Heading Logo

Indians spoil Detroit's opener

By Larry LageAssociated Press Published: April 6, 2002 12:00 AM

DETROIT _ Most hitters hate Comerica Park. Matt Lawton loves the spacious stadium.

Lawton homered on the first pitch of the game, went 2-for-3 and scored three runs Friday as the Cleveland Indians beat winless Detroit 10-1 in the Tigers' home opener.

Both of Lawton's leadoff homers have been at Comerica Park _ his first was with Minnesota last June 22. During the offseason, he tried to convince Detroit manager Phil Garner to acquire him.

[Article continues below]

"I like this park," Lawton said. "I wanted to come to Detroit. It's just something about the atmosphere here. The gaps are really huge in the outfield.

"The first time I saw Mr. Garner in spring training, I looked over at him and said, 'What happened?' He just said, 'I tried, it didn't work out.' But I'm in a great place in Cleveland."

[Article continues below]

Lawton was traded by the Twins to the New York Mets last summer, then to Cleveland as part of the Roberto Alomar deal in December. Garner wasn't in the mood to talk about the 30-year-old outfielder.

"It doesn't do any good to go back and talk about the past," Garner said. "I think he's a good player."

Danys Baez pitched effectively despite walking six in his first career start.

Baez, who made 43 relief appearances last year as a rookie, gave up one run and two hits in 5 1/3 innings and struck out five. After walking three of his first six batters, Baez retired nine straight until Jacob Cruz singled with one out in the fifth.

"I like starting because you have the game in your hands for five, six or seven innings," Baez said.

Lawton thought Baez was impressive.

"He was effectively wild," Lawton said.

Two relievers combined to finish the six-hitter.

A blustery, snowy day quickly became even more miserable for a record crowd of 41,248 at Comerica Park when Detroit centerfielder Jose Macias misplayed Eddie Perez's double in the second, which cleared the bases in a five-run inning that put the Indians ahead 6-0.

At 0-4, the Tigers are off to their worst start since 1994. When Tigers fans _ bundled up in parkas, blankets and hats on a 45-degree afternoon _ were not booing they were sarcastically cheering a team that has not had a winning record _ or a winning April _ since 1993.

Since leading Tampa Bay 5-3 in the season opener, the Tigers have been outscored 27-4. During pregame introductions, Garner was the first target of boos.

"That's indicative of the type of fans we have here," Garner said. "They want to see a winner, and I'm the spokesman for the team, so I get the boos. There's nothing wrong with it."

Fans jumped to their feet to mockingly cheer when Craig Paquette's sacrifice fly scored Robert Fick to make it 10-1 in the sixth.

Detroit's Mark Redman, acquired from Minnesota last July for closer Todd Jones, gave up seven runs _ six earned _ seven hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings. Redman was 12-9 as a rookie with the Twins in 2000.

"Two years ago, he threw a little harder," Cleveland manager Charlie Manuel said. "I felt like he tried to be aggressive when the game started, but we got to him early. If we could do that every game, we could be pretty good."

Notes: Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who intends to retire after his 42nd year with the Tigers and 55th season in the major leagues, called his final home opener. ... Perez played for the first time since his contract was purchased from Triple-A Buffalo on March 30. He went 2-for-5 with three RBI. ... Detroit SS Shane Halter, batting second, is 1-for-18 (.056).

Rate this article

Do you want to leave a comment?   Please Log In or Register to comment.