Weekly rundown: Tigers fight through pitching injuries

Weekly rundown: Tigers fight through pitching injuries

Weekly rundown: Tigers fight through pitching injuries
May 14, 2007

Team of the week: We could have put the Tigers here a week ago after they swept series against the Orioles and Royals, but what's so noteworthy about that? In the past week, the Tigers continued to roll by taking over first place in the AL Central with series victories over the Mariners and Twins. Magglio Ordonez continues to hit like an MVP candidate and Gary Sheffield's bat is coming alive. The pitching has withstood the losses of Kenny Rogers and Joel Zumaya, but after Sunday night, you wonder if it can overcome much more. Rookie Virgil Vazquez couldn't make it through three innings in Minnesota while subbing for Jeremy Bonderman (blister), and the Tigers were blown out. This week will be a telling one for the Tigers: they're in Boston for four games beginning Monday night and then play host to the World Series champion Cardinals this weekend.

Team of the weak: The Devil Rays had been hanging tough by playing .500 for more than a month. Then came a six-game losing streak that dropped them into sole possession of last place in the AL East before they beat the Blue Jays on Sunday. There's no doubt the Rays have a bunch of good young players but there's going to be some tough losses as they grow together. Look at two last week. In one, James Shields pitched nine shutout innings against the Orioles but the Rays still lost, 1-0. The Rays loaded the bases on three consecutive singles in the 10th but couldn't get a key hit. Rookie Brian Stokes served a homer to former Ray Aubrey Huff in the bottom of the inning. Against the Blue Jays two days later, a mental lapse by B.J. Upton, playing center field for the first time this season, allowed the winning run to score.

Series of the upcoming week: Highlighting the first set of interleague series this weekend, Giants LHP Barry Zito is in line to start Friday night at his old home park. Because Zito's fastball is not that fast these days, he has been nibbling even more with the strike zone. The A's are not a good team to nibble against. They have a lineup of disciplined hitters who know Zito will be trying to make them fish for pitches just outside the strike zone. How often they bite will go a long way in determining who reels in the victory.

Player of the week: Talk about making the most of an opportunity. With the A's running low on outfielders, GM Billy Beane pulled one of his longtime favorites, Jack Cust, out of the minors. The lefty slugger, acquired from the Padres' Class AAA team 10 days ago, made Beane look brilliant by hitting a majors-leading six home runs -- including a walkoff -- and piling up 13 RBIs, hitting .346 and walking six times in his first seven games.

Injury concern of the week: Talk to players about the game's best pitchers, and Roy Halladay's name comes up very early in the conversation. He is as respected as any starter in the majors for his stuff and his approach. Based on his first six starts -- 4-0, two complete games, three or fewer runs allowed in every outing -- this was shaping up like a Cy Young-type season for Halladay. But then he struggled in consecutive starts and on Friday showed up for work complaining of stomach pain. Before Friday had become Saturday, Halladay had undergone an emergency appendectomy, and now is expected to miss at least a month. Halladay's misfortune came one day after the Jays learned that closer B.J. Ryan will be sidelined for the season because of elbow-ligament replacement surgery.

Telling stat of the week: $1 million. That's what a Dallas auction house is offering to pay for the baseball that Barry Bonds hits for No. 756. "The baseball that sets the mark could truly be considered 'priceless,' but we expect that one million dollars will be very tempting to the fan who catches that ball," said auction director Chris Ivy in a release. Last year, Ivy's auction house sold Babe Ruth's 1933 All-Star jersey for $657,250 and its auction of items from the archives of basketball originator, James Naismith, generated more than $700,000 in winning bids.

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