Well that was a nice start to the season. The Tigers went up against the defending Cy Young winner and managed a win. The offense came through. The bullpen came through. The new guys each got a chance to make a favorable first impression. All in all a good day in Kansas City.
Greinke wasn’t as sharp as normal. His ball-strike ratio wasn’t all that impressive and he fell behind a number of hitters. But his ball must have still had considerable movement as the Tigers couldn’t square his pitches even in hitters counts. Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera found themselves in 3-1 and 2-0 counts in consecutive at-bats but managed only weak ground outs to short.
Fortunately the Tigers were patient enough to get Greinke’s pitch count up high enough that he was done after 6 innings. And that’s when the bats came alive. The Tigers batted around in that 7th inning including a leadoff walk for Scott Sizemore and a double for Austin Jackson.
Verlander was mostly good, but a little fastball happy. Five of the six hits that Verlander allowed were on fastballs that came with 2 strikes. After the Yuniesky Betancourt homer (in a 9 pitch at-bat) Verlander became nasty and efficient. Then the 5th inning happened when he started throwing fastball after fastball. It became a lengthy, 2 run inning that ended his day.
- The bullpen was very good. Don’t focus on the Jose Valverde (“the big potato”) inning in the 9th. A ball didn’t leave the infield and it becomes a lot less tense if Ramon Santiago catches that throw from Cabrera or Valverde remembers how many outs there are. Joel Zumaya, Phil Coke, and Ryan Perry combined to throw only 10 balls in the 42 pitches they needed to get 9 outs.
- Jackson had a nice debut with the double, the outfield assist, and even the strikeouts where he worked the count deep.
- Gerald Laird looked pretty bad at the plate. He and Brandon Inge both had ample opportunities to drive in runs. Inge finally delivered in his last chance.
- Speaking of Inge, that wasn’t a hit and run on the double. It was a double steal with Cabrera having the green light (and a good jump).
- How about Cabrera’s defense at first? And Everett’s at short.
- I liked Jim Leyland’s use of the bullpen today. Of course things always look better when they work out.