Jim Leyland Accepts Fan Second-Guessing About Removing Porcello from Shutout

Tigers manager Jim Leyland is an outspoken character who is unafraid to voice his opinion. Last week he said interleague play was flawed, he’s argued against instant replay, and he steadfastly believed that Miguel Cabrera’s alcohol problems wouldn’t affect his play. Now he’s ranting against the fans who call into sports talk radio shows to hear their own voice.

Leyland was asked by WXYT host Jeff Riger about the criticism he’s received for removing Rick Porcello from Sunday’s game after eight innings. Porcello had a one-hit shutout going and had only thrown 84 pitches, but Leyland decided to put in closer Jose Valverde to pitch the ninth. Pitching complete game shutouts are special accomplishments for pitchers, and that’s why some fans were upset. Leyland made it clear he doesn’t care about the criticism. Here’s what he said in response:

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MLB Hot Stove Analysis: Victor Martinez, Aubrey Huff

The Detroit Tigers are said to be close to signing free agent catcher Victor Martinez to a four-year $50 million deal.  Martinez, 32 in December, is coming off a .302/.351/.493 season for the Red Sox where he hit 20 home runs and drove in 79 runs, hitting in the middle of the Sox lineup.  He will  step in as the Tigers every day catcher for at least the first two years of the deal and perhaps shift to a Jorge Posada-like DH/catcher time share as he gets into the latter part of the deal.

This is a good signing for the Tigers, despite the long-term commitment, because they believe they have a two or three-year window of opportunity to win now, led by a core consisting of Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander.   Martinez has earned rave reviews throughout his career for his leadership and work ethic in Cleveland and Boston and will be a great addition to their club house.

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Gerald Laird Succeeds at Pissing Off Armando Galarraga

It’s so ironic how Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galaragga was unfazed by Jim Joyce’s blown call that ruined his perfect game yet something so simple as teammate Gerald Laird’s words pissed him off. Apparently Galaragga was not on the same page as catcher Alex Avila during his first inning of work on Sunday against the White Sox. Galaragga approached Avila in the dugout after the inning and fellow catcher Gerald Laird came to his rescue. Or told Galaragga to shove it. Or something else because whatever it was caused Galaragga to have the same reaction people expected him to have after Joyce’s blown call. Check out this video of Armando Galaragga and Gerald Laird fighting in the Tigers dugout courtesy of Detroit 4 Lyfe:

Laird admitted after the game that he said something he shouldn’t have said but it’s still shocking to see Galarraga get enraged. What happened to that exemplary sportsmanship we all praised? If anything, maybe the Tigers could use the spark. At 57-60, they sure could stand to play with a little fire.

Armando Galarraga Goes After Alex Avila And Gerald Laird In Dugout (video) [Detroit4Lyfe]
Battling Tigers rally past White Sox [Detroit Free Press]
Video Credit: YouTube user BobBiscigliano

Tigers Injuries Assisted in No-Hitter

This season in baseball has already been termed the “Year of the Pitcher” for excellent reason. Edwin Jackson and Ubaldo Jimenez both have thrown no-hitters, Roy Halladay and Dallas Braden tossed perfect games, and Armando Galarraga had a 28 out perfect game. Matt Garza joined the party by no-hitting the Tigers on Monday night, becoming the fifth pitcher of the season to complete the task. While I do not want to diminish Garza’s accomplishment, I would like to point out that several recent injuries to the Detroit Tigers offense eased Garza’s burden.

In the span of a week, the Tigers lost third baseman Brandon Inge, right fielder Magglio Ordonez, and second baseman Carlos Guillen to injuries. Inge broken his hand getting hit by a pitch last Monday, Ordonez broken his ankle sliding into home on Saturday, and Guillen strained his calf on Saturday. The Tigers still had triple crown contender Miguel Cabrera batting cleanup on Monday, rookie of the Year candidate Brennan Boesch batting fifth, Johnny Damon hitting third, and Austin Jackson leading off, but the lineup was certainly less challenging than when healthy. The Tigers had a rookie without a hit in his career in the lineup, as well as three other hitters batting .206 or worse.

