CHICAGO - The Detroit Tigers were ready to play on Sunday.
“There’s no question in my mind they’re ready,” manager Brad Ausmus said.
They certainly were ready on Monday. And after rain forced their observation of Opening Day to this afternoon, they showed how ready they were.
At the plate, they hit three home runs, tying a franchise-high on Opening Day. On the mound, ace right-hander Justin Verlander picked up where he left off last season. They beat the White Sox, 6-3, to open the regular season.
After Verlander allowed an early run, rookie JaCoby Jones responded with the first home run of his major league career, a three-run shot, in the second inning. On the play, Jones became the first Tigers rookie to homer on Opening Day since Kirk Gibson in 1980.
The home run capped an outstanding at-bat against White Sox ace Jose Quintana: Down no balls and two strikes, he saw five more pitches – fouling two of them off – before hitting a ball into the home bullpen in leftfield.
Three batters later, Nick Castellanos showed another picture of his potential with his first home run of what looks to be a second breakout season.
Castellanos’ home run was eye-opening in the way the ball sailed into the Tigers’ bullpen in rightfield.
Ian Kinsler added a solo home run in the fourth inning.
It was more than enough for Verlander, who cruised to his first win of the season in ho-hum fashion. Verlander allowed two runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings, striking out 10 and walking two.
The 10 strikeouts tied for a franchise record on Opening Day since, with Mickey Lolich in 1970 and 1966 and Jean Dubuc in 1914. It was Verlander’s 38th career double-digit strikeout game. He led the American League last season with 254.
Verlander allowed two stray runs. In the first inning, Melky Cabrera doubled home a run, likely aided by Mikie Mahtook misplaying the ball off the wall in rightfield. In the fourth inning, Jose Abreu drove in a run on a groundout.
Verlander exited in the seventh inning after walking Omar Narvaez on the 102nd pitch of his day. He was booed by the Chicago crowd and smirked.
Justin Wilson, Bruce Rondon pitched a scoreless 1 2/3 innings.
Shane Greene struggled to start the ninth inning – hitting a batter and allowing a hit – and Francisco Rodriguez entered, completing his first save of the season.
The Tigers are 1-0.
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