The Detroit Tigers offense could only muster eight runs and three extra-base hits (all doubles) while dropping two out of three to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field this week. They only needed one game in the comfortable surroundings of Comerica Park to equal those totals, as they rolled over the Yankees 8-3 in their home opener on Friday afternoon behind three home runs.
The bulk of the damage came off the bat of Prince Fielder, who connected on two of his classic uppercut swings for home runs while driving in five of the Tigers runs.
The first was a go-ahead, three-run blast off Boone Logan in the fifth inning that countered the three spot New York put up in their half. Yankees manager Joe Girardi elected to pull starter Ivan Nova in part due to his 96 pitches, but also to set up the left-on-left matchup with a pitcher who had limited Fielder to a single in five at-bats. It didn't matter a bit to Fielder, though, as he turned on a high fastball and lined it off the railing just above the right field fence.
The second was more of the majestic nature, which is befitting of a Prince, as Fielder crushed Shawn Kelley's breaking ball halfway to the Canadian border for two more runs and his 25th career multi-homer game. That extended the lead to 8-3 in the seventh, which is where it would stay. Alex Avila would account for Detroit's third homer, a solo shot off Kelley in the sixth.
It's also worth noting that Fielder's home runs were the first hits to knock in multiple runs for the Tigers this season, which is pretty significant considering their firepower. But above all else they helped to wash the taste of their mouths from a rough opening series.
"Fortunately in baseball, you can make it up the next day," Fielder said. "That's the beauty of it. It's obviously not the best feeling at the time, but you can do it tomorrow."
But perhaps the highlight of the afternoon for Fielder came much earlier in the game while in the field. Not known for defense, the 5-foot-11, 275 pound first baseman used every bit of his athleticism to cut off Ichiro's hard grounder ticketed for right field, and then flipped to a covering Doug Fister to complete the gorgeous play.
About the only thing Fielder didn't do was steal a base, but he was too busy circling them on a slow jog to worry about that. It was just his afternoon all the way around. The Tigers will certainly take it and hope the rest of the offense (and defense) follows suit.