Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Thoughts

I was at work and couldn't watch the the opener today, but I was able to listen to parts of the game on the radio. I also checked Game Day whenever I got the chance.  I'll list my thoughts on the 6-3 loss to the Yankees below:

Jim Leyland started the left-handed Will Rhymes and Alex Avila versus a tough left-handed starter in CC Sabathia.  I don't know whether this is going to be a regular practice or whether he just wanted his main starters in there for opening day.  Whatever the reason, it didn't go well today.  Rhymes went 0 for 3, although he did get down a bunt and reach on an error which helped lead to a run.  Avila had a miserable day striking out three times and failing to block three wild pitches.

By most accounts, Verlander threw well today, but he made one big mistake - a three run homer to Mark Teixeira in the third.  He settled down after that, but threw too many pitches - 114 in six innings.  The Yankees do that to a lot of pitchers, but this has been a problem for Verlander throughout his career. 

One of the reasons Curtis Granderson is no longer a Tiger is his inability to hit lefthanders.  Today, Leyland brought in southpaw Phil Coke to face the former Tiger with the score tied at three in the seventh.  Grandy hit a go ahead homer and the Yankees never looked back.  There has been a lot of talk about Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long helping Granderson with his stroke versus lefthanders. It will be interesting to see how that works out.

The Yankees bullpen out pitched the Tigers bullpen today getting three perfect innings from Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Marian Rivera.  Meanwhile, Coke and Ryan Perry allowed three runs in one inning.  The Tigers will need to find ways to get the game to Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde. 

One of the key things to watch this year is whether Austin Jackson can cut down his strikeouts.  Jackson was his usual all or nothing self today with three strikeouts and a single. That gives him a BABIP of 1.000.

After a day off tomorrow, the Tigers face the Yankees again on Saturday.  Brad Penny will get the start against AJ Burnett. 

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