Game 2: Royals at Tigers

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.


  1. Ken from Cincinnati

    April 2, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Ahhh…waiting one day for more baseball seemed like another entire offseason. I love watching Kenny when he’s at his most crafty, so hopefully that’s what he brings today. Let’s get a win today boys and show Bannister what a sophomore slump looks like.

  2. Tbone

    April 2, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Here’s hoping for a healthy Kenny Rogers in 2008. A solid, consistent season from him will go a long way to the Tigers success.

  3. ez

    April 2, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Hope I am not jinxing, but I have a feeling that the bats explode today… I’m talking a dozen for the Tabbies today…

    Bilfer, quick question… Henning alluded a couple of times that Cabrera’s first flyout to center was actually better hit than his homer and that the wind held it up. From your vantage point what is your assessment of that statement?

  4. Blake

    April 2, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    In Bannister’s three starts against the Tigers last year he won two games and in one of those games he completely shut us down. Hoping we can get to him a bit today.

  5. Blake

    April 2, 2008 at 12:38 pm


    I agree with Lynn. I was sitting in the outfield and when he made contact with that it looked like it was gone. He crushed it, just to the deep part of the park. His swing is amazing.

  6. tiff

    April 2, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve got my radio set up at work, I’m ready to roll! Let’s go Kenny of 2006 (less 2007!)

  7. Mike in CT

    April 2, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Anyone remember that game right around when Rogers came back and it was against the Royals and they had about 10 singles in two innings? Looks like he’s significantly better than that day, which I maintain began the Tigers’ second-half slide.

  8. tiff

    April 2, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    A five pitch 2nd inning… not bad Kenny!

  9. Kevin in Austin

    April 2, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    And now a 7 pitch 3rd. Nice.

  10. Mark in Chicago

    April 2, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I have only the streaming updates on ESPN to go by, but Kenny seems to be strike 1 on everybody and looks to be pretty sharp the first time through.

    I hate facing Bannister, this guy shut us down last year. His peripheral numbers are decent, but he doesn’t strike out many. Here’s hoping he’s just been lucky and it starts running out…

  11. Keith in IA

    April 2, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    I purchased today hoping to catch the game, only to find out that KC is blacked out in Des Moines. So are the Cubs, Pale Hose, Twinkies and Cardinals. I don’t understand why the Royals would be blacked out when they are not at home.

  12. Mark in Chicago

    April 2, 2008 at 1:56 pm


    I can’t imagine KC would be blacked out in DM either, and in the past I’ve been able to get KC-Tigers games on in Chicago. Are you sure your connection is good? I have also, but I can’t watch at work because I work at an old school bank and they really restrict our connections to the outside world. Lest we find out how much we can make elsewhere, I suppose….

  13. Keith in IA

    April 2, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Unfortunately Mark it’s true that KC is not available here. In my previous list I failed to include the Brewers in that group as well.

  14. Kevin in Austin

    April 2, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Keith in IA – try this (I’ve called in the past to get Rangers games in Austin):

    7. I understand’s blackout policy and think that I might be blacked out in error, what do I do next?

    If you believe you are receiving the blackout message in error, please call our Customer Support toll free in the U.S. and Canada at (866) 800-1275 for further assistance.

    Note: If you are traveling and are accessing the Internet through your company’s VPN connection (or other secure network connection), you might be getting a blackout message because your company’s host IP Address is within the restricted range for the game that you are trying to access. In this case, we suggest that you try the following: log off your company’s VPN connection (or other secure network connection) and access the Internet through a local connection.

  15. Sideshow Cecil

    April 2, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Kenny’s starting to get behind all the hitters. I can hear the clock starting to tick here in the 5th.

    On the hitting side, lots of lazy flyballs so far. Bannister has good control but on TV his pitches don’t seem to move that much, so it seems like we should get better swings than we’ve been getting. Feels like one of those days so far where the bats just don’t work.

  16. Andrew

    April 2, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Where’s the offense today? Is the KC pitcher that good or are the Tigers swinging at junk?

  17. tiff

    April 2, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    a pitchers duel so early in the season!

  18. Keith in IA

    April 2, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    It’s nice to hear that Kenny is getting so many hitters to hit it back to the mound. How’s his stuff look?

  19. Keith in IA

    April 2, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Not so nice to hear him giving up three straight doubles…

  20. Ben in Denver

    April 2, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Not so nice indeed. Until this point, I thought he had good stuff and was consistently working the edges of the plate. Coming tight inside to lefties.

