Tigers show speed, aggression in first Grapefruit League game
FEB 26, 2014 6:01p ET
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- If the first Grapefruit League game is any indication, the Tigers will be a very different team from the one fans saw in 2013.
Playing the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium, the Tigers showed off their speed Wednesday.
In the fourth inning, Rajai Davis walked. The Braves, aware that Davis stole 45 bases last season, thought they had him at first but Davis beat the throw to second.
Victor Martinez, always a fan of runners in scoring position, promptly drove Davis in for the Tigers' first run.
In the sixth, Ian Kinsler walked. Davis singled and Kinsler kept running past second, only to hit the brakes when he realized he couldn't get to third in time. Martinez singled Kinsler home and Davis went to second. Davis then stole third, his second stolen base of the game.
At the same time, the less-than-fleet-of-foot Martinez took second. Then Don Kelly hit a pop-up in foul territory that third baseman Tyler Greene caught. But before he could get the ball back in, Davis was home on a sacrifice fly for a 3-2 Detroit lead. Because Greene rushed, Martinez was able to reach third on the error.
"Even Victor Martinez was heads-up on the bases, went an extra 90 feet twice," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "So the base running was good."
In the seventh, Daniel Fields walked, stole second and took third on an error by second baseman Tommy La Stella. Eugenio Suarez drove Fields in with a sacrifice fly and a 4-3 lead.
In the ninth, Francisco Martinez walked. Ezequiel Carrera hit a bunt single. Both advanced on John Murrian's sacrifice bunt and both scored on Hernan Perez's single for a 6-5 lead. Perez took second on the throw. Tyler Collins singled and Perez was thrown out at home.
"There was some excellent base running," Ausmus said. "Rajai, even Ian Kinsler, forcing the issue, coming around second and realizing he's not going to make it and holding up. There were two throws to home from second, one time we scored, one time we didn't. In both cases, it was good, aggressive base running.
Although the Braves were attempting to rally in the bottom of the ninth, with one on and two out, the umpires finally called the game because of heavy rain.
Officially, the game was suspended but it will not be resumed.
According to Elias Sports, the Tigers earned the 6-5 win.
"The spring training rainout rule?" Ausmus joked. "That doesn't really concern me. I don't know how the game goes down. It's not really that important to me. I think it is important that we are working on some of the things we've been practicing the last week and a half, getting our at-bats, getting our innings pitched, getting to know each other as players on the field."