Opening Day. Ah, it’s like a holiday. Like Christmas. Like opening your presents in front of your mom and dad. Like getting something better than your jerk brother who always steals your football. What a jerk.
Prince Fielder’s a present. He’s a big, hulking present, wrapped in gold sparkly wrapping and the coolest most expensive bow your Aunt could think of. When you open him, the whole house is enveloped by a bright, blinding light. Your parents pass out, your brother starts crying like the baby he is, and Prince strolls out, looks at you, hands you a ball and says, “let’s play.”
That must have been what the Yankees felt like today when Prince Fielder unleashed two hulking moonshots against the hapless Yankees bullpen en route to a 8-3 victory on Opening Day. Fielder, who had smashed a ball in his previous at bat that Brennan Boesch somehow caught (isn’t it nice that Boesch can play some defense now? Last year he would have stumbled backwards into the wall and took the rawhide off the kisser) was not impressed with the Yankee bullpen arms, nor was he happy with the team’s performance in the series against Minnesota, so he took it upon himself to unleash pure, unbridled hatred on the Yankees and some poor, unfortunate fan on his first home run (did anyone hear if that guy’s okay?)
An early theme this season for Tigers starters is not pitching into the 6th inning. It’s not a compelling theme, nor is it fun to watch, but dammit, they’re all committed. Doug Fister looked good at times today, inducing some weak groundouts and displaying a sharp curve. It fell apart in the 5th inning, as a wild pitch allowed a run to score and moments later Youkilis homered into the bullpen in left and the Yankees had a 3-2 lead.
That lead was short lived. Fielder took Boone Logan, inserted into the game just to face Prince, deep on the second pitch he saw, a neck high fastball that left the bat almost as quickly as it arrived to home plate from Logan’s hand. It was a momentum swinging shot, one that propelled the Tigers to a 5-3 lead, which they would not relinquish. Fielder added another homer in the 7th, a 2 run shot that gave Detroit a 8-3 lead and 5 RBI on the day for Prince.
You can’t talk about this game without mentioning Drew Smyly’s outstanding bullpen performance. The bullpen has been quite shaky through the first 3 games, as they’ve needed to bail out a rotation that hasn’t been able to pitch deep into games yet, but Smyly allayed those blemishes with a sparkling 4 perfect innings in relief of Fister. He recorded 5 strikeouts and really settled in quickly, stymieing the Yankee bats and earning a save. If the win stat were subjective, Smyly would have earned one.
To continue the hot offense for the Tigers in their home debut, Alex Avila hit one 416 feet into the bleachers in right for his first of the year. It was nice to see that quick, short stroke from Avila, a guy who struggled with the bat last season and is looking to redeem himself. With the lineup he’s hitting in, he’ll have all the chances.
Max Scherzer and Phil Hughes square off in the 2nd game of the series tomorrow afternoon at Comerica Park.