Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tigers' Opener

I'll be blogging about the Tigers again this year.  There will be end-of-month wrap-ups and other posts whenever something interesting happens or I just get the urge.  Yesterday's game qualifies on both counts.

Starters: Verlander, Shields
W: Nathan, L: Davis

The Tigers did not play a great game, but there was great drama.  Victor Martinez opened the scoring with a solo HR in the second.   Torii Hunter made an inexplicable error in the top of the 2nd, dropping a routine fly ball, but no harm came of it.  New SS Alex Gonzales was the goat for a while in the 4th inning when Lorenzo Cain's ground ball slipped by him, then two batters later with two outs, he fumbled Nori Aoki's grounder to load the bases.  Verlander then walked in a run to make it 3-1 K.C.   This was a big scary moment with the bases still loaded and Eric Hosmer, who hit a first inning double, coming to the plate.  Fortunately, JV got him to pop up a 98 MPH fast ball and end the inning.

But the real drama came later.  It was still 3-1 after 6.  Evan Reed replaced Verlander on the mound and had a 1-2-3 inning.  In the Tigers' 7th Austin Jackson hit a 1 out triple.  After Avila walked, starter James Shields was lifted for Aaron Crow.  AJ scored on a wild pitch, while Avila took 2nd.  Gonzales then began to redeem himself by smacking an RBI double and aggressively extending it into a triple.  Rajai Davis grounded out to end the inning.  Tie ball game.

The eighth inning was uneventful, with new pitchers Albuquerque and Davis each getting through on four batters.

Joe Nathan came on for the Tigers in the 9th, and had a 1-2-3 inning.  In the bottom of the 9th, with Davis still on the mound, Jackson grounded out, then Avila walked.  Tyler Collins came on to pinch run.  Nick Castellanos, who had been thrown out at 2nd trying to extend a single in the 5th, singled, with Collins taking third.  K.C. then brought in their all star closer Greg Holland.  Last year, RH batters were only 18 for 107 (.168 ba) against him with 48 K's.  Gonzales finished the day with a single to left, scoring Collins for the win.

This game was marred by two errors, a bad route by AJ on a hit that could have been caught, Castellanos failing to get to a foul fly near the stands, and also getting thrown out trying to extend a single.  With a walked in run, that makes 6 pretty glaring mistakes.  JV got a quality start in a solid, but less than stellar outing.  It was nice to see major contributions from the new comers.  Collins must have been thrilled crossing the plate to seal the victory.

This game was remarkable for being so unlike Tigers games last year.

- The bull pen closed down the other team.
- The Tigers came from behind to win AFTER the 6th inning.
- The Tigers showed some aggressive and productive base running.
- The Tigers overcame some pretty bad play to get the win.

I'm not going to be offering detailed game description like this very often, but this game was worth it.

One down, 161 to go.

Update:  According to this analysis, teams have averaged about 7 walk off wins per year between 1995 and 2012.  That's 8.6% of the time.  So you have about a 1 in 12 chance of seeing a walk off when you go to a random game.  By my count [I can't find anyone else's] the Tigers had 7 in 2013, 5 in regulation and 2 in extra innings.

Box Score


Play by Play


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