Major League Baseball has returned to the State of Michigan for the 2011 season with the Detroit Tigers having their Season Opener on Friday April 8, 2011 at Comerica Park. The Tigers limped home to start the season under cloudy skies at Comerica. Having struggled on the road with a 2-4 record during the opening week there were some questions to be answered. Big things are going to be expected with the Tigers this season after falling apart and finishing with a 81-81 record last season. Now after missing the playoffs for the past 4 seasons Jim Leyland is in the final year of his contract and will have to produce.
Detroit made some big signings with closer Joaquin Benoit, catcher Victor Martinez and starting pitcher Brad Penny over the winter. This will keep the Tigers payroll one of the highest in MLB. Owner Mike Ilitch wants to return to the World Series again like the Tigers did in 2006 facing the St. Louis Cardinals. He is proving to the fans of Michigan that he will spend the money to go after a winner. Records showed that the Detroit team lost 28 million dollars in 2010.
With a core team returning and a couple of solid starting pitchers in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer things could be promising if all play to their potential in 2011. Justin Verlander has looked good in his first two starts so far this year. The usual Opening Day festivities were going on outside the ballpark under some rainy clouds. Fans started to arrive and tailgated at the parking lots at 7:00a.m. The rain had let up when the gates opened up at 1:00p.m. and fans poured into Comerica Park. The Tigers moved the starting time back to 3:05p.m. this year in hopes of warmer weather. It didn't quite work out.
The Kansas City Royals came into the Opener with a 4-2 record having played some good baseball during the first week. Kyle Davies would face Max Scherzer on the mound. The pre-game ceremonies saw the raising of the flag in center-field for the late Sparky Anderson, first pitch by an active duty serviceman, singing of the National Anthem and the now traditional military jet flyover. The crowd was ready for Opening Day. The Tigers jumped all over the Royals in the first inning with the key blow coming from Victor Martinez with a bases loaded double. That cleared the bases and gave the Tigers 4-0 lead that they would not surrender.
Jhonny Peralta would provide two RBI's on the day and Max Scherzer gave the Tigers six strong innings. Manager Jim Leyland didn't have any concerns on this Opening Day 5-2 victory. With a fourth best Opening Day crowd in attendance the fans would go home with a good taste in their mouths and some excitement for the 2011. With many positive things going on in downtown Detroit in and around Comerica Park it should provide a enjoyable summer for those that go to the ballpark.
Austin Jackson and Alex Avila have both started their second seasons on a good note and if they produce reasonable numbers this will help the Tigers in the quest to make the Playoffs. It seems that Miguel Cabrera's minor bump in the road during Spring Training will take care of itself and he will mature even more from it. So far Magglio Ordonez seems to have regained some of his good hitting that we have grown to like.
The Detroit Tigers have several promotional dates planned through the season with some of the most popular are weekend fireworks right after the ballgame. There are also several give-aways during the season to help the fans get the most bang for their hard earned dollars that they will spend. One can still have an enjoyable day at the olde ballpark.