Detroit Tigers Show a Little Bit of Everything in Opening Day Victory
The Tigers got timely hits, manufactured runs, unveiled the closer-by-committee experiment and as expected, got outstanding starting pitching from the ace, Justin Verlander.
Led by Prince Fielder, the Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the season's first inning and never looked back.
Take a look at my breakdown of the Tigers' season-opening win:
Early Offensive Surge
From the word go, the Tigers blitzed the Twins, opening with a leadoff hit from Austin Jackson, a following hit from Torii Hunter and a fielder's choice RBI for Miguel Cabrera.
Fielder then doubled to left field and the Tigers secured an early 2-0 lead.
It was good to see Jackson and Hunter get off to good, early starts as the two will pace the offense all season long and set things up for the dynamic duo of Cabrera and Fielder.
Jackson looks to take the next step in his career after a breakout season in 2012, and after reinvigorating his career last season, Hunter looks to settle into a new lineup and win his first career World Series.
As for Cabrera and Fielder, it was business as usual.
In one game, Jhonny Peralta matched his stolen base output from the entire 2012 season.
The Tigers are one of the farthest things away from a small-ball team, but Jim Leyland pulled several managerial strings and had his team manufacturing runs.
The Tigers used a hit-and-run in the first inning with Jackson and Hunter that set up the early scoring.
Peralta's stolen base came in the second inning after his leadoff single.
Don't look forward to much of a running game from Peralta this season, but the leadoff single and his 2-for-3 performance is definitely a good sign for the Tigers.
Peralta's steal brought him into scoring position, and he scored the Tigers' second run after an Omar Infante RBI single.
The Tigers earned three walks, including Victor Martinez's in the eighth inning after a Fielder single.
Andy Dirks sacrificed Fielder to third, who then scored after a wild pitch.
While Fielder definitely still needs some work on his sliding game, three of the Tigers' four runs were manufactured.
If Detroit can continue to produce the power numbers it did when the Tigers were at their best last season, and mix in some small ball every now then, the rest of the league is in trouble.
JV Was JV
After signing a five-year, $140 million extension, Verlander came out and threw five innings of shutout baseball, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out seven batters.
Verlander threw 91 pitches—54 for strikes—to earn the Opening Day win.
The Tigers' ace mixed in his entire arsenal of pitches and kept the Twins hitters off balance all afternoon.
He picked up where he left off from the 2012 regular season and showed that he won't allow for a post-signing slump.
Closer by Committee
You knew it was going to be an adventure in the bullpen this season and the Tigers didn't waste any time putting fans on the edge of their seats.
After Verlander's exit, Drew Smyly came in as the long reliever and had immediate trouble.
Smyly gave up two earned runs on three hits, three walks and one strikeout in 1.1 innings, allowing the Twins to get back into the game.
Al Alburquerque relieved Smyly in the seventh inning after Smyly loaded the bases for the second time.
Alburquerque allowed a single that scored a run that was charged to Smyly, but proceeded to strike out the next two batters to get out of the jam and preserve the lead.
Joaquin Benoit came in for the eighth and despite allowing a walk, the Tigers came out of the inning unscathed, leaving questions for who would get the first opportunity to close.
Benoit began the ninth, but after inducing a harmless popout, Coke sprinted into the game.
Coke earned a strikeout and induced a line out to right field—where he failed to unleash his famous finger point—that ended the game, and gave Coke his first save, matching his regular season total from a year ago.
Except for Smyly, the Tigers' bullpen performed admirably and showed the Twins and the rest of the AL what they'll be seeing for the near future from Detroit, with several qualified relievers who bring different stuff to the table on any given night.
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