Game 2010.001: Post Game

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.


  1. Brenden

    April 5, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Great analysis…Laird definitely didn’t look any different in the batters box than he did last year. Inge, at least, impressed me with a hit.

    I hope Knapp works on Verlander about the fastball happiness. Man, that was frustrating to watch…

    Great first game, overall. Damon was incredibly clutch, but I guess his reputation for being clutch precedes him.

  2. Vince in MN

    April 5, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    When Verlander pitches, he is great; when he throws, he sucks. For whatever reasons he occasionally lapses into he-man mode, predictably tries to overpower every hitter, when as often as not the situation gets worse. If he learns to control that tendency he’ll become a real ace.

    • Dr. Detroit

      April 6, 2010 at 8:24 am

      The highlights show that the homerun ball was belt high, albeit around 99 mph and darting in like crazy. He has the nastiest stuff in the league (fastball 95-100 with significant movement, coming from a high angle due to his height) but great point on throwing vs. pitching. I love him of course but he does have a tendency to lapse into the “he-man” mode, which brings him down to the mortal plane a bit. That’s the difference between him and Grienke. Of course, he is only 27, and is a monster when everything is jiving, and I would not trade him for anyone, but it is worth pointing out. How was his off-speed stuff?

      • Vince in MN

        April 6, 2010 at 10:16 am

        I “watched” it on Gameday and it appeared that he had pretty good location with all his pitches. He may have gotten squeezed a few times, but he only walked one. The homerun doesn’t really bother me, those will happen, but the 5th inning was a horror show – everything happened after 2 were out. It seems like sometimes when things aren’t going well he gets frustrated or hyped and turns into Mr. Fastball.

  3. Bob

    April 6, 2010 at 3:18 am

    I thought Coke looked kind of shaky despite 7 of his 11 pitches being strikes.

    Cabrera’s defense at first continues to impress. I made the somewhat bold declaration last year that Cabrera would win a Gold Glove at 1B one day, but the way he played today there doesn’t make it seem completely out of the question.

    Thanks again for starting the mega Tigers chat today – and including me.

    • Dr. Detroit

      April 6, 2010 at 8:28 am

      Miggy has fantastic hands. That’s what makes him a great hitter, too. I always worry a bit when he puts on weight, but then remember that it’s mostly his hands that make him a great player. I mean, if John Kruk could be a lifetime .300 hitter….

      He made some great plays at first last year (diving stabs to rob extra base hits, balls in the dirt). What was the play yesterday that made everyone take note?

      • Bob

        April 7, 2010 at 3:24 am

        He made a diving play when JV was pitching, I think, but that play in the 9th definitely sticks out.

  4. Doug

    April 6, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Good to have you back, Bilfer!

  5. Ken in Vegas

    April 6, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    So good to see the boys back on the field again. While I think our offensive production may take a small step back this year, I’m really excited about the bullpen and the potential of the rotation. (Willis still scares me.) One thing that really stood out to me yesterday is that our bullpen is all heat. I can’t imagine being an opposing hitter. First you have to face Verlander throwing 98-99 mph conistently for 5 innings. Then the next guy (Zumaya) improves on that and throws 100 mph every other pithch. Finally you think you’re getting a break when Jimmy goes to the bullpen, but then he just parades three more guys out (Perry, Coke, Valverde) who all throw 97-99 mph. The only thing that concerns me is that opposing teams are going to be so used to heat by the end of the game that they may have calibrated into fastball crushing robots.

  6. mat

    April 6, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Why is there always an off-day after opening day? This bugs me every year. Is there some logic to it?

    • kATHY

      April 6, 2010 at 2:17 pm

      I think the extra day is weather related, but don’t quote me. Loved the game and started getting that old feeling back when we weren’t scoring runs, but the boys came through, Pitching, pitching, pitching!

    • Andrew

      April 6, 2010 at 3:21 pm

      It is a built-in weather day. Since teams charge extra for Opening Day tickets (and because teams love big crowds), fans would be mad if rain pushed their tickets to a random Thursday in June.

    • mat

      April 6, 2010 at 4:18 pm

      Thanks. That is lame, but logical enough I suppose.

  7. TSE

    April 7, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Man I can’t wait for the next AJ Show. Dude rocks, great trade! I never saw this guy play and had no idea what to really expect. I was worried we were going to see some kid out there with great potential and that’s not what he clearly he is. This guy is a pro and he’s hot to trot!