When we last left our Motown heroes, they were still trying to plow all of the snow off the field in time for Opening Day to get the 2014 season started. They were largely unsuccessful in this, but crazy fans had already purchased tickets, and so the show marched steadily on into ...
The Tigers roared out to a 4-0 start with two walkoff wins and 23 runs in those first four games, leading many to believe that going 162-0 was a distinct possibility. Rookie manager Brad Ausmus won his first couple of replay challenges (although MLB later ruled that repeatedly calling the command center in New York to ask "am I hot or not?" was a waste of resources), Ian Kinsler was tearing the cover off the ball, and Joe Nathan was blowing saves. All was right in Motown.
The team received some much-needed help for the left field position in the form of J.D. Martinez, who had been cut loose by the Houston Astros in a moment of confusion when they incorrectly identified him as Freddie Martinez, whose last hit had occurred in the 1970's.
The shortstop position, however, was proving to be a more difficult riddle. After only nine games, the corpse of Alex Gonzalez was given a proper burial, and it was left to Andrew Romine to hold down the fort. Although a solid defensive player, Romine provided less offense than if the team had stuck a turnstile with a bat taped to it in the batter's box, given it a spin, and hoped for the best.
Meanwhile, relief pitcher Luke Putkonen went missing and was never heard from again. Many speculated that he had been attacked and eaten by polar bears during one of the many early April games played in the snowy and sub-freezing weather.
Speaking of the bullpen, trouble was brewing early. Already in April, the Tigers were close to giving up more runs in the ninth inning alone than in all of the other eight innings combined, by all the other MLB teams combined. Joe Nathan admitted to the press that he had a "dead arm," but quickly back-pedaled in the face of a full-scale police investigation, stating that he had not even been with this particular arm on the night in question. Manager Brad Ausmus quickly came to his closer's defense, stating, "there's no reason to be overly concerned, this isn't the armpocalypse."
Still, desperately needing help and wanting to prepare for a potential crisis, the Tigers raided the Toledo bullpen and called up Justin Miller, Jose Ortega, and a pitching machine with a Tigers jersey clumsily draped over it.
In weirder news, White Sox outfielder and former Tiger Avisail Garcia, who had been traded the previous year in order to acquire now-defunct shortstop Jose Iglesias, dove for a ball and sustained what appeared to be a season-ending injury that, I stress again, had nothing to do with the release of MLB 14: The Show.
The highlight of the month came when Justin Verlander, in his first at-bat during an interleague game against San Diego's Ian Kennedy, finally got his first major league base hit. He followed up this performance by getting a second base hit in his next at-bat, at which point Kennedy was required by MLB law to pitch the rest of the game without pants. Verlander later used his phone to take pictures of the game balls, which was totally a safe and digitally secure thing to do.
All in all, despite the fact that Michigan was still in the icy grip of The Worst Winter Ever™, it was a good month of April baseball for the Tigers, especially the seven games that didn't get canceled.
In the next installment, we'll look back at the month of May, in all of its Zubazorian glory.