Saturday, April 07, 2012

Tigers Hit Just as We Dreamed They Would

Image created by @LindsayBeavs 

When the Tigers signed hefty first baseman Prince Fielder to a nine-year $214 million contract back in January, it was like a dream for Tigers fans.  After recovering from the initial shock, we imagined games where the middle of the line-up would bludgeon opponents in ways never seen in Detroit.  Today Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and company gave us the type of performance we've been thinking about the past three months.

The Tigers mauled the Red Sox 10-0 on national television and before a sell-out crowd in Comerica.  Cabrera and Fielder electrified the hometown crowd with two home-runs apiece and catcher Alex Avila added another, all off Red Sox starter Josh Beckett.  Cabrera hit a monster home run deep to right field in the top of the first to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish.  In the fifth inning, he added a controversial just over the yellow line blast which was initially ruled a ground-rule double, but was changed to a a home run after instant-replay review.

We've been accustomed to seeing Cabrera have big days in a Tiger uniform, but today we saw Fielder do damage for the first time.  Fielder hit an opposite field solo blast in the fourth inning and then pulled another solo shot in the fifth.  That's exactly what he is being paid to do and we will see a lot more of it.

Not wanting to be left out of the home run party, catcher Alex Avila drilled an opposite field bomb in the fourth.  He now has four hits including a double and a homer in first two games.  Who says Avila has to regress this year?

The only bad news on the day was that starting pitcher Doug Fister had to leave the game with two outs in the fourth inning due to a strained muscle in his left side.  He did not appear to be in intense pain, but there is no word on how much time he'll miss.  It doesn't sound serious, but side injuries can sometimes linger, so we'll just have to wait.

The bullpen was brilliant pitching 5 1/3 scoreless innings.  Southpaw Duane Below, who would not have made the team but for the injury to Luis Marte, was pushed into early action and retired the first six batters he faced before allowing his only base runner, a single by Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.  Octavio Dotel, Phil Coke and Joaquin Benoit handled the last three innings without incident.

The Tigers even made it through the game without any errors.  Particularly impressive was Cabrera who handled third base like he's been there all along making a diving catch of a line drive and fielding several other chances flawlessly.  It was encouraging to see after his opening day adventures.

Other than the Fister injury, this game was about as perfect as any Tigers fan could have imagined.  It's a long season, but today gave us the feeling it could be a really special year in Detroit.  

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