This is it, the moment we’ve been waiting for all winter.
Baseball is back, and today the Tigers played a real game. Now, before you come at me in the comments suggesting that the annual game against the Florida Southern Mocs isn’t “real,” let’s just take a look at what the game provided in terms of actual information for the season.
For starters, we got our first glimpse at who might fit second in the Tigers batting order. No, it probably won’t be Victor Martinez, in spite of him playing that role today. The was more likely a way to get him through his at-bats as quickly as possible, rather than really testing him at that slot. However we can anticipate seeing a few unexpected players swinging after Ian Kinsler while Tiger’s manager Brad Ausmus tries to suss out who should take the slot Opening Day.
We also got to see how the young staff of pitchers fared in a live game, including Myles Jaye who the Tigers haven’t used much of since bringing him on board. More importantly we got to see that Joe Jimenez is still just as exciting as we had hoped.
The Tigers beat the Mocs 8-0, which is precisely as it should be because the Tigers are a professional team and the Florida Southern Mocs play baseball while also trying to maintain things like “grades.” Had the Mocs won, we might have a reason to fret over the Tigers season, but things played out just like they were expected to.
So just what went down in the first game of the pre-season?
If you get a hit off Myles Jaye, don’t get cocky
Tigers starter Myles Jaye allowed a 1-out single to Omar Villaman, then promptly picked him off.— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) February 23, 2017
Jaye also largely featured his slider, which was a nightmare for the Mocs, who hit into four groundouts in two innings of work.
Nick Castellanos is going to be fun this year
The Tigers’ third-baseman hit a ground-rule double in the second inning, then scored on a two-run hit by James McCann. The Tigers certainly didn’t waste any time beating the Mocs to the game’s first runs.
Let’s give Mikie Mahtook a chance
The new center fielder was quick to follow McCann’s RBI’s with one of his own. He lasted through the first four innings before being replaced by Anthony Gose. Not really enough to base Opening Day opinions on, but as far a we’re concerned Mahtook has it on lock. At least until tomorrow.
J.J. Niekro, son of former Tigers pitcher Joe Niekro, and nephew of Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, took the mound for the Mocs in the bottom of the third.
Those other guys
Sandy Baez showed off a fastball touching 95 when he came in for the third inning, giving some idea of why he keeps showing up on top prospect lists. Steven Moya got an RBI by scoring Omar Infante, because apparently it’s 2013 now? Moya also dazzled with a sliding catch that robbed Moc’s right fielder Vaun Brown of a hit.
Victor Alcantara, the pitcher the Tigers got from the Los Angeles Angels in the Cameron Maybin trade, gave up two singles, but showed a healthy fastball around 93mph and pitched into an inning-ending double play.
Catcher Miguel Gonzalez hit the first Tigers’ home run of the pre-season with a two-run dinger off Mocs pitcher Canyon McWilliams. Wait, hold up. Canyon? Baseball names really are the gift that keeps on giving. McWilliams also gave up four walks and hit a batter, walking in the Tigers’ seventh run. The fourth walk went to Moya, which might show that the young outfielder has improved his plate discipline in the offseason.
JaCoby Jones, like Moya, made a great sliding catch out of the zone, but nearly collided with the right fielder. Seems like the might want to work on their outfield communication during drills.
Top prospect Christin Stewart got to take a pinch-hit at bat, and Joe Jimenez tested out the closer waters by taking on the 9th inning and holding the Mocs scoreless. He might have also provided them with a lifetime of fastball nightmares, but none of the Mocs could be reached for comment.
The rules are made up and the points don’t matter
In the sixth inning, this is a real thing that happened:
Brad Ausmus is conferring with the Mocs staff. He may be offering to lend them a pitcher or two, as Tigers have extras available today.— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) February 23, 2017
The Mocs did not take Ausmus up on the offer and we are all worse off for it.
Most importantly, the Detroit Tigers played baseball today and were able to beat some college kids. Rightly so. Tomorrow they’ll be playing “real” baseball against the Baltimore Orioles at 1:05 p.m. with a real broadcast you can listen to.