What a spectacular Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers that was eventually won 4-3 in walk-off fashion by the newest Tiger, Alex Gonzalez.
Here are my Opening Day observations:
- Alex Gonzalez’s day didn’t start off so hot as he was 0-2 with an ugly error at shortstop. He later made a brilliant diving play to rob Kansas City of a hit, then tied the game with a triple to the gap in the 7th and then won it with a single off of lock down closer Greg Holland.
- The game-winner drove in rookie Tyler Collins who came in as a pinch-runner after Alex Avila walked to get the 9th inning party started. Collins scored his 1st run of his major league career but hasn’t logged his first at-bat yet. Unusual.
- The highly scrutinized bullpen was outstanding. Evan Reed repeatedly hit 98 on the radar gun in a 1-2-3 7th. Al Alburquerque gave up a hit in a scoreless 8th and Joe Nathan pitched a perfect 9th to hold the 3-3 tie and was rewarded with his 1st win as a Tiger for his efforts.
- Justin Verlander pitched well but had his usual difficulties with two Royals, Billy Butler and Salvador Perez. Four of the six hits JV gave up were to that troubling duo. Verlander struck out just two and walked three while needing 105 pitches to get through six innings.
- The Runnin’ Tigers didn’t have a stolen base attempt as Ian Kinsler and Rajai Davis, the most likely thieves, were a combined 0-7 at the plate.
- Defense had its moments as Kinsler and Gonzalez turned in back-to-back diving plays behind Evan Reed in the 7th. However, Gonzalez made an ugly error in the 4th, Torii Hunter flat out dropped a fly ball in the 2nd, and Nick Castellanos failed to make a play in foul territory as he was unsure of where the wall was.
- Miguel Cabrera ripped a shot to left field in the 4th and stretched it into a double against the strong arm of Alex Gordon. To see Cabrera turn hard on a ball and then leg out a double were extremely encouraging signs.
- Speaking of Gordon’s arm, he nailed Castellanos cold at 2nd on a single to left that the rookie had no business trying to stretch into a double. The Tigers will have to take the good with the bad with their prized rookie and today was a perfect example. He had his issues in the field but also collected two impressive hits including a key single to right-center in the 9th that moved Collins to 3rd prior to Gonzalez’s game-winning single.
- The Tigers packed 45,068 fans into Comerica Park for the biggest Opening Day crowd in team history and the 2nd biggest turnout in the stadium’s lifetime.
Opening Day is always special in Detroit and a walk-off win is a great way to bookend the festivities. Detroit will be fending off the Royals all year long and although it’s only April, each of these divisional wins is critical.
Clearly this team has some issues to sort through defensively and potentially in the bullpen but so far, so good. Much, much more to come.
These two teams get Tuesday off before reconvening on Wednesday with Cy Young winner Max Scherzer taking on Jason Vargas.
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