Kinsler's 4 RBIs Help Tigers beat Marlins 8-7 in 11
MIAMI (AP) - The Detroit Tigers blew a five-run lead and endured a meltdown by new closer Francisco Rodriguez. They went 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and had two runners picked off first base in the final three innings.
That's why Shane Greene found himself pitching in extra innings for the first time in his career to earn his first save, closing out an 8-7 victory over the Miami Marlins in 11 innings on a wild opening day Tuesday.
"Get a win," Greene said. "It doesn't matter how you do it."
Ian Kinsler homered and had four RBIs, including a run-scoring single in the 11th, to help the Tigers overcome their wobbles. They led 5-0 and Justin Verlander didn't allow a hit until the sixth, but Rodriguez gave up three runs in the ninth, including two-out RBI doubles to pinch-hitter Derek Dietrich and Dee Gordon.
"I don't remember the last time I got knocked around like that," Rodriguez said. "Every pitch was up in the middle of the zone. It's frustrating."
Giancarlo Stanton homered for the Marlins. The Tigers hit three homers but still found themselves tied to start the 11th.
Anthony Gose walked to lead off against Craig Breslow (0-1), went to second on a sacrifice and scored on Kinsler's one-out single.
Kinsler hit a three-run homer in the second inning and scored twice. Gose and pinch-hitter Victor Martinez hit back-to-back homers in the ninth off Bryan Morris.
Greene, scheduled to start Monday against the Pirates, pitched a perfect 11th.
"We said all spring that this guy can pitch big innings for us," manager Brad Ausmus said.
Rodriguez was unable to nail down the victory in the ninth. With the Marlins trailing 7-4, Martin Prado singled to lead off and J.T. Realmuto hit a one-out double.
After left fielder Justin Upton made a running catch on the warning track to rob Adeiny Hechavarria for the second out, Dietrich and Gordon doubled. Marcell Ozuna then popped out to send the game into extra innings.
"It's always disheartening when you lose a lead late in the game," Ausmus said.
Rodriguez was 38 for 40 in save chances with the Brewers last year.
Drew VerHagen (1-0) escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the 10th to earn the victory.
"The fire in this team is huge," Tigers catcher James McCann said. "They make a comeback, and we're able to fight through it and come out on top — that's a big win."
Verlander blanked Miami for five innings and had a broken-bat single to become the first American League pitcher to get a hit on opening day since Milwaukee's Bill Parsons and Oakland's Ken Holtzman in 1972, according to STATS.
Stanton, who missed the second half of last season with a broken hand, hit a two-run shot off Verlander in the sixth. Gordon, the 2015 NL batting champion, broke up Verlander's no-hit bid with a double and finished with three hits.
The game marked the debut of a cozier Marlins Park, with the fence moved in during the offseason, and the changes might have made the difference on Martinez's homer to center field.
Detroit and Miami were the last clubs to begin their season, and the home team didn't seem ready.
Marlins newcomer Wei-Yin Chen, the most significant offseason addition to their roster, had a rough time in his first opening day start. He allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings.
In the second inning, Chen was hit on the left arm by a line drive off Gose's bat. Verlander followed with a single for his third career hit, and Kinsler homered to make it 4-0.
"It didn't start off very well and it didn't end very well," new Miami manager Don Mattingly said. "But there was a lot of good mixed in there, so I'm happy about that."
CHEERS FOR DETROIT
The game was announced as a sellout, with attendance of 36,911. But there were several thousand empty seats — and a significant number of Tigers fans who were chanting for their team in the first inning.
Marlins LHP Mike Dunn pitched on opening day in each of his seven previous major league seasons, but he was on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained left forearm. He said he planned to begin playing catch Wednesday and hopes to be activated for the start of the next homestand April 15.
On Wednesday, Miami will start ace Jose Fernandez, who in his final Marlins Park outing last year became the first pitcher in the modern era to win his first 17 career home decisions.
Anibal Sanchez will start for Detroit against his former team. He went 44-45 for the Marlins in 2006-12.