Lefty Kyle Ryan shines in Opening Day appearance
Detroit — Kyle Ryan may only be filling in until Blaine Hardy returns, but he added nicely to the bullpen's start to the season.
Getting the ball to start the ninth inning, he allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner but then shut it down impressively as the Tigers beat the New York Yankees, 4-0, in the home opener at Comerica Park.
Ryan ended the game with Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran both taking strike three, both fastballs.
Not that Ryan throws all that fast.
"You know, his windup is very deceiving and he hides the ball extremely well," catcher James McCann said. "And a lot of hitters will mention that."
Manager Brad Ausmus also said Ryan, a lefty, has some late movement that can make him tricky to pick up.
After all, it's not everyday you see Teixeira and Beltran take fastballs for strike three.
Justin Wilson worked a scoreless eighth inning for the Tigers, his third scoreless inning in three games.
"We feel going in," said Ausmus, "and I hope they prove me right that there's some stability out there, and we still have some guys coming off the DL."
Alex Wilson and Hardy both are rehabbing shoulder injuries, and could return by the end of the month.
That could spell the end of Ryan, who could go down to Triple A Toledo and stretch out as a starter.
But more outings like Friday's, and you never know.
"He came out and attacked," McCann said. "Four-run lead, that's what you've gotta do."
Is Nick Castellanos more agile this season?
He looks thinner, and looks to be moving better — like he did in racing down and diving for a foul ball in the first inning, and later beating out an infield hit.
"I mean, I feel good, I feel comfortable," Castellanos said. "I guess I can leave the judgments up to you guys. That's all I can really say on my part.
"I feel good, I feel healthy, I feel a lot quicker."
Castellanos had four hits, but Ausmus might've been most impressed with the play on defense when he tracked down Jacoby Ellsbury's pop-up for the first out of the game.
Ellsbury gets on, and all of a sudden Jordan Zimmermann is pitching in stress early.
"He's definitely made improvements," Ausmus said of Castellanos' defense. "His mindset coming into spring training was different.
"He's beginning to really care and understand how important defense is."
All that talk about the weather, it wasn't as bad as advertised.
There were rumblings all week of 29 degrees, but it was 38 at first pitch and quickly warmed up from there, getting into the mid-40s.
It didn't cool down until about the seventh inning.
"Today was nice for them, right?" Ian Kinsler said, probably only half-seriously. "What was it, 45 at the start of the game? That's like perfect."
OK, there he smiled.
"I enjoyed it," he said. "The start of the game was definitely doable."
The Tigers and Yankees might not be so lucky the last two games of the series. Snow is likely coming for the Saturday afternoon and Sunday night games.
It's always interesting to see how gets the loudest ovations on Opening Day.
During pregame introductions, Miguel Cabrera definitely got the loudest roar. And Justin Verlander might've been second.
But, get this — Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the backup catcher, might've been third in line.
Fans sure appreciated his debut, which included a home run off Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez.
Kirk Gibson, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, was greeted with huge cheers, too, and decided to throw from the rubber. He bounced the throw, then shrugged, playfully, as if to say, "What do you want from me?"
There were, by the way, a small smattering of boos for closer Francisco Rodriguez. Some things never change.
Yankees at Tigers
First pitch: 1:10 p.m., Comerica Park, Detroit
TV/radio: FSD+, MLB Network/97.1, 105.1
LHP CC Sabathia, Yankees: The big man who makes big money, but is coming back from alcohol rehab, barely made the rotation this spring. He's on a trial basis, with Ivan Nova ready to take his spot if needed.
RHP Mike Pelfrey, Tigers: Probably the only move Al Avila was roundly criticized for this offseason, giving a No. 5 starter two years and $16 million. He had a nice spring, though, with a 2.66 ERA.