(11:00 am PDT – Pregame warmup) Tigers and Royals are the only game going so far. Here are a few early trends I’d like to see continue: Ivan Rodriguez is 0-1 throwing out runners trying to steal, Miguel Cabrera is 0-2 at the plate and 0-1 on throws to first. One I’d like to jinx: Justin Verlander is throwing a perfect game to Royals without excess consonants in their name; Grudzielanek has reached base on an error and a HBP.
(11:13 am) And Billy Butler singles to break up the no-no just three batters after my jinx. Not bad!
(11:21 am) Am I the only one that thinks Jacque Jones and Edgar Renteria will not be upgrades for the Tigers? Jones should never face lefties and wasn’t even good against RHPs last year. Today? 0 for 2 with 2 K’s against RH Gil Meche. Renteria’s defense has been deteriorating and his last tour of duty in the AL was so disastrous the Red Sox dumped him for Alex Gonzalez.
(11:46 am) Then again, will it matter? Verlander has cruised through 5, Cabrera hit his first HR as a Tiger, and 12 Tigers have reached base against Meche so far.
(11:48 am) Rain is delaying the start of the Brewers-Cubs game in Wrigley. I suspect the Indians game will suffer a similar fate.
(12:05 pm) So Gordon deposits a Verlander sinker into the RF seats to bring the Royals within a run. Then Verlander promptly allows the first two batters in the 7th to reach, and Leyland calls for Jason Grilli. Here is where the fun begins – with no Rodney or Zumaya in the pen, can the Tigers build a bridge to Todd Jones?
(12:10 pm) Guess not… John Buck greets Grilli with a run-scoring single.
(12:13 pm) Say it ain’t so, Thome! Jim just crushed one into the Davey Tree Pavilion/Heritage Park (at least, that’s how I imagine it). Perhaps my favorite Indian ever gives an inauspicious start to the Tribe’s season.
(12:31 pm) After two pitching changes, Tiger-killer Mark Grudzielanek (seriously, check his career numbers)singled home the go-ahead run. And Royals stopper(!?!) Brett Tomko induced a DP grounder from Ordonez and blew a fastball by Miguel Cabrera to finish the 7th.
(12:35 pm) Consecutive singles by Victor, Garko and Peralta have loaded the bases for Azzie Cabrera. And even though he hits into the forceout, give credit to him for coaxing 8 pitches out of Buehrle and driving in the run.
(12:40 pm) And Gutey homers onto the porch in left-center! 4-2, Tribe! I would love to see Franklin blossom this year and put to rest all the rumblings about our inadequate corner OFs.
(12:45 pm) Carlos Guillen homers off Tomko and order is restored to the world. No truth to the rumor that the Fed was ready to step in and buy the Tigers some relievers to prevent a total collapse of confidence in the punditry market.
(12:45 pm) Grady homers! Glory be to Grady!
(12:49 pm) Hafner doubles home Michaels and Victor brings Pronk in with a single. Take that, Tigers! (I know we’re playing the White Sox, but doesn’t it feel like every game this season is really against the Tigers? Is March 31 too early to begin scoreboard-watching?)
(2:31 pm) OK, I should be more careful with my schadenfreude over the Tigers bullpen. Looks like we have some problems of our own, though I have to wonder why Wedgie let Perez face both Konerko and Dye with two runners on. Should have brought in Betancourt then.
(2:36 pm) How about a better stretching program for Victor now that he’s suffered leg injuries on two consecutive Opening Days? Hopefully this isn’t serious and won’t keep him out of the lineup too long.
(2:43 pm) What is this strange, small-sample-size power that Nick Masset has over the Tribe? In 17 IP against Cleveland, he has a 3.18 ERA with 12 Ks and 5 walks. Against everyone else in his career, his numbers are 35.2, 7.32, 17 and 23.
(2:58 pm) Tense moments in Cleveland: Raffy loads the bases, then gets Cabrera to hit into a forceout. He’s thrown a lot of pitches, but do you turn to recent pickup (and rookie) Craig Breslow to face Thome? My guess is no.
(3:00 pm) 4-6-3 to get out of the jam. Could we see Kobayashi to start the ninth? Only if the Tribe can’t take a lead against Dotel.
(3:12 pm) Casey plates three with a double, and there is joy in Mudville. Meanwhile, Jason Michaels gets a rare AB against a righty. J-Mike thinks he should be an everyday player; a hit here would be a step toward proving it.
(3:18 pm ) Here comes JoeBo in the best possible save situation – up by three and facing a string of right-handed hitters. He gets Konerko to quickly ground out.
(3:23 pm) Classic Borowski. Gives up the HR to Dye, walks Pierzynski to bring up the tying run, then mercifully retire Crede on seven pitches. Tribe wins!