Detroit at Kansas City

Scoreboard
Detroit (2-1) «0000010337120
Kansas City (1-2)1010000103111

Cabrera drives in four to back D-Train's solid effort in Tigers win

CBSSports.com wire reports
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- He walked the first batter on four pitches.

Would Dontrelle Willis' 10-month struggle to recover from social anxiety and chronic wildness blow up in his face the first time out?

Analysis

The Knobler Blog
Yes, Dontrelle Willis was fortunate to be facing the Royals today, and fortunate to give up just two runs while allowing nine baserunners in six innings. But there are two reasons for the Tigers to be encouraged by Willis's first big league start since June. More

In a word, no. The former two-time National League All-Star walked two batters in the first inning but none over the next five as the Detroit Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals and its shaky bullpen 7-3 Thursday, giving hope that Willis' troubles may finally be a thing of the past.

"It was a gritty ballgame early," said Willis, who had appeared in just 15 games since signing a three-year contract with Detroit in 2008. "They had me on the ropes. But with the encouragement of my team I was able to battle, make some good pitches and get us back in the dugout."

Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in four runs for Detroit.

In his previous regular-season start June 14, Willis walked a career-high eight batters in just 3 2/3 innings. Then he went on the disabled list the rest of the season with social anxiety disorder.

If the right-hander can regain the form that made him a star with the Florida Marlins, the Tigers will seem almost certain to contend in the AL Central.

"Early on, I've got to force contact," he said. "I think everybody's going to have the same approach on me. I think they're going to wait me out to see if I'm throwing the ball over the plate."

Without a doubt, that was Kansas City's strategy.

"He wasn't quite as wild as we expected him to be or as he's been in some of his past," said manager Trey Hillman. "He threw enough strikes for us to have to be ready."

Cabrera hit a three-run home run on an 0-2 count off Luis Mendoza (0-1) in the eighth, putting the Tigers on top 4-2. He added an RBI single in the three-run ninth as the Royals' bullpen blew a save for the third straight game.

While losing two of three games in this season-opening series, Royals starters Zack Greinke, Luke Hochevar and Brian Bannister gave up only two earned runs.

"It's just a matter of making pitches on quality hitters," said Hillman. "When you leave pitches out over the plate especially to guys like Cabrera, Magglio [Ordonez] and [Carlos] Guillen, they are going to get you."

Willis allowed two runs on seven hits, with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings.

"He's got to build on this one," said manager Jim Leyland. "This one was OK. It wasn't great, but it was OK. I've kind of stayed away from making any fuss one way or the other. Treat him the way you do everybody else. If you do the job, you pitch. I'm excited for him. I'm happy for him.

"He's got every teammate pulling as hard as you could pull for everybody. It's great to see."

Cabrera went 4 for 5 with a three-run homer and an RBI single. In 41 games against the Royals, he's hitting .363 with 13 home runs and 39 RBI.

"This is a good park to hit, this big park," said Cabrera, who hit the tying home run on Wednesday night. "When you see a big park, you try to use the gaps. That's an advantage."

Eddie Bonine (1-0) pitched an inning of relief, giving up three hits. He escaped unscathed when Alberto Callaspo capped a dreadful day at the plate by grounding out with the bases loaded.

After Dusty Hughes walked Johnny Damon leading off the Detroit eighth, Luis Mendoza (0-1) came in and surrendered an infield single to Ordonez, who had a solo home run off starter Brian Bannister in the sixth.

Ramon Colon forced in the final run in the ninth when he hit Ryan Raburn with the bases loaded.

"Today was just one of those days," Colon said. "You can't even explain that. We're going to keep on fighting."

Scott Podsednik went 4 for 5 for the Royals while Callaspo had a day to forget.

The Royals had two runners on base each of the first three times he came to bat but he grounded into two double plays and struck out. Then with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, he grounded weakly to Cabrera at first.

Notes

  • The Tigers open their home season on Friday against the Cleveland Indians.
  • Damon's bat went flying past first base when he swung at a pitch in the eighth.
  • Cabrera's home run with two outs in the ninth Wednesday night sent the game into extra innings.
 
