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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Tigers scored three runs in the first two innings and one more late on a frigid opening day to the season, and that was all that ace Justin Verlander needed to lead Detroit to a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Monday at Target Field.
Verlander pitched five scoreless innings, giving up three hits and two walks while striking out seven. The Twins' bats woke up after he left, but left-hander Phil Coke secured the save by recording the final two outs.
Verlander befuddled many of the young Twins, including leadoff hitter Aaron Hicks, who went 0-for-4 and struck out three times while making his major league debut. Verlander got to the veterans, as well, striking out Josh Willingham three times.
The Twins survived the early Detroit attack, as starter Vance Worley (six innings, eight hits, three earned runs) settled down and battled his way out of several tight spots.
However, aside from the one run scored on a wild pitch in the sixth and a bases-loaded single by Ryan Doumit in the seventh, the Twins could not get enough clutch hits. Both Minnesota runs were charged to Tigers lefty Drew Smyly.
Detroit relievers Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit combined for two scoreless innings before Coke closed the win.
The Tigers scored two runs on three hits in the first inning. Austin Jackson led off the season with a base hit to right-center, and he scored on a fielder's choice groundout by Miguel Cabrera. Prince Fielder then hit a double down the left base line to score Cabrera.
Worley braved the 35-degree temperatures in short sleeves, and he certainly worked up a sweat throwing 24 pitches in the first inning. He threw only 13 pitches in the second but still gave up a run on two more hits, including Omar Infante's RBI single.
Verlander kept the Twins hitless until Joe Mauer doubled into the left field corner in the third.
NOTES: The game-time temperature was not the coldest in Twins history. That occurred on May 5, 1967, when temperatures dropped to 32 degrees at Metropolitan Stadium in a 13-4 win over New York Yankees. ... Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter, a former Twins star, went 2-for-5 in his Detroit debut. He needs 12 more hits to reach 2,000 for his career. He is aiming to become the 14th active major-leaguer to hit that milestone. ... Despite shutting out the Twins for five innings, Verlander still threw 91 pitches.