LAKELAND, Fla. — It wasn’t quite perfect but Tigers starter Shane Greene liked his start Saturday.
Greene was asked if he felt ready for the regular season.
"I couldn’t be more ready," Greene responded.
In the Tigers’ 4-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Joker Marchant Stadium, Greene allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits while walking three and striking out six.
"At times he struggled with his command a little bit but overall I thought he pitched pretty well," catcher Alex Avila said. "Showed great stuff and a lot of confidence in all four of his pitches."
Miguel Cabrera staked Greene to a 2-0 lead with his second home run in five games, a two-run shot in the bottom of the first off St. Louis starter Lance Lynn.
Things went smoothly for Greene until the third, when he got two quick outs and then walked both John Jay and Kolten Wong, two lefties.
"I had two outs and I walked two guys in a row and that can’t happen," Greene said.
Left-handers hit .281 against Greene last season versus .242 for right-handers.
"We want him to use his change-up more," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "It helps him become more effective against left-handers. He threw some really good ones today. His cutter and his slider are his ‘A’ off-speed pitches."
Greene said he’s still working on his change-up but it is starting to come around.
One problem Greene had in the third was both center fielder Anthony Gose and shortstop Jose Iglesias went for Matt Adams’ pop-up but Gose didn’t catch it, which allowed two runs to score.
"That’s the type of pop-up that had they played together last year, they probably would have knew each other and it would have been caught," Ausmus said. "It’s probably Gose’s ball but Anthony told me he called it a little late which kind of threw Iglesias off because Iglesias thought he had it too but again, that’s why we have spring training, you get to learn how to communicate."
Avila said he and Greene have been learning to communicate with each other this spring and he’s learned a lot about the 26-year-old right-hander.
"He’s a great competitor," Avila said. "I just love the way he goes about his business. He’s a quiet guy but when he’s out there he’s extremely intense. He’s a guy that’s a lot of fun to catch. I think he’s got a chance to be special and win a lot of ballgames for us."
Avila tied the game in the seventh with his second home run of the spring.
"Hitting a home run always feels good," Avila said.
Jordan Lennerton, who replaced Cabrera at first base, hit a double in the right centerfield gap to score Kinsler with the game-winning run in the eighth.
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