Detroit, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - David Price pitched into the ninth inning and Yoenis Cespedes made an impression in his debut with the Tigers, as Detroit beat Minnesota 4-0 in the season opener for both clubs at Comerica Park on Monday.
J.D. Martinez and Alex Avila each homered to lead the Tigers, who not only got production from old faces, but also a new one. Cespedes doubled, tripled and scored two runs after being acquired in an offseason trade from the Boston Red Sox.
"When Miggy (Miguel Cabrera) and Victor (Martinez) don't have it, we have to find it from other places in the lineup," said Detroit manager Brad Ausmus. "Today we were able to do that."
Price (1-0), who the Tigers acquired from Tampa Bay last season prior to the trade deadline, got his third straight Opening Day nod and made the most of his first as a Tiger. The lefty went 8 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and striking out five without a walk.
The Minnesota offense struggled in Hall-of-Famer Paul Molitor's debut as skipper with the club. Molitor took over for long-timer manager Ron Gardenhire in the offseason.
"(Price) had a really good day," said Molitor. "We tried to get after him a little bit early. They made some nice plays and we couldn't seem to get off the schneid to get started. He just got stronger."
Torii Hunter, a former Tiger, went 0-for-4 in his first game back with the Twins. He started in right field and batted fourth. Hunter spent the first 11 years of his career with the Twins before defecting for six seasons.
Phil Hughes (0-1) got the first Opening Day start of his career, but was on the short end of Price's gem. The right-hander was charged with four runs on eight hits, striking out six and walking one over six innings.
The Tigers wasted little time getting to Hughes. Martinez led off the home half of the second with a homer to right-center. Then, after Cespedes followed with a double, Avila's one-out homer gave the Tigers a 3-0 cushion.
Cespedes was also part of a stellar defense that helped Price face the minimum through four innings. Cespedes robbed Kurt Suzuki of a homer in the third, jumping at the fence in left to record the out. Then, in the fourth, Ian Kinsler made a leaping catch at second to rob Danny Santana of a potential base hit.
"We made some great plays that changed the momentum of the game," said Kinsler, "but David Price took over this game."
Kennys Vargas eventually broke up the perfect game in the fifth, singling with one out. However, Price responded by getting Trevor Plouffe to fly out and striking out Oswaldo Arcia.
The lefty pitched out of trouble in the sixth as well. After Suzuki and Jordan Schafer began the inning with base hits, Price struck out Santana and induced an inning-ending double play from Brian Dozier.
Cespedes continued his strong debut with the team in the home half of the inning, tripling with one out and scoring when Nick Castellanos' liner to center was caught on a dive by Schafer for a four-run lead.
Price cruised the rest of the way, not allowing another baserunner until Dozier and Joe Mauer produced consecutive two-out singles in the ninth. Joe Nathan came on to strikeout Hunter and earn the save.
Martinez's homer was not only the first for a Tigers' player this season, but also the first for all MLB players this year ... There weren't any noticeable pace of play warnings issued ... Price threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 29 batters he faced, tossing 101 pitches overall ... Jose Iglesias had two stolen bases for the Tigers.