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Cabrera's slam sparks Tigers rout in home opener vs. Rangers

CBSSports.com wire reports
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DETROIT -- Miguel Cabrera heaped pressure on his broad shoulders early last year, trying to live up to his $152 million deal with the Detroit Tigers while adjusting to the AL.

After starting slowly, Cabrera finished strongly and led the league in homers.

Now, he's picking up where he left off.

Cabrera hit a grand slam for his third homer in five games and matched his career high with six RBI, leading Detroit over the Texas Rangers 15-2 Friday in its home opener.

"I feel more comfortable," he said. "Last year, I had a lot of adjustments to make with a new league and new pitchers. Now, I know what I'm doing."

If Cabrera didn't before, that's truly a scary thought for pitchers.

He hit 37 home runs last year and had a career-high 127 RBI after Detroit acquired him from the Florida Marlins for prospects and made him one of the richest athletes in the world.

"If we had a real good year last year, he would've been an MVP candidate," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He didn't even get mentioned. He's getting better and he's already one of the best players in the game."

Cabrera has certainly started off that way, hitting .611 with 10 RBI.

The slugger and starting pitcher Armando Galarraga, who had a career-high eight strikeouts, gave 44,588 fans plenty of reasons to cheer after bolstering low expectations by losing three of four games in Toronto.

Leyland said his "heart aches" for people in the Motor City, who have lost jobs or are clinging onto them, and hopes the Tigers can provide a diversion during these tough times.

"You'd like to perk them up a little bit," Leyland said. "I think there's a little a silver lining in the clouds when you have a sports team that is doing well and people can get away for a few hours and forget their frustrations."

Texas, meanwhile, found out its fast start didn't matter much at Comerica Park.

The Rangers started 3-0 for the first time since 1996, led the majors in runs and were getting solid pitching before Galarraga shut them down and Kris Benson (0-1) got roughed up in his return to the majors.

"Ouch," manager Ron Washington said. "We couldn't stop them offensively and we couldn't get anything going offensively. It was one of those days."

Benson allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits in five innings, pitching in the big leagues for the first time since Sept. 27, 2006. He missed 2007 after having surgery to repair a torn right rotator cuff.

On Cabrera's blast, Benson aimed inside and threw it over the middle of the plate to spoil his goal of minimizing big hits.

"I didn't do it well and it cost us the game," Benson said.

Galarraga (1-0) gave up a run and five hits in seven innings against the team that traded him to Detroit in February 2008.

"This is one of the best offenses in all of baseball, so that makes it even more impressive," Leyland said. "You can't pitch much better than he did."

Galarraga had a 6.23 ERA in three games for the Rangers in 2007 and found out he had to work much harder to make it in the majors.

"Actually, they made me a better pitcher," Galarraga said.

Detroit acquired Galarraga from the Rangers for Michael Hernandez, whom they released last year during spring training.

Cabrera and Galarraga were just about the only sources of pride for the Tigers in 2008 when they began the season as a popular pick to win the World Series and an 0-7 start led to them flopping as baseball's bust of the year.

Galarraga opened last year at Triple-A Toledo and went on to lead AL rookies with 13 wins and 126 strikeouts while ranking third with a 3.73 ERA.

Gerald Laird started Detroit's scoring barrage with an RBI single in the second and hit a triple in the eighth. The catcher didn't hit a three-bagger in 95 games for Texas last season.

Brandon Inge, who hit a homer in each of the first three games, was the only player in Detroit's starting lineup who didn't have an RBI against the Rangers.

Warner Madrigal replaced Benson in the sixth and things got worse for the Rangers.

Madrigal was charged with four runs after walking three, hitting one and throwing a wild pitch against the Tigers.

"They did everything right today," Washington said.

