Detroit Tigers Survive Opening Day, Defeat Marlins 8-7 in 11 Innings

Apr 5, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers pinch hitter Victor Martinez (41) celebrates at home plate after hitting a solo home run during the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers pinch hitter Victor Martinez (41) celebrates at home plate after hitting a solo home run during the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Tigers fans everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief as the team hung on to beat the Miami Marlins on Opening Day. The Tigers survived a bullpen meltdown and extra innings to earn the win.

The Detroit Tigers defeated the Miami Marlins 8-7 in 11 innings on Opening Night where Justin Verlander was strong, the Ian Kinsler led the way for the lineup, Francisco Rodriguez collapsed, base running was brutal, but the Tigers found a way to prevail. In a lot of ways, this game was the perfect summary of the Tigers’ 2015 performance without injuries, but with the win.

Verlander got the Opening Day start for the Tigers and picked up where he left off in the second half of 2015. Outside of one mistake to Giancarlo Stanton, Verlander was sharp, surrendering no hits through 5 innings and finishing with a line of 6 IP, 3H, 3 ER, 5 K, and 2 BB.

The Tigers’ new additions contributed in this one. Justin Upton went 2-4 with a double, Justin Wilson pitched a scoreless 7th inning, Mark Lowe made one mistake which cost him a run, and Francisco Rodriguez gave up a couple of soft hits and a run, but got the save.

The Tigers got started quickly in this game. Ian Kinsler led off the game with a broken bat flare down the left field line for a single. Justin Upton hit an opposite field double in his first Tigers’ at bat to move Kinsler to third. Miguel Cabrera then brought Kinsler home on a groundout to shortstop to give the Tigers the 1-0 lead. J.D. Martinez just missed a home run on a fly out and Nick Castellanos struck out to strand Upton.

The Tigers added to their lead in the top of the second with a two-out rally. Anthony Gose lined a single off of the left arm of Chen, which affected the rest of the inning. Verlander hit a broken bat single to center field on the next pitch from Chen. Kinsler then deposited his first home run of the season into the bullpen in left field to give the Tigers the 4-0 lead. 

In the top of the 5th, the Tigers extended their lead once again. Justin Upton led off with a single through the left side of the infield. Cabrera tallied his first hit of the season with a line drive to left field. J.D. Martinez unloaded on another pitch, just missing another home run with a sacrifice fly to the deepest part of center field. Nick Castellanos then brought Upton home on a sacrifice fly to give the Tigers the 5-0 lead.

The Marlins cut into the Tigers lead in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Dee Gordon hit a double to right field for the first Marlins’ hit of the game and advanced to third on an error by J.D. Martinez. Miguel Ozuna then hit a single to center field to cut the lead to 5-1. Giancarlo Stanton then launched a breaking ball into the left field seats to cut the Tigers’ lead to 5-3. 

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In the 7th, Justin Wilson made his Tigers debut. He surrendered one hit, but tallied two strikeouts in a scoreless inning of work.

In the bottom of the 8th, Mark Lowe made his Tigers debut. He surrendered a triple to Gordon on an 0-2 fastball which he wanted back as soon as he threw it. Christian Yelich brought Gordon home on a sacrifice fly. Lowe then buried Stanton with a wipeout slider to end the inning with the Tigers leading 5-4.

The Tigers added important insurance runs in the 9th. Anthony Gose hit his first home run of the season into the upper deck. This ball looked like it was the farthest Gose has hit one in a Tigers’ uniform. Victor Martinez then hit a pinch hit, opposite field home run to go back-to-back with Gose on a laser beam line drive which may be the most encouraging sign from this game.

In the bottom of the 9th, Francisco Rodriguez made his Tigers debut and fell apart. He gave up a flare single to Martin Prado, a chopper double J.T. Realmuto, a laser beam sacrifice fly to Anthony Hechavarria, a pinch hit RBI double to Derek Dietrich, and a double to Dee Gordon to tie the game at 7-7. 

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In the top of the 10th, the Tigers loaded the bases with walks to J.D. Martinez, Andrew Romine, and Jose Iglesias. A wild pitch was then uncorked, but it bounced right back to the Marlins’ catcher. All runners started to move up, but Martinez and Romine retreated since the ball bounced right back to home plate. Iglesias did not and was hung up between first and second to end the inning.

Martinez also had a brutal base running inning in the 10th. On a fly ball to right field with one out and Martinez on second, he did not advance to third. He also just stood at third while Iglesias was stranded between 1st and 2nd with the bases loaded, not forcing the Marlins to make an extra play to get the out.

In the top of the 11th, the Tigers retook the lead. Anthony Gose led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a Mike Aviles pinch-hit bunt. Kinsler then came through again with an RBI single to give the Tigers the 8-7 lead.

Shane Greene then came on to try to close out the 11th and recorded the only 1-2-3 inning for a Tigers reliever.

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The Detroit Tigers will finish their opening 2-game series Wednesday afternoon against the Marlins at 4:55 as Anibal Sanchez takes the mound against Jose Fernandez, who is undefeated at Marlins Park.