Opening Day: Blue Jays at Tigers

PREGAME: The return of the game posts, also known as “it’s about time baseball season is back.” If you’re new to the site, this is where we discuss the game at hand.

The Tigers will send out Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman is expected by many (myself included) to make a big leap this year. He’ll get his first chance against a very formidable offense, on a pretty big stage. He has been highly effective against most of the Blue Jays with the exception of Vernon Wells. Wells is 5 for 12 with a couple doubles and a couple walks. Fortunately, Bonderman’s nemesis Matt Stairs (10 for 21, 3 walks, 3 homers) will not be in the lineup today.

The Tigers will be facing perhaps the best right hander in the American League in Roy Halladay. Current Tigers have had very little success against Halladay with a combined 7 extra base hits. Four of those belong to Pudge Rodriguez is is 10 for 18 off of Halladay.

Game Time is 1:05pm with Pennant Raising ceremonies and booing of Governor Jennifer Granholm and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick set to begin at 12:30. The game can be seen Fox 2 and FSN Detroit and heard on 1270 WXYT.

As a reminder on commenting rules, it is basically 1. Don’t swear, 2. Be nice, 3. Don’t be a jerk
Fangraphs will have live win probability calculations all season long (for more on WPA see here).

Blue Jays Lineup

1. LF Reed Johnson
2. 1B Lyle Overbay
3. CF Vernon Wells
4. DH Frank Thomas
5. 3B Troy Glaus
6. RF Alex Rios
7. C Gregg Zaun
8. 2B Aaron Hill
9. SS Royce Clayton

Tigers Lineup

1. CF Curtis Granderson
2. 2B Placido Polanco
3. DH Gary Sheffield
4. SS Carlos Guillen
5. RF Magglio Ordonez
6. C Ivan Rodriguez
7. 1B Sean Casey
8. LF Craig Monroe
9. 3B Brandon Inge

Well, they came up a little short today on a rough first inning by Bonderman, and a rough last inning by Fernando Rodney. What was really impressive is that threats were very limited in between. The loss is far from devastating, but getting a solid outing from your starter and putting 3 up on Roy Halladay normally gives you a good chance to win (as my buddy Russ said on the way home). To let it get away is a little disappointing.

Because I was too giddy to sleep last night, and worn out by the day, just some bulleted thoughts on the game:

  • Carlos Guillen looked simply amazing defensively. Sitting in leftfield I didn’t have a great view of everything going on today, but I did have Guillen in my sights and it was something to see.
  • I was a little surprised to see that after his rough first inning, Bonderman was actually much more efficient that Halladay. A lot of the credit goes to the Tiger hitters who didn’t offer at a first pitch until Sheffield’s at-bat the second time through. In fact, the first 8 hitters all took the first 2 pitches.
  • And along those lines the 2 strike approaches were sound. Granderson fell behind with 2 strikes in his first AB before drawing a couple balls and ripping a single. Carlos Guillen later fell behind 1-2, fouled off 2 pitches, and hit a line drive deep to right that was hauled in by Rios.
  • The Tigers actually had a few well hit balls, 2 by Guillen and 2 by Sheffield, that just didn’t fall. Sometimes that’s the way it goes. By the same token, the Blue Jays were just a couple feet short of 2 home runs as well.
  • Craig Monroe, not a good day at-bat
  • Strange outing for Fernando Rodney today. He was consistently getting ahead (6 of the 7 batters he faced he got 1st pitch strikes), yet couldn’t close out the at-bat. He was ahead 0-2 to both Frank Thomas and Troy Glaus before both reached base.
  • One more note on Rodney, it was last year I believe that Chuck Hernandez was trying to limit the number of change-ups that Rodney through, to get him to concentrate more on his fastball. In the Glaus at-bat he threw him 3 straight changes. Maybe it is something to address again?

29 thoughts on “Opening Day: Blue Jays at Tigers”

  1. Live win probabilities? That’s the last thing an obsessive compulsive numbers-oriented fan such as myself needs to have at his disposal.

  2. Looks like Bonderman has settled down a bit. Granderson’s looking good too–I was pleased to see him not strike out with Inge on base.

  3. Sheffield really does give the lineup a new feel. Two RBI with no hits so far. It sounded cliche’ed (sp?), but it’s nice to have a legitimate RBI machine in the middle of the lineup.

    And it’s just fun to watch him wag his bat.

