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Gonzalez delivers walk-off win for Tigers in Ausmus debut

CBSSports.com wire reports
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DETROIT -- On a day of dandy debuts, Alex Gonzalez helped Brad Ausmus start his tenure as Detroit Tigers manager with a win.

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 re-sodded field, Comerica Park looked sharp.

But the Tigers, coming off three straight AL Central titles, were sloppy at first.

Right fielder Torii Hunter dropped a routine flyball in the second, and although Verlander pitched out of that jam, he couldn't escape the fourth. 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.

Notes

  • 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 2 or more runs at any point from the seventh inning on, according to STATS.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Alez Gonzalez's first game for Detroit ends with Tigers teammates mobbing the veteran shortstop.  (ULive)
Alez Gonzalez's first game for Detroit ends with Tigers teammates mobbing the veteran shortstop. (ULive)

Players of the Game
Kansas City

S. Perez
AB 4
R 1
H 4
HR 0
RBI 1
Detroit

A. Gonzalez
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Kansas City Royals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Norichika Aoki, RF5000020 .000
Omar Infante, 2B4001100 .000
Eric Hosmer, 1B4010003 .250
Billy Butler, DH4010001 .250
Alex Gordon, LF3100101 .000
Salvador Perez, C41410001.000
Mike Moustakas, 3B4000002 .000
Lorenzo Cain, CF4111001 .250
Alcides Escobar, SS3000102 .000
James Shields, P0000000 .000
   Aaron Crow, P0000000 .000
   Wade Davis, P0000000 .000
   Greg Holland, P0000000 .000
Totals3537332  
Batting
2B - Eric Hosmer (1, Verlander), Salvador Perez 2 (2, Verlander)
RBI - Omar Infante (1), Salvador Perez (1), Lorenzo Cain (1)
2-OUT RBI - Omar Infante (1), Lorenzo Cain (1)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Alex Gordon 1
Kansas City Royals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
James Shields 6.1533131 4.26
Aaron Crow (BS,1) 0.2100010 0.00
Wade Davis (L,0-1) 1.1111200 6.75
Greg Holland 0100000 0.00
WP - Aaron Crow (1)
Pitches-Strikes - James Shields 105-71, Aaron Crow 12-9, Wade Davis 33-16, Greg Holland 4-2
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - James Shields 6-9, Aaron Crow 1-0, Wade Davis 2-2
Batters Faced - James Shields 24, Aaron Crow 3, Wade Davis 7, Greg Holland 1
Detroit Tigers
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Ian Kinsler, 2B4000000 .000
Torii Hunter, RF4000010 .000
Miguel Cabrera, 1B3010100 .333
Victor Martinez, DH4111002 .250
Austin Jackson, CF4110011 .250
Alex Avila, C2110211 .500
   Tyler Collins, PR0100000 .000
Nick Castellanos, 3B4020011 .500
Alex Gonzalez, SS4022001 .500
Rajai Davis, LF3000001 .000
Justin Verlander, P0000000 .000
   Evan Reed, P0000000 .000
   Al Alburquerque, P0000000 .000
   Joe Nathan, P0000000 .000
Totals3248334  
Batting
2B - Miguel Cabrera (1, Shields)
3B - Austin Jackson (1, Shields), Alex Gonzalez (1, Crow)
HR - Victor Martinez (1, Shields)
RBI - Victor Martinez (1), Alex Gonzalez 2 (2)
2-OUT RBI - Alex Gonzalez (1)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Verlander-A. Gonzalez-Cabrera
E - Alex Gonzalez (1, Misplayed grounder), Torii Hunter (1, Dropped fly)
Detroit Tigers
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Justin Verlander 6632320 3.00
Evan Reed 1000000 0.00
Al Alburquerque 1100000 0.00
Joe Nathan (W,1-0) 1000000 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Justin Verlander 105-64, Evan Reed 10-7, Al Alburquerque 13-10, Joe Nathan 13-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Justin Verlander 9-8, Evan Reed 2-1, Al Alburquerque 2-1, Joe Nathan 1-2
Batters Faced - Justin Verlander 28, Evan Reed 3, Al Alburquerque 4, Joe Nathan 3
Game Information
Attendance - 45068
Game Time - 3:01
Temperature - 52
Umpires - Home - Jerry Meals, First Base - Paul Emmel, Second Base - Chris Conroy, Third Base - Jordan Baker