Berry's triple big for Tigers in Verlander's debut
Detroit edges Toronto as ace delivers two scoreless innings
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander couldn't no-hit the Blue Jays again in his first start of the spring, but he still held them down long enough for the Tigers to rally. Quintin Berry's two-run triple in the seventh inning continued Detroit's perfect start with a 4-2 win Monday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium.
One day after the Tigers belted nine home runs, a far less windy day across central Florida and a far stingier Blue Jays pitching staff set up a low-scoring duel. Verlander officially began the followup to his American League MVP season with two scoreless innings, allowing a Colby Rasmus bloop single for his lone baserunner.
Much like his no-hitter at Toronto last May, Verlander used a slider -- his fourth-best pitch, by his standards -- to keep the Blue Jays off-balance. He only threw one, but it was a good one, freezing Edwin Encarnacion for a called third strike to end the first inning.
Ryan Raburn's third-inning sacrifice fly scored Delmon Young for the game's lone run through five innings until Encarnacion struck for a ground-rule double in the sixth off Phil Coke to drive in Mike McCoy. Ryan Goin's RBI single off David Pauley an inning later put the Tigers behind for the first time this spring, but Andy Dirks' leadoff single in the bottom of the inning and Eric Patterson's one-out walk set up Berry's heroics. Dirks later added a single in the eighth to make it 4-2.
Berry, a speedster signed to a Minor League deal out of the Reds' organization, laced a gapper to left-center field over Anthony Gose, clearing the bases as much of the crowd of 8,357 cheered.
Adam Wilk, a fifth-starter candidate for the Tigers' rotation, followed Verlander with two scoreless innings. Joaquin Benoit made his first appearance of the spring with a scoreless inning of his own.
Up next for Tigers: The Tigers and Prince Fielder go on the road for one of their longest trips of the spring Tuesday, traveling to Jupiter for a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. Rick Porcello will make his first spring start opposite Alex Sanabia. Fifth-starter candidates Casey Crosby and Andy Oliver will follow Porcello along with Daniel Schlereth, Jose Ortega and Brayan Villarreal.