Tigers win season opener

Detroit beats Kansas City, 4-3, on Gonzalez’s walk-off single

DETROIT — Alex Gonzalez was getting booed.

Gonzalez, he of the 37-year-old legs, he who is supposed to largely fill the void at shortstop left by Jose Iglesias, had just made an error.

The 2014 season wasn’t even three innings old but, after this ground ball, this routine ground ball that Gonzalez couldn’t corral, the 45,068 in attendance at Comerica Park were restless.

Before the season was a game old, Gonzalez would get his redemption.

With two outs in the seventh inning and the Tigers facing a one-run deficit, Gonzalez tripled into the left-center gap, tying the game and tiding the crowd over for at least a day.

And then he won it two innings later with a walk-off single to left, as the Tigers beat the Royals, 4-3, on Opening Day.

Gonzalez’s triple was set up by one of Austin Jackson’s own, off Kansas City starter James Shields and also to the left-center gap. After Shields walked Alex Avila, he was pulled in favor of Aaron Crow, who struck out Nick Castellanos but allowed Jackson to score from third on a wild pitch.

Then Gonzalez tripled, those boos became cheers, and after his single off Royals closer Greg Holland in the bottom of the ninth, those cheers became even louder.

The Tigers are 1-0.

Justin Verlander made his seventh consecutive Opening Day start. He was solid but a bit shaky, pitching six innings, allowing three runs – two earned – on six hits. He walked three and struck out two.

He was touched up for all of those runs in the third inning, when he allowed two hits – one a run-scoring double by Salvador Perez, who went 4-for-4 – and walked three – one with the bases loaded.

He was matched by Shields, who pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits.

The Tigers’ bullpen pitched three innings of scoreless relief and Joe Nathan, pitching in his first game with Detroit, recorded the win.

Tyler Collins made his Major League debut by pinch-running for Avila in the ninth inning, and scored the game winning run.

After an off-day today, the Tigers return to action on Wednesday afternoon.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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