With a daytime high of 13 degrees predicted for Comerica Park today, it is important to tell my kindred spirits in the north that spring is on its way. Soon, Detroit’s Boys of Summer will be playing in Florida (where I must turn the knife a bit and crow about our 72 degree day here in the Sunshine State), preparing to take on the role of defending American League Champions. So, to warm everyone up just a bit, let’s take a look at the Tigers’ 2013 schedule.
The Tigers have a very interesting April, to say the least. There are a pair of playoff rematches within the first two weeks of the regular season. Additionally, of the nine series in April, three are against fellow 2012 playoff teams (New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, and Atlanta Braves). Another pair of series are against teams which many predict will be in the 2013 Postseason (Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Angels). There is also an early divisional series with the Kansas City Royals, who have done all they can in this off-season to level the playing field with the Tigers.
Everyone is probably aware the Yankees will make their lone appearance of the season at the COPA on Home Opening Weekend. The Tigers will then host the new-look, and Vegas’ World Series favorite, Blue Jays for three games before traveling to Oakland to face the Athletics, who might be a little angry about last October (though there will likely be 30,000 less fans for the games at the cavernous Oakland Alameda Coliseum–or whatever they call it these days). From there the team travels north to Seattle and then back down to Los Angeles, to face the Angels, before heading home for a pair of series against Kansas City and Atlanta. The Bengals round out April with the start of a home series against Minnesota.
Whew! Now, that’s a tough, tough start to the season, and we know our Tigers are usually not the quickest team out of the gate. Though they did start 4-0 and 5-1 last year, we all remember the wheels falling off quickly and they finished April with a disappointing 11-11 mark.
I hope that Tigers’ fans keep this in mind before panicking if the team is at .500, or even a bit below when the first of May dawns. The season will get much more manageable in May and beyond. Also, by hitting the West Coast three-step in early April, the team will enjoy playing its final 144 games of the regular season in either the Eastern or Central time zones.
May will include the first home-and-home series with the Houston Astros–a new member of the American League. The addition of Houston to the AL means that an interleague matchup will take place every day of the season. This will contribute to certain oddities, such as when the Tigers visit the nation’s capital and play the defending NL East Champion Washington Nationals for two games with a pair of off-days sandwiching the series.
The Tigers will celebrate both Canada Day and Independence Day north of the border in Toronto with four games spanning Monday, July 1 through Thursday, July 4. The month of July will also mark the first meeting of the season against the arch-rival Chicago White Sox (July 9 through 11 at Comerica Park). A rare Detroit visit by the Philadelphia Phillies, and an encore two-game series against Washington, round out the month.
Detroit visits New York for two weekends in August: Aug. 9 through 11 at Yankee Stadium and Aug. 23 through 25 at Citi Field against the Mets.
The Tigers will play all of their division rivals in September at least once, and close out the season in Miami with three games against the Marlins from Friday, Sept. 27 through 29. This will be an interesting matchup if the division comes down to the final weekend, as the Tigers will likely be at a disadvantage against any team they may be competing with for the AL Central title. This is because they will be the only AL Central team not being able to use the DH (cough, cough Victor Martinez) for the final weekend.
So what does everyone think? Is it good for the Tigers to face their toughest foes earliest in the season? Do you miss seeing early season games in the burgeoning Tigers-White Sox rivalry?
Personally, I think it is good to get the tougher series and trips out of the way early. Having big games early in the season can help a team that may battle “World Series fatigue” in April. After playing in meaningful games for the entire month of October, the early season games can be a bit of a drag for teams that went deep into the postseason the year before. We saw this in 2007 when that team went 14-11 in April following the 2006 World Series berth, and we previously made mention of the .500 record in April 2012, the season after an ALCS loss to Texas.
So, while firmly entrenched in the deep freeze, many of us are looking forward to April 1, but May 1 will undoubtedly be a highly desirable date as well.