Mother Nature can't spoil Greene's stellar debut

Mother Nature can't spoil Greene's stellar debut

DETROIT -- Shane Greene wasn't sure he was going to pitch Thursday. The way he pitched, the wait ended up being longer than the game.

"I didn't think we were going to get it in," Greene said, "but I'm glad I got the first one out of the way and keep building off of it."

While Tigers fans spent three-plus hours under cover at Comerica Park or flipping channels at home, Greene was caught in between trying to stay focused for his Detroit debut and not burning himself out for a game that might not take place. He got used to rain delays growing up in Florida, but this was a long one before a game he'd anticipated for months.

"Like watching paint dry," he said.

So he sat down at his locker, watched some golf and waited for the word.

"You do your best to kind of get unlocked," he said. "I was pretty locked in thinking the game was going to start at [1:08 p.m. ET], and then the last thing you do is try to stay locked in the whole time, so I just completely forgot about the game, hung out, kept it loose."

He'd get ready to loosen up, then wind down, then gear up again, only to think his start was going to get washed out.

"I tied my cleats four different times before I went out there," Greene said.

Greene spent the morning readying for a game in 40-degree weather. By the time he took the mound at 4:44 p.m., a warm front had pushed the temperature to 60. By the time he had finished his eight innings, an unearned run as his only damage from the Twins, the sun had fittingly come out.

This was the Greene the Tigers saw when he shut down their offense twice with the Yankees last summer. This time, he did it to somebody else.

"He's got very good stuff," manager Brad Ausmus said, "and if he can throw strikes and keep the ball down in the zone, especially his sinker, he'll be in great shape."

Like David Price on Opening Day, Greene needed just 85 pitches to get through his first eight innings, several of them on outs in three pitches or less. Greene didn't reach a three-ball count until his final out of the sixth inning, and he only had one two-ball count before that. His lone walk, a five-pitch pass to Joe Mauer leading off the seventh, set up Minnesota's only run of the series.

Greene's slider was OK, he said. Greene still got swings and misses off of it, such as Brian Dozier's strikeout in the opening inning. Greene's change of speeds was another wrinkle.

"A point of emphasis in Spring Training was for him to use that changeup," Ausmus said. "He got a number of outs on it and a number of swings and misses on it."

Said Twins manager Paul Molitor: "He takes things off his breaking pitches. He was using his cutter in to left-handers and right-handers were getting fooled and couldn't stay on the cutters he was throwing.

"He just got the lead and got more confidence. He got on a roll."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.