    Any opinion on Polly’s non-error? Did he get a friendly scorer today? I caught it out of the corner of my eye, but it seemed to go in and out of his glove.

    C’mon bats.

  21. Kevin in Austin

    April 2, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Good game for Kenny. Too bad that Bannister has our #.

  22. Ken from Cincinnati

    April 2, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    After watching the replay, Ben, I wouldn’t have been surprised either way they had called it. It definetely popped out of his glove, but he was a good deal out of the infield and it would have been an awkward throw to make. Too close to rob the guy of a base hit if you ask me.

  23. Brian P

    April 2, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Jeez! Polanco was my pick for Beat the Streak today. So much for that.

  24. Kathy

    April 2, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Ho Hum!

  25. Mike in CT

    April 2, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Question to anyone in Michigan — is there a warm front moving in with the next few hours? We need something to warm up the bats.

  26. tiff

    April 2, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    ick. Sounds like Bannister was a prophet, what with the cold streak being so very very ice cold.

  27. charlie

    April 2, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    hmmm…thought miner might get out of the inning ok but 2 more runs score…the royals and another perennial bottom feeder tampa bay are both going to surprise a lot of people this year.

  28. Mike in CT

    April 2, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Yeesh…two days in and I’m already sick of the Royals with their infield hits and bloop singles.

  29. ez

    April 2, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Glad I picked Detroit to score a dozen… I have all the clairvoyance of a Y2K “The World Is Ending” pinhead…

    Jacques Jones has not had a good swing in two games….

  30. Steve

    April 2, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    UGH !! This is not what I had in mind for the start of the season. We look pathetic today.

    We need some stinkin hits..


  31. Kyle J

    April 2, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    ez is officially banned from making optimistic pregame predictions.

  32. Keith in IA

    April 2, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    I’d like to see Thames pinch hit for Jones.

  33. Travis in Baton Rouge

    April 2, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Man, that was fugly.

  34. Keith in IA

    April 2, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    19 K’s in 20 innings so far for this powerful offense. In an effort to say something positive about this game, at least we only stranded two runners all day.

  35. David

    April 2, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    JJ and PP looked bbubad

    Another way to look at it

    JJ is the new Cmo w/o the pop? and Soria was nasty

  36. Mark in Chicago

    April 2, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Great, and we’re facing Grienke tomorrow. Nice to start the season getting swept by the Royals at home.


  37. tiff

    April 2, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    I will say, it seems like the Royals really did their homework!

  38. Anthony

    April 2, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    They are not winning a lot of games striking out at the rate they are. I never was high on Jacque Jones, and he’s pretty much played like I expected. He’s not very much different than Monroe or Thames, so why not just play Thames and save yourself the money? At the very worst, play some young guys or let Inge be the LF.

    The reason the team unraveled last year is that they had 3 spots in the lineup giving production that was near worst in the majors relative to their positions. LF, 3B, and C. Rodriguez is back, and Jones is hardly an upgrade at LF. They only upgraded at one of those spots.

  39. Tbone

    April 2, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    The good: Kenny Rogers with a quality outing
    The Bad: our vaunted offense. It won’t take long before the chortling class starts yukking it up about the high payroll and lack of production.

    It’s only game 2 and there are no worries, right?

  40. cib

    April 2, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Well, I just got back from the game. I posted here when Granderson broke his finger saying that it was a Bad Omen. I will stand by my statement. The team has no pop, Polanco doesn’t seem like the same ballplayer, Inge is doing his best but how do you become a centerfielder in 2 weeks, especially in THAT center field? I am forlorn. The weather was gorgeous, however, and it beat being in the office.

  41. Kathy

    April 2, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    I’d like to see Timo pinch hit for Jones. Oh, well!

  42. BaseballinDC

    April 2, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Cib and others:

    Read / Reread the following story:;coll=6

  43. Sam

    April 2, 2008 at 4:48 pm


    The boys are tight, they need to relax.


  44. Mark in Chicago

    April 2, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I hate to get bent out of shape about two games, because it *is* a long season and I know the Tigers will be in it. But it’s frustrating to see them blow the opportunities yesterday and get shut down completely today. And with Grienke going tomorrow, I really think a sweep is likely since we don’t know what we’ll get from Bondo. Plus the White Sox give us fits no matter how bad they are, so I’m fearing a 1-5 start with Boston and the White Sox on the road.

    Just not the start I was hoping for.

  45. Adam

    April 2, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Calm down. Even if we start 0-10 it’s still too early to freak out.

