Yesterday, the Detroit Tigers looked more like kitties than ferocious beasts in the second half of the game against the New York Yankees.
Today, against the Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers pitching looked like it belonged in the major leagues.
With an 8-2 win against the Braves, there were several highlights. While Victor Martinez hit his second home run in three games and three Tigers hit doubles, the real show was on the mound. By the way, the doubles were hit by Ian Kinsler, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Anthony Gose.
Back to the pitching. The show began with Daniel Norris on the mound. While his outing was not perfect, his stats were consistent – he allowed one of everything. Sadly, most of the ones were earned in the home run hit by the Braves strongest hitter today, Freddie Freeman. Norris did walk one batter and he struck out one batter. He pitched in two innings and earned a 4.50 ERA with this outing. He also got the win. Was this good enough to earn the fifth spot in the starting rotation? Maybe not.
Another pitcher who wants that fifth spot had an even better outing today: Shane Greene. He, too, pitched in two innings, but his row had more zeroes. He allowed one hit and had one walk. The highlight of his two innings were the two strikeouts.
If I had to decide in those two innings who should be in the fifth spot, Greene would be my choice.
Norris’s first inning featured a ground out and two fly outs – all of them were on the first pitches. Freeman’s home run was hit on a 2-2 count. In the second, the same pattern appeared. Other than the walk and the strikeout, the other two outs were outs on the first pitch.
Greene’s time at the plate was completely different. In the fourth inning, he did walk the first batter who happened to be Nick Swisher. The second batter flied out on the first pitch. The next two outs were strikeouts without any balls. Greene’s fifth inning was quick and masterful. The first batter got a hit on the first pitch, but he was quickly put out on a double play by the first pitch of the second batter. Prospect Dominic Ficociello made the unassisted double play at first base. The final out was a fly out.
Greene looked like a guy who knew what he was doing. He attacked the batters and made his presence known. There was no doubt that he wants that fifth spot on the rotation. He is certain to have another go at it against another Grapefruit League team.
Once Greene’s outing was over, he was replaced by Justin Wilson – the Tigers newest addition to the bullpen. Fans can expect to see this Wilson regularly in the late innings. In his one inning, he walked one, struck out one, and had a pair of popups. Mark Lowe – the other new bullpen addition – took over the seventh. He allowed a hit, and got his outs on a line out and two strikeouts. These two guys looked like veterans on the mound. Jim Price even gave Wilson a shoutout to his “art of pitching” during his commentary.
After the sorry bummer at Steinbrenner, the conquest at Champion Field was extremely satisfying. If this is what the Norris vs. Greene battle is going to look like, the Spring Training games are going to be a blast to watch. And, if this is what Wilson and Lowe are going to bring in the season, fans can relax in the late innings. One can only hope!