Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 Season is underway. 1-down, 161 to go.

Coming into the season the Detroit Tigers said that one of the keys to the season was Justin Verlander having a good April. Technically today is still March, but the fact remains the same, in season action for his career, Justin Verlander has a 7-11 5.06 ERA in games during the months of March/April.

Verlander said all spring that he wanted to start the year strong. His record in the month of May stands at18-8, with a 2.75 ERA, so while what is considered the 2nd month of the season is Verlander’s best month; his season start pitching in March/April is his worst pitching month.

Verlander has said he was going to try and get off to a better start. Um, sure thing Justin.


The Tigers lost game one of the season, to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, 6-3. The good news is that Verlander didn’t take the loss- that went to Phil Coke, pitching out of the bullpen to start the season. The bad news for Detroit is that Verlander still struggled, despite striking out 8 Yankees in the outing, and was pulled at the end of the 6th inning, because he had thrown 114 pitches. Today’s game was the 62nd time in 166 career starts Verlander has thrown over 114 pitches.

I understand that the Yankees take a lot of pitches, and that Verlander has the tendency “go for the K” instead of pitching to contact and allowing his fielders to make the play. That being said, Manager Jim Leyland and Pitching Coach Rick Knapp, can’t continue to allow Verlander to throw that many pitches early in a game, let alone in the season.

Coke gave up a home run to former Tiger Curtis Granderson in the 7th inning, and that was soon followed up Derek Jeter driving in Russell Martin, on a Sacrifice Fly. The Yankees later added an insurance run in the 8th inning. Coke was in the game for 2 reasons:
1) Curtis Granderson was the lead off batter in the 7th and part of the reason the Tigers shipped him off to New York back in December 2009 was that the team felt that Granderson was weak against left-handed pitching, and that fact was just going to get worse.
2) Phil Coke is starting the season as Detroit’s 5th starter, and won’t be needed to start a game for the Tigers until later on this month, so- in order to get him some work, he is pitching in relief.

So today’s Tigers game ended the way many others have, with Mariano Rivera recording his 560th career save in a New York Yankees win.

The star of the game had to be former Tiger Curtis Granderson who went 1-3 at the plate with the tie-breaking homer off Coke, as well as 2 outstanding plays in the field in the Yankee victory.

The Tigers have the day off tomorrow, and the series returns on Saturday from Yankee Stadium with Brad Penny taking the mound for the Tigers against A.J. Burnett for New York.

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