It’s a long season. It’s only nine games. There are still 153 to go. All those things are true, and good to keep in mind. But that doesn’t keep me from being disappointed by the Tigers start this season. They’ve won only three games and lost six. And they lost all three of the first series of the year. It’s not what the Tigers wanted, and certainly not what the fans had hoped for.
Opening day was special, of course, as it always is, even though it was a cold, dreary and rainy day. And the game didn’t start until 3:05 PM, a strange start time for opening day. But that didn’t stop nearly 44 thousand fans from enjoying the start of another baseball season. Plus, the Tigers beat the Royals 5 to 2, which always helps send the fans home in a happy mood.
It was an exciting day for me, because I got to get on field and talk with a few of the players and broadcasters Dan Dickerson and Mario Impemba. Interestingly, they all said pretty much the same thing about opening day in Detroit. Brandon Inge told me that he always tells his teammates that opening day in Detroit is always a special event, unlike any other city. Impemba and Dickerson both thought opening the season in New York would be extra special, but it really wasn’t. Unlike other places, Impemba said opening day in the “D” is more than a game, it’s a happening, a coming together of people from all over Detroit and Michigan. And for many fans, it’s the only game they will get to all year.
Unfortunately, the Tigers lost the next two games of the weekend series with the Royals, who have been one of the surprise teams in baseball, and at last glance, were tied for first place in the American League Central, while the Tigers are near the bottom of the standings. There are some things to like about the first part of the Tigers season, and other things that could cause concern.
Among the highlights, Miguel Cabrera seems to be fine, despite his off the field issues with alcohol. He’s still crushing the ball, and already has four home runs. Jhonny Perralta has been hot, and Brennan Boesch seems to have bounced back from his 2nd half plunge of last year. Justin Verlander is finally having a great April, and has looked very impressive in his first two starts. Max Scherzer has won two games already, despite a shaky first outing. And one very pleasant surprise is catcher Alex Avilla, who seems to have found his stroke again.
There are some things that are not so hot, though, especially the defense. The Tigers committed four errors on Sunday. And they seemed to be throwing the ball all over the field. And Ryan Rayburn is still a liability in left field. Another big worry has to be centerfielder and leadoff hitter Austin Jackson, who has already struck out a ton. He looks like he could use a day off. Will Rhymes also needs to get hot at the plate. And we still have no idea when Joel Zumaya or Carlos Guillen will return to the lineup.
The starting rotation still has a lot of question marks. Brad Penny has looked shaky in both his starts; Phil Coke had one good outing and one not so good; and Rick Porcello has been inconsistent.
All that being said, it’s great to have baseball back again! And Sunday was a beautiful day at Comerica Park. Now, let’s hope the Tigers can make things more enjoyable by putting together a long winning streak.