<
>

Johnson strong in opener; Pudge, Rondell homer

4/5/2004

TORONTO (AP) -- Ivan Rodriguez, Rondell White and Jason Johnson
made sure the Detroit Tigers had a different start in 2004.

Rodriguez and White homered in their Detroit debuts Monday,
backing Johnson in a season-opening 7-0 win over the Toronto Blue
Jays.

"This is a completely different team. Everybody is happy, and
everybody is hungry to win," Rodriguez said.

Last year, Detroit began 0-9 and set an American League record
with 119 losses. The Tigers, who hadn't won an opener since 2000,
spent the offseason trying to rebuild a franchise that hasn't
finished with a winning record since 1993.

"We have a big, fat chip on our shoulder," Dmitri Young said.
"We're not going to be the laughingstock. That's a thing of the
past. They ain't going to laugh tomorrow or the day after. We were
confident, borderline cocky out there today."

Rodriguez, a 10-time All-Star who helped Florida win last year's
World Series, homered in a three-run sixth inning. White, who
finished last year with Kansas City, added a three-run homer off
Roy Halladay in the seventh.

Johnson, signed by the Tigers after Baltimore let him go,
allowed four hits in six innings and got the win. Al Levine, Jamie
Walker and Esteban Yan combined for four-hit relief for the Tigers,
who had just five shutouts last season.

"Everybody is upbeat. They are not thinking about last year at
all," Johnson said. "Everybody has confidence that we can we win,
and we proved it out there today."

Rodriguez and White each had two hits for the Tigers, who also
signed Fernando Vina, Ugueth Urbina and Carlos Guillen as part of
the rebuilding effort.

"We're 1-0. At no time last year we were over. 500," Detroit
manager Alan Trammell said. "Play it up. It's an excellent start
for us. It gives us a little momentum."

Halladay, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, was knocked
around for seven runs -- six earned -- and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings.
Halladay, who struck out nine, dropped to 9-2 against the Tigers.

Carlos Pena homered in the fourth to put Detroit ahead, ending
Halladay's streak of 23 consecutive scoreless innings against the
Tigers.

"That got us jump-started," Young said. "He was pretty
vicious out there."

After Rodriguez's leadoff homer in the sixth, the Tigers added
two runs on second baseman Orlando Hudson's throwing error.

Toronto's Chris Woodward led off the fifth with a triple, but
Kevin Cash and Reed Johnson grounded out to a drawn-in infield, and
Frank Catalanotto popped out.

"It's a tough way to start," Halladay said. "The three home
runs were just three bad pitches."

Game notes
Detroit LHP Mike Maroth is to make his season debut on
Tuesday. Last Sept. 5 at SkyDome, he became the first 20-game loser
in the major leagues since Oakland's Brian Kingman in 1980. "To be
able to start here 1-0 in the place I lost my 20th, I think that
would be a great way to start the year," Maroth said. ... Last
Sept. 6, Halladay pitched a 10-inning, 1-0 victory against Detroit,
the first extra-inning shutout in the major league since Jack
Morris in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. ... Attendance was
47,817. ... Toronto 2B Orlando Hudson played despite a strained rib
cage. He missed the final five games of spring training because of
the injury ... Actor Eugene Levy threw out the ceremonial first
pitch.