video thumbnail

BOS@DET: Tigers belt five homers against the Red Sox

DETROIT -- If this qualifies as the start of the daily routine, as the second game of the season often does, the Tigers are in for quite a year.

This is when teams settle down from the hustle and bustle of Opening Day, when the fans who couldn't get tickets to the opener will try to catch their first game of the season. Turns out Saturday's 10-0 victory over the Red Sox was a bigger show than the opener, playing before a sellout crowd and a national television audience.

Even the Tigers couldn't hide their excitement over it.

"One, two, three ... pow," Miguel Cabrera said a few lockers over to Prince Fielder as the Tigers' newest slugger was talking with reporters about his first and second home runs with his new club.

Then Cabrera stood up, trying to get his high-powered teammate's attention and repeated it, this time clapping his hands. Fielder had to struggle to keep a straight face.

"It's been a lot of fun," Fielder said. "Of course, it's fun when you're winning, but it's been really good. The fans have been excited, and that's what you expect when you're at home."

Not only did Fielder hit his first home run as a Tiger, he added his first line-drive, duck-out-of-the-way homer. That one followed Cabrera's second homer, giving a record crowd the back-to-back homers they've been waiting to see since Fielder signed in January.

"Those kids, they can hit," Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said. "It's hard to stop them from doing what they've started to do already. They're very talented players. You make a mistake, they make you pay."

That wasn't the end of the show.

Fans saw a diving stop from Cabrera at third base and recognized it with a standing ovation that he admitted caught him by surprise.

They saw the much-maligned leadoff man, Austin Jackson, show the kind of damage he can create without stealing a base, turning a leadoff walk into a Cabrera home run when Josh Beckett made a mistake pitch after five throws over to first to keep to keep Jackson stationary.

They saw Beckett, who had given up just three earned runs and no home runs in 20 2/3 career innings at Comerica Park, rocked for five homers.

"He got me a lot of times, 1-for-11," said Cabrera, noting his previous history with his former Marlins teammate.

Beckett summed up the home runs succinctly.

"They were all in the middle of the plate," he said. "They hit 'em hard."

They saw five different Tigers, including Alex Avila, Delmon Young and Andy Dirks, put up two-hit games.

They saw the one Michigan kid on the roster, the man who seemingly pitched his way off the team in Spring Training a week ago, enter in a pinch for injured Doug Fister and earn his first Major League victory.

"It feels good," said Duane Below, who reeked of the beer shower he received from fellow Tigers pitchers for his first victory. "It's exciting. This team has been working hard, just trying to put it all together right now."

Saturday was a pretty encouraging sign.

They won't all be like this, obviously. The Tigers won't find many front-line starters making mistakes over the middle of the plate. Moreover, they now have to replace Fister for at least two starts after they put him on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a left rib strain.

Yet even as a one-day occurrence -- manager Jim Leyland called it a "freak day" for what they did against Beckett -- Saturday was a sight.

"That won't happen against a guy like that very often," Leyland said. "We really didn't do a whole lot the first game offensively. Today, we did what we do pretty good. We hit the ball in the gaps and we hit the ball out of the ballpark."

The sellout crowd of 44,710 was the largest in franchise history for the second game of the season, a day when the attendance usually drops off. It's the third-largest non-Opening Day crowd in Comerica Park's 13-year existence, and fell just a few hundred shy of Thursday's Opening Day numbers.

It gave the Tigers back-to-back wins to start the season for the first time since 2006, the year they last went to the World Series. They've done it against a Red Sox squad that had everybody's attention as much for their new manager, Bobby Valentine, as their new determination to atone for last season's late collapse.

Tigers fans have been hoping since January that this is the year they can get back to the Fall Classic. Days like this, early in the season as they are, fuel their hopes.

Whether it's routine or extraordinary, the Tigers are impressing already.

MLB.com Comments