Where: Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan
DETROIT — The bullpen Dave Dombrowski built bested the one he has.True, there was more stumbling than a runner on a chipped-up sidewalk but the relief staff Dombrowski largely built when he was general manager of the Detroit Tigers came out on top of the one he has fashioned as president of the Boston Red Sox.
Rookie JaCoby Jones walked on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth inning to force in the go-ahead run and finish a two-run rally that helped Detroit make its home opener a success on Friday with a 6-5 victory over Boston.
Mikie Mahtook delivered a pinch-hit a RBI double to left field to tie the score 5-5 with two out in the eighth as the Tigers got to the Red Sox bullpen. Right-hander Heath Hembree (0-1) struck out the first two in the eighth before walking two.
Righty Joe Kelly walked James McCann to load the bases before losing Jones on a full-count pitch. McCann’s two-run home run in the seventh had given the Tigers a 4-0 lead.
Where Detroit manager Brad Ausmus went to his closer for a four-out save try, which didn’t work, Boston manager John Farrell passed on the chance to bring in Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel for a four-out save.
“I thought that inning, the way it unfolded,” Farrell said, “Heath had gotten through the meat of the order with, in particular (Nick) Castellanos and (Miguel) Cabrera, the way he was going through it. Still, there’ll be a time in this season when you look to go to Kimbrel for four outs, but not in Game 3.”
Pablo Sandoval hit a three-run, opposite-field home run to left center with two out off Tigers’ closer Francisco Rodriguez in the eighth to cap a five-run rally that gave Boston a short-lived 5-4 lead.
Chris Young hit an RBI double and Jackie Bradley Jr. added an RBI single prior to Sandoval creaming an 0-2 pitch from Rodriguez for his first home run of the season and first since 2015.
Rodriguez (1-0) stranded runners at second and third in a scoreless ninth for the win after failing in his bid for the four-out save.
“Truthfully, I didn’t want to bring him in,” Ausmus said. “I really didn’t want to bring him in for a four-out save this early in the season. He hasn’t pitched that much. But I just felt like we had to. The wheels were coming off a little bit.
“You’d rather hold on to a four-run lead in the last couple innings, but we’ll take a win any way we can get it. Opening day here, it’s a state holiday.”
Boston was shorthanded with designated hitter Hanley Ramirez and right fielder Mookie Betts both sidelined due to illness.
“The four total walks and the base hit (in the eighth), obviously are a difficult one here,” Farrell said. “We dramatically come back and take a big five-run eighth.”
Detroit right-hander Michael Fulmer, making his first start since being named the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year, blanked Boston on four hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out four.
Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright was touched for seven hits and four runs in his 6 2/3 frames.
McCann hit his first home run following a leadoff single to right by Tyler Collins in the seventh, putting the Tigers ahead 4-0.
Castellanos tripled with one out in the sixth and Cabrera was intentionally walked to first with a 2-0 count to set up a possible double play. Victor Martinez then beat a shift with a ground single to left to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
Detroit scored in the first after Ian Kinsler singled to center and Castellanos walked. Kinsler took third when Cabrera fouled out to right and scored when Martinez hit a sacrifice fly to left.
NOTES: Detroit held a pre-game ceremony to honor the memory of recently deceased owner Mike Ilitch, raising a ‘Mr. I’ pennant to fly behind the United States flag all season. The Tigers will also wear ‘Mr. I’ patches on the sleeves of their uniforms. … Marco Hernandez started at short in the first of at least three games Boston will be minus SS Xander Bogaerts, who can return from the bereavement list Monday. … Red Sox LHP David Price is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday, the first time he has done so since feeling left elbow pain Feb. 28. He was throwing out to 120 feet during the weekend. … Red Sox Hall of Fame 2B Bobby Doerr turned 99 Friday and is the oldest living Hall of Famer ever.