This home opener should bring back some fond memories for the Detroit Tigers .
The last time the New York Yankees were in town, Detroit was finishing off a four-game sweep in the 2012 AL championship series.
"Hopefully the weather will be all right, and the people will be fired up," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.
The Tigers beat the Yankees in the Division Series in 2011, winning the decisive game in New York. Last year, their postseason series was a mismatch. The Yankees' offense fell apart, and Detroit wrapped up the American League pennant with an 8-1 win in Game 4.
Since then, the Tigers have added outfielder Torii Hunter , and despite some uncertainty in the bullpen, Detroit is a fairly heavy favorite in the AL Central. New York, meanwhile, is trying to stay afloat despite injuries to stars Derek Jeter , Alex Rodriguez , Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson .
New York lost its first two games to Boston at home before 40-year-old Andy Pettitte pitched eight strong innings in a 4-2 win Thursday. Mariano Rivera , 43, earned the save in his first appearance of the final season of his storied career.
"Anybody that doesn't respect the Yankees is a fool, under any circumstances. I can tell you that," Leyland said.
Detroit's biggest question coming out of spring training was how the bullpen would perform. The Tigers don't have a set closer. Phil Coke closed out their win in the season opener, but he lost a lead in the ninth inning Wednesday.
Leyland doesn't seem eager to push his starters too much early in the season, so the bullpen could be tested on a regular basis. Detroit brought back Jose Valverde on Thursday, but only on a minor league contract.
Valverde lost his job as the Tigers' closer in the ALCS last year, but Detroit won the series with ease anyway. Right now, the Yankees have enough problems without worrying about avenging last year's disappointment, but playing the Tigers will be an early challenge.
"I guess it seems like we were just there, because this is the first trip and it was our last," said left-hander CC Sabathia, who is scheduled to pitch against Justin Verlander on Sunday.
The Tigers won their home opener last year, beating Boston 3-2 on Austin Jackson 's ninth-inning hit. In fact, they haven't lost their first home game since 2008, the year they started 0-7 and went on to a disappointing season.
"Opening Day in Detroit is an event, so it'll be exciting," catcher Alex Avila said.
The biggest offseason move the Tigers made was signing Hunter to play right field. He's played at Comerica Park plenty in the past, but now he'll be a member of the home team.
Hunter had four hits in the opening series at Minnesota, but he hasn't homered yet. He's excited for the first home game with his new team.
"It could be crazy. We've just got to kind of harness it," Hunter said. "Don't get too pumped up and let the adrenaline take over. We've got to harness it and play your game."
Hunter is 1 for 7 with three strikeouts against Nova, who was left off the postseason roster after going 12-8 with a 5.02 ERA in 28 starts last year. The right-hander failed to build on his 2011 rookie season, when he went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA.
Nova has faced the Tigers three times in the regular season and twice in the playoffs, making three starts and going 1-2 with a 7.29 ERA overall.
Fister has made four regular-season starts against the Yankees while facing them three times in the playoffs. He's 1-2 with a 5.18 ERA in the regular-season matchups but 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA in the postseason meetings, including two starts in which the right-hander registered a 0.79 ERA.
Outfielder Brennan Boesch , signed by New York last month after Detroit released him, is 7 for 12 with two doubles against Fister, who went 10-10 with a 3.45 ERA last season.
|New York Yankees|
|March 26, 2013||Cesar Cabral||60-Day DL||Left elbow pain|
|March 22, 2013||Curtis Granderson||15-Day DL||Fractured right forearm|
|March 22, 2013||Phil Hughes||15-Day DL||Right upper back thoracic injury|
|March 22, 2013||Mark Teixeira||15-Day DL||Strained right wrist - out 8-10 weeks|
|March 22, 2013||Derek Jeter||15-Day DL||Recovery from left ankle surgery|
|March 16, 2013||Michael Pineda||60-Day DL||Recovery from right shoulder surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Avisail Garcia||15-Day DL||Bruised right heel|
DETROIT (AP) -- Prince Fielder figured a few hits were about to come his way.
Fielder connected for a go-ahead, three-run homer in the fifth inning and added a soaring, two-run shot in the seventh to lift the Detroit Tigers to an 8-3 win over the New York Yankees on Friday.
He hit his first two home runs of the season before a crowd of 45,051, the most to attend an opening day game in the 14 years of Comerica Park.
