By Jason Berndt
Opening day around baseball gives 30 major league baseball teams hope or at least half of those. The other 15 teams are either stuck in mediocrity or won’t compete through 162 games. For the 2023 Detroit Tigers, it became clear on opening day which direction they were headed and that they wouldn’t wait until Easter Sunday in two weeks to lay an egg of their own.
In an uninspiring contest, Detroit lost the opener to the Tampa Bay Rays 4-0. The Tigers could only scrape together six hits, left eight men on base, and were shut out for what may be the first of many this season. If not for Austin Meadows going 3-4, the stat line would’ve been worse as the rest of the team struggled. Instead, seven players finished without a hit in the game, and there wasn’t much positive to take away from this one once it was over.
“We lost. That’s all I take from this one,” said Tigers manager A.J. Hinch. “I don’t read too much into one game other than we lost.” This trend has been going on a lot longer than only one game, unfortunately.
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A year ago, the offensive numbers were unbelievably bad. The team finished with 66 wins and a team batting average of .231, averaging 3.44 runs per game. After the first game of 162, there is nothing to believe this trend will change.
Facing one of the best pitchers in the game didn’t help. Shane McClanahan allowed four hits through 6 innings, coming off a season with a 2.54 ERA. Nevertheless, he looked every bit the ace the Rays expected him to be. He was also the benefactor of some excellent defense when right fielder Manuel Margot made a diving grab to rob Ryan Kreidler of extra bases to end the 7th inning with runners on first and second.
The Tigers starter Eduardo Rodriguez looked sharp through 5 1/3 innings but left the game with runners on base in the 6th inning. Reliever Jason Foley gave up back-to-back singles, which resulted in runs credited to Rodriguez. Detroit will be in for an uphill battle. The offense was a problem last year, recording one of the worst team batting averages in major league baseball history. It remains to be seen, but 2023 is off to an underwhelming start. On his well-documented retirement tour, Miguel Cabrera finished 1-4 on the day with a double. The Tigers will try to rebound against the Rays on Saturday and Sunday before traveling to Houston to begin a three-game set on Monday, April 3rd. Then, they are back in Detroit for the home opener against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, April 6th, at 1:10 pm.