Detroit Tigers win brisk home opener over Kansas City, 5-4
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Baseball Writer
DETROIT — With only four previous starts in the major leagues, Spencer Turnbull was easily the least experienced member of Detroit’s starting rotation.
That made him an interesting choice to start the home opener — but the 26-year-old right-hander was up to the challenge.
“It was a dream come true,” Turnbull said. “It’s the coolest feeling in my life so far. Cool — emphasis on the cool. It was very cold.”
Turnbull struck out 10 in six chilly innings, and the Tigers drew four straight walks to start the bottom of the seventh, taking the lead for good in their 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday. Josh Harrison stole two bases and scored three times for Detroit.
The temperature at game time was 39 degrees.
It was tied at 3 in the seventh when Kansas City reliever Kyle Zimmer (0-1) walked Harrison, Nicholas Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera in succession. Kevin McCarthy then came on and walked Niko Goodrum on four pitches, forcing in a run.
Christin Stewart added a sacrifice fly that inning to make it 5-3. Blaine Hardy (1-0) allowed a solo homer to Alex Gordon in the eighth, his second inning of work. Shane Greene pitched the ninth for his fifth save in five chances.
Whit Merrifield singled, tripled and scored twice for the Royals, extending his hitting streak to 26 games dating to last season. He came up with two outs in the ninth and Billy Hamilton on first, but the speedy Hamilton never stole second, and Merrifield grounded out.
Turnbull, impressive enough in spring training to earn a spot in the rotation, allowed two earned runs.