Notes

  • Detroit RHP Joel Zumaya (shoulder) is scheduled to pitch Saturday at Single-A Lakeland and RHP Jeremy Bonderman (shoulder) is expected to play catch Monday.
  • Rangers C Jarrod Saltalamacchia was back in the lineup Friday, two days after leaving a game with an ear infection.
  • Detroit closer Brandon Lyon, who blew a save in Toronto, was booed when he was introduced before the game.
  • Texas' Nelson Cruz hit a solo homer -- his third of the year -- in the ninth.
  • Some Catholic leaders were critical of the game conflicting with Good Friday during the noon to 3 p.m. holy hours when traditional Christian belief says Jesus hung on the cross.
 
Copyright 2014 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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Miguel Cabrera, who got off to a slow start last year, is popular in Detroit after his 6-RBI day.  (AP)
Miguel Cabrera, who got off to a slow start last year, is popular in Detroit after his 6-RBI day. (AP)

Players of the Game
Detroit

M. Cabrera
AB 5
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 6
Texas

N. Cruz
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Texas Rangers
Ian Kinsler, 2B3000111 .412
Michael Young, 3B4000012 .313
Josh Hamilton, CF2010200 .308
Hank Blalock, DH4011003 .273
Nelson Cruz, RF4121013 .400
Marlon Byrd, LF4010010 .308
Chris Davis, 1B4000011 .067
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C4000020 .273
Elvis Andrus, SS3110020 .364
Totals3226239  
Batting
HR - Nelson Cruz (3, Bonine)
RBI - Hank Blalock (4), Nelson Cruz (5)
2-OUT RBI - Hank Blalock (1)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
E - Jarrod Saltalamacchia (1, Throwing)
Texas Rangers
Kris Benson (L,0-1) 51087232 12.60
Warner Madrigal 1.2044300 21.60
Josh Rupe 1.1433300 13.50
HBP - Polanco (by Kris Benson), Laird (by Warner Madrigal)
WP - Warner Madrigal (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Kris Benson 101-66, Warner Madrigal 33-15, Josh Rupe 38-18
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kris Benson 4-8, Warner Madrigal 1-4, Josh Rupe 3-1
Batters Faced - Kris Benson 28, Warner Madrigal 9, Josh Rupe 11
Detroit Tigers
Curtis Granderson, CF5212112 .286
Placido Polanco, 2B4321100 .235
Magglio Ordonez, RF5122115 .300
Miguel Cabrera, 1B5136001 .611
Carlos Guillen, LF3001100 .188
    Josh Anderson, PR-LF0000000 .000
Jeff Larish, DH5221014 .400
Gerald Laird, C3221100 .286
Brandon Inge, 3B3210202 .294
Adam Everett, SS4211102 .143
Totals3715141583  
Batting
2B - Curtis Granderson (1, Benson), Miguel Cabrera (2, Rupe)
3B - Gerald Laird (1, Rupe)
HR - Miguel Cabrera (3, Benson), Jeff Larish (1, Benson)
SF - Carlos Guillen (1)
RBI - Curtis Granderson 2 (5), Placido Polanco (1), Magglio Ordonez 2 (3), Miguel Cabrera 6 (10), Carlos Guillen (2), Jeff Larish (1), Gerald Laird (2), Adam Everett (1)
2-OUT RBI - Curtis Granderson (2), Placido Polanco (1), Magglio Ordonez 2 (3), Miguel Cabrera 6 (7)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Polanco-Everett-Cabrera
Detroit Tigers
Armando Galarraga (W,1-0) 7511180 1.29
Ryan Perry 0.2000210 0.00
Eddie Bonine 1.1111001 4.91
Pitches-Strikes - Armando Galarraga 97-66, Ryan Perry 20-8, Eddie Bonine 13-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Armando Galarraga 6-6, Eddie Bonine 3-1
Batters Faced - Armando Galarraga 26, Ryan Perry 4, Eddie Bonine 5
Game Information
Attendance - 44588
Game Time - 2:56
Temperature - 51
Umpires - Home - Paul Emmel, First Base - Gary Darling, Second Base - Bill Hohn, Third Base - Bruce Dreckman