The Tigers gave up their first run of the season today, but competed a three-game sweep with an easy 7-1 victory over the Twins. The run scored in the seventh inning with the aid of an error by left fielder Yoenis Cespedes. So, Tigers pitchers tossed 24 shutout innings to open the season setting a team record. The run was unearned, so the Tigers still lead the majors with an 0.00 ERA.
The only team to start a season with three shutouts was the 1963 Cardinals who got three complete game white washes from Ernie Broglio (who would be traded to the Cubs the following year for Lou Brock in one of baseball's most lopsided deals ever), Ray Washburn and Curt Simmons. How did the Cardinals do that year? They finished 93-69 which put them in second place behind the pennant winning Dodgers. Interestingly, the Cardinals led the league in runs scored, but allowed more runs than the average team that year.
Getting back to today's game, new right hander Shane Greene cruised through eight innings allowing just four hits and one walk. The 26-year-old Greene did well for the Yankees last year posting a 3.78 ERA and striking out more than a batter per inning in 14 starts, but analysts fear that he pitched above his true talent based on his previous minor league record. Today was an encouraging effort in his quest to prove he is for real.
Speaking of proving oneself for real, how about that JD Martinez? He blasted another tremendous home run today, this one to the opposite field in right. We all know how good he was last year - .315/ .358/.553 in 123 games. Most projection systems see a major drop off for him this year, but statistical systems are always going to predict regression for a player after a breakout year. Most players will indeed regress and systems are not designed to determine which breakouts are real.
Based on observation, much of Martinez's improvement seemed real last year. His power was immense and he showed an ability to hit the ball to all fields. It is still hard to believe he will be quite as good as was last year, but he is showing signs that he might actually be that good. Imagine what it would be like to have a .900 OPS slugger batting behind Miguel Cabrera and the other Martinez for 155 games? It's exciting to think about.
Anything seems possible after routing the Twins by a combined 22-1 score in the first three games of the season.