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Written by Matt Snyder | 18 May 2012

justin-verlanderWith one out in the ninth inning, and two-strikes against him, Pittsburgh DH Josh Harrison threw his bat at a breaking ball that was off the plate and looped a slow liner up the middle for a base hit. It was the first hit of the night for the Pirates, and the only hit they would record against Justin Verlander in the entire game.

It was just one of those nights. It seems like we say this every time Verlander goes out, but he had his good stuff tonight and had everyone thinking no-hitter by the end of the fourth inning. The perfect game was off the table early – Neil Walker drew a walk in the very first inning – but Verlander mowed through the Pittsburgh lineup all night long, recording 12 strikeouts and forcing nine groundouts.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 18 May 2012

Megatron stopped by Comerica Park this afternoon to hang out with the team before throwing out the ballgame's ceremonial first pitch. He enjoyed a few on-field laughs with the Tigers' players and even stepped into the batting cage himself.

Apparently football isn't the only sport that Calvin Johnson is good at, because he pounded a few balls, and even sent one deep over the left field fence. Here's the video:



Matt Snyder is the editor of The Tigers Den. He can be reached on Twitter @snyder_matthew.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 18 May 2012

JoaquinBenoitJoaquin Benoit has been named the nominal closer as struggling closer Jose Valverde recovers from his lower back strain (listed as day-to-day), but the bad-news of the injury may mean good-news when it comes to ninth inning consistency.

Benoit had a shaky start to the season – he allowed 10 walks in his first 10 appearances (the month of April) – but he’s been rock solid since the calendar turned to May – just two walks and one run allowed to go with nine strikeouts in six appearances. But even while he was ‘struggling’ in April, he was striking out loads of batters (15.4 K/9), ended the month with a very good 2.43 FIP, and only blew one opportunity while recording six holds.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 16 May 2012

MinnesotaTwinsFailThe Detroit Tigers avoided falling to two-games below the .500 mark with their 10-8 win over the Chicago White Sox, but although the Tigers have avoided falling flat on their faces (they’re 8-8 in the last 16 games), they haven’t won two games in a row since finishing a sweep of the Kansas City Royals back on April 18.

But the Tigers have a pretty good chance of doing just that as baseball’s worst team, the 10-26 Minnesota Twins, come to Comerica Park for a two-game set beginning tonight. Just how bad are the Twins? They’re last in the American League in runs scored (3.33 per game), and last in the league in runs allowed (5.33 per game).

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Written by Matt Snyder | 16 May 2012

StatisticsMany of you probably saw Jerry Green’s Detroit News piece this week where he blames statistical analysis for ‘obscuring the true magic of the game’. I, on the other hand, believe that such analysis can lead to a greater appreciation of the game, and I use these stats and numbers in most of my posts.

The stereotype goes that bloggers love sabermetrics and more traditional writers loathe them. But where do you, the fans and readers, stand on the idea of advanced statistical analysis? Take the short poll below.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 15 May 2012

Ryan_RaburnThe title of the post is a little bit tongue-in-cheek, Ryan Raburn’s “streak” is only three games, but the Tigers have been starved for any sort of batting production out of the second base position that it seems like more. No one can deny how big his three-run homer in the sixth inning was pivotal in Detroit’s improbable 10-8 come-from-behind win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday afternoon, but his wRC+ for the year stands at just 24 (meaning his batting value stands at just 24% of league average for the season).

I don’t think even the most ardent Raburn ‘haters’ think he’ll continue to hit this poorly all season long – his career numbers say he’s really an average (to slightly above) hitter – but the question remains: when will he start to hit?

Raburn has now started slowly in the early months for the third consecutive year, but he’s always turned it around in the past. Is his recent success a sign that he’s turned the corner? It’s impossible to say for sure, but here’s a look at his recent numbers:

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Written by Matt Snyder | 10 May 2012

Dontrelle_WillisThe story of Dontrelle Willis’ fall from stardom is one of the strangest and saddest you’ll see in the game. By the age of 23, Dontrelle had racked up two All-Star appearances, a Rookie of the Year award, and was named the runner-up for a Cy Young award. He would have one more successful season before completely and utterly imploding.

Of course we all know how Willis came to be a Tiger: in the December 2007 blockbuster deal that also netted Miguel Cabrera in exchange for top prospects Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller along with Mike Rabelo, Burke Badenhop, Eulogio De La Cruz and Dallas Trahern. It now sounds strange in hindsight, seeing as Miguel Cabrera has matured into perhaps one of the top-three hitters in the game while Willis has faded into oblivion, but I honestly can’t tell you which player I was more excited about at the time.

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