The Detroit News' Tony Paul on the Tigers' 5-4 win over the Royals on Thursday, and the team's 5-3 start. The Detroit News
Detroit — What can you really make of a 5-3 start to a baseball season?
Not a darn thing, really, not when you're scheduled to play 154 more of these suckers.
That doesn't mean this young collection of Tigers isn't going to enjoy this, given the fan base was (and probably still is) bracing for 100 losses.
"We had high expectations for ourselves," said Niko Goodrum, the center fielder in the Tigers' 5-4 win over the Royals on Thursday at Comerica Park. "That’s everyone else, and we don’t care about what they’re saying about us. We come out prepared and play hard and leave it out on the field."
Added veteran second baseman Josh Harrison: "If anybody's shocked, it's going to be outside this clubhouse."
The Tigers still aren't hitting. They more or less walked their way to victory Thursday.
But they sure are pitching. Spencer Turnbull had 10 Ks, on the heels of Matt Boyd's 13 on Wednesday, making them the first set of Tigers starters to go back-to-back in the double-digit K department since August 2014 — when Rick Porcello and Anibal Sanchez (shockingly not Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer) did it.
Tigers starters all have allowed three earned runs or fewer through the first eight games, the Tigers' longest streak to start a season since 1987. The eventual American League East champs got it to 10 games.
And, while there are significant issues on defense, it's worth noting there have been plenty of highlight plays there, too. It's even fair to say defense probably has won the Tigers a game or two already this season.
The fans who showed up on this chilly opener are plenty appreciative of the start, even if it turns out to be fool's gold, which it just might. Remember, the Tigers were 36-37 and 2.5 games out of first place in the middle of June 2018. They lost 98 games and will draft fifth in June.
"They were having fun," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said of the bundled-up faithful. "I hope to make them enjoy this ballclub all summer long."
Even if a bad spell, certainly and perhaps soon, is inevitable.
"Hopefully," said Gardenhire, "we won't have one of them for some time."
Fox Sports Detroit is planning 17 "players-only" broadcasts, which will feature Kirk Gibson and Jack Morris in the booth, and Dan Petry and Craig Monroe either from the studio or elsewhere in the ballpark. The first of those is scheduled for next week during the Indians series.
It's unclear if Morris or Gibson will take on a pseudo play-by-play role, or if the four will just all chime in when comfortable, like the viewers are being treated to a casual conversation.
Production meetings are scheduled soon to hammer out those details.
The complete schedule for "players-only" broadcasts is due to be released Friday.
As for Petry, 60, another member of the 1984 Tigers who is in his first year on the FSD team, he expects to do about 40 to 50 games this year. That's a good number that will make it worth his while, while also allow him to continue helping his son, Matt, coach the varsity baseball team at Orchard Lake St. Mary's.
By the way, taking Petry's place on the Fox 2 Tigers pregame was Nate Robertson, a member of the 2006 American League champs.
Around the horn
The game-time temperature of 39 degrees was the same as last year's, and the seventh time in 20 years it's been in the 30s for the Comerica Park opener. The coldest was Game No. 1 at Comerica, in 2000, when it was 36 degrees. The warmest at Comerica was April 4, 2005, when it was 68.
... The Tigers did their traditional Opening Day pregame introductions, with coaches and players taking their place along the third-base line. The unofficial ovation meter goes like this: Miguel Cabrera, Nick Castellanos (distant second), Ron Gardenhire (third), coach Ramon Santiago (fourth) and everyone else (tied for fifth).
... Shane Greene didn't get his fifth save of last season until May 1. He's pitched in three straight games, and will be one Tiger who benefits most from Friday's off-day, the first of the season for the Tigers after opening with eight games in eight days. "He wants the ball," Gardenhire said.
... Christin Stewart doubled in the first inning, his second hit of the season, and first since that extra-inning homer in Game 1 in Toronto. That snapped an 0-for-18 skid.
... Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield had a triple and a single, extending his hitting streak to 26 games, dating to last season. It's the longest hitting streak in Royals history.
... The Royals hadn't made an error until catcher Martin Maldonado threw a ball into center field in the fifth inning, allowing Harrison, the base-stealer, to scamper over to third.
... The Tigers and Royals resume their series at 1:10 Saturday, with Detroit's Matt Moore against Kansas City's Jorge Lopez. Tigers players were to be given Friday completely off.