Collins scores game-winning run in his first Opening Day

Detroit Tigers' Alex Gonzalez, center, is mobbed after hitting the game winning single to score the winning run.

Carlos Osorio/AP

DETROIT — The day before Opening Day, Tyler Collins said his expectations of it were "a victory."

Collins, 23, had no idea how big a part he would play in it.

With one out in a 3-3 game in the bottom of the ninth inning, and Kansas City closer Greg Holland on the mound, Alex Avila worked a walk.

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Manager Brad Ausmus had Collins run for Avila.

"No offense to Alex," Ausmus said with a laugh after the game.

Nick Castellanos, a fellow rookie, singled to center and Collins immediately went to third base.

Veteran Alex Gonzalez, who had already tied the game with an RBI triple in the seventh, hit a base hit to left and Collins scored easily.

"It was great," Collins said. "Nick’s hit, just trying to go first to third, just run hard but run smart. Alex had a great AB, Gonzo and Avila both did, to get me the chance to run."

What was Collins thinking as he scored?

"Don’t miss the plate was the big one," Collins said. "Then go get Alex (Gonzalez) for having a great AB."

Castellanos said he breathed a huge sigh of relief as he saw Collins score.

"I’m happy that I did my job getting him to third and Alex did an awesome job knocking him in," Castellanos said. "It’s huge for me because I want to show these guys that I can play and I can help them win."

Collins said he had been told the previous inning to get loose in case Victor Martinez reached base. Martinez did not, but Collins stayed ready.

"No better way to come in and get those butterflies out of the way," Torii Hunter said. "Salvador Perez threw a ball behind him and he slid back in. I’m pretty sure the butterflies went away after that play. He just settled in and made the decision to go first to third on that ball hit by Nick in the gap.

"I’m excited for both of those guys, Nick with his first major-league RBI and Tyler Collins coming in and scoring the winning run. All the young guys, they got the job done today."

Collins said Opening Day lived up to his expectations.

"And then some," Collins said. "This is the dream. You want to get to the big leagues and then to even get to play, to score a game-winning run, to be a part of a victory, there’s nothing sweeter."