DETROIT – With the Detroit Tigers in a jam after a close play at first base, Brad Ausmus calmly made his way onto the field.
No histrionics from the rookie manager – not in this situation at least. All he had to do was challenge the call and wait.
“It’s almost awkward when you go out there,” Ausmus said. “Normally the manager would go out there to scream and yell, but it doesn’t make sense to go out there and scream and yell if they know you have a challenge. In essence, I’m really just taking my time getting out there so we can get a determination from our video room as to whether we should use the challenge.”
Baseball’s new instant replay system was popular at Comerica Park on Wednesday, when two calls at first base were overturned in Detroit’s favor. The second reversal ended a Kansas City rally in the 10th, and the Tigers eventually won 2-1 on Ian Kinsler’s single in the bottom of the inning.
Kinsler also hit a solo homer in the fourth, helping Detroit win despite a blown save by new closer Joe Nathan. Max Scherzer pitched eight scoreless innings for the Tigers.
“All I kept thinking about was picking up Max. He was so good all game and you don’t want to waste that kind of performance,” said Kinsler, who was acquired from Texas for Prince Fielder in a November trade. “It was great for Joe, too. We know he’s a great closer, but it is a lot easier to forget about a bad outing when your team wins the game.”
In the top of the 10th, Kansas City’s Norichika Aoki was called safe at first, and it looked like the Royals would have first and third with two outs against Al Alburquerque (1-0). But upon further review, the throw barely beat Aoki. He was called out to end the threat.
There was another overturn in the sixth when Detroit’s Tyler Collins was initially called out at first, giving Kansas City a 4-6-3 double play. The play was reviewed and Collins was ruled safe, although Detroit didn’t score.
“That’s exactly why the system is there – to get the call right,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Both calls went against us, but they were the right calls, so I don’t have any problem with it.”
Scherzer allowed four hits and a walk with seven strikeouts, but Nathan blew a save at Comerica for the first time after 19 straight as a visitor.
Alex Gordon’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the ninth tied it, and Nathan balked the runners ahead when he pulled up in the middle of his motion. Nathan said afterward he stopped because he wasn’t sure he and catcher Alex Avila were on the same page.
“I just didn’t want to cross him up,” Nathan said. “I thought I saw a fastball in, and when I came up to my balance position and looked in, I saw him setting up away.”
After Alburquerque made it through the 10th, Austin Jackson and Nick Castellanos both walked for Detroit. Kinsler won it with a two-out single to left-center off Tim Collins (0-1).
Scherzer can become a free agent after this season, and if he keeps pitching like this he’ll be in line for quite a payday. The American League Cy Young Award winner mostly cruised until the eighth, when Salvador Perez doubled leading off.
Scherzer rebounded to strike out Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain. Ausmus then visited the mound, but he left Scherzer in. Alcides Escobar followed with a flyout on Scherzer’s 110th and final pitch.
Scherzer said Ausmus told him to make a decision about staying in.
“I said, `Give me a second to think about it,”’ Scherzer said. “I needed to be honest with Brad. I said, `Give me the ball.”’
Jason Vargas, who signed a $32 million, four-year contract in the offseason, was sharp in his first start for Kansas City. He allowed a run and five hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out six.