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Verlander and Jackson Lead Tigers to Opening Day Win


Justin Verlander picked up where he left off last year, pitching 8 scoreless innings. He struck out 7, while only allowing a walk and two hits and throwing 105 pitches. For a majority of the game, Boston starter Jon Lester matched the 2011 MVP pitch for pitch, and had an extremely impressive game in his own right, allowing 6 hits 3 walks, and only one earned run in 7 IP.

Up 2-0 going into the top of the 9th, Tiger manager Jim Leyland decided to put closer Jose Valverde, 49-49 in saves last year, into the game instead of letting Verlander close it out. While that decision is certainly controversial, it became an even bigger issue after Valverde blew his first save since 2010 after surrendering hits to Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, and eventually an RBI triple to Ryan Sweeney.

While Leyland’s decision to pull Verlander was certainly questionable, that was hardly the most concerning part of the game. Attempting to bunt Alex Avila in the fifth inning is a move that is not explainable by any measure. In addition, slugger Miguel Cabrera looked uncomfortable at third base, as he trouble fielding a pop up early in the game, and let a hard hit ground ball go under his glove in the 6th inning. If he fields that ground ball, it saves Verlander 10 pitches, and he probably goes back out for the 9th at 95 pitches.

The Tigers showed guile and gut however, coming out in the bottom of the 9th, and loading the bases on singles from Jhonny Peralta and Avila, and a HBP by Ramon Santiago. Austin Jackson capped off his monster opener, by ripping a single down the third base line for his third hit of the day. Avila also picked up where he left off last year, ripping two balls the opposite way for two hits. The opening day win for the Tigers shows a lot of promising signs for the season ahead. Yet, at the end of the day, it’s only 1 of 162.