Game 2015.1: Twins at Tigers

For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

–Song of Solomon 2:14, preferably read in the voice of Ernie Harwell.

Well, here we are, it’s Monday, and one of the great days in sports, Opening Day in Major League Baseball (we won’t count that thing in Chicago last night), topped off by a nitecap of NCAA basketball finals.

I was actually out walking around a local lake yesterday, and saw hundreds of turtles out sunning. Didn’t hear any singing though; perhaps I didn’t listen closely enough, or perhaps they wait until the first pitch.

The Tigers will look familiar enough; despite a few changes in the starting lineup, they are still a team of strong bats, a strong arm on the mound, not much on the bench, and a prayer for the bullpen.

For the first time in 8 years, that arm on the mound will not be in a jersey with Verlander on the back, although Justin Verlander has not actually been put on the DL as was previously announced. He threw 40 pitches off the mound yesterday; Ausmus said he “felt good” (yay!) until the last couple pitches (ohhh). Stay tuned.

And speaking of familiar faces, that guy with a big grin in the Twins jersey is Mr. Torii Hunter, making his 17th consecutive Opening Day start. He is also batting 4th, which says a thing or two about the Twins lineup.

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For those interested in Opening Day festivities, the Tigers front office has their own blog which I will be checking regularly this season, because how else to know who is throwing out the ceremonial first pitches?

Today that honor belongs to Oscar Winner and and Tiger fan J.K. Simmons, who will spend the remainder of the game in the bullpen yelling “encouragement” to the relievers. (That last part has yet to be verified).

There are also important notices there about new food at Comerica, such as “bacon on a stick topped with deviled eggs and fried jalape├▒os.” Oh dear.

OK, I’m back. I just spend an hour trying to get bacon on a stick. I was going to try to put eggs on top too, but I don’t want to miss the game.

The Four Tops will be singing the National Anthem. The Tigers are 0-0 in games opened by the Four Tops.

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Today’s Opening Day Lineup:

  1. Rajai Davis, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF
  6. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  7. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

Pitching: David Price vs. Phil Hughes

The only real surprise in the lineup is the right-handed Davis batting against the right-handed Hughes, but Ausmus is playing past history here: Gose is 1-for-11 lifetime against Hughes. Speaking of history, Cabrera is hitting a fat 16-for-34 with 5 HRs off of Hughes, so he is the unsurprising pick for Opening Day Player of the Game.

The key hitter for the season though will be Cespedes. Assuming everyone stays healthy (I’m looking at you, Victor), the Cabrera-Martinez-Martinez triad should be as good as last season. Cespedes┬ákeeps knocking on the door of greatness, only to nap on the doorstep when nobody answers. It’s time for him to force his way in.