1:08 PM ET, March 31, 2014
Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan
Gonzalez lined an RBI single off Greg Holland in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Tigers a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Monday in Ausmus' first game since replacing Jim Leyland. Victor Martinez homered for Detroit, and Justin Verlander was sharp aside from a three-run fourth inning that wasn't all his fault.
"There's two things that could have spoiled Opening Day for me," Ausmus said. "One, if we lost. And two, if the sun wasn't out. Because for me, Opening Day, the sun is out, fans are having fun, they're eating their popcorn, drinking their beer. The energy is higher."
Kansas City lost its sixth straight opener.
Ausmus was upstaged a bit by another newcomer on a bright, pleasant day in downtown Detroit.
Gonzalez was acquired by the Tigers in late March following an injury to shortstop Jose Iglesias. Detroit is just hoping he can fill in competently, and Gonzalez did not impress at first. His error in the fourth helped the Royals score an extra run, but he made up for that with a tying triple in the seventh.
Gonzalez then singled with men on first and third in the ninth.
"I've played on a lot of opening days -- I don't even remember all of them -- but this one was special," Gonzalez said. "I was looking for a pitch that I could elevate, and I got one. I rounded first, and all I saw was the whole team coming at me."
Joe Nathan -- another new face on Detroit's roster -- pitched a scoreless ninth. Nathan (1-0) signed with the Tigers to become their closer, but he'll have to wait a bit longer for a save opportunity.
Holland didn't have a save chance, either, after converting 47 of 50 last year. Instead, the right-hander came into a difficult situation in the ninth and couldn't get out of it. Wade Davis (0-1) yielded a one-out walk to Alex Avila and a single to Nick Castellanos before Holland allowed the single to Gonzalez.
"I get paid to get people out, and I didn't do it today," Holland said. "We're not here to fight and compete. We're here to win."
Detroit's Tyler Collins made his major league debut as a pinch runner for Avila -- and ended up scoring the winning run.
Salvador Perez had four hits for Kansas City.
Although there were still a few patches of snow in the Detroit area Monday morning, the game was played under a sunny sky with temperatures in the 50s. With its recently resodded field, Comerica Park looked sharp.
But the Tigers, coming off three straight American League Central titles, were sloppy at first.
Right fielder Torii Hunter dropped a routine fly ball in the second, and although Verlander pitched out of that jam, he couldn't escape the fourth. Salvador Perez tied it at 1 with a one-out RBI double off Verlander, and Lorenzo Cain slapped an RBI single through the hole into left field to put Kansas City ahead. After a two-out walk, Gonzalez bobbled Norichika Aoki's slow grounder for an error that loaded the bases.
Verlander then walked Omar Infante, forcing in Kansas City's third run of the inning.
Verlander had surgery in January after injuring his groin, but he pitched 20 scoreless innings during spring training. He allowed three runs -- two earned -- and six hits in six innings Monday, walking three and striking out two.
That was enough for a no-decision. Verlander was making his seventh straight start on Opening Day, and he's only 1-1 in those games.
"I never seem to find a win on Opening Day, but the bullpen shut them down and we got one anyway. That's all that matters," Verlander said. "Every Opening Day is special, but this one meant a little more, because I had to really work and grind to get here for this one after the surgery."
With Kansas City ahead 3-1 in the seventh, Austin Jackson hit a one-out triple and Avila drew a walk. Aaron Crow replaced starter James Shields and struck out Castellanos, but the third strike was a wild pitch that allowed Jackson to score. Gonzalez followed with a triple to the gap in left-center.
Shields gave up three runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Infante received a hand from the Detroit crowd when he was introduced with the Kansas City players before the game. He left the Tigers and signed with the Royals in the offseason. ... The crowd of 45,068 was the second-largest in Comerica history. ... It was the fourth four-hit game of Perez's career. ... The Royals were 67-6 last year when leading by two or more runs at any point from the seventh inning on, according to STATS.
DETROIT, MI - MARCH 31: Detroit Tigers mascot PAWS gets ready for opening day against Kansas City Royals at...(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Regular Season Series
|Detroit leads 9-4 (as of Mon 3/31)|
|» Mon 3/31||@DET 4, KC 3||Box Score|
|Wed 4/2||@DET 2, KC 1||Recap|
|Fri 5/2||DET 8, @KC 2||Recap|
|Sat 5/3||DET 9, @KC 2||Recap|
|Sun 5/4||DET 9, @KC 4||Recap|
|Mon 6/16||KC 11, @DET 8||Recap|
|Tue 6/17||KC 11, @DET 4||Recap|
|Wed 6/18||KC 2, @DET 1||Recap|
|Thu 6/19||@DET 2, KC 1||Recap|
|Thu 7/10||DET 16, @KC 4||Recap|
|Fri 7/11||DET 2, @KC 1||Recap|
|Sat 7/12||DET 5, @KC 1||Recap|
|Sun 7/13||@KC 5, DET 2||Recap|
|Sep 8, 2014||KC (Guthrie) @ DET (Verlander)||4:08 PM ET|
|Sep 9, 2014||KC (Vargas) @ DET (Scherzer)||7:08 PM ET|
|Sep 10, 2014||KC (Shields) @ DET (Porcello)||7:00 PM ET|
|Sep 19, 2014||DET @ KC||8:10 PM ET|
|Sep 20, 2014||DET @ KC||7:10 PM ET|
|Sep 21, 2014||DET @ KC||2:10 PM ET|
|Complete Schedule: Royals | Tigers|
|2nd||V Martinez homered to right (368 feet).||0||1|
|4th||S Perez doubled to deep left, A Gordon scored.||1||1|
|4th||L Cain singled to left, S Perez scored.||2||1|
|4th||O Infante walked, L Cain scored, A Escobar to third, N Aoki to second.||3||1|
|7th||N Castellanos struck out swinging, A Jackson scored, A Avila to second on wild pitch by A Crow.||3||2|
|7th||A Gonzalez tripled to deep left center, A Avila scored.||3||3|
|9th||A Gonzalez singled to left, T Collins scored, N Castellanos to second.||3||4|
|View complete Play-By-Play|
|Stadium||Comerica Park, Detroit, MI|
|Attendance||45,068 (109.2% full) - % is based on regular season capacity|
|Weather||52 degrees, sunny|
|Umpires||Home Plate - Jerry Meals, First Base - Paul Emmel, Second Base - Chris Conroy, Third Base - Jordan Baker|
The Royals scored on Opening Day for the first time since 2011, ending a scoreless drought of 22 innings.
Catcher Salvador Perez is the fourth player in Royals history, and the first in 35 years, to have a four-hit game in the team's first game of the season. 4-hit games for Royals on Opening Day, franchise history Salvador Perez, 2014 Freddie Patek, 1979 Amos Otis, 1977 Lou Piniella, 1969
Justin Verlander is facing the Royals on Opening Day for the 3rd time in his career. The first 2 resulted in no-decisions, and strikingly similar lines.[+]
Justin Verlander vs Royals - Career on Opening Day
Detroit's Victor Martinez homered in the second inning against Kansas City on Monday. The last Tiger to homer on Opening Day was Brandon Inge in 2009 (Curtis Granderson also homered earlier in the same game). The Tigers were the only team in baseball without an Opening Day homer over the last four seasons (2010-13).
Victor Martinez homered in 1st at-bat of season. His 1st HR last season came in his 113th at-bat of the year (May 4 at Houston)
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