Tigers 14, Royals 3
Rodriguez went 5-for-5 with a homer, three doubles and five RBIs Wednesday, helping the Tigers to a 14-3 victory and two-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals.
“When you have a day like this early in the year, it’s great,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve been swinging the bat pretty good in spring training, so I just stayed with the same routine, the same philosophy.
“I always say the first month of the season is very important for any team. If we keep doing what we’re doing and having a great first or second month and play the game like we’ve been playing, we’ll be in good shape.”
Winner Jeremy Bonderman went 6 2-3 innings, and the Tigers hit five home runs. They outhomered the Royals 8-2 in the two games.
“They were swinging the bats rather well today, and it was contagious, obviously,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said.
Rodriguez had an RBI double in a three-run first inning, singled in the third and made it 6-0 in the fifth with a two-run homer off loser Joe Mays.
He hit an opposite-field double into the right-field corner in the seventh and doubled over the outstretched glove of Emil Brown in the eighth—a play originally ruled an error.
“It’s always good to finish 5-for-5 instead of 4-for-5,” a grinning Rodriguez said.
Brandon Inge, Marcus Thames, Curtis Granderson and Carlos Guillen also homered for the Tigers, who got 19 hits. Bonderman gave up one run and three hits in 6 2-3 innings, struck out eight and walked none.
Leyland, who replaced Alan Trammell after last season, said Rodriguez is not the same impatient hitter whose .276 average last year was his worst since 1993.
“He looks like the Pudge Rodriguez of old,” Leyland said. “He was always pretty good in the strike zone. But for whatever reason, he got out of that last year and he paid for it. When he’s a patient hitter and smart hitter, he’s going to hit.”
After David DeJesus led off the first with a triple into the gap in right-center, Bonderman retired the next 15 batters—not even allowing a ball out of the infield—before Angel Berroa’s leadoff double in the sixth.
“It was one of those games where we didn’t do anything right,” Bell said. “A lot of that had to do with Bonderman.”
Mays retired 13 of 15 batters following Rodriguez’s first double, then allowed Inge’s leadoff homer in the sixth. One out later, Placido Polanco beat out an infield single, and Rodriguez connected for his first homer of the season and No. 265 of his career.
Mays allowed six runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings. Detroit scored four runs in the seventh, one in the eighth and three in the ninth.
“This is game two of the season,” Mays said. “There’s 182 games, er, 162 games. Don’t make it any longer than it needs to be.”
Rodriguez also scored three runs and is hitting .358 with 17 home runs and 63 RBIs against Kansas City. … John Buck fouled a pitch off the back of his head. … Mark Grudzielanek has struck out in five of his first seven at-bats and is 0-for-8. … Mike Wood was ejected by plate umpire Doug Eddings after giving up Guillen’s homer in the ninth.