Max Scherzer is the reigning American League Cy Young winner, but he won’t be starting for the Tigers until the second game of the season. Rookie manager Brad Ausmus has decided on Justin Verlander as the Opening Day starter.
No surprise, really. As great as Scherzer was last season–going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts in 214 innings–Verlander has started each of the past six Opening Days for the Tigers and he’s got a Cy Young of his own from three years ago (plus a runner-up finish in 2012).
As soon as Verlander showed that he’s recovered from January surgery to repair a core muscle the choice was probably an easy one for Ausmus. And really instead of debating whether Verlander or Scherzer ought to be the one getting the ball in the season opener Tigers fans should probably just enjoy having a rotation with two Cy Young winners AND the reigning ERA champion (Anibal Sanchez) in the third spot.
By the way, last season Scherzer didn’t start for the Tigers until Game 5, following Verlander, Sanchez, Rick Porcello, and Doug Fister in the rotation.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.