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TIGERS WIN GRAPEFRUIT OPENER.....TIGERS 5, Atlanta 4, W 2/25/09
Posted on: 02-25-2009

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>>caption:  GRANDY SLIDES HOME
WITH THE YEAR'S FIRST RUN<<

@ JOKER MARCHANT STADIUM:

    The Tigers opened the 2009
exhibition season with mized results,
but a 4-3 Wednesday win over the
Atlanta Braves.
    Ramon Santiago singled-in the
winning run in the B-8th and Rule-5
prospect Kyle Bloom pitched a perfect
T-9th to preserve the win.      
    Santiago went 2-for-2 at the plate
with 1-R & 1-RBI. Bloom struck-out
the last two batters of the ballgame after Tiger RFielder Brent Clevlen had
prevented trouble with a diving catch of what looked to be an extra base
hit by Atlanta prospect Diory Hernandez on the first pitch lefty Bloom threw.
    New starting catcher Gerald Laird tripled and doubled in his first two times
at the plate. New starting shortstop Adam Everrett started an inning-ending
double play in the T-2nd and had an RBI. However, new closer candidate
Brandon Lyon was victimized for three unearned runs in his lone inning in the
T-5th. The Braves rally was set up by a throwing error by 3Bman Brandon Inge.
    The starting pitching match-up was interesting with Detroit RHP Justin
Verlander vs former Tiger Jair Jurrjens.
    Verlander threw a pair of scoreless innings, allowing a walk and a scratch
INF-1B in the T-1st and a 1-out walk in the T-2nd.
    An NL rookie-of-the-year candidate with Atlanta last year, Jurrgens was
victimized by the tight strike zone of HP umpire R.J. Thompson and some
suspect defense. Jurrgens allowed 2-R/2-ER on 4-H & 1-W in his 2-IP. Two
basehits, a walk and a sac-fly by Miguel Cabrera gave Detroit a 1-0/B-1st lead.
Laird's outfielder-assisted 3-bagger and a Jurrgens wild pitch made it 2-0/B-2nd.
    The Tigers went up 3-0/B-4th with a sac-fly-RBI by Everett off first Atlanta
reliever Jo-Jo Reyes.
    After the Braves had tied the game off Lyon (on a sac-fly by Brian McCann
that should have been the final out, then a 2r1B by Freddie Freeman), Atlanta
took a brief 4-3/T-7th lead when non-roster OFielder Jordan Schafer hit the
first pitch served up by Toledo RHP Eddie Bonine for a towering homerun to
RField. Schafer made up for his gaffe on Laird's triple, which Schafer unwisely
dove for and misplayed from a single into an easy extra base bingle.    
    Santiago singled and scored to re-tie the game 4-all/B-7th, coming home to
slide under the tag on an RBI-1B by Tiger OField prospect Casper Wells.
    Santiago then drove home Detroit SStop prospect Cale Iorg with the winner
in the B-8th. Atlanta reliever Juan Perez had walked a pair of Tigers to set up
the threat.
    Zach Miner struck-out the first two men he faced and followed Verlander
with two more scoreless frames. Third Tiger reliever Bobby Seay struck-out
the side on the minimum nine pitches in the T-6th after Thompson had considerably
relaxed his strike zone. Prospect Fu-Te Ni needed just five pitches to retire the
side in the T-8th.

    ATL     4-7-1, 6-LOB          (L) Perez, 0-1
    DET     5-11-1, 11-LOB     (W) Ni, 1-0; (S) Bloom, #1

QUOTEBOOK...

TIGERS SP JUSTIN VERLANDER:   "I felt I was pounding the zone, attacking the hitters
and not avoiding contact (just) letting them put the ball in play but not with the
barrel of the bat...I felt strong. Spring training got the best of me last year because
I tried to do too much to be the ace. This year I just want to let the batters make
contact...if I can just get a good mix of pitches I can get it done...We are more
focused this year. We didn't do what we thought we could do last year, but that was
a fluke. We are too good to do that again.''

EXTRA INNINGS:

    It was a sunny, breezy 74-degrees at gametime in Lakeland with 6,086
watching a Joker Marchant Stadium.
    Laird went 2-for-3 while Santiago and Inge were both 2-for-2 as the only
batters in the ballgame with multiple hits.
    With only six games of big league OField experience, including two last year
with Detroit, Carlos Guillen is projected as this season's Tiger starting LFielder.
Guillen caught the only ball hit his way Wednesday.
    Off-season free agent signee Ni leaves Thursday to join the Chinese-Taipei
WBC team for the upcoming March tournament. Ni is not exactly well-known on
this side of the Pacific. Wednesday's AP post-game story refered to Ni as a,
"Japanese import."  
    Detroit DH Gary Sheffield was held out of action Wednesday with a puffy
left elbow, the result of being hit by a pitch from RHP Chris Lambert during
batting practice on Tuesday. He did hit several BP homeruns prior to Wednesday's
game. Sheff was the only Tiger regular not to start Wednesday's opener. (Marcus
Thames was the DH instead.) It's expected Sheffield will sit out until Friday vs the
Toronto Blue Jays at Dunedin, FL.
    Detroit opens a two-game Grapefruit LGE road trip by visiting the Washington
Nationals in Viera, FL Thursday afternoon. Newcomer Edwin Jackson, lefty Nate
Robertson, top prospect Rick Porcello and reliever Joel Zumaya are scheduled to
pitch for the Tigers vs the Nats.

                                                                 ###

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