Toronto Blue Jays (1-1) vs. Detroit Tigers (1-1)
April 2-5, 2006
Beautiful weather on Opening Day was greeted by a loss for the Tigers, but the reigning AL Champions hung on to split the series in brutal conditions.
Game 1 — April 2, 2007: Opening Day
With the return of baseball, this day was more about love of the team than the final score. The Blue Jays jumped on Jeremy Bonderman early, scoring three runs in the first inning. Bondo rebounded, however, and the Jays were held scoreless until the tenth inning. Behind two sacrifice flies from Gary Sheffield and two RBI’s from the Iron Chef on the day, the Tigers were able to claw their way back, tying the game in the fifth inning. Roy Halladay and Bonderman both allowed three runs in six innings of work, though one of the former Cy Young winner’s runs was unearned. From there on, it was a battle of the bullpens. For the Tigers, Joel Zumaya pitched two innings, followed by Todd Jones. Fernando Rodney entered the game in the tenth inning, and gave up two runs on two hits and a walk. The Tigers were unable to answer in the bottom half, ending Opening Day 2007. The Tigers take a loss, but baseball was back in the 313, a welcome sight to all regardless of the outcome.
Game 2 — April 4, 2007: Todd Jones the Anti-Rollercoaster
Wasting no time after receiving their AL Championship rings, the Tigers jumped on AJ Burnett and the Blue Jays early. Unfortunately, the game quickly turned into a rollercoaster for Tigers fans. Curtis Granderson hit a grand slam off Burnett in the third inning, highlighting an eight-run frame for the home team. The Blue Jays starter was able to coast through the first two innings, but retired none of the six batters he faced in the third before receiving the hook. Detroit tacked on another run for good measure in the fourth inning, giving Comerica Park fans a 9-0 lead — almost a consolation for the weather conditions. Temperatures in the 30′s made braving the field conditions difficult enough; in addition, wind gusts up to 50 mph made life for defensive players nearly impossible. Nate Robertson exited the game after allowing two runs in the sixth inning, giving him a line of 5 2/3 innings pitched with only two runs, allowing him to depart the game with a spacious seven run lead. The game became quite a ride for the Tigers from there. The Jays scored seven runs in the eighth inning without hitting a homer in the frame — fortunately, the Tigers had answered the Jays’ two-run sixth with an insurance run in the seventh. Todd Jones entered the game in the ninth inning, and allowed a hit & a walk, but was able to keep Toronto off the board. Jones picks up the save, somewhat steadied the Tigers’ ship, and helped the Tigers hang on for a victory.
Game 3 – April 5, 2007: Thou Shalt Pay for the Opening Day Weather
Wind chill readings in the single digits, snow flurries plummeting to Earth. There is joy in Comerica Park, for the mighty Tigers did not play in these adverse conditions. Hardly weather for baseball, the game will be made up on September 10th. On one hand, the players and fans did not have to brave ridiculously winter-esque temperatures, however a second day off in the span of just four days is not the ideal way to get a baseball team into a rhythm. That’s our reward for such beautiful weather on Opening Day, I suppose.
It seems like just yesterday we were watching the Cardinals take care of business against the Tigers in the World Series, hanging our heads in despair. It feels almost as if last baseball season never ended — however that is not the case, and it is great to see the return of baseball to Detroit. While concerns are limited beyond the injury of Kenny Rogers and the possibility of fatigue due to excessive innings by many starters last season, the Tigers are a tad out of sync, and having today off because of the cold weather probably will not help matters. Fernando Rodney has been rocky in his appearances thus far, though Todd Jones & Joel Zumaya appear to be at least pitching well enough to keep things under control. If Rodney cannot shape up, Jose Mesa’s suspension has been served, adding another arm to the bullpen. The starting pitchers have done well with the exceptions of a few rough innings, some of which were aided by fielding mistakes. Offensively, the Tigers appear largely good to go. For the other parts of the game, perhaps the team will begin to get back into gear with some weather that does not include snow and gortex hoods. One thing is certain, Jim Leyland will not tolerate sloppy play, and should the Tigers stray off course, he will slap them back into line. If you are concerned about losing Opening Day, then you must be a bandwagoner, for the Tigers lost their Opening Day game last season as well, and they didn’t do too shabby.
Just as I begin spring break, the Tigers hit the road (their next home game happens to be the very next day I return to school), and will make a stop in Kansas City. While the Royals appear not to have any shot at winning the division, they do have a core of young arms and position players that can execute when their opponent’s guard is let down. Coming off their opening series against the Red Sox at 1-2, the Royals still seem rather underwhelming, so it is imperative the Tigers regroup, enjoy the warmer weather in Missouri, and take care of business in KC.
- 4/6 @ 8:10 PM : Justin Verlander (0.0 IP) vs. Jorge De La Rosa (0-0, 0.0 IP)
- 4/7 @ 2:10 PM [No TV]: Mike Maroth (0-0, 0.0 IP) vs. Gil Meche (1-0, 1.23 ERA)
- 4/8 @ 2:10 PM : Jeremy Bonderman (0-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Brandon Duckworth (0-0, 0.0 IP)