HRs make Dmitri da man for Tigers

By Times Staff Writer
Published April 5, 2005

DETROIT - Dmitri Young got to the top step of the dugout, pivoted and tipped his helmet to a roaring crowd after becoming the third player to hit three homers on opening day.

"I've had a curtain call, but nothing like that," Young said. "That was incredible."

Young went 4-for-4 and matched a career high with five RBIs, and Jeremy Bonderman won as the youngest opening day starter since 1986 to lead Detroit over the Kansas City 11-2 Monday.

Two years after losing an AL-record 119 games, the Tigers backed up what Young said last month when he boldly proclaimed: "We're the Tigers - not the kittens."

Detroit's performance created a frenzied atmosphere before a Comerica Park-record crowd of 44,105 on a sunny day with temperatures in the 60s.

"I don't know if I could've written a better script," manager Alan Trammell said.

Young's home run in the second inning put Detroit ahead 1-0. He hit a two-run homer in the third for a 5-0 lead and added another two-run homer in the eighth. The designated hitter also had a single and was hit by a pitch.

"That was a great day," Kansas City manager Tony Pena said. "Good for him. Bad for us."

"It was just one of those unconscious days," said Young, who has hit two homers in a game six times.

He did not hit a home run in 46 at-bats during spring training.

Bonderman pumped his fist and walked off the mound with a confident strut after ending the second inning with his fifth strikeout. He finished with seven strikeouts in seven innings and gave up one run and six hits. The 22-year-old right-hander became the youngest pitcher to start an opener since the Mets' Dwight Gooden did it at the age of 21 in 1986.

ORIOLES 4, A'S 0: Sammy Sosa was dancing in front of his locker as the crowd around him grew. He stepped back from the TV cameras and microphones to turn down the volume of the pulsating salsa music.

"I don't want to get released," he said, flashing his trademark smile.

There's no danger of that any time soon in Baltimore, where Sosa received a warm welcome before getting two hits as the host Orioles beat Oakland ace Barry Zito.

In his first game since being traded from the Cubs in February, Sosa singled in his first two at-bats and went 2-for-4.

Luis Matos homered and Rodrigo Lopez pitched six innings to help Baltimore earn its fifth consecutive opening-day win.

MARINERS 5, TWINS 1: Richie Sexson homered twice and drove in five in his debut, and 42-year-old Jamie Moyer pitched 52/3 strong innings for host Seattle. Sexson, given a $50-million, four-year contract to join the Mariners, hit a three-run homer in the first and added a two-run drive in the third, both off loser Brad Radke. Moyer, trying to bounce back from a 7-13 season, gave up five hits and an unearned run. He struck out four and walked none.

WHITE SOX 1, INDIANS 0: Mark Buehrle retired his first 12 batters and allowed two hits in eight innings as host Chicago overcame a four-hitter by Jake Westbrook. Paul Konerko doubled in the seventh, moved to third on Jermaine Dye's fly to right and scored on an error by shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who booted Aaron Rowand's grounder.