Notes: Jones wants 300 career saves
Milestone would be big for self-described underdog closer
DETROIT -- Closing games is not a profession known for longevity. Somehow, Todd Jones has endured.
He already had the Tigers' career saves record. With his save Wednesday, he became just the 14th Major Leaguer in history to record 200 saves with one franchise. For him, however, his biggest statistical feat could be yet to come.
"I'm really focusing on 300 [career saves]," Jones said. "I'm 16 from there. That's going to be a big number, because I wasn't supposed to be a consistent closer ever. Maybe I'll prove somebody wrong one day."
With 21 saves this season approaching the All-Star break, those extra 16 would appear to be attainable by year's end. Only 20 players in history have hit that mark, and just six of those remain pitching. Two of them, Troy Percival and Jose Mesa, have pitched for the Tigers, but nobody has recorded a 300th save wearing a Detroit uniform.
The irony of it is that as much as Jones values the milestone right now, he doesn't think it's going to mean as much down the road.
"I think you're starting to see this generation of relievers really push the envelope well past 300," Jones said. "If I get a chance to get to 300, by the time I'm dead, there's going to be three times as many guys in that club. It's just a number. Because the role has switched to one inning, you're able to throw up more saves per year.
"Certainly 300 is nothing to sneeze at, but I think that's why people in the Hall of Fame are having trouble coming up with ways to quantify closers. I would certainly think that our generation of closers would be the first generation of benchmark guys that were one-inning guys, from [Trevor] Hoffman to [Mariano] Rivera. It starts there and it probably will end there."
After some early-summer struggles, Jones has made some progress towards that mark in recent days. Since giving up a three-run ninth inning to the Rangers last week, Jones is 3-for-3 in save opportunities, having thrown a perfect inning in each.
He has allowed six runs on 10 hits in 10 innings over the past month, but all of the runs and all but two of the hits fell in two rough outings. Techincally, he has converted his last six save opportunities since an ill-fated eighth-inning save chance June 1 at Cleveland.
Manager Jim Leyland doesn't make much about milestones, but he used the occasion Wednesday night to come to Jones' defense.
"Everybody acts like the good outings are an exception. That's not true," Leyland said. "The bad outings are an exception. He's done a tremendous job here over the last two years. Nobody's perfect. This guy's done a tremendous job of closing out games for us, and everybody acts like when he saves one it's a surprise. To me, it's a surprise when he doesn't save one. Look at his track record over the last two years. It's pretty good."
No Derby for Magglio: Despite rumors that Magglio Ordonez could end up participating in next Monday's All-Star Home Run Derby, Ordonez reiterated Thursday that he's not interested.
"Messes with your swing," he said.
With 13 home runs entering Thursday, Ordonez doesn't even rank in the top 15 among American League players.
For a day, he wasn't leading the AL in hitting, either. His 0-for-3 performance Wednesday moved Ichiro Suzuki into the league lead at .368 compared to Ordonez's .365. Thursday's 3-for-4 performance, however, raised Ordonez's average five points and moved him back up top pending Seattle's game at Oakland in the evening.
If you win, they will come: Thursday's attendance of 40,923 marked the sixth consecutive sellout at Comerica Park, a streak that will likely extend to a new Comerica Park record of nine straight this weekend with the always-popular Red Sox in town. Only single seats and standing-room only tickets remained for that series.
Bob Raymond, vice president of ticket sales and marketing, estimates the team is on pace to draw more than 2.8 million fans this season, obliterating the Comerica Park record of 2,595,937 from last year and the franchise record of 2,704,794 set in 1984 at Tiger Stadium.
"It's great to see," Leyland said. "I've never seen this in my whole career. When we were good in Pittsburgh, we didn't draw like this. And when we were Florida, we didn't draw anybody until all the people came out for the World Series and playoffs. I've never seen this on a daily basis anywhere. It's unbelievable."
They're not just watching in person. According to a Fox Sports Net release Thursday, FSN Detroit's Tigers telecasts were the most-watched regular program for the month of June in the Detroit market, averaging an 8.1 rating over 18 telecasts, equivalent to about 157,000 households. For the season, the Tigers broadcasts are averaging a 6.7 rating, up 32 percent from last year.
Coming up: The Tigers receive no break after their AL Central clash with the Indians, instead welcoming the AL East-leading Red Sox to Comerica Park for a three-game series to close out the season's first half. Andrew Miller (3-3, 3.81) and Julian Tavarez (5-6, 4.39) will meet in Friday's series opener at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.