3/6/2013 3:54 P.M. ET
Verlander goes four frames, Hunter homers in win
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander went back to work and delivered four innings of one-hit ball before Bryan Holaday's two-run double and Torii Hunter's first home run of the spring powered the Tigers to a 4-1 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday at Joker Marchant Stadium.
On a day when a cloudless sky and a gusty wind blowing from left to right made most fly balls an adventure, the conditions had different effects on Verlander and Jays starter Brandon Morrow. Adam Lind's second-inning walk and fourth-inning double comprised the only damage off Verlander, who struck out three of the first eight batters he faced before finishing up with ground balls and infield pop-ups.
"I was just thinking about making my pitches," Verlander said, "but after the first inning, after I saw a pop-up in the outfield with Toronto, I was like, 'All right guys, I'll try not to give up any fly balls today.'"
The pop-up adventures cost Morrow a first-inning run without giving up a hit. Morrow lost a 1-2 pitch and hit Hunter with one out before a Victor Martinez walk and an errant throw from catcher Josh Thole sent Hunter to third. Morrow struck out Prince Fielder and got a pop-up from Andy Dirks, but shortstop Lance Zawadzki could not handle the ball and ended up with a run-scoring error.
Austin Jackson's leadoff double in the third was the only hit off Morrow, who walked one and struck out three.
"I commanded [the curveball] pretty well today," Morrow said. "Just one that I spiked that I would have liked to have back, but other than that I've felt good with it. I've really felt pretty good with everything. I think the fact that I was able to do the same thing in spring last year, use those [curveballs] a lot, and then the way I used them during the season, it was a lot quicker this year to get the feel for it."
Holaday, catching Verlander in a game for the first time in his young career, added another feat with his fourth-inning line drive off Brett Cecil into the left-center-field gap, scoring Dirks and Danny Worth. Hunter led off the fifth with a drive off Michael Schwimer.
Jim Negrych homered leading off the ninth to put the Jays on the scoreboard.
Up next for Tigers: The Tigers are going to Disney World for the third time in 13 days, this time under the lights for a 6:05 p.m. ET game against the Braves at Champion Stadium, available on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio. Drew Smyly will make his third start of the spring in his quest to win the fifth starter job, followed by Kyle Lobstein, Joaquin Benoit, Brayan Villarreal, Duane Below and Trevor Bell.