Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 4/5/12

The Detroit Tigers started their 2012 season with a walk-off win courtesy of Austin Jackson’s bases loaded single in the bottom of the 9th inning, his 3rd hit of the day. The Tigers beat the Red Sox 3-2 and are right where they should be after day 1, atop the standings.

Danny Worth & Austin Jackson celebrate the game-winner

My opening day observations follow:

  • I wasn’t overly impressed with the crowd’s ovation for Prince Fielder’s 1st at-bat. It was a nice applause, but not what I thought it would be. He singled anyhow.
  • Justin Verlander is really good at pitching the baseball. 2 hits and 1 walk through 8 innings on Opening Day against one of the best offenses in the game? Wow. What a shame that Jose Valverde blew the save and cost him a win.
  • That result served as a stark reminder to the good fortune needed to get to 24 wins like he did a year ago.
  • The blown save shouldn’t come as a surprise. In fact, the way Valverde navigated the 9th inning was eerily reminiscent to a season ago. The only difference was that he let Ryan Sweeney get to him with a game-tying double this time. That is the knockout punch he was somehow able to avoid all 2011 despite dancing around trouble nearly every time out.
  • Valverde certainly didn’t do his job but it was a 2-out, 6th inning error by newly crowned 3rd baseman Miguel Cabrera that might have prevented from JV going the distance. After the error, Adrian Gonzalez worked a walk before Verlander struck out David Ortiz to end the inning. That error cost JV about 10 extra pitches in the 6th. After 8 innings he had 105 and Jim Leyland made the right call by pulling him in favor of his closer. Had he been sitting at 95 after 8 innings, Leyland would have let him finish it. After the game, Cabrera said this: “That play, I was a little scared of my eyes, for it coming up. … my first reaction was kind of protect my eyes.” Cause for concern?
  • Austin Jackson’s abbreviated leg kick was very obvious and served him well on this day. He stroked a single to open the game, ripped a triple to deep right, and drove in the game-winner on a single down the 3rd base line. More importantly, he saw 21 pitches on the day and didn’t strike out. Smells like a leadoff hitter to me.
  • Alex Avila and Brennan Boesch both had great opposite field approaches against tough lefty Jon Lester. Avila was rewarded with a double and a single while Boesch went 0 for 4, but the approaches were in sync and perfect.
  • Cabrera walked 3 times as Lester clearly preferred pitching to the left-handed hitting Fielder instead. Fielder got the job done on a bases loaded sac fly after the 3rd walk to Cabrera. That made the score 2-0 and proved to be a huge run.
  • Jhonny Peralta went 3 for 3 with a walk and is clearly the best hitter in baseball at this point in the season….
  • Delmon Young did well enough in left to not be too irritating. Watching him run on his tippy-toes is good entertainment.
  • Leyland brought in Clete Thomas to spell Young in left as a late defensive replacement as well as Don Kelly in right in favor of Brennan Boesch. Thomas fielded a routine ball and threw it in to the cutoff man, which seemed like a simple, nonchalant play. But what it did for me is remind me of the cannon this guy has for an arm. Easily the best arm of any outfielder in the Tigers’ system.

Tomorrow is an off-day for the Tigers. They tee it up again Saturday at 4:05 eastern with Doug Fister locking horns against Josh Beckett.

Follow me on Twitter @isportsJoe or subscribe to our Detroit Tigers Feed

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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