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Comeback thwarted, Tigers lose to Giants in opener

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DETROIT, MI - JULY 01: Alex Avila #13 of the Detroit Tigers tags out Aaron Rowand #33 of the San Francisco Giants as he tries to score in the first inning at Comerica Park on July 1,  2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JULY 01: Alex Avila #13 of the Detroit Tigers tags out Aaron Rowand #33 of the San Francisco Giants as he tries to score in the first inning at Comerica Park on July 1, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Giants 4, Tiger 3

BOX

KEY STAT

29 minutes: The length of time the Giants' half of the ninth inning took. Oy.

KEY PLAY A

Brennan Boesch hit into a double play with bases loaded in the ninth inning. On a line drive up the middle, Brandon Crawford caught the ball and stepped on second. Strangely, the game may have ended an at bat earlier when Andy Dirks appeared to ground into a double play but the second baseman failed to get any outs.

The Tigers were lucky to even be in that position, given Key Play B

KEY PLAY B

With runners on first and third, the Tigers chose to pitch to Pablo Sandoval -- the best player on the Giants team. He made them pay for the decision with a long fly ball to center field. Austin Jackson may have been able to track it down and limit the damage somewhat. But Andy Dirks pitch hit for him and didn't quite get to it. The ball bounced out of play for a ground-rule double.

The Giants tacked on few more when the bullpen -- Valverde included -- couldn't throw strikes. They led 4-1 after the top of the ninth.

KEY THOUGHTS

After Detroit rallied against Giants closer Brian Wilson in the eighth inning, Tigers closer Jose Valverde decided to match the lowly performance. He walked two and allowed three runs on three hits without even making it out of the ninth inning. Both runs were walked in. One by Brayan Villarreal, however.

Rod Allen thought Sandoval should have been pitched around. I thought he should have been pitched around. Valverde got to two strikes before giving up the hit. Give credit to the batter -- but when the guy on deck is hitting .240 with .293 OBP and .375 slugging, I think you pitch around the big guy to get to him.

But the real difference for most of the game was Giants starter Madison Bumgarner, who shut the Tigers out for 7 1/3 innings.

Props to Tigers starter Brad Penny, who allowed just a run in seven innings on the mound. He gave up seven hits and two walks. Good performance.

Also a good show by Lester Oliveros, who struck out the first two batters he saw in his MLB debut. He also walked one and allowed a hit before finishing the eighth inning unscathed.

I just can't believe the ninth inning turned out like that. Ugh. I don't seldom get emotionally invested into the results of a single game but this one made me want to beat up a water cooler like Brian Wilson.

Expletive deleted.