A few hours before the first pitch, Tigers manager Jim Leyland insisted he wasn't worried about how poorly his team fared at the plate in its season-opening series.
"This team is going to hit," Leyland said Friday morning. "If it doesn't, I would be totally shocked."
Fielder had the 25th multihomer game of his career - his third with the Tigers - and joined Kirk Gibson and Dmitri Young as the three Tigers who hit at least two homers and had at least five RBIs in a home opener.
Fielder had just two hits in Minnesota, where Detroit lost a three-game series after averaging fewer than three runs earlier in the week.
"I knew I was getting close," Fielder said.
Fielder almost got another hit, and perhaps an additional RBI, but his liner to right was caught by former teammate Brennan Boesch as he slammed against the wall.
Doug Fister (1-0) allowed three runs on six hits - including Kevin Youkilis ' two-run homer in the fifth - over five innings. Drew Smyly pitched four perfect innings and struck out five for his first career save.
"I didn't even know you got a save in a situation like that until someone told me after the game," he said.
Besides the loss, the banged-up Yankees had another setback on a sun-splashed, cool afternoon in the Motor City.
Eduardo Nunez , filling in for injured shortstop Derek Jeter , was hit on his right biceps by Fister's pitch in the fourth and left the game. X-rays were negative, a relief for him and the Yankees.
"I was scared it was broken," he said. "The pain hurt a lot."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi doesn't expect Nunez to play Saturday at Detroit, saying he's day to day.
Before the series opener, Girardi said Jeter may not come back to play for the Yankees until next month, adding he has never "thrown out a date" for his possible return. Jeter needs to go through a spring training-like schedule, according to Girardi, when he comes back from rehabilitating his broken left ankle.
Jeter was hurt in the AL championship series opener against Detroit last October while trying to field a grounder.
The Yankees have five All-Stars on the disabled list, with Jeter joined by third baseman Alex Rodriguez (hip surgery), first baseman Mark Teixeira (wrist), outfielder Curtis Granderson (broken forearm) and pitcher Phil Hughes (back pain).
"I feel sad about myself and my teammates. The injuries are coming to this team so fast," Nunez said.
Hughes was originally scheduled to pitch Saturday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday, but had his outing shifted to Detroit for the second game of the Tigers series.
Ivan Nova (0-1) gave up four runs and five hits over 4 2-3 innings.
"I don't feel like I pitched that bad," he said.
Boone Logan , the first batter to face Fielder in the fifth, allowed the slugger to put Detroit up 5-3.
Alex Avila , the second hitter to face Shawn Kelley in the sixth, homered deep into the right-field seats to put the Tigers ahead by three runs. Fielder tagged Kelley for another shot the next time he came up.
"They have a very good lineup, top to bottom," Girardi said. "They have speed, they have power and they're deep."
In front of its fired-up fans, Detroit scored a run in the first and second innings and was held scoreless in the next two innings. The blue-and-orange clad fans groaned in the fifth when Fister allowed a run to score on a wild pitch and Youkilis homered to put the Yankees ahead 3-2.
Fielder gave them a reason to cheer in the home half of the inning and later on in Detroit's first game since the San Francisco Giants finished off a World Series sweep.
"It was a short offseason for us, but I'm sure it was a long one for the fans because of the way things ended in the World Series," Leyland said. "That's going to leave a bitter taste for them, so I'm sure they've been waiting for today."
NOTES: The Tigers drew the second-largest crowd in any game since leaving Tiger Stadium, trailing only the 45,280 total that watched them play the White Sox on July 26, 2008. ... Tigers RHP Max Scherzer will make his first start of the season Saturday. ... Teixeira said he's still on schedule to return around May 1 and his injured right wrist is feeling better each day. ... Smyly is Detroit's first pitcher to earn a save after pitching at least four innings since Esteban Yan in 2004. ... Yankees RHP Hiroki Kuroda is expected to take his next turn in the rotation Monday at Cleveland after bruising the middle finger on his pitching hand Wednesday. ... Smyly bounced back from his first outing in which he gave up two runs over 1 1-3 innings when Detroit opened with a 4-2 win at Minnesota. ... Chien-Ming Wang was scheduled to pitch in an extended spring training game for the Yankees in Tampa, Fla., but threw a simulated game instead due to the weather.