on April 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Royals edge out Tigers in season opener

DETROIT (Reuters) – Tony Pena Jr’s bloop RBI single in the 11th inning earned the Kansas City Royals a 5-4 Opening-Day win over the Detroit Tigers on Monday, giving manager Trey Hillman victory on his Major League debut.

Hillman, who spent the previous five seasons with the Japan League’s Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, looked on as the Royals fought back from 3-0 down.

“I thought it was outstanding, the atmosphere, a packed house, playing this club and having the opportunity to manage the Royals is some kind of special for me,” Hillman told reporters.

“Opening Day is special in itself. It (Detroit) is a daunting lineup. That’s why so many prognosticators have picked the team to win the World Series.”

The two teams put in a little overtime as rain postponed the New York Yankees’s game with the Toronto Blue Jays and others were delayed by bad weather.

Detroit showed flashes of the ferocious power and strong starting pitching that made the team one of the hot pre-season favorites to reach the World Series but did not have quite enough of either to send the record 44,934 crowd home happy.

The game began under grey overcast skies at Comerica Park and the Tigers built a 3-0 lead after five innings highlighted by a solo homer from off-season signing Miguel Cabrera.

Cabrera, who last week agreed an eight-year $152 million deal to become one of the Major League’s highest-paid players, was charged with a throwing error on his first fielding chance.

But the four-times All-Star won over the Detroit fans in the fifth, cracking the first homer to put the Tigers 3-0 up.

CABRERA’S HOME

“I feel very well here, I feel like it is my home,” said Cabrera, who joined the team as part of a blockbuster trade with the Florida Marlins.

“I think we will do very well. I think if we stay together we can do a lot of things this year.”

Starter Justin Verlander, who went 18-6 with a no-hitter last season, tossed five scoreless innings before serving up a two-run homer to Alex Gordon in the sixth to spark the Kansas rally.

The Royals continued their fightback in the seventh, John Buck and Mark Grudzielanek slapping RBI singles to push them 4-3 in front.

Carlos Guillen replied for Detroit in the eighth, crunching a solo homer into the right field stands to send the game to extra innings.

Pena clinched the win with two out in the 11th as his looping hit fell into shallow center field to score Buck.

The season began in earnest on Monday after opening in Japan last week and in the U.S. on Sunday with a game between the Washington