Tigers rally for big win in home opener

DETROIT (AP) -- Last year, the Detroit Tigers couldn't win at the
start of the season. This season, they can't lose.

Fernando Vina scored the go-ahead run on Brad Thomas' wild pitch
in a five-run seventh inning, and the Tigers rallied to beat the
Minnesota Twins 10-6 Thursday in their home opener.

"I'm kind of speechless," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said.
"I couldn't be happier. It gives us a breath of fresh air, but I
don't want it to stop."

It's been simple for several Tigers to leave last year's
miserable season in the past. They weren't around for it.

"It's big because I don't think about what they went through.
It's a fresh start," said Vina, who joined the team during an
aggressive offseason reshaping that also added Ivan Rodriguez.

Detroit is 4-0 for the first time since 1985. Last season, the
Tigers started 0-9, didn't win their fourth game until May 4 and
finished with an AL-record 119 losses.

"It's a very different lineup over there," Twins manager Ron
Gardenhire said. "They took their beating last year and they're
not ready to do that again."

Detroit trailed 3-0 before scoring four runs in the sixth and
five in the seventh.

Bobby Higginson, who has been a part of many miserable seasons
with the Tigers since 1995, hit a go-ahead, two-out, two-run double
in the sixth. He capped the seventh-inning rally with a two-run

"It's the most fun I've had in my whole career," said
Higginson, who has not been a part of a winning season because the
Tigers' last was in 1993.

In his home debut for Detroit, Rodriguez singled twice and
walked. The 10-time All-Star catcher caught a runner trying to
steal second and another who wondered too far from first base after
a pitch.

Throughout spring training, Rodriguez said, "You're talking to
the wrong guy," whenever he was asked about the 2003 Tigers.

Trammell agreed that the slew of newcomers has helped the team
move on.

"I think there's a lot to be said for that," Trammell said.

The Twins were 44-12 against the Tigers the past three seasons,
but Jacque Jones said they can't expect to keep that pace up.

"They're for real," Jones said.

Nate Cornejo earned the win in his first start of the season
after giving up four runs and seven hits over seven innings.

"This is the type of game last year Nate wouldn't have won, and
we wouldn't have won," Trammell said. "But it's a new year."

Minnesota's Carlos Silva allowed four runs and eight hits over
six innings in his first start of the season. Silva, acquired in
the trade that sent Eric Milton to Philadelphia, had made only one
previous start in 130 career appearances.

The Tigers got one hit off Silva in the second through fifth
innings before breaking through in the sixth.

Alex Sanchez led off the inning with a homer, and Higginson's
two-run double off the wall in right-center gave the Tigers a 4-3
lead and brought the sold-out crowd to its feet.

On the second pitch of the next inning, Jones tied the game at 4
with a solo homer.

Loser Aaron Fultz, who relieved Silva in the seventh, retired
the first two he faced, then gave up a walk to Vina to start the
game-winning rally. Thomas later allowed Carlos Pena's two-run
single and Higginson's triple.

Eric Munson had a solo homer in the eighth for a 10-4 lead. Rob
Bowen hit a two-run homer in the ninth.

The two-time defending AL Central champion Twins won two of
their first three games at home against Cleveland, but they were
hit hard by injuries.

Joe Mauer had surgery on his left knee Thursday, a day after
going on the disabled list. Matthew LeCroy went on the DL with a
rib cage injury and Torii Hunter is expected to miss the series
with a strained right hamstring.

Game notes
The Tigers started 6-0 in 1985, a year after winning the
World Series. ... The game drew 42,121, the second-largest crowd
since Comerica Park opened in 2000. The largest crowd was 44,095
last June 1 when Roger Clemens was pitching for his 300th win. ...
Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman is not expected to miss his next
scheduled start. He was hit on the left calf by a comebacker during
his win Wednesday at Toronto. ... Bowen, who was recalled from
Double-A New Britain, hit his first career homer.