MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Mike Pelfrey pitched into the sixth inning in his Minnesota debut, Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe hit home runs and the Twins took the season-opening series from the Detroit Tigers with an 8-2 victory Thursday. Pelfrey (1-0) wasn't charged with any earned runs, taking the mound less than a year after Tommy John surgery. The former New York Mets first-round draft pick was given a 3-2 lead when Willingham and Plouffe went deep against Tigers starter Rick Porcello (0-1). Four relievers kept the Twins in front for four innings, until they broke the game open with a five-run eighth against Brayan Villarreal. Tigers relievers gave up 10 runs over 10 innings in these three games. Miguel Cabrera got another RBI, his fourth of the year, but the Tigers had another quiet afternoon at the plate. Friday, April 5 is Opening Day at Comerica Park. The Tigers start a 3-game set with the New York Yankees. Pre-game at 12:40 p.m. on 97.7 WTGV-FM.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers and former closer Jose Valverde have agreed to terms on a minor-league contract. Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski made the announcement before Thursday's game at Minnesota. Valverde is a three-time All Star who led the AL with 49 saves in 2011 but wasn't as effective in 2012. He struggled badly in the postseason, allowing 11 hits, nine runs and two homers over four appearances, recording only eight outs. The 35-year-old became a free agent and wasn't re-signed. Valverde will report to Detroit's spring training facility in Lakeland, Fla., for some work before being assigned to Triple-A Toledo. Dombrowski said there's no timetable or certainty for Valverde to join the Tigers.
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Chris Conner scored in his Phoenix debut, Mikkel Boedker had a pair of assists, and the Coyotes held off the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 on Thursday night. Phoenix kicked off a critical three-game homestand by beating Los Angeles on Tuesday and left the Red Wings flatfooted with three second-period goals. Michael Stone got the flurry started, Shane Doan finished it off, and Martin Hanzal scored into an empty net with less than a second left. Chad Johnson stopped 34 shots in his third start of the season. Valtteri Filppula scored in the first period and Daniel Cleary had a power-play goal with 1:13 left in the third, but Detroit couldn't finish off the comeback and lost for the third time in four games. Friday the Red Wings are in Colorado to face the Avalanche at 9 p.m.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Heading into the NCAA tournament, Michigan's most glaring weakness was at the defensive end of the court. After winning four straight games to reach the Final Four, the Wolverines are improving heading into Saturday's game against Syracuse at 8:49 p.m. Michigan was poor defensively for extended stretches against Kansas last week - but that was the only tournament game the Wolverines came close to losing. In wins over Florida, Virginia Commonwealth and South Dakota State, Michigan was a lot stingier. Mitch McGary, a 6-foot-10 freshman, is giving opponents something to think about around the basket. Star point guard Trey Burke's quick hands are a factor on the perimeter. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III can be overpowered down low, but they are athletic enough to contest outside shots.
DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Lions have agreed to a two-year contract with veteran defensive tackle C.J. Mosley. Agent Harold Lewis confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Mosley was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this week. Mosley spent the last three seasons with the Jaguars, starting 15 games and recording 136 tackles. Mosley won a starting job last season. He started 12 games in 2012 and had a career-best 80 tackles. He has eight years in the league, spending time with Minnesota, the New York Jets, Cleveland and Jacksonville. He will join an interior line in Detroit that includes Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings have signed Northern Michigan goalie Jared Coreau to a three-year entry level contract, and they also recalled defenseman Brian Lashoff from the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. The team announced the moves Wednesday. The 21-year-old Coreau started all 38 games for Northern Michigan this season and finished with a 2.70 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. Lashoff has appeared in 30 games for the Red Wings this season. He's played 37 games for Grand Rapids in 2012-13. Tonight the Red Wings play the Coyotes in Phoenix at 10 p.m.
BOSTON (AP) - Jeff Green scored 34 points, including a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to snap Boston's two-minute scoring drought, and the Celtics clinched a playoff berth by beating the Detroit Pistons 98-93 on Wednesday night. Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass scored 17 apiece for the Celtics, who had lost two in a row and seven of their previous nine. But the victory, coupled with Philadelphia's 88-83 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, left Boston 8 1/2 games ahead of the 76ers with eight games to play. It's the sixth consecutive season Boston has reached the playoffs since the New Big Three was assembled in the summer of 2007. Greg Monroe had 24 points and 17 rebounds for the Pistons, who play the Timberwolves in Minnesota Saturday at 8 p.m.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Eduardo Escobar's two-run double with one out in the ninth inning lifted the Minnesota Twins to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday. After Joaquin Benoit issued a leadoff walk to Trevor Plouffe, reliever Phil Coke took over. Coke got the first out, but Brian Dozier's single advanced pinch-runner Jamey Carroll to third. Then Escobar drove the first pitch Coke to the deepest part of the park in front of the bullpens in left-center field. The ball bounced between outfielders Andy Dirks and Austin Jackson and both runners scored easily. The rebuilding Twins enjoyed their first on-field celebration of the season and spoiled another strong performance by a Tigers starter. The AL Central champion Tigers began the season without a set closer after Jose Valverde wasn't brought back.
DETROIT (AP) - Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock says the challenge of leading a young team has been exciting and invigorating. When he hears people say the Red Wings aren't consistent, Babcock counters by saying he's never had a group of players prepare better or work harder. That's how they have to roll in the Motor City these days because nothing comes easy anymore. The Red Wings would be the sixth-seeded team in the Western Conference playoffs if they started Wednesday, but their 22nd straight postseason appearance is far from guaranteed. Detroit plays seven of its last 12 games in the lockout-shortened regular season on the road. Phoenix, one of five teams within four points of the last playoff spot in the West, hosts the Red Wings on Thursday night at 10 p.m.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Perhaps the best sign that Michigan's basketball program was moving in the right direction came not last weekend in the NCAA tournament, but about a month ago toward the end of the regular season. The Wolverines had just lost to Penn State, a low point during a February stretch that also included a 23-point loss to rival Michigan State. The Wolverines found their character questioned and their prospects for a successful postseason suddenly doubted. But in a way, the angst was a good sign. This Michigan team had raised expectations in Ann Arbor - and it wasn't too late for Trey Burke and his teammates to reach them. Now with a Final Four berth, they have. Michigan will play Syracuse in the National Semifinals Saturday, April 6 at 8:49 p.m. in Atlanta, GA.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Justin Verlander's five shutout innings at frosty Target Field held up for Detroit, and the defending American League champion Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins 4-2 on Monday. With the gametime temperature at 35 degrees and the wind blowing at 17 mph, fans had to bundle up. But opening day is always a draw, as evidenced by the announced crowd of 38,282, a sellout by Twins guidelines. Phil Coke got the last two outs for the first save by the Tigers' closer committee. Prince Fielder had two hits and an RBI to help spoil Vance Worley's first start for the Twins, who left 12 runners on, including the bases loaded in the seventh. The Tigers have the day off and continue their series in Minnesota Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. and wrap it up Thursday at 12:45 p.m. on 97.7 WTGV-FM.