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Detroit Tigers Again

Picking up what I wrote about the Tigers in my quickie look at the AL contenders over on SI.com today, Detroit is playing terrible baseball right now, their best pitchers have been horrible since the break, and they just lost Gary Sheffield for this weekend’s series. Picking up part of what I wrote about the Tigers when they came to the Stadium last week, Detroit has faired much better on the road than at home this year, though of late they’ve been equally awful no matter where they play. Seeing as the Yankees took three of four from the Tigers in the Bronx last weekend, they have not excuse not to do at least as well in Motown this weekend.

Other than losing Sheffield, which has bounced Sean Casey up to the three spot in the batting order, the big changes for the Tigers are the return of flame-throwing setup man Joel Zumaya, who took the loss in yesterday’s rubber game against the Indians, and tonight’s starter Andrew Miller. The left-handed Miller was the sixth overall pick in last year’s draft and made his major league debut against the Yankees last year in a brief relief appearance mandated by his contract (he pitched a scoreless inning marred only by his plunking Craig Wilson). This year, he joined the Tiger rotation in June after pitching six scoreless innings in a spot start in mid-May. He’s only turned in a quality start in three of his ten appearances since then–one of those coming by the slightest margin (three earned runs, but four total in six innings in Philadelphia)–and spent the last three weeks on the DL with a hamstring strain. In his last three starts before landing on the DL, Miller posted a 8.56 ERA, a 2.34 WHIP, and opposing hitters hit .367/.465/.550 against him. Miller is, of course, a much better pitcher than that, and in his brief major league career has held his fellow lefties to a .169/.324/.237 line, having never allowed a homer to a major league southpaw. Indeed, Shelley Duncan will start in place of Bobby Abreu in right field tonight and Andy Phillips will start at first base, though Johnny Damon does get the start at DH.

In other roster news, the Yankees have called up Brian Bruney and Pete Abe suspects it’s Ron Villone who’s been designated for assignment to make room for him. Bruney had made just four appearances since being demoted. Here’s his line from those outings: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 HR, 2 BB, 5 K, 1.17 WHIP, 6.00 ERA, 2-0, SV. Meanwhile, Chris Britton’s line since coming off the DL at the beginning of the month: 11 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 0.64 WHIP, 0.82 ERA, 1-1. Amazingly, even Bruney’s 6.00 ERA is a significant improvement over the 7.59 mark Villone has posted in August, and that doesn’t even include the inherited runners he’s allowed to score.

Opposing Miller tonight will be Roger Clemens, who struck out eight Tigers and walked none while holding them to two runs over six innings in his last start. Clemens did spend a fair portion of that game in trouble, however, as he allowed ten hits, including the first hit and later the first home run of Cameron Maybin’s major league career. Clemens has been everything the Yankees had hoped for since his stinker against the White Sox two starts ago, holding the Tigers and Blue Jays to three runs on 12 hits and a walk and striking out 14 in his last 12 innings. Clemens had similar success in his last visit to Comerica Park with the Astros last June, but suffered a hard luck loss as the ‘Stros failed to score a single run for him. Here’s hoping he avenges that loss tonight.

Detroit Tigers

2007 Record: 68-59 (.535)
2007 Pythagorean Record: 68-59 (.538)

Manager: Jim Leyland
General Manager: Dave Dombrowski

Home Ballpark (2007 Park Factors): Comerica Park (99/99)

Who’s Replacing Whom?

Andrew Miller (DL) replaces Chad Durbin in the rotation and Zach Miner (minors) on the roster
Joel Zumaya (DL) replaces Aquilino Lopez (minors)

25-man Roster

1B – Sean Casey (L)
2B – Placido Polanco (R)
SS – Carlos Guillen (S)
3B – Brandon Inge (R)
C – Ivan Rodriguez (R)
RF – Magglio Ordoñez (R)
CF – Curtis Granderson (L)
LF – Cameron Maybin (R)
DH – Marcus Thames (R)


R – Ryan Raburn (IF)
S – Mike Rabelo (C)
S – Ramon Santiago (IF)
R – Gary Sheffield (OF)*


R – Justin Verlander
L – Nate Robertson
L – Andrew Miller
R – Jeremy Bonderman
R – Jair Jurrjens


R – Todd Jones
R – Joel Zumaya
R – Fernando Rodney
R – Jason Grilli
L – Bobby Seay
L – Tim Byrdak
R – Chad Durbin

15-day DL: L – Kenny Rogers
60-day DL: R – Vance Wilson (C), S – Tony Giarratano (IF), L – Edward Campusano
Restricted List: S – Neifi Perez (IF)

Typical Lineup:

L – Curtis Granderson (CF)
R – Placido Polanco (2B)
L – Sean Casey (1B)
R – Magglio Ordoñez (RF)
S – Carlos Guillen (SS)
R – Ivan Rodriguez (C)
R – Marcus Thames (LF)
R – Brandon Inge (3B)
R – Cameron Maybin (LF)

*will miss the series due to a shoulder injury

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver