Detroit Tigers newsletter: They're going to win 113 games! (Or not.)
Let's look on the bright side
Welcome back to the Tigers Newsletter — or, as our friends call us, the Tigers Newsletter! OK, we really haven’t been around long enough for a nickname. (Y’know, kinda like Christin Stewart. But without the power.)
We’ve been a little negative around the Newsletter-Cave recently, we admit. It was tough not to be, what with the low expectations from the offseason and the cold weather and all those strikeouts in Canada. But today?
Today, the Tigers are 7-3, they cannot lose (thanks, off day!) and we’re going to do our best to be positive! Those seven wins aren't going anywhere, and April wins count the same as September wins!
The latest shot of optimism out of Comerica Park came on Sunday afternoon, when Tigers defensive stars <checks notes> Niko Goodrum <OK...> John Hicks <um...> and Gordon Beckham <checks notes again … really? are we sure about this?> flashed the leather to seal a sweep of the Royals.
Of course, manager Ron Gardenhire, as usual, was the voice of reason, talking with the Freep’s Anthony Fenech (read it here):
“We can’t get too high about this stuff. It is early, early, early in the season and our goal is to come here and try to compete every day.”
Fun with small sample sizes
Not get too high? That’s half the fun of the first two weeks of the season! Why else would we be geeked about seven saves by Shane Greene in the first 10 games of the season, an MLB record. That puts him on pace for 113 saves, by the way, which seems totally realistic. In honor of Greene, though, let’s take a look at some of the other records the Tigers are on pace to shatter, if the small sample sizes hold true (wink, wink):
♦ Not just 113 saves, but the Tigers are on pace for 113 wins. And yes, that would be a franchise record (though not an MLB best).
♦ Stewart, who leads the Tigers with 10 RBIs, would finish with <easy math here> 162 RBIs, most in the AL since Manny Ramirez had 165 in 1999. (Four of those RBIs came here.)
♦ The pitchers have a 2.30 ERA, which would be second in franchise history, behind the 1909 Tigers, who had a 2.26 ERA.
♦ Reliever Victor Alcantara, with his two wins in relief, is on pace for 32 wins, the most by any pitcher since Denny McLain’s 31 in 1968.
♦ Niko Goodrum, with his six doubles, is on pace for 97, which would shatter Earl Webb’s major-league record of 67, set in 1931. (Read about his hot start in the cleanup spot here.)
♦ And finally, Mikie Mahtook would go hitless in 307 at-bats; after 19 at-bats so far, he’s the lone Tiger without a hit. (We tried to stay positive, we really did.)
Acc-cent-tuate the positive …
Mark your calendar
The AL Central-leading Tigers — no, really, that’s not just us being positive — host the second-place Indians for three games, starting Tuesday, all at 1:10 p.m. on Fox Sports Detroit and WXYT-FM (97.1). The Indians will have two of their aces — Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer — going in the first two games, but the real news is FSD’s "Players Only" broadcast plan. The Freep’s Fenech has the scoop here.
After that, the Tigers head out to Minnesota for three games. Luckily, the Twins’ defense is slightly worse than Texas Tech’s, so the Tigers have a chance. (Sorry, Spartans fans.)
Happy (belated) birthday, Morris’ no-no
OK, so we missed this one, but in our defense, we got a bit caught up in the NCAA tournament over the weekend. The Tigers’ 35-5 start in 1984 had its first big moment 35 years ago Sunday – the no-hitter by Jack Morris against the White Sox.
Morris was effectively wild, with six walks (and eight strikeouts), leading plate umpire Durwood Merrill to turn art critic for a moment: "It wasn't a Picasso, but it might have been a Rockwell.”
Check out Morris’ other great games here.
Other birthdays: Canadian legend John Hiller (76 today), Barney McCoskey (would have been 102 Thursday; died in 1996), Brad Ausmus (50 on Sunday).
‘Hoo’s your Tiger?
Earlier this year, we looked at the best Tiger from each Big Ten school – hail to the Wolverines – so we thought we’d do it again for the NCAA men’s basketball championship game participants, Texas Tech and Virginia. (Sorry again, Spartans fans.)
The Red Raiders haven’t had too many stars over the years: their best player is probably pitcher Dallas Braden, who attended Texas Tech from 2003-04 and threw a perfect game for the Athletics in 2010. (Pitcher Matt Miller is the only Red Raider to make a Tigers roster, in 2001-02.)
Likewise, Virginia is notably short on stars. The Cavs — or ’Hoos, or Virginians, or whatever — have Ryan Zimmerman, Sean Doolittle, and of course, current Tiger John Hicks in the bigs right now, but their all-time best player is lefty pitcher Eppa Rixey. At 6-5 and 210 pounds, Rixey would look right at home in today’s game -- baseball or basketball. (He also lettered in basketball at Virginia.) He finished his 21-year career with the Phillies and Reds with 266 wins, a 3.15 ERA and just 1,082 walks in 4,494 2/3 innings, making the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1963. His 251 losses are the most in baseball history by a left-hander.
TL;DR: Virginia and Texas Tech are definitely not baseball schools.