It took nearly four months longer than expected, but the Tigers kicked off their 2020 season today. For all of you out there wondering whether this team will contend for the first overall pick or sneak into the expanded playoff picture, Detroit suffered their worst Opening Day loss since 2002 (when they fell 10-1 to the Cleveland Indians), losing 7-1 to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark. One game closer to Kumar Rocker!
Jonathan Schoop notched the Tigers’ first hit of the abbreviated 2020 campaign by knocking an outside pitch from Sonny Gray into right field off the end of his bat. Miguel Cabrera followed up Schoop’s at-bat with a six-pitch walk (in which every pitch was a ball, but hey, it’s still a walk). New Tigers first baseman C.J. Cron could not capitalize on the scoring opportunity, however, as he hit into a 5-3 double play started by former Tiger Eugenio Suarez.
So, if starting the season with a vintage TTBDNS (Tigers threaten but do not score, for those of you new around here) via a double play wasn’t enough for you, Matthew Boyd started the season off about as poorly as he possibly could by hitting Suarez and fellow former Tiger Nicholas Castellanos with pitches in back-to-back at-bats to force in the Reds’ first run. (Well, actually, a Castellanos grand slam would have been worse, but still.) From there, Mike Moustakas singled in Joey Votto to make it a 2-0 game.
For those of you keeping score at home, that at-bat put Boyd at over 20 pitches without recording a single out. With six-hole hitter Matt Davidson coming to the plate, manager Ron Gardenhire got reliever Rony Garcia, the #1 selection in this past Rule-5 Draft by Detroit, stirring in the bullpen, which seemed to wake Boyd up. From there, Boyd got Davidson to pop out, Nick Senzel to hit into a fielder’s choice (with third baseman Jeimer Candelario getting the force-out at home), and Freddy Galvis to ground out to end the inning. Reds 2, Tigers 0 after one inning.
The Wheels Fall Off
After a decent bounce-back second inning from Boyd, the heart of the Reds’ lineup got to him in the third inning, as Nicholas Castellanos doubled and Mike Moustakas singled to make it a 3-0 game. Radio analyst Jim Price characterized Boyd’s pitches as “lazy” this inning, and that description is about accurate for the two 91-to-92-miles-per-hour sinkers in the heart of the strike zone that Castellanos and Moustakas laced into the outfield.
The first run of the season for Detroit came courtesy of a monster solo home run from C.J. Cron in the fourth inning. Beyond that, however, the Tigers did not get the offense going, as they only mustered three hits total all day. The Reds, meanwhile, scored in three straight innings from the fifth inning to the seventh inning, capped off by a Mike Moustakas home run off of Tigers reliever David McKay in the seventh to put the Reds up 7-1. Moustakas finished the day with 4 RBI and was a triple away from the cycle.
C.J. Cron’s power is as advertised. Gregory Soto and Buck Farmer looked good in their relief appearances, too.
Tigers hitters combined for 13 strikeouts tonight. Get used to that over the next couple of months. Sonny Gray threw a really good game, but this is still going to be a low-scoring team.
Sigh. Here we go.
First, Matthew Boyd struggled immensely today, especially with his command. Boyd allowed six hits, four earned runs, two walks, and six hits in five innings while only striking out two batters. Boyd struggled immensely in the second half of last season, posting a 5.35 FIP and allowing 2.3 home runs per nine innings after posting an impressive 3.57 FIP mark and a much better 1.6 home runs per nine innings mark in the first half of 2019. I’m not saying that everybody should press the “panic” button and write off Boyd’s 2019 first half as a fluke, but at the same time, there is decent reason for concern.
Secondly, as I mentioned at the beginning of tonight’s recap, this was the worst Tigers Opening Day loss in 18 years. You’d have to go back another seven years to find another loss worse. That means that this was the third-worst Detroit Tigers Opening Day game in 25 years. Buckle up, folks.
Finally, the Matt Shepard and Jack Morris pairing has been drawing less-than-stellar reviews in every group chat I am in. Fellow Bless You Boys writer Jay Markle even pointed out that Jack Morris compared Reds outfielder Shogo Akiyama to Ichiro three separate times during tonight’s broadcast. I personally listened to the radio broadcast, which was 1-2 seconds ahead of the MLB.TV broadcast all game. Pick your poison, I guess.
Who was the Tigers’ player of the game?
This poll is closed
C.J. Cron (1-3, 1 BB, 1 HR, 1 RBI)