It has all come to this. After an off-season of changes, trades, mega contracts, rejection of mega contracts, a new manager, six weeks of meaningless games, and meaningful injuries, it’s time to determine what kind of team the 2014 Detroit Tigers will be. Will they win their division again and go to the postseason for a franchise record four straight seasons? The questions we’ve asked will begin to be answered, the concerns we’ve had in Spring Training will be magnified or marginalized–at least for one day.
Let’s hold off on the concerns just a bit, because it’s been a brutal winter in Michigan and now it’s Opening Day in Detroit. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Bring on spring. Bring on baseball. Go Tigers!
Detroit Tigers vs Kansas City Royals — 1:08 PM
Comerica Park — Detroit, MI
TV: FSD, MLB Network, MLB TV (FREE GAME OF THE DAY) (For out-of-market fans, most cable and satellite providers have a free preview of MLB Extra Innings for the season’s first week)
Radio: 97.1 The Ticket
Weather: 52 degrees, mostly sunny!!!!
Monday, March 31 vs. Kansas City Royals @ 1:08 p.m. Gates Open at 10:30 a.m.
· Opening Day Festivities: Prior to the game on March 31 the Tigers will celebrate their 2013 American League Central Division Championship by raising a commemorative flag in center field. The national anthem will be sung by legendary R&B artist, Brian McKnight and 1984 World Series Champion Chet Lemon will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Michigan Joint Honor Guard will present colors and a 300-foot American Flag will be presented in the outfield during the singing of the national anthem. During the seventh inning stretch, Amy Gould of the 126th Army Band will sing God Bless America.
· Game Ball Delivery: The Game Ball will be delivered by Master Sergeant Michael Miller of the United States Air Force from Shelby Township, Mich.
· Opening Day Giveaway: The first 20,000 fans will receive a Detroit Tigers rally towel.
When We Last Met
- The Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals met the customary 19 times in 2013 with the Royals claiming a slight advantage in the season series at 10 wins and 9 losses. The Tigers did beat the Royals six out of nine times in Detroit, however.
- It seems Kansas City and Detroit tangle every single Opening Day. They’ve played each other in 2005 (at Detroit), 2006 (at KC), 2008 (at Det), and 2010 (at KC) to start a season. While not technically a season opener, the two teams met in Detroit’s home opener in 2011, a 5-2 Tigers win. So in home and road Opening Days since 2005, the Tigers are 4-1 with the sole loss coming in 2008.
- This should be a good early test for the Tigers, and not the usual, “awesome we’re starting out against the Royals, easy win.” It can’t be classified as “many,” but a few analysts have broken with recent tradition of giving the Tigers a rubber stamp to win the AL Central. The Royals seem to be a favored dark-horse by many to knock Detroit off its AL Central perch.
- The Tigers have won two straight on Opening Day, and four of their last five. They haven’t lost an opener at Comerica Park since that 2008 game with KC.
As with many on Opening Day, this pitching matchup figures to be a good one. Going for the Tigers, of course, is Justin Verlander.
Six weeks ago, it was unclear if JV would get this start after undergoing abdominal surgery in early January. It was also questionable that even if healthy would Verlander get the nod over last year’s Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. In the end, it was all academic. Though it was just Spring Training, Verlander didn’t allow a run in four starts.
Justin started six games against Kansas City in 2013, going 1-3 with a 3.27 ERA. Billy Butler continued to mash the ball against Verlander to the tune of a .441 career batting average with two homers and 11 RBIs.
James Shields had a tough first season in Kansas City and it was no different against the Tigers, allowing an ERA near five (4.96) and a 1-2 record in six games started.
Tigers Opening Day Lineup
All the speculation about who hits first, where Austin Jackson hits, where Torii Hunter hits on Opening Day is now over. Here’s the Tigers Opening Day lineup–though expect it to be tinkered with often this year.
- Ian Kinsler-2B
- Torii Hunter-RF
- Miguel Cabrera-1B
- Victor Martinez-DH
- Austin Jackson-CF
- Alex Avila-C
- Nick Castellanos-3B
- Alex Gonzalez-SS
- Rajai Davis-LF