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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Dontrelle Willis allows two runs over six innings in his first regular-season start since June 14. (AP)
Dontrelle Willis allows two runs over six innings in his first regular-season start since June 14. (AP)

Players of the Game
Detroit

M. Cabrera
AB 5
R 1
H 4
HR 1
RBI 4
Kansas City

S. Podsednik
AB 5
R 0
H 4
HR 0
RBI 0
 

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Detroit Tigers
Austin Jackson, CF5121012 .333
Johnny Damon, DH4100112 .143
Magglio Ordonez, RF4331101 .500
Miguel Cabrera, 1B5144001 .571
Carlos Guillen, LF4010013 .357
    Ramon Santiago, 2B0000100 .333
Ryan Raburn, 2B-LF4001033 .000
Don Kelly, 3B2000003 .000
   a- Brandon Inge, PH-3B3010003 .250
Gerald Laird, C4000002 .000
Adam Everett, SS3110100 .400
Totals38712746  
a-doubled for Kelly in the 7th
Batting
2B - Austin Jackson 2 (3, Bannister, Mendoza), Brandon Inge (2, Hughes), Adam Everett (1, Mendoza)
HR - Magglio Ordonez (1, Bannister), Miguel Cabrera (2, Mendoza)
RBI - Austin Jackson (2), Magglio Ordonez (1), Miguel Cabrera 4 (7), Ryan Raburn (1)
2-OUT RBI - Miguel Cabrera (2), Ryan Raburn (1)
CS - Miguel Cabrera (2, 2nd base by Bannister/Kendall)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Everett-Raburn-Cabrera, Kelly-Cabrera, Kelly-Raburn-Cabrera
Detroit Tigers
Dontrelle Willis 6722240 3.00
Eddie Bonine (W,1-0) 1300000 0.00
Ryan Perry (H,2) 1111100 3.86
Jose Valverde 1000010 4.50
WP - Dontrelle Willis (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Dontrelle Willis 88-54, Eddie Bonine 21-16, Ryan Perry 21-11, Jose Valverde 14-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dontrelle Willis 4-7, Eddie Bonine 3-0, Ryan Perry 1-2, Jose Valverde 1-1
Batters Faced - Dontrelle Willis 24, Eddie Bonine 6, Ryan Perry 5, Jose Valverde 3
Kansas City Royals
David DeJesus, RF4220101 .286
Scott Podsednik, LF5040010 .455
Alberto Callaspo, 3B4000017 .111
Billy Butler, 1B2111200 .273
Jose Guillen, DH4021001 .273
    Mike Aviles, PR-DH0000000 .000
Rick Ankiel, CF3001012 .167
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS4000001 .182
Jason Kendall, C4010021 .333
Chris Getz, 2B4010001 .400
Totals34311335  
Batting
2B - Jose Guillen (1, Perry)
SF - Rick Ankiel (1)
RBI - Billy Butler (3), Jose Guillen (1), Rick Ankiel (1)
2-OUT RBI - Jose Guillen (1)
SB - Chris Getz (2, 2nd base off Willis/Laird)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Kendall-Betancourt
E - Rick Ankiel (1, Misplayed grounder)
Kansas City Royals
Brian Bannister 6611031 1.50
Dusty Hughes (H,1) 1111220 9.00
Luis Mendoza (BS,1; L,0-1) 1.2455111 27.00
Roman Colon 0.1100100 54.00
HBP - Raburn (by Roman Colon)
WP - Brian Bannister 2 (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Brian Bannister 97-61, Dusty Hughes 30-16, Luis Mendoza 38-24, Roman Colon 16-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brian Bannister 1-13, Dusty Hughes 1-0, Luis Mendoza 3-1
Batters Faced - Brian Bannister 23, Dusty Hughes 6, Luis Mendoza 10, Roman Colon 4
Game Information
Attendance - 10909
Game Time - 3:06
Temperature - 54
Umpires - Home - Chris Tiller, First Base - Lance Barksdale, Second Base - Ed Rapuano, Third Base - Field Culbreth