Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander, 0-0) at New York Yankees (C.C. Sabathia, 0-0)
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Thursday, March 31, 2011, 1:05 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Money Line: NYY -150/ DET +130
Current Money Line: NYY -145 / DET +135
Opening Run Line: NYY -1 1/2 -110 / DET +1 1/2 -110
Current Run Line: NYY -1 1/2 +145 / DET +1 1/2 -165
Opening Total: 8 over -110/ under -110
Current Total: 8 over Even/ 8 under -120
With the splashy moves Boston made in the AL East, the Yankees have been somewhat overlooked. If possible, New York is almost considered a plucky underdog. Ok, maybe that is a stretch as the Yank’s payroll still hovers around $200 million dollars. The Yankees tried to sign such high profile free agents such as Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford, but were trumped by the rival Phillies and Red Sox for those players and others. The Yankees finished a game behind the Rays last year in the AL East but did win the Wild card. They lost to the Rangers in 6 games in the ALCS. The core of the Yankees lineup is still the same and the two notable acquisitions were catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Andruw Jones. The Yankee’s pitching rotation is solid at the top with a slimmed down C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes and the inconsistent A.J. Burnett. Freddy Garcia and youngster Ivan Nova complete the rotation. The Yankees added former Rays closer Rafael Soriano as a set-up man for legendary closer Mariano Rivera. Though Rivera has been remarkably durable during his career he is over 40 years old, and Soriano will be a nice insurance policy and the closer of the future.
The heart and soul of the Yankees’ line-up continues to be Derek Jeter, who just signed a new contract with the club in the off season. Jeter, who is 74 hits shy of 3,000 was moved from lead-off to the second spot in the line-up behind Brett Gardner by manager Joe Giradi. The other big news in the line-up is long time catcher Jorge Posada will DH most of the time and platoon with veteran slugger Andruw Jones at that spot. Russell Martin will take over most of the catching duties. The Yankees still have plenty of big bats in their line-up with Alex Rodriguez at third base, Robinson Cano at second base, Mark Teixeira at first base and outfielders Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher.
The Detroit Tigers were in a three way race for the AL Central title with the White Sox and Twins before fading after the All-Star break. They finished 13 games behind the Twins. The Tigers still have ace Justin Verlander but the Tigers traded Armando Galarraga to the Diamondbacks and didn’t resign free agent Jeremy Bonderman. The rest of the rotation consists of Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Brad Penny and Phil Coke. Jose Valverde is the closer and Joaquin Benoit is top reliever. Relief pitcher Joel Zumaya will start the season the 15 day DL.
The Tigers line-up is solid led by first baseman Miguel Cabrera and outfielder Magglio Ordonez. They added DH Victor Martinez who can also play catcher and first base. Other hitters in the line-up include catcher Alex Avila, Will Rhymes at shortshop, Jhonny Peralta at short, Brandon Inge at third, and outfielders Ryan Raburn and Austin Jackson. Second baseman Carlos Guillen will start the season on the 15 day DL.
Verlander is 4-3 in his career against the Yankees with an ERA of 3.96 and a WHIP of 1.540. The Tigers are 6-3 in those games and the over is 5-4. Sabathia is 15-11 in his career against the Tigers with an ERA of 4.57 and a WHIP of 1.270. The Yankkes are 9-5 in the last 3 seasons versus the Tigers, including 6-1 at Yankee Stadium. Nine of the last fourteen have gone under the total, including 4 of the last 7 at Yankee Stadium. The weather will be in the high 40’s and partly cloudy with 10-20 mile an hour winds from the SE.
Opening Day is always a great time for baseball fans. This should be no exception. Though a little chilly, the weather should be ideal for pitchers. Two of the best pitchers in baseball will go at it, so runs could be at a premium, despite the fact that both line-ups have plenty of power. It should be a great game to kick off the season.
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