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Did everyone remember to take their favorite antacid this afternoon? The Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox did not fail to deliver drama in the season opener at Comerica Park today. Justin Verlander threw eight shutout innings, Jose Valverde blew his first save since 2010, and Austin Jackson helped the Tigers walk off with a win with a single to left field in the bottom of the ninth. One game up, one win down. We'll take it.
Verlander clearly was ready to put past April struggles behind him. At one point, he struck out three batters in a row and sent 10 consecutive Red Sox back to the dugout. Just two batters made it to second base; only one of those safely touched third. He allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out seven.
When people talk about pitchers in terms of wins, it often bothers a lot of us. This is why. Verlander did everything asked of him, kept the Red Sox off the base paths, went deep into the game and handed the ball over to his closer. His closer vultured the win after blowing the save. (The right decision, the wrong result, by the way.) What should count most next to a pitcher's name is what happened during those innings on the mound, not the one he watched from the dugout.
Valverde, forever making games more interesting, gave up a double and single to open the ninth inning, setting up his first blown save since Sept. 2, 2010. He was a perfect 49 for 49 during the 2011 regular season, and perfect in the playoffs as well. Ryan Sweeney eventually made the score 2-2.
Fortunately Jhonny Peralta and Austin Jackson continued the success they'd been having the entire day. Peralta's third hit of the day came with one out in the ninth. Jackson's third hit of the day, a grounder to the opposite field, drove pinch-runner Danny Worth in for the win.
Detroit scored its first run in the seventh inning when Peralta hit a two-out double, then Alex Avila followed up with a double of his own. Prince Fielder drove in his first RBI as a Tiger in the eighth, scoring Jackson on a sac fly.
So what did we learn, if anything? You don't want to take a game to draw a season's worth of conclusions, but we did learn the Red Sox are not afraid of walking Miguel Cabrera. He took three free passes for the day, the last intentional and the first seeming to be of the "unintentional intentional" variety.
Speaking of Cabrera, we learned (well, re-affirmed) he's going to make a few miscues at third. Neither cost his team a run, and the first was really just an entertaining out. But don't expect any story lines about Cabrera's defense to go away totally after today. That said, I think it's OK to have a little chuckle at this play, made into a GIF by BYB commenter AriTwice.
Finally, we hope to see Jackson continue the success of the first game. Not only did he have three hits, he didn't strike out! His role as a table setter with Brennan Boesch, Cabrera and Fielder behind him in the lineup is obvious. He also saw 21 pitches for the game.
3 Roars For Game 1:
Justin Verlander, for 8 shutout innings, 7 strikeouts
Austin Jackson for walk-off single, 3-for-5 day
Jhonny Peralta, for 3-for-3 day with 2 key hits that led to runs
3 Hisses For Game 1
Jose Valverde, for a blown save and two runs allowed
Brennan Boesch, for 0-for-4 day with just six pitches seen
Delmon Young, for 0-for-4 day