It’s nearly the end of June, the Tigers are 43-29, and with a win yesterday over the Braves, in sole possession of first place in the American League Central. Through Interleague play, the Tigers have slowly been gaining ground on those pesky Indians — for the first time in awhile, Detroit sits atop the division with a one game lead. It’s been a long hard journey, full of worries over pitching; however, over the past week or so, many questions regarding the Tigers pitching staff have been answered.
- Eulogio De La Cruz was called up from Toledo towards the beginning of this week, and in relief, he has performed well at the Big League level. “Franky” has pitched 2 2/3 innings through three appearances, and has allowed just a single hit as his only base-runner.
- The Tigers have placed their faith in Bobby Seay as the left-handed specialist. Southpaw Wil Ledezma was traded to the Atlanta Braves for lefty Macay McBride. McBride may not be the same caliber pitcher as Ledezma, but he has options left, so the Tigers can move him to the minors back and forth at least a few times if needed. Ledezma may eventually be stretched into a starter for the Braves, which would definitely be beneficial for Wilfredo. Best of luck to him in the National League.
- Unloading another left-handed pitcher, the Tigers traded long-time starter Mike Maroth to the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday. With starters beginning to heal up, the Tigers had the fortune of a logjam in the rotation — Maroth got the boot. He was sent off for a Minor League player to be named later, so the return should be insignificant, at least in the short term. Maroth became the young ace of the staff, losing twenty games in the infamous 2003 season, went 14-14 to go .500 in 2005, and started last season 5-2 before bone chips in his elbow took him out of action. It’s been a long ride with Mike Maroth and he will certainly be missed. Saying, “Looking back, I have nothing but special memories. It’s been a great experience. I have nothing bad to say about Detroit,” Maroth certainly has no regrets about donning the Olde English D. There was never a more fitting young man.
- For the time being, Andrew Miller will remain in the starting rotation rather than returning to the Minors to hone his changeup. When Nate Robertson returns next week, Chad Durbin will move into the bullpen. Nate had a great rehab start the other day, throwing six hitless innings for Erie.
- Kenny Rogers made his first start in a Tigers uniform of the 2007 season last night against the Braves and pitched marvelously. He out-pitched John Smoltz, going six innings and allowing just two hits.
- Backup catcher Vance Wilson underwent Tommy John’s surgery and will miss the remainder of the 2007 season as well as potentially missing the beginning of next season as well.
- Through the Go to the Polls for Placido campaign, we realized that it is possible to earn deserving players votes for the All Star Game. Magglio Ordonez should definitely be starting in San Fransisco as well, but it will be a tough call as to whether he can knock off Ichiro for that final outfielder spot. For a small rant, the voting is actually a horribly designed system that grows beyond a popularity contest. Allowing 25 votes per day per person online only widens the gap between tallies for players in large and smaller markets, making it difficult for players, like Maggs we’ll say, to beat out players from larger markets such as Boston and New York. Speaking of the Midsummer Classic, Jim Leyland and Tony La Russa have named their staffs for the game. Leyland will take Ron Gardenhire (Twins) and Ron Washington (Rangers), in addition to his Detroit staff of coaches. Al Kaline will be a special guest of the AL All Stars throughout.
- In Texas, Sammy Sosa belted his 600th career home run against his former team, the Chicago Cubs, on Wednesday night. Congratulations are in order for only the fifth player to reach the 600-homer plateau.