Monday, March 31, 2014
Tigers Opening Day 2014
Victor Martinez homers to right: An easy swing that didn't look like it had the distance coming off the bat easily carried the high wall in right. He followed this with a long foul in his next at bat that had the fans holding their breath.
Triples: Action Jackson and fill-in shortstop Alex Gonzalez bookended an Avila walk and a wild pitch/strikeout to Castellanos to tie the score at three in the 7th. Royal centerfielder Cain was playing shallow all day and got burned twice because of it. You expect triples from Jackson (38 in four seasons) but not from Mr. Gonzalez (31 in 16 seasons). Cain's positioning stole a single from Hunter in the sixth, but turned two doubles into triples in the 7th. We'll see where he is positioned on Wednesday.
Walk off Victory: With one out Alex Avila walks and Nick Castellanos singles him to third. The Royals play the infield in rather than at double play depth. Mr. Gonzalez singled sharply past the drawn in shortstop. If the shortstop was back could he have fielded the ball and turned two? It is hard to know. Kansas City fans have to wonder, though.
Tiger Pitching: The box score shows Justin Verlander pitched 6. I give him credit for 7 1/3 strong innings (more on that in "The Bad"). His first 8 pitches were strikes and the first should have been over after those 8 pitches. Until the "double" by Hosmer I was wondering if we were going to have one of "those" days. Really? After 8 pitches? Yep. Verlander is the kind of pitcher where every time he starts you wonder until the first hit happens. He was touched a little in the fourth, with the last run following a Gonzalez error. Still, a strong start from our Ace (Scherzer is the Tiger's "other Ace" and Sanchez is the "other other Ace).
Verlander was followed by three strong innings from Reed, Alburquerque and Joe Nathan. 36 pitches, one single, and nary a worried moment for the home fans. Just the way Ausmus drew it. He can put away the Marlboros for now.
The Tigers' defense: On the 8th pitch of the game Eric Hosmer hit a liner to center. Jackson broke back too far and had to make a diving effort. Did Jackson underestimate the wind blowing in? Did he not pick it up cleanly in the bright sunlight? It was hard to tell. What was not hard to see was that Jackson had misplayed the third out of the inning into a double. In the 2nd Torii Hunter made the mistake of trying to throw the ball before he had finished catching it. Later, Castellanos lost a foul ball in the sun and Gonzalez booted a routine ground ball. Errors happen and pitchers need to overcome the occasional miscue. However, if the Tigers insist on having to get 31 outs every game winning the division will be difficult.
9/11 paranoia has finally caught up with Major League Baseball. Barricades to keep away car bombers. Metal detectors to keep out the random mass murderer. Shuttles from the bars are now a quarter mile from the front gate, I guess to give the sloppy-drunk-terrorist a chance to sober up before getting to the park. The result, long lines to get into Comerica. And the security result? I've been going to Comerica since it opened. I've never felt less safe than I did today.
And this guy was getting a lot of attention from the happy fans as we left.