Tampa Bay Rays at Detroit Tigers (-115, 9)
Heading into the ninth inning in Game 2 of this series on Wednesday, Detroit Tigers supporters were likely congratulating each other on a 5-0 start to the season.
After all, Justin Verlander was still cruising along having thrown just 81 pitches and the Tigers owned a 2-0 lead.
Then everything fell apart. Verlander gave up a couple of singles, fired a wild pitch, and before you know it, he was out of the game. Tampa Bay ended up scoring four times in the ninth to earn a 4-2 victory.
Now the Tigers turn to Drew Smyly, who makes his MLB debut after winning the No. 5 spot in the rotation this spring. The 22-year-old lefty impressed the club early on, but he gave up three runs on three hits in a Triple-A start for Toledo last weekend, recording only five outs before getting the hook.
This is just Smyly’s second year of pro ball, so we might see some nerves early on.
Cincinnati Reds at Washington Nationals (-115, 8)
Dating back to last season, the Washington Nationals are 13-3 in their last 16 games as an underdog. It doesn’t look like you’ll be able to get the Nats with a dog tag Thursday, but it stands to show how much they’ve improved since the beginning of last season.
Gio Gonzalez is just one of the new faces in Washington’s rotation and he gets the honor of starting Thursday’s home opener.
"I think any one of these guys deserves the shot to [pitch] the home-game opener," Gonzalez said. "I don't really care how the rotation goes as long as I'm out there. Give me the ball and I'm going to go out there and try to do my best to win a game for the Nationals."
Gonzalez will be looking to bounce back from a rough debut with Washington. He gave up seven hits and four earned runs in 3 2/3 innings at Wrigley Field.