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Published: Tuesday, 4/5/2005

Tigers too Young for Royals

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

DETROIT - It has to be comforting for a pitcher to glance around and see some of the most feared hitters in the league are sitting in the same dugout he is.

It has to be especially calming for a young pitcher dealing with the weight of the No. 1 starting role and the opening day spotlight.

Jeremy Bonderman likes what he sees in the Detroit Tigers' potent lineup.

The 22-year-old pitcher was relaxed enough in his surroundings yesterday with Dmitri Young, Ivan Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez and Rondell White on his flanks as the Tigers routed Kansas City 11-2 at Comerica Park.

Young pounded three home runs, drove in five runs and was the drum major in the hit parade that provided Bonderman with a considerable cushion.

Dmitri Young gets a hug from Tigers manager Alan Trammell after his third home run. Dmitri Young gets a hug from Tigers manager Alan Trammell after his third home run.
ZAPOTOSKY / BLADE Enlarge

"With Dmitri and the rest of those guys, we've got a really dangerous lineup from top to bottom, and when I look at it I just feel bad for the other team's pitchers," Bonderman said. "This club has assembled some great hitters, and you just can't throw them pitches they can get a hold of. Dmitri got a hold of a few today. It was awesome."

On a rare Chamber of Commerce-type day in early April - 68 degrees, sunshine, blue skies - Young sent a towering shot over the right-center-field scoreboard off Kansas City starter and former Tiger Jose Lima in the second inning for a 1-0 advantage. Former Mud Hen Brandon Inge finished the inning with a two-run bomb to left that was gaining altitude when it crossed the wall, making it 3-0.

"I think this is a team that can definitely get some momentum going in a hurry," Inge said. "Our guys are relaxed and really being selective up there. And with this lineup, there's really no easy outs to be had at all. We just kept pouring it on."

Bonderman was on cruise control when Young came to the plate in the third and blasted a two-run shot into the stands in right for a 5-0 lead.

After Kansas City nicked Bonderman for a run on a couple of hits in the fifth, the Tigers added three more runs with a two-out rally in the bottom of the inning that made it 8-1. Ordonez came home on Carlos Pena's bases-loaded walk, and Young, who had been hit by a pitch, and White, who singled, scored on Craig Monroe's base hit to left.

"We got nice production from the entire lineup, and Bonderman did exactly what we needed him to do," Detroit manager Alan Trammell said. "We've talked a lot about how important it is to shut teams down after we score some runs, and he did that. Bonderman went out there and backed us up, and Dmitri put on a heck of a show."

Young, who did not hit a home run in spring training, had the first three-homer game of his career, and the first on opening day by a Tiger. He became just the third player in major league history to accomplish the feat.

A Comerica Park record crowd of 44,105 fans enjoyed opening day, including brother and sister Mitchel and Rachel Hughes.
A Comerica Park record crowd of 44,105 fans enjoyed opening day, including brother and sister Mitchel and Rachel Hughes.
Enlarge

Young's five RBIs matched a career high on his most productive opening day since he had three infield singles for the Reds five years ago.

"You'll never see those stats on the back of a bubblegum card," Young said. "But today - it was just one of those unconscious days. Everything went right for me today, and everything went right for us. I couldn't have asked for more."

Young singled off reliever Shawn Camp to lead off the seventh, and Inge drove home pinch runner Nook Logan later in the inning to make it 9-1. Young said batting between Ordonez and White in the No. 5 slot puts him in a position of strength he has not enjoyed before.

"If there was ever a year for Dmitri to have 100 RBIs, it is this year," Tigers hitting coach Bruce Fields said. "I think he is going to have a special year, because of the lineup we have, and because of where he is in that lineup."

Bonderman turned things over to the bullpen for the final two innings after striking out seven and allowing just six hits.

Ugueth Urbina gave up a solo homer to Calvin Pickering in the eighth, and Young pounded his third home run of the day in the bottom of the inning - a two-run blow down the line in right.

"With that kind of support, these guys make it easy on the pitcher," Bonderman said. "Everything was working for me out there, and with us scoring runs like that, it puts you in a position where you can relax and just throw. They took all of the pressure off me, and I just went out there like it was any other start."

Contact Matt Markey at:mmarkey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6510.



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