An empty Comerica Park was par for the course in 2003. Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
July 7 to 13 (Weekly record 4-2)(Season record 25-67)
After a horrible June in which the 2003 Detroit Tigers managed to win five games against 22 defeats, July started off very promising. The previous week, they managed to go 3-4 and win their first home series, and in their final week before the All-Star break, they swept their first home series of the season. The winning record posted that week was just the second of the season, and first since May 5-11 (4-3).
The Chicago White Sox were the victims of the first Comerica Park sweep of the season for the Tigers. They didn’t exactly light the world on fire with the bats, but had unusually solid starting pitching. They won 2-1, 4-2 and 1-0 (behind eight shutout innings from Nate Cornejo). The Boston Red Sox were not as cordial when they arrived in Detroit for the final three games of the first half, winning the first two before, Lord forbid, the Tigers won by another shutout, avoiding the sweep, 3-0. Promising rookie Wil Ledezma kept the potent Boston lineup in check for seven scoreless innings.
At the break, Detroit was 25-67. That was good for a .272 winning percentage, putting the ball club on pace for a 44-118 season. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but we all remember the team finished the year 43-119, so there were just as dreadful after the All-Star break as they were before!
Painful Game of the Week: July 12-Red Sox at Tigers
The Tigers failed in their attempt to win four straight games when they dropped the opener to the Red Sox 5-3 on July 11. A “legendary” pitchers’ duel between Pedro Martinez and Matt Roney resulted in a 2-2 tie after eight innings the next night. That game would progress into the 11th when future Tiger Johnny Damon broke the tie with a single off Fernando Rodney that scored Kevin Millar. Boston would add a run in that inning, and Damon would finish with three hits and two RBIs, including a home run in the fifth inning.
Another extra innings loss for Detroit pushed their record to 1-8 in bonus baseball.
Final: Boston 4, Detroit 2 (11 innings)
Lousy Player of the Week: Wil Ledezma
Wil Ledezma last pitched in the U.S. in the Dodger’s system. Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Wil (a.k.a Wilfredo) Ledezma was a career minor league in Boston’s system until the Tigers picked him up in the 2002 Rule 5 draft. As required by Rule 5, he stayed with the Tigers throughout 2003, appearing in 34 games and pitching 84 innings. His 5.79 ERA stood out among a terrible pitching staff that season, making his ML debut with two shutout innings on April 2, and nabbing his first victory on June 4 in San Diego.
Following 2003, Ledezma spent much of the next four seasons going up and down from Detroit to Toledo and Erie. He is the answer the to the trivia question of “who was the winning pitcher in Game 4 of the 2006 ALCS.” Statistically that was his best year in Detroit, posting a 3.58 ERA in 60.1 innings over 24 regular season games.
After struggling in 2007, he was shipped to the Atlanta Braves for Macay McBride in June. Ledezma didn’t exactly win favor with his new team. Following the All-Star break, he was stranded in his native Venezuela for a week because he accidentally left his passport and visa in the washing machine. Shortly after being reinstated to the team, he was traded again, this time to the Padres.
From there, Wil bounced to the Diamondbacks, Nationals, Blue Jays (twice), Pirates, and Dodgers. He pitched in five games with Toronto in 2011, his most recent big league action. Currently, he is trying to rebuilt his career as a member of the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan.