Husband and I headed out to ESPN Wide World of Sports for the opening Tigers game of the Spring against the Braves. Typically, this game is a night game and the weather is delightful. This year, we were faced with an afternoon game during an unseasonable heat wave with 15+ mile per hour winds. In case you were curious, 30 SPF sunscreen without reapplication is not sufficient. My shoulders are spectacular.
Anyhow, if you’ve been following any of the media surrounding the Tigers this spring lately, you’ll know that a) the press is confused by Leyland’s raging man crush on Clete Thomas, b) Inge’s playing time this year is wholly dependent on his ability to hit, c) Leyland loved how Santiago played at second last season, and d) there is some kind of created battle between Worth and Inge for playing time (… I have no idea). All of these points will be important as I give you some highlights. Pictures will come after that.
– I hate to tie a team to their fans because they have no control over them, but I’ve been going to Braves vs. Tigers games every March for a few years now and there’s a definite pattern. While most fans are great, the ones who are not are obnoxious, drunk, and rude. We always sit in the grass seats along the third base line and there’s a beverage stand on the other side of the fence behind us. As the games progress, the heckling gets more and more crass. Today, there were some guys who started in from the first inning with stunningly tasteless comments about Cabrera’s drinking and Fielder’s weight. Stay classy, Braves fans.
– Austin Jackson struck out to lead off the first inning. You could feel the Tigers fans (and there were a LOT of us) groan inwardly. Then Boesch and Cabrera proceed to strike out, as well, and things didn’t seem so terrible.
– Fister looked like his usual, awesomely efficient, self. Worked through the first two innings cleanly with fairly quick outs.
– Speaking of awesome pitching, a combined 1 hit game? Awesome. Granted, starters started coming out in the 6th, but still. Pauley was the only troubling one with back-to-back walks. Guh. Way too familiar.
– Clete Thomas started in left field and made me wonder why on earth we continue to play Delmon at that position. He could have let that ball go foul, but no, he wanted a job and proceeded to chase it into foul territory, crash over the left field fence, fall into the bullpen, and come up with the ball still in his hand. INSANITY. Full confession- I’ve had a crush on Clete since his debut with us, so I don’t really blame Leyland.
– Inge walked in his first at-bat and didn’t do much else at the plate, though still, it wasn’t a strikeout! HOWEVER. It was like he told Leyland “I’ll see your Inge Can Play Second But Still Must Hit” and raise you two web gem plays at second. It was RIDICULOUS and the fans ate it up. (I realize the Inge haters are vocal, but every time I go to a game, he always gets crazy cheers when his name is announced.) First play- stretched out fully horizontal and snagged a ball scorched up the middle, saving a run. Second play- I missed while getting food, of course. I came back to our spot and asked my husband what I missed, to which he replied, “Inge being a bad ass”. Apparently he made some insane underhanded flip to the bag to get the last out of the inning. Both plays also required different movement than any of the plays he’s made at third, meaning this was just a direct skill transfer.
– Keep your eye on Ryan Strieby. He was impressive during batting practice today. His swing is crazy smooth and has a ton of power behind it. Four balls left the park off his bat during batting practice. Head hit a lovely ball out during the actual game, earning him a second look in my book. Keep your eye on Luis Marte on the pitching end of things, as well.
– Turner was great to see pitch in person. He looks fantastic, and there’s not much more I can say there.
And now, pictures!