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Detroit Tigers News: First place is a sweet place to start

Vintage starting pitching and the power of youth made for a fun Opening Day.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

So, that went well, eh? Jordan Zimmermann came out on Opening Day looking like Greg Maddux, and was potentially on his way to a complete game shutout before manager Ron Gardenhire intervened, pulling the veteran starter after seven innings with just 70 pitches thrown. Zimmermann displayed superb command, had a good feel for his slider, which is his key, and also mixed in a couple of nasty changeups, which surprised everyone.

No one was more surprised than a fairly hapless looking Toronto Blue Jays lineup. Zimmermann took a perfect game into the seventh before Teoscar Hernandez singled on a sharp ground ball up the middle that Josh Harrison couldn’t quite sell as an error.

The Tigers didn’t exactly do much with Jays starter Marcus Stroman either. Stroman was wild early but settled in, no-hitting the Tigers until a sixth inning single from Nicholas Castellanos. Hard times may come, but for now the Tigers are in first place after an Opening Day victory. We’ll take it.

Before we go further, let’s get another look at Christin Stewart’s game-winning missile in the 10th inning.

Stewart was understandably amped

Anthony Fenech has his Opening Day game story up for The Detroit Free Press, as does Chris McCosky of The Detroit News. While Stewart landed the big blow, Jordan Zimmermann was the story. Get a load of his new changeup at 00:20 of this clip. Grayson Greiner had a rough day at the plate, but he played his part in a strong effort from the Tigers pitching staff overall.

AL Central Wrap-up

Throughout the rest of the AL Central, the Minnesota Twins got off to a good start in their quest to end the tyranny of the Cleveland Indians. Staff ace Jose Berrios was outstanding, punching out 10 across seven shutout innings. His opposing number, Corey Kluber, was pretty good as well, but with Francisco Lindor out with calf and ankle injuries, that Indians lineup is liable to stumble out of the gate.

In Kansas City, the Royals welcomed in the Chicago White Sox on a rainy Midwestern evening, and took them down by a score of 5-3 behind a solid start from Brad Keller. Keller blanked the Sox for seven innings, while Carlos Rodon of the White Sox was solid, but did surrender three runs, two earned. The Royals put together a balanced attack, with Whit Merrifield stealing a pair of bags to lead the way.

Best of Opening Day

On the first official day of the 2019 season, MLB presented a pair of absolutely top shelf pitching matchups featuring duels between last season’s Cy Young winners and runner-ups. Jacob deGrom and the New York Mets locked up with Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals. The Mets came out on top in that one, but both pitchers showed out, combining for 22 strikeouts.

In the American League, Justin Verlander led the Houston Astros into St. Petersburg to battle 2018 Cy Young winner, Blake Snell and the Tampa Bay Rays. Verlander gave up a leadoff home to Austin Meadows, and did not appreciate such disrespect. From that point on, Verlander allowed just two hits, a walk, and no runs, hitting 97 mph regularly as the game progressed, punching out nine Rays in the winning effort.

Things went poorly for Snell however. Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve each took Snell deep. Adding insult to injury, George Springer made it three straight Opening Days with a home run from the leadoff spot, also against Snell, who surrendered five runs in the loss.

Advantage JV, as it should be. Good luck hitters.

Meanwhile, out in LA, the Dodgers absolutely pummeled the Arizona Diamondbacks with a vulgar display of power.

Finally, center fielder Lorenzo Cain was out there in Milwaukee doing Lorenzo Cain things.

Around the horn

Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs looks at 10 things he’s excited for in the upcoming season. The staff over at The Ringer has their 2019 predictions up on their site. Nick Pollack over at Pitcher List reviews all of Opening Day’s starting pitching performances.

You can also check out BYB’s staff predictions for the 2019 season here. Managing Editor Rob Rogacki had some bold predictions for you, and deputy editor Ashley MacLennan put together a Q&A with Tom Dakers of our sister site, BlueBird Banter to preview the opening series of the season.

Baseball is awesome

The Tigers introduced their starting lineup with a fun clip paying tribute to classic baseball video games. We approve. Well played, Tigers PR.