Tigers 2, Braves 1(7)
Justin Verlander is ready to do it all over again – with one big
difference. He wants that elusive World Series title.
The ace right-hander tuned up for opening day with a crisp
outing in his final spring start and the Detroit Tigers beat the
Atlanta Braves 2-1 on Saturday in a game called after six innings
due to rain.
Verlander went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA last season. He won the AL
Cy Young Award and was voted MVP, making for a whirlwind winter.
But he’s ready to move on.
”I appreciated it a lot,” he said. ”It is something I can
look back on, but I won’t change my work ethic or anything because
of it. It doesn’t change my desire to be the best.”
Verlander allowed four hits in six innings against Atlanta,
finishing the spring with a 2.02 ERA. He struck out five and walked
”I didn’t have anything to work on today,” said Verlander, who
will face the Boston Red Sox on Thursday. ”There’s nothing more I
can do. I’m just trying to pitch and treat it like it’s the regular
Verlander’s first pitch against the Braves registered 96 mph on
the radar gun. That might be nice in July, but it showed he was a
little amped up for a meaningless exhibition game.
”That was an accident,” he laughed. ”It came out a little
Still, Verlander said he isn’t satisfied. He said his curveball
has been good but not great, and he did some more throwing in the
bullpen after the game was called following a seven-minute rain
”Curveball wasn’t great,” he said. ”Everything else was all
right. Fastball control got a little bit better. Changeup was
pretty good. Slider got a little better.”
Tommy Hanson also pitched six innings for the Braves, yielding
five hits. He’s also slated to start on opening day on Thursday
against the New York Mets.
Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel came in for the seventh but that’s
when the game was called after a seven-minute delay.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had already seen enough by the
time the game was called.
”Tommy Hanson was great,” Gonzalez said. ”He got his work in
and he threw strikes. He’s lined up to start the opener and he’s
Miguel Cabrera went 1 for 3 with an RBI and moved his spring
average to .444, and Clete Thomas homered for the Tigers. Dan Uggla
went 1 for 2 with an RBI for the Braves.
NOTES: Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he might not bring five
starters north for opening day. Detroit doesn’t a fifth starter for
the first homestand and that would allow the potential fifth
starter to open at Triple-A Toledo. It also might need an extra
position player early on because C Gerald Laird (knee) and 2B
Brandon Inge (groin) are day to day. … Tigers RHP Doug Fister is
scheduled to make his final spring start on Sunday against Houston
in Lakeland. Leyland said he might have to mix up the other
pitchers who were scheduled due to Saturday’s rain-shortened game.
… Gonzalez said he saw some positive swings from 2B Josh Wilson
and OF Eric Hinske off Verlander. … Gonzalez already announced
that Hanson will start the season opener, but added that RHP Jair
Jurrjens will start the home opener on April 13 against the