It wasn’t the pitcher’s duel that everyone thought and while Justin Verlander didn’t have his best stuff, the Tigers still walked away with an 8-4 win over the Royals this afternoon. The Tigers were down most of the game but then they rallied for six runs in the seventh inning (once Greinke was out of there) to pull away with the win. Johnny Damon made a pretty big impact in his first game as a Tiger and his two run double drove home the tying and go ahead runs in this one.
Austin Jackson picked up his first major league hit. He doubled and drove in a run in the big seventh inning and he later scored on Damon’s double. Miguel Cabrera singled twice and drove in a pair while Damon also finished with two runs in the contest.
On the pitching side, Verlander needed 93 pitches to get through five inings. He gave up four runs on six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Joel Zumaya struck out one and gave up a hit in a shutout sixth inning and he picked up the win. Phil Coke (2/3 of an inning), Ryan Perry (1 1/3 innings) and Jose Valverde all pitched in to shutout the Royals in the final four frames. Valverde got into trouble in the ninth when he walked Jason Kendall and then had a second runner get on after Ramon Santiago’s fielding error but he pitched out of it in the non-save situation.
I was hoping to dig into the Gameday data but it looks like MLB.com is bogged down (too many people stopping by?). The WPA graph on this is pretty interesting so I’ll touch on that. Things peaked for the Royals after Billy Butler made it 4-1 (giving the Royals a 87.6% chance of winning). Austin Jackson’s RBI double was actually worth more (.189) then Damon’s two run double (.175). It was actually Cabrera who led the team in WPA (.206) and Ryan Perry led the pitchers (.067).
The Tigers are off tomorrow and then it’s Max Scherzer against Luke Hochevar in the Tigers first night game of the season. Scherzer makes his Tigers debut in a battle of 2006 first round draft picks.