MINNEAPOLIS – Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers are restocked for a run at another World Series.
Some cold air at the start of the season wasn’t about to deter them.
Verlander won on opening day for the first time in six tries, striking out seven over five shutout innings at frosty Target Field, sending the defending American League champions past the Minnesota Twins 4-2 on Monday.
When I was warming up in the sun, I was like, I could have come out in short sleeves. This isn’t that bad.’ As soon as the shade set in, it was a totally different ball game. It was miserable, said Verlander, who gave up three hits and two walks.
With the game-time 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 crowd of 38,282, officially a sellout by Twins guidelines.
We got one under our belt, and what I’m happiest about the temperature is going to be in the 50s on Wednesday so that will be a little bit better for both teams, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Doubles by Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were the only signs of resistance by the Twins, who haven’t beaten Verlander (1-0) since April 27, 2010. The former AL MVP and Cy Young winner, who threw 91 pitches, is 8-0 with a 1.71 ERA in nine starts during that span.
First baseman Prince Fielder, wearing a black ski mask on his head, had two hits and an RBI to help spoil Vance Worley’s first start for the Twins, who left 12 runners on, including the bases loaded in the seventh.
Phil Coke got the last two outs for the first save by the Tigers’ closer committee that’s succeeding Jose Valverde, who became a free agent and is still unsigned. Drew Smyly gave up a run on a wild pitch in the sixth inning and another on an RBI single by Ryan Doumit in the seventh, but Al Alburquerque struck out Trevor Plouffe and Chris Parmelee to finish that inning and strand three men.
We did just what we told everybody we were going to be doing: We mixed and matched, Leyland said.
Worley (0-1) needed 24 pitches to finish the first inning. Fielder followed an RBI grounder by Miguel Cabrera with a double down the left-field line that made it 2-0.