DETROIT -- Jordan Zimmermann looked just like he did last April. This season, he hopes to keep pitching that way every month.
The Detroit Tigers right-hander earned the American League Pitcher of the Month award last April, winning his first five starts and giving up just two earned runs. He only won four more games the rest of the way, as he was sidetracked by groin and neck injuries.
Back to good health, Zimmermann pitched six strong innings as the Tigers downed the Boston Red Sox, 4-1, on Saturday afternoon at Comerica Park.
"It was huge," Zimmermann said of his season debut. "It was a really tough year for me last year, battling injuries. To finally have a fresh start and healthy spring, then come into the first game and do this means a lot."
Zimmermann (1-0) limited the Red Sox to one run on four hits in his longest outing since June 30. He allowed one walk and struck out three.
"It changes the whole outlook of our team, to have the (No.) 1, 2 or 3 guy -- he could be any of those guys -- in the rotation healthy and throwing the ball well," second baseman Ian Kinsler said.
Zimmermann appeared to get stronger during his last three innings, retiring nine of the last 10 batters he faced.
"I went to the changeup a little bit and the curveball a little more," he said. "The first couple of innings, I couldn't get a real good feel for my breaking stuff. The ball just felt chalky in my hand. I was using as much forehead sweat as I could to get a good grip on the ball. As the game went on, it got a little warmer and I felt a lot better and the ball started coming out better."
He got run support from Jose Iglesias and James McCann, who hit solo home runs.
Iglesias, who hit the 11th home run of his career, also doubled in a run and scored another. McCann's homer was his second in as many games. Justin Wilson notched the second save of his career with a 1-2-3 ninth that included two strikeouts.
Mitch Moreland had two hits and scored the lone run as the Red Sox dropped to 0-2 in the four-game series. Starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1) took the loss, allowing four runs on five hits in five innings. He allowed three of those runs in the fifth.
"Some mislocated pitches in the middle of the plate that they didn't miss," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "For the first four innings, he had good power and good action to his secondary stuff. But most impressive was the fastball that he could elevate against some quality hitters for some swing and miss. But in the fifth inning ... they were able to get him that second and third time through the order."
Boston's All-Star right fielder Mookie Betts missed his third straight game while battling an illness. He is expected to play Sunday.
The Red Sox got another scare in the ninth when center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. fell after rounding first base. Bradley, who robbed Nick Castellanos of an extra-base hit in the eighth, clutched his right knee but was able to walk off the field.
"He came out of it OK," Farrell said "It was kind of scary and ugly looking when his footing gave way. He was able to come off pretty much under his own power."
Bradley Jr.'s deep sacrifice fly in the second put Boston on top and Detroit tied it in the third. Iglesias, who was 0-for-12 entering the game, made his first hit of the season a big one as he drilled a 94 mph fastball into the left-field stands.
McCann ripped a 431-foot blast into the same area to put the Tigers in front in the fifth. JaCoby Jones followed with a double, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Iglesias' double into the right-center gap. Kinsler made it 4-1 with an RBI single.
NOTES: Red Sox DH Hanley Ramirez remained in Boston on Saturday after being diagnosed with the flu. Ramirez, who is battling a high-grade fever, did not require hospitalization but missed his second consecutive game. The slugger's status for the last two games of the series in Detroit is questionable. ... Boston RHP Matt Barnes rejoined the team on Saturday and will be eligible to play on Sunday. He was placed on bereavement list on Thursday. ... Detroit LHP Kyle Ryan was activated from the paternity list on Saturday and pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Ryan was forced to fly into Columbus, Ohio, and drive back to Michigan after his flight from Tampa was cancelled. ... Tigers 2B Ian Kinsler's fifth-inning single gave him 1,700 hits for his career. ...Red Sox LHP David Price threw from 120 feet on Saturday as he continues his rehab from a left elbow strain. ... Boston LHP Drew Pomeranz will make his season debut with a start against Baltimore on Tuesday. Pomeranz, who is on the 10-day disabled list because of a forearm flexor strain, threw an extended bullpen session on Saturday.