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Kansas City (1-0) «000002200015100
Detroit (0-1)010110010004101

Royals spoil Tigers' opener with 11-inning victory

CBSSports.com wire reports
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DETROIT -- Money can't buy wins. Just ask the Detroit Tigers.

COMMENTARY
Tigers good before, potentially great now with offseason additions
by Gregg Doyel
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Tony Pena Jr. hit a two-out, tiebreaking single in the 11th inning, and the frugal Kansas City Royals held on to beat the big-spending Tigers 5-4 in Monday's opener and give Trey Hillman a win in his major league debut as manager.

Detroit closer Todd Jones said a team's payroll is "totally" irrelevant on any given day.

"But the beauty of baseball is it's all about the long haul, not one game," Jones said. "Hopefully with the kind of talent we have, we'll find a way to grind out more wins than other people."

Hillman made the right moves, and his players executed in the field to rally from a three-run deficit and hold off a late comeback.

"This is pretty cool for me," said Hillman, who was successful as a manager in Japan. "It's a great honor, it's humbling."

The Tigers will spend about $138 million on their star-studded team, putting them in the pack with Boston and the New York Mets -- behind only the Yankees.

Kansas City, meanwhile, will try to compete with a payroll of approximately $58 million -- ranking among the smallest.

"I don't think we'll win most of the time just because our payroll is big," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "We just left some guys on base and we left a couple pitches up."

The Tigers stranded 10 runners, including Clete Thomas, who was on third base with only one out in the 11th.

Joakim Soria got out of the jam and earned the save by striking out Edgar Renteria and getting help from third baseman Alex Gordon, who snared Placido Polanco's grounder in the hole and threw him out.

"We had one of the best hitters in baseball up with a man on third and two outs the last inning," Leyland said. "I'll take that situation every time."

Miguel Cabrera hit a homer in his Detroit debut, helping the home team go ahead 3-0 through five innings, but Justin Verlander had a lackluster start to spoil the party.

"This is just Game 1 of many, you can't get too upset about it," Verlander said.

Leo Nunez (1-0) threw two hitless innings.

"He was probably the unsung star of the game," Leyland said.

Denny Bautista (0-1) was an out away from pitching two scoreless innings, but Pena's single to center brought John Buck home.

Trailing 3-0, Gordon hit a two-run home run in the sixth, and the Royals scored two more while facing four pitchers in the seventh.

Leyland raved about the 24-year-old Gordon, who impressed him last year as a rookie.

"This guy is a big-time player waiting to happen," Leyland said. "He's got a tremendous swing. I think he'll be a star in this league before it's over with. That's why he was a No. 1 player."

Carlos Guillen helped send the game into extra innings with a solo shot in the eighth.

The game drew a Comerica Park record crowd of 44,934, breaking the mark set in last year's opener thanks in part to 778 new seats that were added to satisfy some of the growing demand.

The fans were in a good mood until Detroit's ace got into trouble.

Verlander didn't give up a hit for 3 2/3 innings in his first opening-day start, but finished with a shaky line: four runs, four hits and six strikeouts in six-plus innings.

"Verlander's a great pitcher, so you just have to stay patient and try to get something you can hit," Gordon said.

Verlander was replaced after he gave up a leadoff walk and a single in the seventh.

Buck, the first to face Jason Grilli, hit an RBI single to left. Mark Grudzielanek, the first to face Aquilino Lopez, hit a two-out, go-ahead single in the seventh.

Jones pitched a perfect ninth, and Bautista followed in the 10th.

"The focus will be on our bullpen if we lose. If we win, it won't," Leyland said. "But I don't think that was a major factor today."

Gil Meche, making his second straight opening-day start, allowed three runs, eight hits, four walks and struck out five in six innings.

"It was good to see Gil stick wit h it and keep battling," Hillman said. "He made a couple mistakes, just like any starter does, but he showed me a lot of guts."

Brett Tomko followed and gave up one run in two innings, Nunez followed in the ninth.

