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Retro Columns

Posted on: 06-24-2009

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>>caption:  LAIRD TROTS HOME


    The Tigers won their sixth
in a row, went to a season-
high nine games over .500 at
40-31 and expanded their AL-
Central lead to a season's best
five games over second place
Minnesota all due to an agonizing
5-3 Wednesday night win over
the Chicago Cubs.
    In a game with a combined 21-H,
14-W and 24-LOB the key was the
Cubbies continuing failure to hit in the clutch. Five times the Cubs began
innings with a walk and a hit or a hit and a walk before there was an out
registered. Chicago stranded 13 runners, 12 over the last 6-INN. Only once
were the Cubs retired in order, in the T-1st by Tiger starter Rick Porcello.
    Detroit MGR Jim Leyland almost left the cupboard bare in the bullpen, using a
half dozen relievers when Porcello departed after 5-plus-IP with a 2-1 lead due
to an elevated pitch count (97-pitches/59-strikes). The only man left in the pen
was just recalled Freddy Dolsi, who was warming up in the T-9th when closer
Fernando Rodney got in trouble.
    The Tigers got a pair of 400-plus-foot solo homeruns to the LCField seats by
Miguel Cabrera (#15) in the B-4th and Gerald Laird (#3) in the B-5th to build that
2-1 margin.
    After an inherited Porcello runner scored to tie the game 2-2 in the T-6th,
Detroit went back ahead 4-2 with a pair of 2-out runs in the B-6th. Adam Everett
drove in Marcus Thames with a bases-loaded, INF-1B gloved wide of the hot corner
by Cubs 3Bman Jake Fox, who was in no position to make a proper throw. First Cub
reliever Aaron Heilman then allowed a second inherited runner to cross the plate
when Brandon Inge trotted home on a walk to Curtis Granderson.
    When the Cubs had narrowed the gap to 4-3/T-7th on Fox's bases-loaded
sac-fly, Detroit added an insurance marker for the 5-3 final when Cabrera drew
another bases loaded free pass in the B-8th.
    The two Cub runs charged to Porcello came on Geovany Soto's solo homerun (#6)
to the LField grandstand in the T-5th and on a Mike Fontenot fielder's choice
grounder in the T-6th.
    Summoned to put the game to bed, Rodney immediately walked Derek Lee and
allowed a single to Micah Hoffpauir to start the T-9th. Rodney then struck-out
Milton Bradley. Fox was retired on a 405-foot flyball to a retreating Granderson
at the CField warning track. Rodney then got Kosuke Fukudome on a called third
strike at the end of a lengthy at-bat to end the game.
    Third Tiger pitcher Zach Miner was charged with 1-R/1-ER in his 1-IP of
middle relief to get credit for the victory (5-1). Rodney gained the shaky save
(#15). Cubs starter Rich Harden went 5.1-IP and 109-pitches (58-strikes & 51-balls)
to take the defeat (4-4) off two unearned runs in the B-6th, a pair of runners
Harden walked before getting yanked and who scored with Heilman on the hill.
    Everett was 2-for-3 with a W and Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez & Laird all went
2-for-4 at the plate for Detroit.
    Ryan Theriot & Soto were both 2-for-4 and Alfonso Soriano & Hoffpauir were
both 2-for-5 for Chicago.
    The Cubs lost their third in a row to fall back to the .500-mark at 34-34.
    Detroit's seventh consecutive home victory before 36,438 Comerica Park
fans put the Tigers at 22-11 at home this year, the best 33 game season start in
CoPa history.

      CHC     3-11-1, 13-LOB      (L) Harden, 4-4
      DET      5-10-0, 11-LOB     (W) Miner, 5-1; (S) Rodney, #15


TIGERS MGR JIM LEYLAND:   "Thank god we're going to get them out of here before
their bats get going, because they will. We let them have way too many opportunities
tonight...Rodney was real wild to start, and that's not good. He did a great job getting
out of it, though."

TIGERS SP RICK PORCELLO:   "I thought I did OK, battled out of some jams early. I think
the biggest thing was just to keep us in the game and give us a chance."

TIGERS C GERALD LAIRD:   "There were a lot of runners they left on and we left on,
but we made pitches when we needed to to keep us in the game. That's all you need
to do, play defense and pitch, keep our offense in the game. We were able to pull it
off in the end...(Rodney) tries to do a little too much at first. But he has so much
late movement and his ball's so heavy that 94 to 95 (mph) with his good changeup
is plenty."

CUBS C GEOVANY SOTO:   "We're getting hits, but we've got to start driving guys in.
We're all trying to make something happen, and it just isn't."

CUBS SP RICH HARDEN:   "It was an ugly game and I was unhappy with my performance.
That's all I have to say."


    Much of the talk around the ballpark was the close-cropped locks of Tiger
Magglio Ordonez. In an attempt to snap his season-long slump Maggs got his
first haircut in five years. He plans to auction the clipped hair on the internet
with proceeds going to charity.  
    The International Freedom Festival Fireworks began to blast along the
Downtown Detroit skyline beyond CField during Cabrera's B-8th at-bat.
    The Detroit defense almost pulled off a triple play in the T-2nd. Fox grounded
to Inge at 3Base, who relayed to Placido Polanco at 2Base for a second forceout.
Polanco's relay throw missed getting Fox at 1Base by a half step.
    Porcello walked a season-high four enemy batters.
    Everett is 6-for-11 with 8-RBI in bases loaded situations this season.
    Laird is 5-for-11 for a .455-BA during the homestand.
    Lee went 1-for-2 with 3-W to extend his hitting streak to 21 games. It's
a career-high streak for Lee and the longest current hit streak in the majors.
    Thursday afternoon's series finale has Armando Galarraga (3-7) of Detroit
and Ted Lilly (7-4) of the Cubs listed as probables. Galarraga is winless in his
last 10 starts.



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