Thomas, Gonzalez win over home fans

American League round-up
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The Independent Online

When Frank Thomas last played at Comiskey Park, he was the target of harsh fan criticism.

Juan Gonzalez started his career in Detroit on the wrong foot, sitting out the opener at Comerica Park because of a sore hamstring.

Both went a long way to winning their fans back Friday.

Gonzalez, the key to the Tigers' offseason as they built a team for their new stadium, hit the first home run in Comerica Park history as Detroit beat Tampa Bay 10-5.

"It's exciting for me. The first home run in Comerica Park and we win. It's very important," Gonzalez said. "Everyone was waiting for the first home run in the park. It's special."

Gonzalez's three-run homer in a four-run third against Ryan Rupe (0-2) was the first in four games at the Tigers' new home. Of the 13 other major league ballparks that opened since 1989, none took more than three games for its first long ball.

While Gonzalez is trying to impress new fans, Thomas is getting back into the good graces of Chicago's followers.

Buoyed by a warm reception at Comiskey Park, Thomas responded with a first-inning homer to extend his season-opening hitting streak to 11 games as the Chicago White Sox won their home opener, beating Anaheim 9-4.

"My last at-bat here last year was not too nice. I got booed out of the stadium," Thomas said of a second straight sub-par year ended by September ankle surgery.

But Friday night when he headed to the first-base line to be introduced, the fans greeted him with cheers. Just like old times.

"I got a big ovation and that kind of surprised me a little. I thought it would be mixed," Thomas said. "That made me feel better. I didn't know what to expect."

In other American League games, it was Texas 7, Cleveland 2; Oakland 13, Boston 6; Seattle 11, Toronto 9; the Yankees 7, Kansas City 5; and Minnesota 10, Baltimore 9.

Thomas, bothered by the sore right foot and ankle that required a cortisone injection earlier this week, reached out and hit a first-inning pitch from Ken Hill (1-2) nearly 400 feet (120 meters) to right-center field for his third homer, limping noticeably as he rounded the bases.

He later added a single to finish 2-for-4. Paul Konerko also homered and had an RBI double and Ray Durham drove in three runs for the White Sox, off to their best start since also going 7-4 in 1992.

Mike Sirotka (2-1) allowed one run in 5 1-3 innings.

At Detroit, Gonzalez provided the key hit for the second straight game. He returned to the starting lineup Thursday for the first time since opening day and had an RBI double that led to a 2-0 win over Seattle.

He added two more doubles Friday, leaving him 5-for-7 with a homer, three doubles and four RBIs the last two nights.

"Juan changes the complexion of the lineup," teammate Brad Ausmus said. "When you put him in the middle of the lineup it forces managers to think ahead and behind him."

Rangers 7, Indians 2

Rick Helling (2-0) shut down Cleveland on four hits in eight innings, and David Segui, Rafael Palmeiro and Ivan Rodriguez homered as Texas soured opening day at Jacobs Field.

Omar Vizquel hit a two-run homer for the Indians. Dave Burba (1-1) took the loss.

Yankees 7, Royals 5

At New York, Roger Clemens (1-1) became the first Yankees starter other than Orlando Hernandez to win. Clemens allowed five runs, seven hits and four walks in six innings.

Jorge Posada hit a two-run homer in the second, Ricky Ledee put the Yankees ahead 3-2 with an RBI double in the third and Bernie Williams chased Jay Witasick (0-3) with a two-run double in the fourth.

Athletics 13, Red Sox 6

Eric Chavez hit a grand slam off Brian Rose (0-2) as Oakland scored six runs in the first inning to hand Boston its first home loss.

Kevin Appier (2-1) allowed three earned runs and eight hits in six innings, striking out six to win his second consecutive start. Frank Menechino and Jason Giambi also homered for the A's.

Giambi pulled up lame running out an RBI groundout in the seventh inning. He has a hyperextended right knee and a hamstring injury.

Mariners 11, Blue Jays 9

At Toronto, Edgar Martinez hit a three-run homer as Seattle scored six runs in the first inning to knock out David Wells, who matched the shortest start of his career.

Dan Wilson also hit a three-run homer in the first off Wells (1-1). Jamie Moyer (2-1) allowed four runs and nine hits in five innings.

Twins 10, Orioles 9

Cal Ripken moved within three hits of 3,000, but host Minnesota rallied for six runs in the eighth inning.

Ripken went 1-for-4 with a sacrifice fly and Mike Bordick, Jeff Conine and Delino DeShields homered off Eric Milton.

Minnesota, however, snapped a five-game losing streak when Matthew LeCroy and Torii Hunter hit two-run doubles in the eighth.

Mark Redman (1-0) got the win and Eddie Guardado earned the save. Buddy Groom (0-1) took loss.