  46. Phil

    April 2, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    This game was frustrating and i’ve heard more than one person complain about kennys three straight doubles. Look folks fact of the matter he gave us six strong innings only allowing 2 runs. Thats a 3.00 ERA and thats an amazing number for a pitcher on a team without an all world offense on paper. Even with Miner allowing 2 more runs thats a number we should be able to beat most nights. The offense is just cold. I just hope this wasted pitching performance doesnt bite us in the rear. But the offense will click once Grandy is back (even though Renteria is doing a decent job as a leadoff hitter, hes been our best hitter the first two games, in fact), and Jacque gets benched. MAAAHCUUUSS will get his time to shine.

  47. David

    April 2, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Well I don’t really think this says much about our team IMO except

    BILLFER! you jinxed us with Bannister’s quote jk

    although I do agree Jones is def. pressing

    it also was kind of weird to see Polanco strike out swinging to end the game, I wonder how many times he has done that as a Tiger?

    Rogers was solid/borderline nasty and just like Verlander yesterday seemed to run out of gas right around the QS line (maybe they took too much extra time off this offseason? to guard against what happened after 2006?)

    I wouldn’t take this stuff away from the Royals though, like I said before I wouldn’t be shocked if they won 85 games

    I’m in agreement with Adam – it is wayyy too early to freak out

  48. Steve in Kzoo

    April 2, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    It is waay to early to freak out but Adam brings up an interesting point. Even if we start out 0-10 its not the end of the world? Well I think it was a mid 1990’s cubs team predicted to go into the playoffs win the central and imploded at the beginning of the season with an 0-15 start and a 3-17 first 20 games. To an All-Star offensive team with a solid rotation this year, thats inexcusable to have a 0-10 start. If we get swept by the Royals and Im pretty sure thats a given unless we get to Greinke early, thats 0-3 to the Royals. THE ROYALS for god’s sake.

    And then the White Sox always have our number this isn’t looking good for that series either. If we are third or less in the Central this year by the trade deadline, it would be time to unload and TOTALLY rebuild around Cabreara and Granderson and Justin Verlander.

    Hopefully though, this is a phase like last year and our bats heat up in May. I just hope we fans can keep up the optimism until they heat up. JV and Rogers pitched great games, just that this $100+ million lineup needs to play like they are worth $100+ million.

  49. Kyle J

    April 2, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Obviously, two games into the season is too early to freak out. But I do think this team is dealing with a finer margin than teams in past seasons that have bounced back from slow starts.

    At least one of these teams is not going to make the playoffs:

    Red Sox

  50. T Smith

    April 2, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    There’s a lot of pressure on ths team right now. The hype has been tremendous. I’m sure all the players read the newspapers, too. I haven’t read one source, east to west, who hasn’t picked this team to win it all – or at least picked this team to be one of the last standing to win it all.

    Sometimes you can overhype a team. Then a lot of missed opportunities coupled with a two-hit shut out suddenly makes everyone question themselves and try too hard. In the back of my mind I was somewhat concerned when the Tigers became the “hip pick.” Last year it was the Yankees — they were the “hip pick” — and we all know how lousey they played in April and the first half of May.

    We need a twelve-run game to break the jinx — and restore the natural order in the universe. I’m not too concerned about an 0-2 start, but I also don’t want to start devling into the psychology of the underachieving giant. If we do start 0-3, or if it gets out of hand, it’s up to Leyland to keep everyone focused and nip this head trip in the bud.

  51. Adam

    April 2, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Let me just remind everyone: This is 2 games.

    Out of 162.

    There are 160 left.

  52. Chris in Nashville

    April 2, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    It’s really hard to be patient when you are down 0-2 all day. Bannister is tough because he hits corners and knees for strikes, early in the count. He just doesn’t give you anything to hit. At least squarely. So if you swing early in the count, you probably aren’t going to hit the ball hard. If you take, you are down 0-2 or 1-2 and have to hit his pitch. He’s tough and a really good pitcher (in the truest sense of the term).

    My company blocked the audio package this year, so I was FURIOUS that I couldn’t listen to the game…at least before the game I was. I’m kind of glad I didn’t get to listen to that now…I just hope I can figure out how to listen at work now.

    I know I’ve brought this up with people before, and just FYI..I switched to Directv and their EI is AWESOME. They offer both broadcasts (if there are 2) and standard and high def broadcasts (if there is one) for each for every game. You can even push a button and get scores from around the league and they have a channel with 8 games on at once. It’s really cool. So anyone thinking of trying it out..I HIGHLY recommend it.

