03/08/10 4:25 PM ET
Willis shines but Scherzer struggles
D-Train puts together second straight scoreless outing
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
at Lakeland, Fla.
Monday, March 8
Braves at the plate: Atlanta pounced early and often for eight consecutive baserunners in a five-run first, punctuated by a massive two-run home run -- easily 420 feet -- from prospect Jason Heyward off the batting cages beyond right field. Brooks Conrad doubled in two more runs later in the inning, before David Ross' bases-clearing double plated three in the second. Eric Hinske had three hits, while Ross and Troy Glaus added two each. Mitch Jones added an eighth-inning solo homer.
Tigers at the plate: Jeff Larish tried to cut into the Braves' early lead with a first-inning RBI single, before three sixth-inning wild pitches plated one run and set up a Wilkin Ramirez sacrifice fly.
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Braves on the mound: Tim Hudson paid for back-to-back hits with a run in his opening inning, before allowing a lone single over his next two. He struck out three batters over as many innings, including a swing and a miss from Miguel Cabrera to end the outing. Jo-Jo Reyes picked up three groundouts and three strikeouts in two scoreless innings.
Tigers on the mound: Max Scherzer struggled for a second straight spring outing Monday, this time retiring only one of the eight batters he faced. Heyward's loft made him the second of seven consecutive Braves to reach base safely against him, three of them via walk. Fu-Te Ni battled his command in the second inning, before Dontrelle Willis posted his second straight strong outing, tossing two hitless innings with a walk and two strikeouts.
Worth noting: The lone out Scherzer recorded came on an unusual play on the basepaths. Braves leadoff man Omar Infante reached base when third baseman Don Kelly's errant throw sent Miguel Cabrera leaping off the bag to catch it. However, Infante turned toward first base, perhaps thinking the ball had gotten away, and Cabrera tagged him for the putout.
Grapefruit League records: Braves 5-2, Tigers 3-3.
Up next: The Tigers have a meeting with the first overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft, Stephen Strasburg, on Tuesday, when they visit the Nationals in Viera, Fla. for a 1:05 p.m. ET game at Space Coast Stadium. Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen, Austin Jackson and Scott Sizemore will be among the projected Detroit regulars taking their hacks at Strasburg in his first Spring Training start. So will outfield prospect Casper Wells, who hit a grand slam off Strasburg in the Arizona Fall League last October.
The Braves will get their first look at Roy Halladay when they return to Disney on Tuesday night to host the Phillies at 7:05 p.m. Halladay's lone career start against Atlanta occurred last year when he was on the wrong end of a 1-0 pitcher's duel against Kenshin Kawakami, who will once again stand as his mound opposition in this Grapefruit League contest. Chipper Jones is lobbying to play, but manager Bobby Cox may opt to give him at least one more day to rest the bruised right thumb that has kept him sidelined since Friday.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.