Notes

  • CF David DeJesus aggravated his sprained right ankle, leading Kansas City to pinch-hit for him in the third, and X-rays were negative.
  • Detroit DH Gary Sheffield started his 20th straight opening day -- the longest active streak.
  • The 11-inning game was Detroit's longest on opening day since 1960.
  • Thomas made his major league debut.
  • Miss America Kirsten Haglund, a 19-year-old native of suburban Detroit, sang the national anthem, God Bless America, and threw the ceremonial first pitch for a strike.
  • Grudzielanek had three hits.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Alex Gordon strokes a two-run home run off Tigers ace Justin Verlander in the sixth inning.  (AP)
Alex Gordon strokes a two-run home run off Tigers ace Justin Verlander in the sixth inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
Detroit

C. Guillen
AB 5
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 1
Kansas City

M. Grudzielanek
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
 

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Kansas City Royals
David DeJesus, CF1000000 .000
   a- Joey Gathright, PH-CF4000102 .000
Mark Grudzielanek, 2B4131000 .750
    Esteban German, PR-2B1000012 .000
Alex Gordon, 3B5112024 .200
Jose Guillen, RF5000023 .000
Billy Butler, DH5010001 .200
Mark Teahen, LF3110202 .333
Ross Gload, 1B4110001 .250
John Buck, C5121021 .400
Tony Pena, SS5011031 .200
Totals425105310  
a-grounded out for DeJesus in the 3rd
Batting
3B - Mark Teahen (1, Lopez)
HR - Alex Gordon (1, Verlander)
SH - Ross Gload (1)
RBI - Mark Grudzielanek (1), Alex Gordon 2 (2), John Buck (1), Tony Pena (1)
2-OUT RBI - Mark Grudzielanek (1), Tony Pena (1)
SB - Mark Grudzielanek (1, 2nd base off Verlander/Rodriguez), Esteban German (1, 2nd base off D. Bautista/Rodriguez)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Jose Guillen 1
DP - Pena-Grudzielanek-Gload
Kansas City Royals
Gil Meche 6833451 4.50
Brett Tomko (BS,1) 2111121 4.50
Leo Nunez (W,1-0) 2000130 0.00
Joakim Soria (S,1) 1100010 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Gil Meche 99-64, Brett Tomko 32-19, Leo Nunez 26-16, Joakim Soria 15-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Gil Meche 4-8, Brett Tomko 3-0, Joakim Soria 2-0
Batters Faced - Gil Meche 29, Brett Tomko 7, Leo Nunez 7, Joakim Soria 4
Detroit Tigers
Edgar Renteria, SS5011131 .200
Placido Polanco, 2B6000006 .000
Gary Sheffield, DH1001410 .000
Magglio Ordonez, RF5020005 .400
Miguel Cabrera, 3B5111023 .200
Carlos Guillen, 1B5231001 .600
Ivan Rodriguez, C5110021 .200
Jacque Jones, LF4000022 .000
    Clete Thomas, LF10100001.000
Brandon Inge, CF3010110 .333
Totals404104611  
Batting
2B - Magglio Ordonez (1, Meche), Carlos Guillen (1, Meche), Clete Thomas (1, Soria), Brandon Inge (1, Meche)
HR - Miguel Cabrera (1, Meche), Carlos Guillen (1, Tomko)
SH - Brandon Inge (1)
RBI - Edgar Renteria (1), Gary Sheffield (1), Miguel Cabrera (1), Carlos Guillen (1)
2-OUT RBI - Edgar Renteria (1), Gary Sheffield (1)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Brandon Inge 1
PB - Ivan Rodriguez (1)
E - Miguel Cabrera (1, Throwing)
Detroit Tigers
Justin Verlander 6444161 6.00
Jason Grilli (BS,1) 0.1100000 0.00
Bobby Seay 0.1000000 0.00
Aquilino Lopez 1.1200000 0.00
Todd Jones 1000010 0.00
Denny Bautista (L,0-1) 2311230 4.50
HBP - Grudzielanek (by Justin Verlander)
Pitches-Strikes - Justin Verlander 97-57, Jason Grilli 8-7, Bobby Seay 4-3, Aquilino Lopez 11-9, Todd Jones 15-10, Denny Bautista 38-25
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Justin Verlander 7-6, Jason Grilli 1-0, Aquilino Lopez 1-3, Todd Jones 1-1, Denny Bautista 1-1
Batters Faced - Justin Verlander 25, Jason Grilli 2, Bobby Seay 1, Aquilino Lopez 6, Todd Jones 3, Denny Bautista 10
Game Information
Attendance - 44934
Game Time - 3:37
Temperature - 51
Umpires - Home - Tim Welke, First Base - Chuck Meriwether, Second Base - Adrian Johnson, Third Base - Bill Welke