Tigers Done-in by Old Friend, Drop Opener to Yankees
By John Parent
Detroit 3, New York 6 (box)
Curtis Granderson was a fan favorite in his days in the Old English D. With his go-ahead solo home run in the seventh inning today, Granderson is doing his best to remove all those happy memories.
With the score tied at 3-3, left hander Phil Coke was summoned from the bullpen to face the former Tigers leading off the Yankees half of the frame. Coke fell behind by missing with his first two pitches, then left a fastball up in the zone which Granderson turned on and launched halfway up the second deck beyond the right field wall.
Granderson, who missed the final week of Spring Training with an oblique strain, hasn’t historically performed well against southpaws, but adjustments he implemented in last year’s second half have paid dividends. In all those years in Detroit, not one hitting coach could get through to him. It took Kevin Long three months.
The Tigers took the early lead when Jhonny Peralta‘s sacrifice fly brought home Miguel Cabrera in the second inning. Detroit had loaded the bases with nobody out in that inning against Yankees ace CC Sabathia, but Peralta’s RBI was the only run the Tigers could muster in that inning. That missed opportunity would come back to haunt the Tigers just an inning later when Mark Teixeira slammed a three-run homer off Justin Verlander.
Single runs in the fourth and fifth tied the game for Detroit, but Granderson’s blast put the Yankees ahead for good. Some shoddy Tigers defense lead to a pair of insurance runs for New York and Mariano River, who hasn’t blown a lead to the Tigers since 1999, was efficient in closing the door in the ninth.
- Justin Verlander– Apart from the Teixeira home run, Verlander was very good. His first inning was vintage Verlander, however, as it took him 31 pitches to escape the frame. Still, six innings and eight strikeouts later, he had only allowed three hits to a very good Yankees lineup.
- Miguel Cabrera– Cabrera was on base twice and scored twice while also driving in a run. A failed scoop on a low throw in the seventh lead to the fifth Yankee run, however.
- Brandon Inge– Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad and Inge’s error, on the above-mentioned throw, drew the ire of at least one twitter user. The scoop should have been made at first. Inge did collect a pair of hits including an important two-out RBI single in the fourth inning.
- Alex Avila– Okay, this one’s probably not really his fault. I have no earthly idea why Jim Leyland started him against one of the toughest left handers in the game. I mean I understand the prestige of an Opening Day lineup, but Avila was overmatched at the plate against CC. He finished up by striking out to end the game against Rivera to wear three Ks for the game. A bad throw to third base also allowed a steal by Russell Martin.
- Phil Coke– He’s only biding time in the bullpen until he’s needed as a starter, but maybe the change of mentalities just doesn’t work for him. Coke was clearly fighting his command today, falling behind to two of the three batters he faced. He just didn’t have it today.
- Ryan Perry– Perry came on with a runner at second and immediately wild-pitched that runner to third with just one out. A fly ball would score an insurance run for New York. This is a scene that we’ve witnessed far too often over the past couple of year, and not just from Perry. For whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to matter who enters the game with a runner on base in an important situation, a wild pitch or passed ball is soon to follow.
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