Looking Back At The 2003 Detroit Tigers (34-101)


Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

August 25 to 31 (Weekly Record 2-4, Season Record 34-101)

It was an eventful week for the Detroit Tigers on this week in 2003. For the first week in more than a month, they won multiple games, yet still posted a losing record of 2-4. They were also placed in the record books for a dubious achievement.

After finally snapping an 11-game losing streak on the final day of last week, they hit the road where they shockingly established a winning streak! Their 5-4 victory in Cleveland on Aug. 26 clinched consecutive victories for the first time since winning the two games wrapped around the All-Star break (on July 13 and 17).

They dropped the final two games against the Indians, and came back home where they lost two of three to the White Sox, clinching their 100th and 101st losses.

Painful Game of the Week–Aug. 30:  White Sox at Tigers 

Coming into this Saturday night game with Chicago, it was plainly clear that Detroit would be joining the 1962 New York Mets as the only teams in the modern era to notch 100 losses before September. Though they were able to stave off history on Friday night, an 8-4 victory behind Nate Robertson‘s first career win, it was a little too much to ask for the Tigers to sweep the White Sox.

They seemed to have some motivation at trying to avoid that dishonor by going 3-2 in their previous five games, their best stretch since winning four of five from July 5 to 10.

Frank “The Big Hurt” Thomas would put the Tigers in a hole when he blasted a three-run homer in the third. Starter Mike Maroth did his best to keep the team in the game, keeping Chicago off the board until Carlos Lee launched a two-run shot in the seventh. By that time, Detroit only mustered one run and the quest to avoid 100 losses was seemingly lost. Ramon Santiago singled in Brandon Inge to make it a bit closer in the seventh, but that’s where the scoring ended.

Maroth was also approaching history. He took the loss, his 19th of the season, and had quite a few more starts left in the season to reach 20. He would soon become the first pitcher to reach that mark since Oakland’s Brian Kingman in 1980.

Final: White Sox 5, Tigers 2

Lousy Player of the Week: Ramon Santiago

Ramon Santiago has been through the terrible times and the great times with the Tigers in his two stints in Detroit. Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

It was probably hard for second-year shortstop Ramon Santiago to envision he’d be involved with three (and hopefully counting) postseason appearances for the Detroit Tigers in the not-so-distant future. Ramon was signed by Detroit as a free agent in 1998, made his ML debut in 2002, and was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie Roster.

On a recent Tigers’ broadcast (in 2013), Rod Allen described Santiago as having “sneaky power.” That’s likely incorrect. He has never really had power, but because his homers are so rare, they could be considered shocking. On June 3 and 4, 2002, he hit lead-off homers on consecutive days and had a two homer day in the first of those games. He would hit just one dinger the rest of the season.

But his offense was never what appealed to the Tigers. They valued his glove and versatility. Taking over the reigns of shortstop on a daily basis in 2003 proved too much for Santiago and his average dropped to .225.

He was traded to Seattle for Carlos Guillen in the off-season, in a deal that turned out to be one of the top transactions of Dave Dombrowski’s early years as general manager. Guillen would become an All-Star and a catalyst for turning the franchise around. Before the 2006 season, after a couple years of struggles with the Mariners, Ramon was released and the Tigers signed him again.

He was primarily a back-up from 2006 to 2009, but was a semi-regular at short or second from 2010 through 2012,until the Tigers reacquired another member of the 2003 squad, Omar Infante, in the trade that also netted Anibal Sanchez.

Today, Santiago plays sparingly. He and Justin Verlander are the longest tenured Tigers.