Typically, opening the season against the reigning AL Cy Young winner is not the best of ways to start - especially for a team looking to overcome a history of pathetic starts. Apparently, someone forgot to tell the 2004 Tigers that they're not supposed to win in April, especially against Roy Halladay (who up to this point had dominated the Tigers). The Tigers ripped Halladay for 7 runs en route to a blowout of the Toronto Blue Jays. Their solid play continued as the Tigers swept their first series of the season, never letting the Blue Jays get close to winning one. The start marked the best one the Tigers had seen in nearly 20 years.
The Tigers then headed home for their home opener at Comerica Park against division foe the Minnesota Twins. Three more games, two wins, and already, the Tigers have won two series this season. Care to take a guess at how many series' the Tigers won all of last year? Nevermind, it's not important.
It's not important because the 2004 Tigers have very little resemblance to the 2003 the group. The world champs are playing very well through week one, but the Tigers now have their Catcher and Closer from 2003. And those aren't the only additions - the Tigers also have a new ace and three new starters in the lineup (Rondell White, Fernando Vina and Carlos Guillen). Even those that do return possess little similarities. 1B Carlos Pena looks like a brand new ballplayer from Pena of 2003 - looking more relaxed both at the plate and in the field. So, the team wears the same English 'D' and plays in the same ballpark with the same manager - but the comparisons end there. This year's group has more talent, more enthusiasm - and most importantly - is putting up wins. The offense has been productive, the pitching has been solid for the most part, and the team has even shown the will to battle in close games - as evidenced by their extra inning win on Sunday vs. the Twins. Make no mistake about, these 6 games may just be a small portion, but baseball is back in Motown.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK: Mike Maroth
Maroth, who endured a beating in 2003 but persevered and battled the entire year, proved in the first week he's a big league caliber pitcher. He got the win against Toronto, and pitched well enough to win Sunday vs. the Twins (Steve Colyer ended up earning the 'W').
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Rondell White
This award could go to any number of players, but every game White seemed to be at the center of something. Whether it be the towering 3-run Home Run in the opener that chased Halladay, or the one-out walk in the 10th on Sunday that later turned into the winning run (via a pinch run by speedster Andres Torres), White was a catalyst for the offense in week one.
A WEEK TO FORGET: Dmitri Young
Young suffered a non-displacement fracture of his lower right leg, sidelining him for 4-6 weeks. Yet another casualty of the dreaded Astroturf - this injury is further proof that the turf needs to be outlawed. Honorable mention goes to Greg Norton and his 0-for-10 start.
UP NEXT: 3-game series at home with the Blue Jays, and a 4-game series against the Indians in Cleveland . . . the Blue Jays come to Comerica looking for revenge while the Tigers face the Great Lake rival Indians for the first time this season.