  53. Kathy

    April 2, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    Thanks Chris in Nashville. I’ve been considering going with a cheaper package and ordering EI. Thanks for making up my mind.

  54. Chris

    April 3, 2008 at 12:57 am

    I see that Andrew Miller did not have a good start today against the Mets. I really hope he does well in the majors but I somehow don’t lose sleep over the trade with “wild thing” Dontrel Willis.

    On the other hand, Jair Jurjens is looking like the player Detroit should not have traded. I did not like this trade from the day I heard it.

    Man the Royals are still kicking our butts. It looks like Bannister is going to continue to own this team. My prediction has been that the Royals are going to be the sunrise team of the year and the Tigers are going to struggle in the early going. Tigers are going to be the biggest disappointment of the year.

  55. Jojo Sun Devil

    April 3, 2008 at 1:23 am

    Juurjens is definitely the guy the Tigers shouldn’t have traded. He is a good pitcher. He has lots of good pitches and he was learning how to work like a pitcher. Yea, I think there’s a good chance he will be the better pitcher than Miller.

    Jacque Jones will be ok. He is still getting over the old Wrigley faithful reaming him every day. He will do better as the season goes on.

  56. Dan

    April 3, 2008 at 3:09 am

    You are such a *****, Billfer.

    Edited by Billfer because comment author can’t play nice. Oh, and comment author is banned because of a history of not being able to play nice and resorting to name calling and swearing to make his points.

  57. Mith

    April 3, 2008 at 6:32 am

    Wow, everyone relax! We’re going to get swept? That’s a “given”? Since when did Greinke become Johan Santana? Those bats will warm up eventually, maybe even today!

  58. Kathy

    April 3, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Didn’t we lose was it 4 or 5 straight in ’06 when we only needed to win one of those games to win the division. Something about the Royals. Bannister was running on all cylinders yesterday and the Tigers do look tight. I’m not worried.

  59. ez

    April 3, 2008 at 9:44 am


    You make a good point on not getting too carried away with Jones. I agree with you. However, the disconcerting thing with Jones is that he, in my opinion, has had awful at bats. He is jerking his bat through the zone with an uppercut. It looks like he is swinging a salami with a bowling ball tied to the end of it. Further, he is pulling his head. It looks like a classic case of a guy pressing to make a splash with his new team… He is not making good contact, and not being overly selective. At this point I would rather have Thames. Of course, I would rather have had Thames starting before the season…

    Other players are struggling, notably Polanco. But Polly is puting the bat on the ball, he has just been hitting a lot of ‘at him’ balls. He doens’t need to change anything. The baseball fates will come around… But with Jones, it appears to me he has a bad approach right now.

    I hope he pulls out of it, and knowing JL, he will have plenty of opportunity, as we all know Jimmy likes to give his veterans every opportunity…

    At the risk of inciting another DTW riot, let’s talk about Inge…. 🙂

    I love that he looks at many pitches, and this spring he did seem to have changed a few things (like going to right/right center, and he seemed to be less pull happy). However, I think he is taking too many first pitch strikes. Kansas City seems to have the book on him as always taking the first pitch. I have observed that every at bat this series the first pitch is a fastball on the outer half of the plate that is almost always a strike. I would love to see Brandon drive one of those to right (even for an out), if nothing more than to change Kansas City’s approach to him. When Inge gets to an 0-2 count he REALLY struggles, as his 3 K’s speak very well to…. Push one to right Brandon! Make them change their approach….

  60. David

    April 3, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Ez – my thoughts exactly, good metaphor

    the only way I would be worried is if at the famed 40 game mark we’ve only won 18 games or so, still I think they’ll win right around 100 games even with this massive 2 game blowup =P

    still I think there is something to the cold weather and lack of hitting

    Still, give some credit to the Royals – you don’t get a guy like Polanco to go 0-10 in this cold weather (even if he was robbed a time or to) if you are throwing up beach balls – they aren’t bad

  61. Chris in Dallas

    April 3, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Well, it’s game 3 and Bondo gets his chance to be a “stopper” already. I’d bet he goes 6 2/3, giving up 2 runs while striking out 5. Tigers win 5-2. I don’t know why I posted that. I feel like Kreskin today…

  62. BaseballinDC

    April 3, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    One thought I had last night – if Ordonez beats the throw and scores on opening day when he got tagged out at home, we’re 1-1 and no one’s having a cow.