Cardinals fall to Tigers 5-4; Martinez fans five in 2 2/3
LAKELAND, Fla. — Miguel Cabrera hit his third homer of the spring and Mike Pelfrey pitched five scoreless innings for the second straight time to lead the Detroit Tigers past the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4 on Thursday.
JaCoby Jones and Nate Schierholtz also homered for the Tigers.
Pelfrey struck out three and allowed three hits in his fourth start of the spring. He lowered his ERA to 1.17.
"I feel good," said Pelfrey, who came to Detroit as a free agent after making 30 starts with Minnesota last season. "My goal was to come down here and build arm strength and endurance, but I am really not paying attention to the (shutout) streak. I just want to make the rotation."
The Tigers are set at the top of the rotation with Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and newcomer Jordan Zimmerman. The last two spots could go many ways, but Pelfrey and Daniel Norris are considered the leading candidates. Matt Boyd and Shane Greene, both established major league starters, are also in the mix.
Manager Brad Ausmus said he isn’t making any decisions yet with two weeks left in spring training.
Pelfrey was 6-11 with a 4.26 ERA last season with the Twins.
"I’m getting ahead of hitters," he said. "I’m getting ground balls and it is letting me go deep into the game."
Pelfrey wanted to go an extra inning and that was nixed, but he went out and threw 15 more pitches in the bullpen.
"This is a team with high expectations," Pelfrey said of Detroit, which finished in the AL Central basement last season after four straight division titles. "We have big goals and I want to be a part of this rotation and what we want to do."
Carlos Martinez started for the Cardinals and went 2 2-3 innings, allowing two earned runs while walking one. His spring ERA is at 5.79. Martinez went 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA last year and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said he isn’t worried.
"His change-up was good, his slider looked good, and when he can throw the change and the slider on a 3-2 count for strikes, he’s going to be tough to hit," Matheny said. "His slider is only getting better."
The Cardinals lead the majors in stolen bases this spring with 25 in 32 attempts. Tommy Pham stole his fourth base of the season. Charlie Pilson leads the team with five.
Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright will start his third game of the spring on Friday against the Tigers in Jupiter.