KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) Even after a late start, Justin Verlander appears ready for opening day.
Verlander extending his spring training scoreless streak to 13 2-3 innings, helping the Detroit Tigers beat an Atlanta Braves’ split squad 3-0 Friday.
Coming off core muscle surgery in January, Verlander allowed five hits in five innings, struck out four and walked one, throwing 58 of 84 pitches for strikes. He has one more exhibition outing before the March 31 opener at home against Kansas City.
”I feel like my stuff is getting a little better every time out,” the six-time All-Star said.
Julio Teheran, expected to start the Braves’ opener at Milwaukee on March 31, gave up two runs and two hits in six innings with four strikeouts, one walk and a wild pitch.
Detroit took a 2-0 lead in the fourth when Ian Kinsler walked, Ezequiel Carrera hit an RBI double and advanced on a wild pitch, and Victor Martinez had a run-scoring groundout.
”It felt good. Just one bad inning,” said Teheran, who has a 1.42 ERA.
Atlanta loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth on Ramiro Pena’s double, Teheran’s single and Jason Heyward’s walk. But Verlander got B.J. Upton to ground into a forceout.
”You don’t want to go through spring training and everything be a breeze,” Verlander said. ”You want to have to grind and work through an inning.”
Verlander would like to extend his distance in his remaining exhibition start.
”I’d like to get at least six or seven innings,” he said. ”Pitches? I’ll be around 90 or so.”
Teheran, third in NL Rookie of the Year voting last season, is expected to learn Saturday that he will start the opener.
”I feel strong and I’m getting ready,” said the right-hander, who threw one more inning in the bullpen after coming out. ”I’m excited about maybe starting opening day. I’m waiting to hear.”
Detroit left fielder Rajai Davis remains sidelined with a sore right hamstring and isn’t expected to play Saturday against Toronto in Dunedin.
”I’d rather be cautious with a guy like that who depends on his legs so much,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. Davis hasn’t played since Sunday and was scratched from the lineup Tuesday. He is hitting .387 with five stolen bases in 11 games.
Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez is set to have a bullpen session in Lakeland on Saturday and is expected to pitch in a minor league game Monday. He missed what would have been his fourth spring training start on Tuesday because of shoulder inflammation, and he received a cortisone shot.
Braves catcher Evan Gattis is nursing a sore right quadriceps. He hasn’t played since Monday.
With shortstop Jose Igelias likely out for the season, the Tigers acquired Andrew Romine from the Los Angeles Angels for left-hander Jose Alvarez, and Romine likely will platoon with either Hernan Perez or Danny Worth. Perez started at shortstop against the Braves and was 1 for 3 with an RBI.
Detroit also has a bullpen opening because right-hander Bruce Rondon needing elbow ligament-replacement surgery, which will cause him to miss the season. Evan Reed retired Atlanta’s final four straight batters.