The Detroit Tigers got the 2016 season off on the right foot, even though it took 11 innings. They defeated the Miami Marlins 8-7 in Miami on Opening Night for both teams. Ian Kinsler lead the charge offensively, going 3-6 with a three run home run and the game winning RBI in the 11th. Drew VerHagen is credited with the win, Craig Breslow gets hit with the loss, and Shane Greene, the Tigers’ fifth starter, gets his first career save.
Kinsler lead off the game with a single and scored two batters later when Miguel Cabrera grounded out. Kinsler came up to bat again in the second inning and ripped a three run homer to left field to extend the lead to four. They would extend it to five after a Nick Castellanos sac fly in the 5th inning.
Starter Justin Verlander was efficient in this game. From the first pitch up until the trail end of his outing, he was locating pitches well and changing speeds effectively. Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen struggled, going five innings, giving up five runs and nine hits.
Verlander had a no hitter going into the sixth before 2015 NL batting champion Dee Gordon ended that with a double to right field. Marcell Ozuna then singled to score him. Then, Giancarlo Stanton hit a hanging curveball to about the 427-feet mark out in left field and the Tigers’ lead was cut to two.
The Tigers’ rebuilt bullpen made its debut tonight, and it almost went well.
Left hander Justin Wilson, acquired at the Winter Meetings from the New York Yankees, pitched the 7th. He gave up a leadoff single, but then settled down and struck out two batters and left that runner stranded.
Set up man Mark Lowe gave up a sac fly to Christian Yellich in the 8th, but he did strike out Stanton, using two sliders and a fastball that reached 96 MPH.
After the Tigers got two insurance home runs from Anthony Gose and Victor Martinez respectively in the 9th, Francisco Rodriguez made his Tigers debut as he looked to close it out. However, he gave up three straight doubles and ended up blowing the lead and the save.
The Tigers squandered a golden opportunity to blow the game wide open in the 10th. Reliever A.J Ramos had walked the bases loaded with two out and had Gose on a two strike count when he threw a wild pitch that went to the backstop. The ball ricocheted off the backstop right to catcher J.T Realmuto. Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias was tagged out after being caught between first and second base. Kinsler then drove Gose in with a single in the 11th.
These two teams will face off again on Tuesday. Detroit will send Anibal Sanchez to the mound against young phenom Jose Fernandez, who is undefeated in his career at Marlins Park.
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