Tigers 4, Blue Jays 2
Justin Verlander vowed last year that he would take every game
seriously, even in spring training. After a season in which he was
the AL MVP and unanimously won the Cy Young Award, he found no
reason to change his focus.
Verlander picked up where he left off, pitching two scoreless
innings in his exhibition debut as the Detroit Tigers beat the
Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 Monday.
Verlander gave up one hit, struck out one and faced six batters,
and said he felt ready for another inning. He went 24-5 last
season, including a no-hitter at Toronto.
Asked if he was watching his line or merely trying to get ready
for April, Verlander had an immediate answer.
”One hit, no walks,” he said. ”I keep score no matter
It’s that kind of intensity, along with a dazzling array of
pitches, that made Verlander so dominant for the AL Central
champions. Be it March or October, he’s ready.
”I have a lot to work on this spring,” he said. ”I need to
get more control and I wasn’t throwing my breaking ball for
strikes, but it will come. I need to get a feel for my changeup,
but that will also come.”
Tigers catcher Alex Avila said Verlander was just settling
”He was just working on his breaking ball, his slider and other
things,” Avila said. ”He had solid command. He has such command
over things that makes him such a good pitcher.”
Verlander had some help in the field when Brandon Inge, trying
to play second base for the first time since high school, went deep
into the hole and made a long flip to shortstop Ramon Santiago, who
is also up for the second base job. Santiago threw to first to
complete the double play. That was the only time Verlander saw a
”He was just trying to get the feel for his breaking ball and
his changeup,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ”I’m not thinking
about last year and neither is he. He doesn’t have perfect control
yet, but he’ll have it.”
A day after launching nine home runs against Atlanta on a windy
day, the Tigers were held to a pair of extra-base hits – a double
by Delmon Young and a triple from Quintin Berry.
Collin Balester pitched a scoreless ninth for a save.
Colby Rasmus doubled and singled for the Blue Jays.
Henderson Alvarez started and pitched a scoreless inning for
Toronto. Drew Carpenter went two innings, allowing one run.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell said he was impressed by Alvarez,
who went 1-3 in 10 starts for the Jays last season. He went one
inning and allowed only a walk.
”Henderson pitched well last year and he’s picked up where he
left off,” Farrell said. ”He stayed in the strike zone and he
NOTES: Ricky Romero will start for the Blue Jays on Tuesday
against Philadelphia. … Farrell said he was also impressed by
Evan Crawford, who struck out two n his only inning. … Leyland
said he plans to be creative this spring with his batting orders,
suggesting that at times he might bat Avila or Inge in the second
spot that is normally reserved for OF Brennan Boesch. Leyland said
he wants to make sure everyone gets extra at-bats. … Leyland said
he was intrigued by pitchers Bryan Villarreal and Jose Ortega. He
described them as ”young, wild horses.” … Leyland predicted the
Tigers would be dull to watch early in the spring. No bunting,
nothing exciting, he said. ”We are going to be very boring,”
Leyland said. ”I just want to get swings and let them play.”