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DH breaks leg trying to avoid tag

4/7/2004

TORONTO (AP) -- An injury to one of its best players overshadowed
Detroit's best start in 18 years.

The Tigers lost slugger Dmitri Young to a broken right leg, but
they beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-3 Tuesday night to open 2-0 for
the first time since 1986.

"It's frustrating because we have something great going on here
and I want to be a part of it," Young said.

Mike Maroth won his first start of the season in the same
ballpark where he lost his 20th game last year, and Ivan Rodriguez
hit a two-run double. Carlos Guillen homered and drove in two runs
for the Tigers.

Young, however, is expected to miss up to six weeks.

The designated hitter fractured a bone in his lower leg when he
dropped to the field in a failed effort to avoid a tag by second
baseman Orlando Hudson in the first inning.

Young appeared to be in severe pain, but was able to put weight
on the leg as he was helped off.

"I guess I'm at a loss for words," manager Alan Trammell said.
"We're losing our All-Star from last year. We'll have to regroup.
I don't know where we go from here."

Both Young and Trammell blamed SkyDome's artificial turf for the
injury.

"When you stop on turf sometimes you stop too quick, and your
joints roll, they don't slide," Trammell said. "That's the nasty
part of being on Astroturf."

The team initially announced Young had a sprained ankle, but
updated his status after he underwent X-rays. His leg was placed in
a removable splint.

Young had a career year last season, batting .297 with 29 home
runs and 85 RBI.

"We hate to lose Dmitri. It's a bummer, it's brutal," second
baseman Fernando Vina said.

Detroit began 0-9 last year and set an American League record
with 119 losses. The Tigers did not win consecutive games until a
four-game winning streak from May 4-7.

Maroth struggled, too. Last Sept. 5 at SkyDome, he became the
first 20-game loser in the major leagues since Oakland's Brian
Kingman in 1980.

"It's something that I'm not going to be able to forget about,
but to be able to come back here and get a win gives me
confidence," Maroth said. "It really helps me put it in the past,
too."

Maroth, who finished 9-21 last season, allowed three runs on
five hits Tuesday, striking out one and walking one in five
innings. Nate Robertson pitched four scoreless innings for his
first career save.

Reed Johnson homered for the Blue Jays, who were shut out Monday
in their opener against Detroit.

Losing pitcher Miguel Batista, signed as a free agent in the
offseason, allowed five runs and seven hits in five innings.

"I was very inconsistent and they took advantage," Batista
said.

Batista gave up a leadoff single to Alex Sanchez in the first
and hit Vina with a pitch before Rodriguez hit a two-run double.

Bobby Higginson's RBI single and Eric Munson's run-scoring
grounder gave Detroit a 4-0 lead in the fourth.

Josh Phelps' RBI single and Eric Hinske's run-scoring single cut
it to 4-2 in the bottom half. Johnson's homer in the fifth made it
4-3, but Rondell White chased Batista in the sixth with a double
before Guillen hit an RBI single off Jason Kershner. Sanchez later
hit a run-scoring grounder.

Guillen's homer off Terry Adams gave Detroit a 7-3 lead in the
seventh.

Game notes
The Tigers have started the season with two road wins for
the first time since 1984. ... Batista was 10-9 with a 3.54 ERA for
Arizona last season.