Opening Day: Tigers Silence Yankee Bats in Win

Apr 8, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) is introduced before the game on Opening Day against the New York Yankees at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) is introduced before the game on Opening Day against the New York Yankees at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Opening Day came around once again for the Tigers and Detroit fans. The Tigers returned from a two-game series against the Marlins to face New York. As with the games in Miami, Detroit was victorious.

Opening Day baseball returned to Detroit for the 115th time when the Detroit Tigers took the field Friday afternoon against the New York Yankees. Winners of their last seven Opening Day games the Tigers were able to blank the Yankees, winning their third consecutive game this season by a score of 4-0.

Jordan Zimmermann made quite the impression on the home fans in his first game in a Tigers uniform, going seven strong innings while striking out three. Surrendering only two hits during his shutout innings Zimmermann looked impressive. The pitch count was a concern early on for Zimmermann throwing nearly 60 pitches through four innings but with his 12-6 curve ball working he was able to settle down and give the Tigers a quality start.

Aside for a great performance from the starter there were runs scored in this game and they were done by the good guys. Miguel Cabrera jumped all over the young Yankees starter Luis Severeno in the first platting Ian Kinsler. Cabrera would strike again in the seventh inning hitting an opposite field home run into the right field seats, just left of the Belle Tire sign. Nick Castellanos made a nice leaping play showcasing his improving defensive abilities but equally as important is he collected four hits including an RBI double. The only Tigers to not contribute to the teams 13 hit performance today were Victor Martinez, Justin Upton and Anthony Gose, though goes would ground into a fielders choice that scored a run. James Mccann collected his first hit legging out an infield single.

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Some interesting matchups took place in seventh and eight innings of today’s contest. Making his major league debut, former Tigers farm hand Luis Cessa came on to face Justin Upton. Cessa was acquired by the Tigers last July from the New York Mets as part of the deal that sent Yoenis Cespedes to Queens. Coming on to face the player that is replacing Cespedes in the Tigers lineup, Cessa punched out Upton to begin his career.

Unfortunately for Cessa things were not getting any easier as Miguel Cabrera lined an oppo-taco to right field in the next at-bat. Such a turn of events in a young career could only be delivered by Cabrera. The connections continued when the Tigers called on lefty Justin Wilson to come out of the pen. Wilson, a former Yankee, was acquired by the Tigers for Cessa this off-season.

The bullpen was just as solid as the starting staff today. While no one is calling for Kyle Ryan to be the closer he looked very efficient throwing 18 pitches, 14 of which were strikes and fanning two Yankees to close the game out.

All seems well in Tiger Town as the team is 3-0 to start the season.

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Nonetheless the team has shown some weak spots that could ale the team should they not be addressed moving forward. Scoring four runs when the pitching is lights out is great but 2-3 runs were easily left on the field due to poor base running decisions. After running into multiple pick-offs and foolish outs in the opening series in  Miami the team once again looked passive on the base paths. Gun-shy may not be the correct word but a lack of aggression was demonstrated today. The team seems lost when running bases and after a few foolish plays in earlier this season players like Nick Castellanos and J.D. Martinez refused to go first-to-third or second-to-home on balls hit back up the middle. For a team that has actively tried to acquire more athletic players in an attempt to get away from the station-to-station slow pitch softball team it has been in the past this 2016 team has not looked far off.

Another three strike outs today for Upton is concerning but nothing to panic about. Based on past seasons data this is a team that will strike out a lot and Upton is no exception. Having no less than 150 whiffs in any of his last three season it should be known at this point that Upton is not afraid to go down with a fight. Eventually those K’s need to develop into hits which should not be a problem for the Tigers new slugger.

The paid attendance for the game was 45, 049 registering as the third largest opening day at the ball park. Though many fans did brave the cold, the stadium was featured a few empty seats and by the eight inning the park had all but cleared out.

Next: The Bullpen Will Be Fine

Another newcomer takes the hill tomorrow with Mike Pelfrey facing off against longtime Yankees lefty C.C. Sabathia. The 6’7″ Pelfrey is 2-3 career against the Yankees dawning a 4.72 ERA and an opponents batting average of .280.