Justin Verlander throws 2 shutout innings in Detroit Tigers blowout victory
By Matt Pelc
The offense may have been the eye-popping takeaway from the Detroit Tigers 12-6 blowout victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday afternoon, but most will wonder how Justin Verlander did in his first game on the mound of Spring Training.
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The answer to those wondering that is to say Verlander did pretty good.
J.V. was perfect in the first inning. He recorded a 1-2-3 inning with a weak fly ball out to left field, a slow ground ball to Hernan Perez at shortstop requiring a quick throw that just beat out Phil Gosselin, and another lazy bounce out to end the inning.
The second inning was a little more dicey. He started strong with a swinging strikeout against Jonny Gomes. A walk and a single followed. Cedric Hunter hit a ball in front of Alex Avila who threw to first while holding the runner. Verlander issued another walk to John Buck, loading the bases and then Justin fanned Daniel Castro looking.
So while there was a lot of action on the bases in the second inning, no damage was done. His final line was 2 innings pitched, one hit, two strikeouts, two walks.
Verlander had a 4-0 lead before he threw a pitch. Atlanta’s prized free agent acquisition Shelby Miller didn’t even make it out of the first inning–a rarity in Spring Training. The former St. Louis Cardinal allowed a leadoff double to Ian Kinsler. Anthony Gose, continuing to swing a good bat, pushed him to third with a single. After a J.D. Martinez strikeout, Yoenis Cespedes grounded into a fielder’s choice which brought home the game’s first run. He stole second, Nick Castellanos and Alex Avila walked (forcing home another run) and Hernan Perez made them pay with a bases loaded single that scored two more runs.
Facing a split squad for Atlanta, Detroit sent 12 men to the plate, scoring seven runs after two men were out in the fourth inning. The big hit in that inning was from Castellanos who doubled to bring in two runs.
The Tigers pitching was pretty wild on the afternoon, issuing way too many walks. Kyle Lobstein came on in relief of Verlander and issued four walks, allowing the Braves’ first run. Jose Valdez and Joe Nathan worked a perfect fourth and fifth inning, but Al Aburquerque had trouble with his command, issuing free passes to the first two men he faced. John Buck made him pay by lacing a two-run double to cut the lead to 11-3.
Daniel Fields, having a good spring thus far, hit a solo shot in the seventh inning to make it 12-3. In the ensuing inning, Ian Krol came in and the ineffectiveness of the Tigers’ bullpen continued. Though he issued no walks, Krol allowed two runs on four hits. He had a chance to get one of those runs at home and threw the ball away.
Blaine Hardy worked a perfect eighth inning. Angel Nesbitt pitched the ninth and allowed a run.
After a two-game road trip, the Tigers return to Lakeland on Sunday to face the Houston Astros. Shane Greene will get his first start in a Tigers’ uniform. Game time is 1:05 and it will be broadcast on WXYT-AM 1270 in Detroit.