As the day sets on the first week of baseball and the lights go down on Comerica Park let us reflect. Opening day came and went with all the fans pouring into the newly renovated stadium with some new fancy features including some metal detectors that fans are sure to moan and groan about from now until the end of the season. The fancy new porch out in right field that is much more enjoyable then the old Pepsi porch simply because they put a lot more alcohol up there. The oh so delectable selections of hot dogs that they have implemented this year that's sure to satisfy a lot of patrons and children a like. Tigers fans young and old look to embark on an exciting new season with hope in their minds and optimism in their hearts. As we look back at it, all the tigers did was fuel our optimism with some signs of real promise.
taking in the first week of the season one thing is already certain and that is, this isn't going to be your tigers of years past. And of course by that, I mean, like last year of course. It all starts with that little card our new bright faced smiling manager gives to the ump to start each game. There is a much different look to the line up from last year. The line up from the past was filled with essentially seat fillers for the big boys to come up 3-5 and get them all home with one big swing of the bat. This year, not so much. The line up this year is more stretched out with speed from top to bottom spread out a long the way with the all around ball player Ian Kinsler batting 1st and the speedster at 9 in Rajai Davis and some sprinkled in the middle with Austin Jackson. Speaking of that guy at 5, can we talk about him for a second? Austin Jackson came into the spring with a little bit more uncertainty of where he was going to hit in the line up. The last two years he was slated to bat 1 and he knew that in the beginning. But coming into this year with Ian Kinsler new to the motor city Jackson knew he was going to be posting up somewhere else in the order. Jackson has embraced batting 5th since camp opened and he's done nothing short of rip the stitching off the ball in the process. As we look back on the first week Jackson is coming in hitting .350 going 7 for 20 at the plate with even a few doubles a triple sprinkled in as well. Since the first pitch this year Jackson has taken good swings at the ball and all the tigers can do is hope he can continue his tear and be this consistent going forward. That 2-3 combo at the front end has also continued to pay huge dividends for the tigers early in the season. Miguel Cabrera and Torii Hunter have started for a combine 13 for 40 at the plate with 4 bombs and 3 doubles. Torii Hunter was sick of his sluggish start and decided he wanted to shut everyone up.
Now it's time to talk about the pitching, The starting rotation looked solid top to bottom for mad Max to Anibal and Ricky P looking respectable as well. And of course, that Justin Verlander guy. Scherzer started off this contract year with 8 strong innings giving up just 4 hits and 7 k's with no runs. All the starters followed suit after JV on opening day and for the most part did exactly what they needed to do to preserve hope in us Tiger faithful. The most impressive stat that stood out to me so far is that through 5 games the Tigers staff as a whole has only given up 1 long ball and that was Al-Al against Baltimore. Now, lets talk about the bullpen ( AHHH PANIC IN TIGER TOWN!!) when we roll along the first week the bullpen seems to be, how do I put this? in the words of the former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green, "They are who we thought they were!!" Joe Nathan has struggled a bit to start off the season going 2 2/3 innings giving up 3 hits, 2 runs, and 2 walks and making us reminisce of the last few years of Jose Valverde and Fernando Rodney in the 9th inning. Phil Coke had a rough outing his first time pitcing 0.1 inning giving up 2 hits and 3 earned runs giving the tigers a scare in their win over Baltimore making the game much closer then it should of been. The guy with the smiley face tattoo also got touched up a bit with Joba giving up 4 hits and 2 earned runs himself. Going forward all the Tigers can do is cross their fingers and hope things get better because if not, I believe that guy that they've groomed to start in Smyly will end up right back in the pen where he thrived last year to help out a bit.
All in all I would say this first week of the tigers season turned out to be a success none the less with the Tigers going 4-1 and looking very strong in the process. The hitting looked like it could end up being just fine after all because they are finding different ways to score runs beyond the home runs. As I said before, this team is going to look much different going forward then they have in years past which if you've been paying attention this off season shouldn't come as a shock to anyone. From top to bottom this team appears to be everything as advertised; a strong rotation with a shaky pen and an offense that is going to have to generate runs in more ways then one. For the time being, this team looks like it could be a great reflection of it's skipper; new, refreshed, and ready to take another central crown.