Starting pitcher Doug Fister wasn’t particularly sharp today – he mostly labored through five innings while allowing three runs on six hits (including a home run) and two walks to go with a pair of strikeouts – but the team got the job done today to get the fans a win on Opening Day and pull back to .500 on the young season.
The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead (as they have in every game so far) with single runs each in the first two innings – a Miguel Cabrera bounce out scored Austin Jackson in the first and an Omar Infante single plated Andy Dirks in the second – but the lead was erased by New York in the fifth inning. Immediately after Brett Gardner scored on a wild pitch, Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run bomb to right field off of Fister to put the Yankees ahead 3-2. It seemed like the Tigers might again give away a game, but the big bats would wake up and provide the punch that had been lacking in Minnesota.
Prince Fielder homered with two on and two out in the bottom of the fifth (plating Infante and Cabrera) to put the Tigers back up 5-3. Alex Avila launched a solo shot in the sixth inning to make it 6-3, and Fielder returned with his second homer – a two-run blast that plated Cabrera – in the seventh to give the Tigers their ultimate 8-3 advantage.
The closer situation, which has been the cause of much consternation in the early going – didn’t come into play in this one. Drew Smyly entered the game in the sixth with the Tigers up 5-3 and proceeded to finish the game with four perfect innings in relief of Fister. He was everything today that he wasn’t in Minnesota, allowing zero hits, zero walks, and striking out five. Very sharp, you can’t really say enough good things about his outing. He’s credited with a save for this game.
- Brennan Boesch, who started in right field for the Yankees this afternoon, robed Fielder of an extra base hit in the third inning while making a jump-catch while crashing into the wall (WHERE WAS THAT THE LAST THREE YEARS?). Prince made sure he couldn’t catch the next two.
- It didn’t work out back in Minnesota, but I think this is the perfect use for Smyly – long-relief situations that aren’t pure mop-up duty. In both appearances he entered to a save situation (albeit in the sixth inning), and was allowed to pitch more than one (meaningful) inning. I would like to see something like this happen every time a starter fails to go six innings.
- Alex Avila’s home run was deep. He has struggled at the plate so far, so it was good to see him barrel up the ball like that.
- I’m not going to hit the panic button with Doug Fister yet, but he wasn’t sharp in spring training, and he wasn’t sharp today. He’s usually excellent at hitting his spots, but many of his offerings ended up off the plate for balls, elevating his pitch count.
- Curly fries.
- The Yankees are 1-3. How delightful is this fact!?