Well, the first series of the year is in the books. And you know what? I’m pretty happy. I think that there are more positives than negatives, despite the fact that we lost the series.
Things that make me happy:
1. Miguel Cabrera: He’s looking to have a stellar year. As it stands, his batting average is .615 and his OBP is like, .800. He’s hit two home runs, one of them landed in Germany. He’s yet to play outside in the cold weather, but something tells me his start last year had more to do with pressure than weather. This year he’s relaxed and boy, is he swinging.
2. Brandon Inge: No, Brandon Inge will not break the home run record. He probably won’t be as hot for the whole season as he is right now. The fact that he seems to have found a swing that works makes me happy, but the fact that he’ll be standing on third all season makes me very happy. He made an absolutely spectacular play the other day; throwing a strike while he was basically falling down to start a double play. I can’t even fathom how many runs he’ll save and right now, it looks like he might add some, too.
3. Starting Pitching: Edwin Jackson and Zach Miner were very good. Edwin Jackson, in fact, was very, very, very good. Rick Porcello was doing very well until a couple of homers spoiled it. He worked efficiently and most of the outs came from ground balls. He’s very promising and for a first start in the majors, it wasn’t bad at all.
4. Fernando Rodney, Bobby Seay, and Ryan Perry: Fernando Rodney actually looked like a closer last night. He got three quick outs and his pitches just…looked different. His fastball seemed to glide over the plate and he didn’t seem to be throwing himself into a tailspin. More importantly, he was throwing strikes. In fact, he threw a first-pitch strike to all three batters. Ryan Perry went 1-2-3 in his major league debut. Bobby Seay came out twice and quietly did his job. On Wedensday, these three men not only held the lead, but didn’t give up a hit or a walk. Not sure that happened at all last year.
Things that may seem bad, but that I’m not worried about:
1. Defense: Four errors in four games doesn’t seem good, but I think the defense will be much better this year. I think that the turf is responsible for all but one of those errors, and once the Tigers get back on the grass and into the groove, watch out.
2. Verlander: I may be the only person on the planet who’s not worried about Justin Verlander. I’m just not. I think that he just needs to calm down. This is a man who won rookie of the year, started a World Series game, threw a no-hitter, and started an all star game in the first two years of his career. Then he had a bad year. Then he gets to start the season as staff Ace and hears everyone talking about how he needs to get back on track, or the Tigers won’t go anywhere. He was pitching Opening Day, too. He lets his excitement/anixeity get to him a lot. That could continue and mess him up for the rest of the season, but I don’t think it will. I guess you can just call it a feeling, but I still think it’ll be a bounce back year for Verlander.
My only major concern is the bullpen. Besides the three mentioned above, everyone else has been pretty horrible. Juan Rincon, after burning through Spring Training, has a 5.40 ERA. Every pitcher except Seay who was given runners let them score. That’s not good. Brandon Lyon ruined a nearly perfect start by Jackson. It was painful to watch and even worse to watch Jackson watching it from the dugout. I’m guessing that DD and Leyland are trying to figure out what to do about him at this point. He was unimpressive (at best) in Spring Training and he blew the first save of the season. They gambled on him, and it doesn’t seem like it’s gonna pay off. Of course, if Rodney keeps pitching like he did last night, it won’t be an issue. I’m not sure when or if Zumaya may be able to come back. Every time I read about him I think about Mark Fydrich. Mega talented but too fragile to make it. We’ll see.
My only other concern is that my television won’t survive until May, because Fox Sports Detroit might make me throw things at it. See, they held a song contest called “April in the D”. April is usually a pretty exciting month in Detroit, sportswise, since the Pistons and the Red Wings are perennial playoff contenders and the Tigers are starting a new season. So they said, “Write a song about it!” The winner, a song called April in the D by a band called the Goodluck Joes is being played EVERY TIME the station goes to commercial. It’s going to drive me insane.
It’s not a bad song. I just don’t need to hear it every half inning, as well as two or three times during the pre and post game shows.
I know this has been a novel, but I would like to close by extending my condolences to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Organization as well as the family and friends of Nick Adenhart, who died this morning just hours after pitching his Major League debut. He was 22. It’s a tragic and senseless death that could have been prevented. Just another in a string of constant reminders that drinking and driving is wrong.