Minneapolis, MN (WKZO) – With all the records and feats Justin Verlander has accomplished during his eight years in the big leagues the one thing he had never done was win on opening day. He can now cross that off his list.
Just three days after signing the largest contract for a pitcher in Major League history, the Tigers ace lasted five innings, not allowing a run and striking out seven as Detroit defeated the Twins 4-2 in the season opener at Target Field.
Despite a game time temperature of 35 degrees, the Tigers bats started hot, putting pressure on Twins starting pitcher Vance Worley early, scoring two runs in the first and adding another in the second before Worley settled down and didn’t allow another run.
Verlander only threw 91 pitches, his lowest pitch total since June 22, 2010 against the New York Mets. Drew Smyly replaced Verlander, allowing a run in the sixth. Al Alburquerque relieved Smyly in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded, and after allowing a single to Ryan Doumit, which scored the Twins second run, he struck out Trevor Plouffe and Chris Parmelee to get out of the inning to preserve the 3-2 lead.
Off-season free agent acquisition Torii Hunter was impressive in his first game as Tiger, going 2-5 with a single in the 1st and a double in 3rd. Prince Fielder had two hits and scored the Tigers final run in the 8th after a wild pitch from Casey Fien allowed the Tigers first baseman to score from third.
Joaquin Benoit pitched a scoreless 8th, got one out in the 9th before giving way to Phil Coke, who finished up the 9th to record his first save of the season.
Miguel Cabrera went 0-5 but knocked in one of the runs in the first inning. Jhonny Peralta was 2-3 with a walk.
Tigers are off until Wednesday. Anibal Sanchez takes the mound for the Tigers in the second of three games against the Twins. Game time is set for 4pm.