DETROIT — Jordan Zimmermann performed just as advertised in his first start for the Detroit Tigers.
“He’s no nonsense, no frills,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Friday after the free-agent acquisition pitched seven innings of two-hit shutout ball against the New York Yankees in a 4-0 victory that made Detroit’s home opener a success. “He doesn’t mind the spotlight but he doesn’t need the spectacle.”
Zimmermann was the only player on the field without long sleeves in a game that began with the temperature at 38 degrees and got nippier as the innings rolled along. But he was used to it — born in Wisconsin and pitching college ball in his home state at Stevens Point.
“Pitching in this cold wasn’t ideal conditions,” Zimmermann (1-0) said. “I made it out there; didn’t have my best stuff and still two-hit the Yankees.
“My fastball command wasn’t really there. I missed my fair share over the middle and was fortunate they didn’t barrel it up.”
Zimmermann allowed singles in the third and fourth innings, walked three and struck out three in a 99-pitch effort. Detroit signed him as a free agent from Washington early in the offseason because it felt he would give the club at least three front-line starters.
“He can pitch me the first game or the fifth game,” Zimmermann said. “I’m not that guy that needs to pitch the first game of the season or anything. As long as I’m in the rotation and going out there every five days is all that matters to me.”
Miguel Cabrera‘s solo home run and RBI single accounted for half of unbeaten Detroit’s runs, with an RBI single by Jose Iglesias plus a bases-loaded fielder’s choice in the fourth bringing in the other two.
“He obviously had good command,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He made good use of his fastball up. We didn’t get much off of him.”
Zimmermann had problems navigating the streets that were closed off and detoured around Comerica Park due to construction on a light rail system and the Detroit Red Wings new home. It was closing in on 11 a.m. before he arrived.
“Driving in I took a wrong turn and pretty much circled the ball park a couple times,” Zimmermann said. “I didn’t know if I’d make it for the game. I was able to make it.”
Lefty Justin Wilson, acquired from the Yankees in a winter deal that sent Luis Cessa back to New York, worked a scoreless eighth. Southpaw Kyle Ryan gave up a leadoff single in the ninth but then retired three in a row to complete the three-hitter against a New York team that had batted .314 while taking two of three from Houston.
Luis Severino (0-1) was cuffed around for 10 hits in five-plus innings for New York. He didn’t walk anybody and struck out five
“I didn’t think he was as bad as his numbers,” Girardi said. “I thought he pitched OK. I didn’t think the conditions out there were miserable.
“They fouled a lot of pitches off, put the ball in play and were finding some holes.”
Cabrera’s first extra-base hit of the season was an opposite-field home run into the right-field seats in the seventh off rookie reliever Cessa, who was making his major-league debut.
Iglesias singled in the first of two Detroit runs in the fourth. One-out singles by J.D. Martinez, Nick Castellanos, and James McCann off Severino loaded the bases in the fourth, and Iglesias gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead with his single to right-center. Anthony Gose hit into a fielder’s choice to second to score the second run of the inning.
Ian Kinsler doubled and scored on a single to right by Cabrera in the first to stake Zimmermann to a 1-0 lead.
Castellanos had four singles in the game and was lifted for pinch runner Andrew Romine in the eighth. Romine stayed in the game to play third, and it was the first time in the majors he played against his brother, Austin, a catcher for the Yankees. Their father, Kevin, is a former major-league player and coach.
NOTES: Two New York veterans were not in the Yankees’ starting lineup Friday — RF Carlos Beltran and DH Alex Rodriguez — due to “a late turnaround,” said manager Joe Girardi. Beltran pinch-hit and made the last out of the game. Veteran Mark Teixeira was the DH with Dustin Ackley getting his 24th career start at first base. Aaron Hicks was in right. … Tigers LF Cameron Maybin and RHP Alex Wilson are on minor league rehab assignments with Class A Lakeland, and are on target for a mid-April return to Detroit. … The game marked the first time the Romine brothers, utility man Andrew of Detroit and New York catcher Austin, appeared in the same box score. “We’ve been on teams that have played each other before. He played while I sat and I played while he sat,” Andrew Romine said, “but that’s the first time we’ve been on the field together in the same game.” … Bad weather is forecast for the two remaining scheduled Yankee games in Detroit. Saturday afternoon calls for a high of 33 degrees and Sunday night brings a 90 percent chance of rain with temperatures below 40 for the nationally televised game.