Detroit Tigers Down Atlanta Braves 5-2 in Grapefruit League Home Opener


Feb 27, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello (21) warms up on the mound before the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, the Detroit Tigers downed the Atlanta Braves 6-5 in their Grapefruit League opener. Today, the two teams squared off in the Tigers’ Grapefruit home opener and the Tigers once again defeated the Braves, this time by a score of 5-2. The Tigers scored one in the 1st on a Miguel Cabrera groundout, 2 in the 5th with RBI’s from Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson, and 2 in the 8th on a double from Eugenio Suarez and a single from Jordan Lennerton.

Today, Rick Porcello made his first spring start, surrendering 1 run over two innings of work with one walk to B.J. Upton who scored on a Ryan Doumit triple, which was the only hit Porcello allowed. Porcello struck out three over his two innings of work.

The two biggest free-agent bullpen acquisitions this offseason, Joe Nathan and Joba Chamberlain, made their debuts today. Chamberlain pitched the 4th inning where he allowed one hit and struck out one. Nathan pitched the 6th where he retired the Braves in order while racking up 2 strikeouts.

Ian Krol also made his Tigers debut today where he pitched the 6th inning. He retired the side in order while striking out one. All three of the batters he retired hit from the right side which is notable because Krol may be used late in games to get out lefties. If he can retire batters on both sides of the plate, we may see him grow into a role similar to Smyly’s last season. We can’t, of course,  tell this from one Spring Training outing, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Other pitching performances included:

  • Duane Below pitched the 3rd inning where he surrendered a home run to Jason Heyward.
  • Luke Putkonen retired 6 of the 7 batters he saw without any emotion in the 7th and 8th innings.
  • Bruce Rondon pitched the 9th retiring the Braves in order. He was 95-97 on his fastballs today which is not bad at all for his spring debut.

The Tigers sent out 2/3 of the lineup of their Opening Day starters today. All of them saw more than one at-bat. Here were the players and performances of note:

  • Jose Iglesias led off. 1-2 in 3 AB’s with a walk and scored a run
  • Andy Dirks batted 2nd and went 0-3 with a K.
  • Miguel Cabrera was 0-1 with an RBI groundout in the 1st to knock in Iglesias and walked.
  • Torii Hunter was 1-3 with an RBI single in the 5th.
  • Alex Avila was 2-2 in his spring debut and caught 4 innings before being replaced by James McCann.
  • Austin Jackson went 2-3 with an RBI in the 6th spot in the order. Interesting to see him 6th behind Avila. I’m not going to read too much into that.
  • Jordan Lennerton was 2-2 with an RBI and a run scored coming off of the bench.
  • Eugenio Suarez was 1-1 off of the bench with an RBI single off of the bench.

The Tigers will next play split squad games tomorrow: one at home against the New York Yankees and the other in Clearwater, Florida against the Philadelphia Phillies.