For, lo, the winter is past; The rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; The time of the signing birds has come; And, the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.
Though, the rain came and washed away Opening Day, it couldn’t keep the fans and baseball away from Comerica Park for long.
On Friday, the concerns about the Tigers became real in Detroit’s 13-10 loss to the Pirates, and it started rather quickly.
The heart of the order couldn’t capitalize when Leonys Martin, Jeimer Candelario and Miguel Cabrera loaded the bases in the first inning. Worse yet, the same situation came up again in the fifth inning as well when Candelario walked to get on base followed by two hits by Cabrera and Castellanos. The opportunity to capitalize was squandered as well by the middle of the order.
Making matters worse was Victor Martinez going 0-for-4 on the day stalling the offense. And The bullpen gave up a 6-4 lead in the eighth, which was given to them in the seventh.
Drew VerHagen lasted two batters before getting pulled by Ron Gardenhire for left hander Daniel Stumpf. Stumpf immediately gave up a double to Polanco scoring Frazier, 6-5, and Bell earned a sac-hit to score Harrison to stop the bleeding quickly for Pittsburgh and tie the score 6-6.
Which brings us to the improbable 10th inning, in which the Tigers (0-1) got to with an impressive four run bottom of the ninth thanks to key hits by James McCann and Machado recovering from a lead off triple off closer Shane Greene to start a four run deluge from the Pirates.
Patient batting from Candelario – who walked three times to start off rallies – gave Detroit hope. Castellanos hit into a fielder’s choice and was later drive in by a JaCoby Jones single to left-center field.
As the team celebrated, New York wanted a second look at the play at the plate. As the Tigers celebrated, New York delayed the final call for a few extra minutes. As Comerica waited on pins and needles pleading “safe, safe, safe,” New York declared him out.
And that’s ok, even though Castellanos disagrees.
“We’re all pretty ticked. I didn't feel a tag," he said. "I didn't think at any point that I was out,” he said.
“There was one angle that maybe looked like it could have got my sleeve and lets overturn the game and not let the Tigers win. It doesn't really seem consistent to how the process has been run in the past and we've been explained by the players associations.”
It’s ok because baseball is built around human error. Calls go both ways even simple calls like balls and strikes. Replay didn’t end the game for the Tigers, and it didn’t steal a win from the Tigers either. Bad baseball did.
Bad baseball got the Tigers into this position. But, it wasn’t all bad.
Jordan Zimmermann gave up only one hit – a lead-off double to Adam Frazier – in the first inning, and then proceeded to retire ten straight Pirate (0-1) batters through three innings. The bottom of the order came up big with three consecutive doubles from Mikie Mahtook, Jose Iglesias and Dixon Machado all displayed rare power and production scoring two quick runs for a 2-0 lead.
The fourth inning did Zimmermann in allowing three runs to give up the lead. A sharp hit ball by Gregory Polanco jumped Machado’s glove for a single instead of the second out of the inning. Josh Bell, and Corey Dickerson also recorded hits to tie the score, 2-2. Francisco Cervelli drove in Dickerson on a deep double into the outfield for a 3-2 lead before Zimmermann was able to regain his form.
He gave up six hits, four earned runs, and surrendered a walk with eight strikeouts before turning the game over to Warwick Saupold.
Cabrera, Machado, Castellanos and McCann all wen’t 2-for-6. Cabrera had two RBI, and the bottom of the order, which wasn’t expect to produce, added four more. And the team fought, and never gave up, when part of the team let them down.
It was even positive in extra innings Alex Wilson pitched two respectable innings helping an already labored bullpen before breaking down in the top of the 13th when he gave up a single and then a 3-run home run that decided the game.
One game isn’t going to define a season, but this one game highlighted the team’s shortcomings. The Tigers aren’t going to win a lot of games; not playing the way they did today.
But it doesn’t matter how much fight you have, if you’re tripping over your own feet.