PREGAME: It’s another afternoon tilt for these two teams. For the Tigers it will be Kenny Rogers making his season debut. Last year Rogers battled a blood clot, and later some elbow soreness before finishing the season strong for the Tigers. In 5 September starts he posted a 3.56 ERA, but with an uncharacteristically high 13 walks and 3 homers in 30 innings.
For the Royals it will be Brian Bannister. During the offseason he did a Q & A with MLB Trade Rumors and talked about facing the Tigers (this is just a portion of his response, click through for the full answer):
I think the most important thing when preparing to face a lineup of this caliber is to be realistic and to recognize how they have been playing recently, because confidence level is everything with a good offense. If you look at good lineups, they tend to be extremely streaky, but their cold streaks will be much shorter than their hot streaks over the course of a season. During the hot streaks, teams and opposing pitchers tend to be intimidated by their offensive prowess, and games can be blowouts. In contrast, during the cold streaks they can seem to be a totally different team because they have very high expectations placed on them by the fans and media, and when they’re struggling, it tends to snowball.
Last year Bannister was a much tougher pitcher on the road, posting a .598 OPS against as opposed to .828 at Kauffman Stadium.
Game time 1:05
Not exactly the kind of start that we’re looking for here in Detroit. I’ve gotta be honest, I was at work and didn’t see the game. Just listened in to the call, but I didn’t come away happy regardless. Most of the Tigers bloggers have done their wraps and said their pieces and I’ll trust their judgment. At least Rogers had a solid outing. He breezed through the 2nd and 3rd innings before needing some extra pitches and falling behind in the count. Still, he did his job. Zach Miner showed promise, but ultimately surrendered two runs.
I’m disappointed, but not at all worried. And just responding to some of the things said in the comments (and I don’t mean this as an attack on anyone, so don’t take it personally if I happen to disagree):
- I’m surprised to see so many of you think tomorrow’s game is a lost cause. Yes, Zach Grienke is good but the Tigers did knock him out in the first inning in a game at Comerica last year. And yes, Jeremy Bonderman finished the year horribly in 2007, but he’s been known to be pretty good to. Let it play out before waving the white flag.
- Yes, the offense is better with Curtis Granderson in it, but I don’t think that was the problem today. Nobody hit (except Renteria). I don’t think Granderson makes that much of a difference in a game where Polanco, Ordonez, Sheffield, Guillen, Cabrera… couldn’t even muster solid contact. Give some credit to Brian Bannister.
- In terms of the Tigers patience, the Tigers made Bannister throw 3.86 pitches per batter. That’s actually a hair above average. Bannister appeared so efficient because he didn’t allow baserunners, and he got two double plays. Granted, tell me if I’m wrong, but it seemed that Bannister was mostly throwing strikes. There’s only so much taking you can do in that situation. Also, Jim and Dan mentioned a couple occasions where Tigers hitters missed on very hittable pitches.
- Jacque Jones has had 2 bad games. I’m not expecting huge things from Jones, but I do expect he won’t go all season without getting the ball out of the infield. I think it’s a little early for a whipping boy, but I am anxious for the Tigers to face a southpaw.