Verlander, Tigers knock off Twins

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MINNEAPOLIS — Justin Verlander won on Opening Day for the first time in six tries, pitching five shutout innings at frosty Target Field and sending the defending American League champion Detroit Tigers past the Minnesota Twins 4-2 on Monday.

Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander got the win for the Tigers on Opening Day in Minnesota.  JIM MONE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
JIM MONE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander got the win for the Tigers on Opening Day in Minnesota.

With the gametime temperature at 35 degrees and the wind blowing at 17 mph, fans had to bundle up. But Opening Day is always a draw, as evidenced by the announced sellout crowd of 38,282.

Verlander (1-0) had been 0-1 in his previous five openers. Phil Coke got the last two outs for the first save by the Tigers’ closer committee.

Prince Fielder, wearing a black ski covering on his head, had two hits and an RBI to help spoil the first Twins start by Vance Worley (0-1).

RED SOX 8, YANKEES 2

In New York, Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox got off to a quick start after a dreadful 2012 season, giving new manager John Farrell an Opening Day win over the depleted New York Yankees.

Newcomer Shane Victorino led a revamped Red Sox lineup with three RBIs and rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. walked three times and scored twice in his big league debut. Boston’s big day against CC Sabathia (0-1) came a year after it lost its first three games under Bobby Valentine and went on to a 69-93 finish.

Facing a Yankees lineup minus injured Derek Jeter for the first time since 2001 and just three starters from Opening Day a year ago, Lester (1-0) gave up five hits and two runs in five sharp innings against the defending AL East champions.

WHITE SOX 1, ROYALS 0

In Chicago, Chris Sale outpitched James Shields, Tyler Flowers homered and the Chicago White Sox beat Kansas City in their season opener.

Sale (1-0) showed the form that made him a 17-game winner and an All-Star in his first season as a starter. On a chilly day when the gametime temperature was 44, he allowed seven hits and struck out seven in 7 2-3 innings. Addison Reed worked the ninth for the save.

Shields (0-1) was a tough-luck loser in his first start since the Royals acquired him from Tampa Bay in the offseason. Flowers homered leading off the fifth.

DODGERS 4, GIANTS 0

In Los Angeles, Clayton Kershaw launched his first career home run to break a scoreless tie in the eighth inning, then finished off a four-hitter that led the Los Angeles Dodgers past the San Francisco Giants.

Kershaw became the first pitcher to throw a shutout and hit a home run in an opener since Bob Lemon for Cleveland in 1953, STATS said.

Kershaw struck out seven, walked none and retired World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval on a grounder to end it.

Matt Cain made his first career Opening Day start for the Giants in the loss. He allowed four hits in six scoreless innings, struck out eight and walked one.

METS 11, PADRES 2

In New York, Jonathon Niese stepped nicely into his new role as No. 1 starter for the Mets, and Collin Cowgill capped a successful New York debut with a grand slam in a rout of the San Diego Padres.

Handed the Opening Day assignment in place of injured Johan Santana, Niese enjoyed a big afternoon with both his arm and bat. He breezed into the seventh inning against a Padres lineup missing slugger Chase Headley (broken thumb) and catcher Yasmani Grandal, suspended for the first 50 games after testing positive for testosterone.

Marlon Byrd had a pair of RBI singles and fellow Mets newcomer John Buck was in the middle of three rallies as New York improved baseball’s best Opening Day record to 34-18 despite dropping its first eight openers.

CUBS 3, PIRATES 1

In Pittsburgh, Jeff Samardzija struck out nine in eight nearly flawless innings and the Chicago Cubs held on for a victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The right-hander allowed just two hits and walked one as the Chicago won on Opening Day for the first time since 2009. Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run homer and Wellington Castillo added an RBI double for the Cubs.

Kyuji Fujikawa got a save in his major league debut after closer Carlos Marmol struggled.

A.J. Burnett, making the first Opening Day start of his lengthy career, gave up three runs on six hits in 5 2-3 innings, striking out 10.

BREWERS 5, ROCKIES 4 (10 innings)

In Milwaukee, Jonathan Lucroy hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning to give the Milwaukee Brewers a victory over Colorado, ruining the first game for new Rockies manager Walt Weiss.

Rickie Weeks sparked the winning rally when he stole second after he was hit by a pitch with one out. Adam Ottavino then issued an intentional walk to Ryan Braun and lost Aramis Ramirez to another walk before Lucroy ended the game with a fly ball to center field.

A big “Luuuuuuc” thundered down from the Miller Park crowd of 45,781 as Weeks came home with the winning run and Lucroy was mobbed by his jubilant teammates.

Ramirez also had a two-run double in Milwaukee’s three-run eighth inning as the Brewers won on Opening Day for the first time since 2008.

ANGELS 3, REDS 1 (13 innings)

In Cincinnati, Chris Iannetta hit a solo homer early in the game and a bases-loaded single in the 13th inning, powering the Los Angeles Angels past the Cincinnati Reds in the majors’ first interleague season opener.

The Angels loaded the bases with two outs in the 13th off J.J. Hoover, who walked two and hit Hank Conger, the Angels’ final position player. Iannetta worked the count full, fouled off a pair of pitches, then singled to left. Ernesto Frieri, the Angels’ seventh pitcher, finished off the Reds’ longest opening game since 1975, when they beat the Dodgers 2-1 in 14 innings.


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