Once again the offense was quiet with a solo home run by Casper Wells being all the Tigers were able to muster.

W: Cahill (2-0) L: Penny (0-2)

Trevor Cahill held the Tigers to four hits and struck out eight in eight innings on Sunday to improve to 2-0 (AP)

Hero: Trevor Cahill

Like all of Oakland’s starters, Cahill prevented the Tigers from doing anything offensively. He struck out nine and allowed just four hits and one earned run in eight innings to earn the pitching win.

Rough finish: For the most part, Brad Penny’s fourth start in a Tigers uniform wasn’t bad. But in the end his control struggles were ultimately costly. He walked in a run during a three-run fifth inning that Oakland used to take control. Penny only allowed four hits, but walked four and struck out five and also hit a batter in five innings of work. He has an 8.84 ERA.

Key sequence: The bottom of the fifth when the Athletics scored three runs with two outs. After giving up a leadoff double, Penny got two outs before hitting David DeJesus with a pitch and walking Daric Barton to load the bases. He then walked Conor Jackson for Oakland’s first run of that inning and then Josh Willingham had a two-RBI single

Up next: At Seattle, 10 p.m. Monday

Thoughts on game 14 of 162

After struggling to get anything going at the plate for most of Friday’s game, the Tigers bats came alive in the 10th inning. Detroit exploded for seven runs in the inning en route to earning their fourth straight victory and evening their record at 7-7. The win was the 1,500 for Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

Clutch hit: Brennan Boesch, who finished 3 for 5, connects for a two-RBI double in the 10th inning of Fridays 8-4 win over the Athletics. (AP)

W: Brayan Villarreal (1-0); L: Brian Fuentes (0-2)

Heroes: Miguel Cabrera / Brennan Boesch

Cabrera rescued the Tigers and helped force extra innings with his solo home run to ninth off A’s closer Brian Fuentes to lead off the ninth. Boesch drove in the go-ahead runs by roping a two-run double to right field on a two-out pitch. Boesch was 3 for 5 to boost his average to .318.

Key sequence: The top of the 10th when the Tigers hitters showed patience. After a lead off single by Alex Avila, Leyland pinch hit Jhonny Peralta for Will Rhymes. Peralta drew a one-out walk and Ryan Raburn followed with a walk to load the bases for Boesch and set up the go-ahead RBI double. The struggling Victor Martinez, who had two hits, also had a big RBI single after the A’s elected to intentionally walk Cabrera to face him.

Making strides: Rick Porcello turned in his best start of the season, giving up just one earned run and seven hits in six innings. He exhibited better control with just one walk while striking out four. Porcello had given up five earned runs in each of his first two starts this season.

Impressive debut: Al Alburquerque was impressive in his major league debut, pitching two scoreless innings. He took over for Porcello in the seventh and kept the Athletics off the board. He allowed one hit, walked one and struck out three while displaying a strong slider.

Oakland bullpen woes: The Tigers were once again unable to solve the Athletics’ starting pitcher but did do their damage against the bullpen for the second straight contest. Brian Fuentes, who is filling in at closer for the injured Andrew Bailey, blew the save in the ninth by giving  up the tying run on Cabrera’s homer. He also stayed on to pitch part of the 10th and wound up taking the loss. Fuentes gave up six runs (three earned) and two hits in 1 1/3 innings.

Up next: At Oakland, 4 p.m. today

Thoughts on game 12 of 162

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The Tigers get their first series win of the season and have won two straight for the first time this year with a 3-2 win over the reigning AL champion Rangers. The Tigers improve to 5-7 while the Rangers are 9-3

Hero: Brandon Inge
Inge helped the Tigers win in walk-off fashion with his solo homer to left field off Ranger reliever Darren Oliver. Inge also drove in the game-tying run with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Starters strong: For the third straight game the Tigers got another strong outing from their starting pitcher. Max Scherzer gave up six hits and two runs in six innings while striking out seven. The bullpen was strong with Brayan Villarreal and Jose Valverde combining for three scoreless innings of relief. Valverde earned the win for the second straight day

Up next: at Oakland on 10 pm Thursday to begin a seven-game road trip