It's Hard Out Here for an Ace: AL Central's Best Struggle in the Openers

Dan WadeSenior Analyst IApril 6, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 6:  Pitcher Cliff Lee #31 of the Cleveland Indians throws against the Texas Rangers during the home opener at Rangers Ballpark April 6, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The AL Central has consistently produced some of the best pitchers in baseball. The last three AL Cy Young award winners have come from this division.  Had Johan Santana not gotten absolutely robbed in 2005, it would be five straight winners.

Today, Justin Verlander, Cliff Lee, and Francisco Liriano took the mound to open their respective team's season, and every one of them struggled.

Verlander gave up eight runs on eight hits in just 3.1 innings as the Tigers lost a shoot-out with the Blue Jays 12-5.

Lee surrendered one run fewer, but gave up 10 hits in his annotated five inning stint for the Indians

The Twins got the best start of the bunch. Liriano gave up just four runs in seven innings, but three-fourths of the hits he surrendered were for extra bases including two home runs.

Chances are good that these will be aberrations in the course of good seasons for all three pitchers, and each had positives they can build on going forward.

Realistically, over the course of 162 games, this is just a single game made more disappointing because every team wants to start the season off with a win.

If these three guys can use this rough outing to make themselves better for the rest of the season, an opening day loss is a price their teams will gladly pay.