Matt Garza is an above average pitcher with good stuff who threw six scoreless innings two starts prior to the no-hitter. He was one of the best pitchers in baseball in April and he helped pitch the Rays to the World Series in 2008. He’s always had the type of stuff to throw a no-hitter, but there’s no doubt that the recent injuries in Detroit resulted in the Tigers running out a weakened lineup. Rather than this being a commentary on Garza’s outing, maybe this is more of an indication of how the final two months of the season will go for the injury-depleted Tigers.

Photo Credit: AP/Mike Carlson

Perfect Game Broken Up By Horrendous Call With Two Out in the 9th

Major League Baseball just came one out away from having its third perfect game this yearDetroit Tigers hurler Armando Galarraga had a perfect game going against the Cleveland Indians through 8 2/3 innings when Cleveland shortstop Jason Donald chopped a grounder toward first base.  The perfect game seemed like a certainty as Miguel Cabrera fielded the grounder and threw to a covering Galarraga for the out.  First base umpire Jim Joyce didn’t see it that way and called Donald safe on the play.  Just look at the picture above.

This is one of the worst calls — if not the absolute worst — I have ever seen in a baseball game.  Not only was the runner out by a full step, but in a situation like this even if it were a tie the call should go to the pitcher.  He’s one out away from a perfect game.  I can’t even imagine how mad Galarraga is right now.  What an absolute atrocity.  My guess is Jim Joyce won’t get much sleep tonight once he sees the replay of his call.

Here’s video of Jim Joyce’s blown call on Armando Galarraga’s perfect game

UPDATE (10:27 EST): People make mistakes.  Jim Joyce happened to make a huge one.  But I do want to mention that I admire the way he owned up to it after the game.  Joyce found Galarraga as quickly as he could once he saw the call he made and apologized to him, telling him he cost him a perfect game.  Galarraga was beyond classy in a post-game interview, saying he doesn’t blame Joyce and it was an honest mistake.  None of this crap changes the fact that Galarraga’s name should be in the record books and won’t be, but I respect Jim Joyce for not hiding from his screw-up.

Jose3030 on Twitter

Tigers Manipulating Roster at Expense of Dontrelle Willis’ Reputation

This is slightly presumptive of me, but I’m not buying the whole “Dontrelle Willis has an anxiety disorder” thing. Much like when teams put a pitcher on the disabled list after they got bombed in a game, I think this is just a convenient excuse for a bruised ego. The Dodgers placed Andruw Jones on the DL last year with a knee injury. U-Jones later admitted that he asked to get away because he was sucking so badly. I’m figuring this is the same situation for Dontrelle and the Tigers.

The D-Train has been derailed since his last season in Florida in ’07 when he went 10-15 with a 5.17 ERA. Last year with the Tigers was a nightmare as Dontrelle went 0-2 with a 9.38 ERA and 35 walks in 24 innings pitched. He was so bad he got demoted all the way down to Single-A ball — not Triple-A — which would be the logical step downward. Willis was doing even worse in Spring Training, posting an ERA north of 12. Most of the time I can see right through the move when a team places a player on the disabled list as an excuse for the guy struggling. This is clearly one of those instances.

The thing I don’t get is why the Tigers are saying Dontrelle has an anxiety disorder, one that was discovered with a blood test no less. Medical professionals argue that such a disorder can’t even be determined by a blood test! So if it’s pretty plain to see that Willis wasn’t fit to play ball right now and needed time to figure things out, why didn’t the Tigers just make up some sort of injury like teams usually do? Why not just say the guy has some sort of arm injury, or better yet, a knee injury related to the one he had surgery for last season? Why not just do that instead of telling the world he has anxiety issues? Is there really a need to kick a guy when he’s already down?

Video: Indians/Tigers Brawl, Gary Sheffield and Fausto Carmona Fight!

If there’s one player in MLB you don’t want to mess with, it might be Gary Sheffield. The guy’s got a short fuse and already looks mean enough at the plate. He’s someone you don’t wanna piss off. Well, Fausto Carmona apparently could not care less, because after giving up a home run, he responded by brushing Sheffield back and nicking him with a pitch. The following brawl between the Tigers and Indians was the result. My advice is to watch with the sound down — you’ll enjoy it much more that way.

Thanks to contributor Gene for the tip. I think the best part was when Sheffield carried the bat the entire way down the first base line. How classic was that? I’m telling you, Sheff’s a guy you don’t wanna mess with. Fausto clearly wasn’t intimidated. Can you believe how steamed he got? I also liked Sheff’s explanation for the fight:

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