Tigers 4, Royals 3: Detroit walks off with the win

Leon Halip

Alex Gonzalez made up for an earlier gaffe by driving in the tying and winning runs

So you didn't like trading for Alex Gonzalez? You weren't alone. And you definitely weren't alone when the "glove first" shortstop looked anything but in the opening innings of the game. First impressions and all that. But Gonzalez tripled in the seventh to tie the game up then drove in the winning run in the ninth to start the Tigers' season out right: a 4-3 walkoff victory over the Royals at Comerica Park.

Gonzalez singled to left field, allowing pinch-runner Tyler Collins, in his MLB debut, to come in from third for the win. Joe Nathan earned the victory after pitching a 1-2-3 top of the ninth.

Struggles in the fourth inning by Justin Verlander and his fielders accounted for all three Royals runs. Verlander wasn't helped by fielding that wasn't quite living up to the hype. Verlander wasn't helping his own cause either. A walk, a double and a single allowed KC to take a 2-1 lead following a second-inning home run to right field by Victor Martinez. (Some wondered why Gonzalez didn't attempt to make a play at the plate after taking a relay throw from left field on the second run.) Then Verlander did a most unVerlanderian thing at that point, walking in the Royals' third run of the game. Gonzalez's fielding error in the inning didn't actually cost the Tigers any runs, but it didn't help his cause any among fans. (Torii Hunter's dropped fly ball in the second didn't hurt either, but it was certainly cringeworthy.)

Detroit answered in the seventh after a one-out triple by Austin Jackson got the rally started. Jackson scored on a wild pitch by Aaron Crow to cut the score to 3-2, then a long shot to left-center off Gonzalez's bat tied the score at 3-3.

Verlander's final line: three runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks in six innings. He struck out two. Evan Reed and Al Alburquerque bridged the game to the ninth, allowing just a lone baserunner in two innings.

Castellanos had two hits.

Oh, and we almost forgot: Brad Ausmus won his managerial debut.

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