Tigers preach patience after loss
Lineup struggles against Orioles, but club not worried
BALTIMORE -- Detroit manager Jim Leyland and some of his players all preached a similar message following a 6-2 loss to the Orioles in Baltimore's home opener on Monday -- it's early and be patient.
The defending American League champions are 3-3 and batting just .230 after one week, but there wasn't any sense of concern in the Detroit locker room following Monday's game.
Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera held the Tigers to two runs on seven hits as they rarely threatened. In addition, Chad Durbin made his first start for the Tigers. In fact, it was his first start in the Major Leagues since August 2004 with Cleveland, as the right-hander filled in for the injured Kenny Rogers.
Durbin threw well at times, but he gave up six runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Leyland said if people start worrying like crazy about the offense or talking about pulling Durbin from the rotation, it would make little sense to him.
"We haven't swung the bats very well," Leyland said. "We haven't gotten much going. We [also] certainly can't start [to] take guys out of the rotation after one start because it didn't turn out the way you wanted to. [Durbin will] be back out there in five days."
The Tigers couldn't do much against Cabrera, as the young right-hander looked like the pitcher the Orioles have hoped he'd become.
Sean Casey got an RBI double, and Curtis Granderson added an RBI triple later, but that was all Detroit could do against Cabrera in his strong 7 2/3-inning effort.
"There were very few times he got out of sync," said Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo. "He attacked the hitters, had a good breaking ball and went about his business."
And that's something the Tigers agreed on, saying Cabrera looked in command and controlled the game. It's also why they're not terribly worried yet since this is just one week into the season.
Casey is batting just .200, but he was smiling when talking about the team's hitting troubles, clearly not too concerned.
"We'll get things going," said Casey. "You're 18-20 at-bats into the year. I think you don't start looking at your offensive production until you're 100-some at-bats into it, and that's just the way baseball goes. We're six games into the year, and we've still got 156 to go. Guys that have track records are going to hit, period. This lineup's going to hit."
Granderson agreed with Casey, smiling when asked if the cold weather was why the Tigers have started so slowly at the plate.
"We're six games in right now," Granderson said. "Those [who] are hot are going to cool down, and those that started off slow are going to get hot. It has nothing to do with the weather, I don't think, too much. The weather ... could be definitely playing a factor, but mentally we've got to still realize that there's an opposing team with an opposing pitcher in the same weather condition as us."
Durbin got off to a good start for the Tigers on this cold afternoon -- it was 44 degrees at game time -- needing just 24 pitches to roll through the first two innings. But everything came apart in the third and again in the fifth, as the Orioles took command and delighted their Opening Day crowd of 48,159.
The Tigers had taken a 1-0 lead in the second thanks to doubles from Magglio Ordonez and Casey. Ordonez led off the inning with a shot into the right-field corner, and he scored when Casey lined a two-out double over center fielder Corey Patterson's head.
The Orioles took charge with a four-run third. Kevin Millar homered on the first pitch of the inning. Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada added RBI singles, while Melvin Mora had an RBI double off Durbin for a 4-1 lead.
Roberts then led off the fifth with a slow roller towards first base that Durbin tried to pick up and take to the bag. But Durbin couldn't make the play, and Roberts reached on the infield single. Tejada later singled, and Aubrey Huff ended Durbin's day with an RBI single.
Leyland said Durbin's being unable to make the play on the Roberts grounder hurt, and the right-hander agreed. But the skipper and Durbin also agreed that this is just one start, and everything takes time.
"I threw a lot of strikes, and guys hit some hard and some soft and some in the right spots and some in the wrong spots," Durbin said. "I thought I'd be a lot more emotional, a lot more nervous. It's important that this is a long haul, not a sprint, and this is just one game."
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.