Blue Jays-Tigers: The Kids Are Alright!
By the end of the first round they had battered and smashed their way to a 4–0 lead. No sooner had the sportsnet commentator let slip that Justin Verlander led the majors in 2008 with 17 losses and the Jays were on the board with a two out rally.
Curtis Granderson showed that the visitors were still had some fight left in them when he drilled a Roy Halladay offering into the second deck in right field. Unfortunately for the Tiger the Blue Jays answered in a big way in the bottom of the fourth, making it 9-1 for the home side.
When it was all said and done, the Jays posted 12 runs on 15 hits, both totals one shy of an opening day record.
The offense was potent as the young sticks of Adam Lind and rookie Travis Snider managed to go a combined 6-for-9 with three runs scored, a double, two home runs, and seven of the twelve runs batted in.
Unfortunately it seems that the drinks were as strong as the bats. It’s too bad the only balls flying past Tiger’s left fielder Josh Anderson weren’t off the bats of Blue Jays. It’s seems that a couple of fans had to ruin the party for everyone causing a 10-minute delay when Jim Leyland for the safety of his team pulled them off the field.
Anderson who along with Curtis Granderson was the Tiger most affected by the incident was quoted as saying, “"If it hits you in the head, it could do some damage. After the second one I said, 'That's enough."
It was clear of Leyland’s intention to protect his players when he approached the home plate umpire after the first incident.
Leyland was very calm while trying to put the incident behind them after the game when he said the incident was, “no big deal.”
He later went on to describe the opening day crowd with a charm that only an old veteran like Leyland could muster in trying to defuse the situation but keep it in perspective he said, “"There were thousands of great fans here tonight," Leyland continued.
"Ice-cold Labatts and a big win for the Blue Jays—they were having a great time. But you can't endanger any players, whether they're you're players or someone else's. You just can't do it."
Cito Gaston seemed to be even more disappointed by the fan he has managed in front of on two separate occasions now. Cito was quoted as saying, “I've never seen that here before," Gaston lamented. "I apologize to those Detroit players, a couple of those balls came really close to hitting those kids out there."
Doc making his seventh opening day start described the fan experience and crowds that are drawn on opening day as a “different animal.”
"You get a lot of people and a lot of excitement and I'm sure a little bit of beer in there and you never know," Halladay said.
Even with the late inning distractions Alex Rios managed to seal the game with a running stab on a hard hit ball in the Bottom of the ninth.
Halladay looked sharp through six innings giving up only the home run to Granderson. He then struggled through the seventh innings giving up four runs including a two run home run to Brandon Inge.
After seven complete with a 9-5 lead Halladay remained in the dugout as the bullpen was called on to start the eighth. The same 'pen that was among the best in baseball in 2008. The Jays' 'pen shut the door, four relievers combined to get six outs. Only Brandon League allowed a base runner, allowing two hits.
Although, it’s not expected that the Jays will put up a 12 spot very often this year, it’s clear that Travis Snider and Adam Lind have given notice that they fully intend to build on the momentum that they gathered in the second half of 2008 and spring training 2009.
Toronto’s 15 hits, eight of them for extra bases signals a tough start to the season for Verlander and the Tigers who were hoping he would recapture his 2006 and 2007 form after a tough 2008.
"I'm always somebody who's going to try to take away positives," Verlander said. "I know tonight that I had good stuff and made pitches that I wanted for the most part. Just, some things got compounded and it ended up not looking very good."
A number of times Verlander looked to be in control and then made a critical mistake. It also looked like he might still be getting used to how Gerald Laird calls a game.
The Jays hit a number of two strike pitches very hard including a two-strike change up to Rios that went for a double, and a 1–2 fastball that Adam Lind turned into a pair of RBI.
With two outs in the bottom of the first the Blue came off the stool swinging, and I’ll tell you kids look alright.
**The Blue Jays are 17–16 all time on opening day.
Thanks to cbssports.com wire for the quotes.
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