--DH Brennan Boesch had a career game, becoming the first Detroit player since Dmitri Young in 2004 to get four hits, score four runs and drive in four in the same game. He had an RBI single, a two-run home run and a sacrifice fly as the lineup replacement for RF Magglio Ordonez, who had a sore ankle. "He's swinging the bat real good right now," manager Jim Leyland said. "I think he's a little more relaxed. He put some pressure on himself to make the team this spring." Boesch played Saturday and had one hit. He's likely to play again Monday in Baltimore as Leyland likes to stick with hot players.
--RHP Max Scherzer struggled through five innings to gain a victory in his first start of the season. Scherzer survived allowing four home runs and six runs in his stint, but Detroit's bullpen preserved a 9-6 lead. "My pitches were pretty good," Scherzer said. "For the most part, I was locating my fastball pretty well. I feel pretty good about how my slider and changeup worked. As long as we win, I don't care." Scherzer had a spring ERA above 10.00 and is starting the season the same way. He struck out six in his five innings, an indication his pitches often had good movement and location. He gave up two runs in the fifth that shaved his lead to 7-6, but the Tigers bounced back with two in the top of the sixth.
--1B Miguel Cabrera slugged a pair of two-run home runs in a three-hit game. "I worked in practice on getting more aggressive to left," he said. "Hopefully they were going to be pitching me that way." Cabrera belted fastballs out over the plate for his two home runs. He again this year has been good about taking outside pitches to left and center.
--LHP Phil Coke gave up a game-deciding home run Thursday but bounced back two days later to keep New York at bay in two innings of work. Coke is coming out of the bullpen until he makes his return to starting Saturday in Detroit against Kansas City. Manager Jim Leyland wanted Coke to be his first man out of the bullpen in mid-game because it would make the Yankees' switch-hitters bat from the other side and would still let him go against the New York lefties. Coke allowed an RBI double in his second inning of work but it could have been prevented had SS Jhonny Peralta's relay on an attempted double play not hit the dirt so 1B Miguel Cabrera couldn't handle it.
--INF Ramon Santiago is ideally suited for the role of backup middle infielder. Santiago got a start at second Sunday in place of 2B Will Rhymes and responded with two hits and an RBI. Santiago hits well as a pinch-hitter, although he doesn't have any power to speak of, and can give the offense some help if he plays for short stretches. He had an RBI double to right in the sixth to key a two-run inning that padded a one-run lead out to 9-6.
--RF Magglio Ordonez was held out of the starting lineup with soreness in his left ankle. Ordonez fractured the ankle last July. Ordonez was removed from Saturday's game in the sixth inning after feeling some ankle soreness. "For anybody who's had surgery," manager Jim Leyland said, "the cold weather can be a little rough. This early in the season and in the cold, we just didn't want to take any chances." UT Don Kelly took his place in the field with OF Brennan Boesch, the DH, hitting third, where Ordonez usually hits.
--C Alex Avila probably will have to hang in there against some tough left-handers late in games as manager Jim Leyland tries to avoid pinch-hitting for his starting catcher when DH Victor Martinez is in the lineup at the same time. "We might do it," Leyland said, "but most likely won't." His reasoning: It takes Martinez out of the DH spot, puts him behind the plate and inserts the pitcher into the DH spot. "There will be times where I go from an American League manager to a National League manager in the course of the game," Leyland said. "It will be interesting, to say the least." That scenario wasn't in the cards Sunday because Avila wasn't in the starting lineup. Leyland felt Avila, who caught the first two games, was pressing a little bit.
--RHP Brayan Villarreal made his major league debut Saturday and got his initiation when Alex Rodriguez hit a 3-1 fastball over the center-field fence for a sixth-inning home run. "That happens, and then tomorrow is another day," Villarreal said. "I've got to forget that and keep doing my job." Villarreal also gave up a single but the home run was the only run he allowed in his first big-league inning. "That first AB against A-Rod, he was a little jacked up and he was a little wild, and normally he has great command and throws a lot of strikes," C Alex Avila said. "A-Rod put a pretty good swing on a 3-1 fastball, and after that he really kind of settled down and made his pitches."
BY THE NUMBERS
29 -- Road victories in 2010 by Detroit, which was scheduled to play its first six games of this season away from home. The Tigers lost only 29 times at Comerica Park in an 81-81 season last year.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"I don't control it. But I did some good things last year. I'm capable of doing good things again. My job is to make the decision difficult." -- OF Brennan Boesch, on his role as a reserve at the start of this season. Boesch was also a reserve when he was brought up last May, but his power hitting made him a regular until a second-half fade made him a sub again.
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