Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Tigers take opener over Kansas City

KANSAS CITY - Everything was shaping up for the Royals on opening day.

Zack Greinke was outdueling Justin Verlander in check and Kansas City's revamped lineup got to the Detroit ace for six hits and four runs.

Then came the Royals bullpen.

Luis Colon, Robinson Tejeda, and Juan Cruz allowed six hits and six runs in the seventh inning Monday, and the Detroit Tigers rallied for an 8-4 victory over the Royals.

"We didn't do our job," Colon said. "It was just a tough game. We played well. It just didn't work out good. It was a tough game."

Detroit's bullpen, meanwhile, shut out the Royals through four innings on a windy opening day.

"It didn't look too good for a while but we hung in there," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "They have some good arms coming out of the bullpen and fortunately, we were able to get to them. Next time it might be our bullpen that stumbles."

Greinke departed after six innings with a 4-2 lead after allowing six hits and one earned run.

"Zack showed us why he won the Cy Young Award last year," said Detroit outfielder Johnny Damon, who had a two-run double in the seventh.

"All of his pitches are polished. But we just caught a nice streak there as soon as he got out."

Detroit reliever Joel Zumaya, in his first regular-season appearance since extensive surgery on his right shoulder, got the victory.

Hitting 103 once on the radar gun, he threw 12 pitches, 10 for strikes.

He seemed to be throwing with all the power and bite that made him one of the league's most feared middle relievers before the surgery.

"I can't feel any better right now," Zumaya said. "Can't feel any better."

Tejeda (0-1) got just one out and was charged with three runs.

Throughout spring training, manager Trey Hillman lamented the Royals' lack of a setup man.

"We've got to get somebody to take the ball and give us what we need in the seventh and eighth innings," he said.

"It is our responsibility with the guys we have to get them over the hump as early as we can and as often as we can."

Yuniesky Betancourt's two-run home run and Billy Butler's bases-loaded single off Verlander staked Greinke to a 4-2 lead.

Verlander, the major league leader with 269 strikeouts last season, gave up six hits and four runs in five innings. He walked one and struck out six in his first start since agreeing to a $80 million, five-year contract with the Tigers.

Greinke gave up one earned run, on an RBI single by Miguel Cabrera in the sixth. He did not give up an earned run until his fifth start last year, when he allowed none or one in 18 of 33 starts.

"My control was OK. My stuff was OK," he said. "It was all right. It wasn't great. It wasn't bad."

It was good enough.

Then Colon walked Scott Sizemore leading off the seventh and gave up a single to Ramon Santiago. Tejeda came in and Austin Jackson, making his major league debut, hit an RBI double.

Damon, who signed a one-year free agent contract in February, followed with a two-run double. Brandon Inge added a two-run double off Juan Cruz.

Jose Guillen singled on a 100-mph fastball from Verlander in the second and Betancourt sent a 3-2 pitch over the fence in left field for a 2-1 lead.

"He didn't get it that good, but he got it good enough," said Verlander. "At that point, I'm just thinking 'Keep our guys in it.' All in all, I felt I made some pretty good pitches, especially in the third and fourth when I felt like I found my rhythm."

The Royals loaded the bases in the fifth with two out on two singles and a walk and Butler hit an opposite-field double into right.

The Tigers scored an unearned run off Greinke in the first. Magglio Ordonez doubled and later scored from third when third baseman Willie Bloomquist dropped his infield popup in the gusty wind.

NOTES: The Royals did not have one player in their opening day lineup who played the same position on opening day last year. ... Tigers pitcher Jeremy Bonderman served a one-game suspension yesterday that was a carry-over from a fracas last season. ... Tigers 2B Sizemore also made his big league debut. ... The Royals' David DeJesus got a laugh from the crowd of 40,052 with an ungainly face-first slide into second. He did a belly flop short of the base and sort of bounced to the bag, unaware that Detroit catcher Gerald Laird hadn't even made a throw.

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