Justin Verlander provided much of the heat on a cold opening day in Minneapolis.
Although he didn’t have his best stuff on the day Verlander gave five innings of shutout baseball as the American League Champion Tigers went on to a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Monday. Pitching in the low 30’s at a frosty Target Field, Verlander struck out seven while allowing just three hits and two walks but had trouble with his command throwing 91 total pitches in those five frames.
“That was an interesting way of getting that first win, wasn’t it?” Verlander joked. “Maybe I should be a ‘five and dive’ guy from now on.”
The Tigers jumped on Twins starter Vance Worley early as Austin Jackson led off the game with a single before Torii Hunter in his regular season debut for Detroit put Jackson in scoring position with a hit and run. Miguel Cabrera ended up getting his first RBI of the year on a fielders choice that scored Jackson as the reigning AL MVP was able to beat out the throw to first. Prince Fielder would also get his first RBI of the season during the very next at bat as he doubled home Hunter to make it 2-0 Tigers.
In the second Omar Infante singled home Peralta to make it 3-0 Tigers.
Things got interesting though for Detroit in the 6th and 7th when Drew Smyly’s shaky relief appearance loaded the bases in both innings. Manager Jim Leyland then opted for Al Alburquerque who was able to limit the damage as the Twins continued to cut into the Tigers lead at 3-2.
From there though the Tigers bullpen pulled themselves together as Joaquin Benoit was able shut things down in the 8th and part of the 9th before Phil Coke came in to earn the save.
The Tigers have now won 16 of their last 20 games at Target field since September 2nd, 2010. They’ve also outscored their AL Central counterparts 117-81 in that stretch.