First of all, thanks to everyone who posted comments in the first Game Thread of the season. I know we have a long (long) way to go before we catch up to several of the other SB Nation communities out there. (Look at what Royals Review did today.) But for the fledgling BYB brigade, this was a fantastic start. Hopefully, it wasn't just the dazzle of Opening Day that brought everyone out. If we keep this up and build on the discussion, we're going to have a lot of fun around here this season.
The weather favored the Tigers today. Not only didn't it rain on the Opening Day Comerica Park crowd, but a national audience to see this game as the Jays-Yankees opener from Yankee Stadium was rained out, and ESPN switched over to Royals-Tigers. Unfortunately for Detroit, the home team didn't show off that winning growl this afternoon, despite an excellent opportunity to tie the game (and perhaps win) in the 11th inning.
Oh No - The Bullpen:
The best thing for the Tigers' bullpen in the first game of the season would've been to protect a lead, come out in succession - Zach Miner in the 7th, Denny Bautista in the 8th, Todd Jones in the 9th - and give everyone some assurance about the late-inning relief. The bullpen was indeed handed a lead, but couldn't hold onto it. In fairness, Jason Grilli came into a difficult situation in the 7th, with runners on first and third and no outs. (Of course, he didn't have to serve up that fat a pitch to John Buck...) After Bobby Seay got his designated left-handed hitter out, Aquilino Lopez made a decent pitch to Mark Grudzielanek, who smoked it to the opposite field.
Maybe you could second-guess Jim Leyland's choice of relievers in that 7th inning, but in a situation where the Tigers were likely to give up a run, maybe he wanted to see if he could get away with saving his best set-up men for late in the game. If he had to do it all over again, however, I wonder if Leyland would've brought in Miner or Bautista for that situation.
He Giveth and Taketh Away:
We saw some of the best and maybe the worst of Brandon Inge in center field today. The Royals threatened to blow the game open in the 8th when Inge dove for a Mark Teahen drive into the left-center gap. It's hard to fault a guy for making an all-out effort like that, but when it comes to diving for a ball, you have to pick and choose your spots carefully. Maybe Inge thought he had a chance to make the catch, but on TV, that ball looked three to four feet beyond his reach. Better to let the ball drop and keep the batter to a single than to give up extra bases trying to make an impossible play. Fortunately, the Royals stranded Teahen at third base.
Inge got Teahen back in the 11th, however, gunning him down at home plate when he tried to score on a single, and kept the ballgame tied.
Miguel Cabrera's first home run in the Olde English D might be what more people talk about tonight and tomorrow, but Carlos Guillen brought his Big Boi bat today. Detroit's new first baseman went 3-for-5, and probably provided the most dramatic hit of the day when he tied the game in the eighth with a solo home run (showing off a classic, power-hitting first baseman's swing) off Brett Tomko.