3/19/2013 4:11 P.M. ET
Fister struggles with command in Grapefruit start
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Longtime Tigers nemesis Luke Scott carried his home-run history against Detroit into Spring Training, belting a fourth-inning grand slam to complete a Rays onslaught against Doug Fister and send Tampa Bay on its way to an 11-5 win Tuesday at Joker Marchant Stadium.
The Rays' offense had scored three runs over its previous two games combined, but came out of its final off-day swinging against the Tigers and Fister, who battled fastball command troubles well before his fateful fourth inning. He wasn't completely wild with his location, but he missed enough to pay for it.
"Basically, he struggled all game with it, but that happens," catcher Alex Avila said. "I actually thought he did a decent job up until that fourth inning. He was still able to get outs without having his command. …
"When a pitcher is struggling with his command a little bit and is constantly behind, if he's not able to make the adjustment, normally it'll catch up and result in a few runs. Big league hitters, you might be able to get away with it here and there, but getting away with it two or three times is a little tough. But Doug will be just fine."
The Rays milked 49 pitches out of Fister in the second and third innings, but had only one run to show for it. Jack Cust's double off the left-field fence leading off the fourth and Prince Fielder's error on Ryan Roberts' ensuing ground ball set up the breakout inning.
Jose Lobaton and Desmond Jennings both singled in runs and were on base when a two-out walk to Matt Joyce brought up Scott, owner of 10 career home runs in 24 games against Tigers pitching. Fister tried to bury a sinker against him and induce a ground ball, but Scott jumped it and sent it over the right-field scoreboard for his third homer of the spring.
Just two of the seven runs off Fister were earned, but he still dealt with seven hits and three walks over 3 2/3 innings and about 83 pitches. He has given up 17 runs, 12 earned, on 21 hits over 14 2/3 innings with eight walks and 14 strikeouts.
Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson, making just his second official start of the spring, overcame early damage on first-inning RBI singles from Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez and Austin Jackson's second-inning RBI double to cruise from there. He gave up three runs on eight hits over six innings with three strikeouts.
Tigers Minor Leaguer Devon Travis brought the Tigers a little closer in the eighth with a two-run homer off Brandon Gomes, who yielded his first runs of the spring.
Up next for the Tigers: The Tigers on Wednesday have their second and final off-day before gearing up for the home stretch of Spring Training with a 6:05 p.m. ET game against the Astros on Thursday at Joker Marchant Stadium. Justin Verlander will make his next-to-last start of the spring after pitching in a Minor League game his last time out. Closer candidate Bruce Rondon is also scheduled to pitch along with Joaquin Benoit and Al Alburquerque. FOXSports Detroit will have the broadcast in Michigan and Northwest Ohio, while MLB.TV will have it online.