Sunday night, in front of a nationwide audience on ESPN 2, the Detroit Tigers were fighting to keep from being swept at home in six games.
Right from the first pitch from Detroit's Justin Verlander, it was appearent that the Tigers' ace left much to be desired.
After a first pitched ball to White Sox stand-in lead off hitter, Nick Swisher, Verlander left a fastball over the heart of the plate that even Little League World Series players would be able to put in play.
Swisher connected with Verlander's fastball and drove it down the right field line and into the second section of the right field stands.
The rest of Verlander's outing was not much better. The Detroit ace finished the game going five and two thirds innings giving up nine runs, four earned, seven hits, and four walks.
After jumping ahead on Verlander in the first inning behind Nick Swisher, the White Sox were on cruise control behind starting pitcher and ace, Mark Buehrle.
Buehrle, trying to forget an opening day embarrassment, pitched like the Buehrle of old. He threw seven innings giving up seven hits, two walks, two runs, and one earned run.
Many of those base runners given up by Buehrle, and later Mike MacDougal (two innings pitched, two hits, one walk), were erased by five ground ball double plays.
After the dust cleared and the final, game-ending double play ball was thrown to Paul Konerko, the White Sox stood above the Tigers thirteen to two.
But what comes next?
The White Sox come home for their home opener. Javier Vazquez takes the mound against the Minnesota Twins rookie Nick Blackburn.
Vazquez has his own less-than-stellar performance to attempt to erase from April second in Cleveland. With an offense behind him that is as hot as any team in baseball, there should not be any problems.
But what about the team most experts have in the World Series?
The '08 Tigers are hardly the team that experts pinned them as less than two weeks ago in spring training.
With a bullpen that is in shambles and a rotation that is not much better, they are an offense hoping to out score their opponents.
Behind Verlander in the Tiger rotation is a question. Bonderman has elbow problems lingering from last year. Dontrelle is coming off a 5.17 ERA season in the National League. Rogers is turning 44 shortly and has injury problems of his own.
And Robertson has never panned out to be the pitcher that the White Sox envisioned when they attempted to draft and sign him, twice. Even the ace of the staff himself is coming off a season with elbow "stiffness."
The bullpen is worse. With a closer who posted an ERA above 4.3 last season and both setup men on the DL until God knows when, they are relying heavily on unproven youngsters, and Jason Grilli.
The Tigers are "Shippin' Up To Boston," to quote the infamous Dropkick Murphys, for their first road trip of the season. Maybe there, the zero for '08 Tigers can find a leg to stand on.
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