  4. Aaaaaand we lost. Woo.

    Good outings from Zumaya, Jones, and Bonderman (after the 3 run hiccup.) Not-so-good outings from C-Mo (minus the two home-run saving catches) and Pudge…

    But Granderson and Polanco are batting .400 and .600 respectively, and that’s always good.

  5. I guess I’ll settle for 161-1.

    I’m curious how Leyland will handle the bullpen. Last year it was usually Zumaya, Rodney, Jones–in that order. Will it be the same this year? Rodney wouldn’t pitch the 8th today because the game was tied, but if the Tigers were leading would he?

  6. I liked seeing the way we worked Halladay today, despite the loss. We got down early and it looked like Doc was cruising, but we got his pitch count up and got him out of there after only 6 innings. That’s not something we did much of last year.

    Also, it’s nice to see Polly slapping the ball all over the place again. Breaks that 0-20 skid that ended the postseason.

    Another tough challenge coming v. Burnett on Wednesday.

  7. I had a great view of it, and Monroe for sure should of had the ball in the 1st inning. He assumed Guillen would catch it and jogged in on it. You could tell by his reaction afterwards he knew he screwed up. He did make up for it with a couple of good plays later in the game (despite a perfect 4-4 at the plate!! 4 up – 4 Ks)


  8. I enjoyed the game, but for one reason or another they didn’t look like they were on the same page. Maybe it’s just my disappointment talking for me. I would have loved if they had gone out there like gangbusters straight out of the box.

  9. Was at the game today…one loss is nothing. Did anyone else notice Polly’s three hits were on two strikes to boot? Niiice…

  10. Here’s a fun question, Billfer- is there any sort of statistic that tracks the performance of a team based on the outcome of their opening day game? Does a team that loses the first game end up doing more poorly by the end of the season than a team that wins on opening day? Sorry if that seems really dumb.

  11. Bilfer,

    Thanks for the report – having discovered your blog and many other Tigers blogs last year when I couldn’t get enough Tigers, I still think yours is my favorite because of the combination of analysis and the human element that comes from you and your family being such great fans.

    Looking forward to following the 07 season with you and the rest of your readers.

  12. Agree with most of the above. Thought Polly looked like he’s already in a groove — hitting .600 in spring training is good for the soul — and thought Sheff brings such a fearsome presence to the middle of the lineup. Watching the game at a bar at lunch with some buddies — no Tiger fans among them — they all agreed that the lineup has a totally different feel with him. There’s genuinely someone there now that a pitcher is going to NOT want to face, as opposed to last season when there were lots of consistent threats but not someone you were actually afraid of. He’s gonna have a monster year.

    Too bad for C-Mo…told my wife Her Tiger tossed a Golden Sombrero on opening day and she was pissed the rest of the night. He better warm up or she’s gonna come looking for him. No worries, he’ll heat up. Also too bad for Rodney, and I agree that the pitch selection seemed odd…forget about the changeup, ‘Nando, give ’em the heater. But that’s ok, that’s fixable.

    All in all, not bad, let’s get em tomorrow.

  13. Good Game, bad final. Even though Shef had 2/3 RBIs, he shoulda really done something in the 9th… Also, Guillen made 2 great plays – hopefully his knee is better. Monroe misjudged both balls he caught near/over the wall. Not that great of a crowd, especially all of those who left. First year w/o a poster :(. They shoulda moved the next 2 games up b/c its gunna get cold…hopefully no postponement.

    Hopefully Robertson can attack this righty-heavy lineup and be sucessful!

  14. Is it bad that I cringe everytime Guillen throws a baseball? I wouldn’t have survived the later Chuck Knoblauch years at all.

    Chuck Hernandez shouldn’t need to re-address Rodney’s love for the change up. It should be a constant thing. I don’t know if Rodney will take that next step into consistent, upper echelon reliever until he commands his fastball and uses it. Someone get Trevor Hoffman to retire and come mentor Rodney.

  15. Today is a real let down. You get all excited for the opening of the season only to play one game and then nothing the next day. I know they do it in case opening day gets rained out, but it still doesn’t make it any less of a let down.

  16. I agree Russ. In terms of down baseball days, it ranks right with the day after the All Star game.

  17. It’s good to hear someone else say that. I get so pumped up for opening day, then the next day–nothing! Yesterday felt almost as long as all of spring training.
    Would love to see us get a win under our belts today.

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