Game 007: Tigers Take Home Opener at Comerica

Led by an early offensive surge along with a strong performance on the mound from Max Scherzer and the Tigers were able to pull out a 5-2 win over Kansas City at the home opener at Comerica Park on Friday afternoon.

The Skinny

The Tigers jumped out to a sizable lead early, as the team loaded the bases in the bottom of the first for Victor Martinez, who in his first home at-bat as a Tiger ripped a bases clearing double to drive in three runs and give the Tigers a quick three run lead. Two batters later, Jhonny Peralta ripped a double that scored Martinez, giving the Tigers a 4-0 lead after the first.

For Max Scherzer, the cushion was plenty. Over six innings of work, he scattered seven hits while walking two and striking out three, allowing just one run as he improved to 2-0 on the season.

After that, the ball was handed over to the bullpen, and everyone held their collective breath. Brayan Villarreal took the ball, but gave up three singles and a walk, while getting a groundout and a picking a man off first base. The third single came from Billy Butler and resulted in the Royals getting a run on the board, at which point Daniel Schlereth entered, who got a ground ball to second where Will Rhymes made a diving stop and got the out by half a step to end the threat.

Joaquin Benoit pitched a perfect eighth, and Jose Valverde then pitched the ninth to earn his second save.

The Star

Scherzer was excellent on the mound, and Peralta had a good game as well for the club, the star has to go to Victor Martinez, who ripped the three run double in the first inning. For the past few years, there has been constant concern over the Tigers ability to produce runs from the middle of the order and the organization's solution was Martinez. In his very first performance in front of the home fans, Martinez belted a double to the warning track in deep right center field, clearing the bases, and getting a standing ovation in the process. Welcome to Detroit, Victor.

Key AB's Of The Game

Bottom 1, Kyle Davies (RHP) vs. Victor Martinez (LHB)
After walking Miguel Cabrera on five pitches despite throwing all fastballs, Davies knew he couldn't walk another man, but with shaky command, that was obviously a problem. Davies started out with two more fastballs, both of which went for balls, until Martinez fouled off the next two pitches, also fastballs. With the count at 2-2, one would think he would have tried something off-speed to get Martinez's timing off, but he didn't, coming with the fifth straight four seam fastball. We all know what happened; Martinez turned the pitch around 400 or so feet into deep right center and the Tigers were out to an early lead.

Top 4, Max Scherzer (RHP) vs. Alcidis Escobar (RHB)
Scherzer found himself in trouble in the fourth inning, having given up a pair of hits and then walking Matt Treanor to load the bases, up to the plate came the light-hitting shortstop, likely a fortunate match-up for Scherzer. In this at-bat, coming off a walk, Scherzer started off with a slider that was good for a called strike, getting out in front early in the at-bat and forcing Escobar to be on the defensive. He then brought a 91-mph four seamer to Escobar, who rolled over the pitch and knocked it to Rhymes, who got the out at first to end the inning. An important at-bat, as even just a soft single scores two runs and makes it a very different game.

Top 7, Daniel Schlereth (LHP) vs. Kila Ka'aihue (LHB)
After Villarreal gave up the RBI single to Butler, Jim Leyland pulled him in favor of the lefty Schlereth to face the left-handed hitting Ka'aihue, who has some real pop in his bat. With runners at the corners and two down, Schlereth's plan on the mound was clear; don't give him something to drive – anything on the ground scores at most one run, anything up in the zone can be turned on and possibly tie the game. Schlereth diligently worked the bottom of the zone with an array of sinkers, throwing the first low for a ball, but getting the second sinker for a called strike to even the count at 1. Sticking with keeping the ball down, he brought another sinker that Ka'aihue hit hard on the ground. Rhymes ranged far to his right, made a diving stop and the throw beat the runner to the bag by half a step to get the final out and end the threat.

The Standings

3-4, tied for 4th in the AL Central

Up Next

Kansas City Royals @ Detroit Tigers, Saturday April 9th, 4:10PM
Bruce Chen (0-0, 9.00) vs. Phil Coke (0-1, 7.71)

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