LAKELAND, Fla. -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia added more to punch to the Tigers' backup catcher duel with a three-run homer in support of Justin Verlander, who tamed the power-packed Nationals lineup for three innings of one-hit ball in an 11-5 Detroit win Wednesday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium.
The Nationals provided Verlander with a challenge in his second start, sending a lineup that included reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth, Ben Revere and Danny Espinosa. Aside from a Revere double and a pair of walks, Verlander kept them quiet. Instead of getting hyped up and trying to overpower them with fastballs, Verlander focused on changing speeds and kept them off-balance.
"I enjoy that," Verlander said of the lineup. "I think you want to get feedback from big league hitters [in Spring Training]. I think some minor league guys come up with less of an approach, which makes it tough."
While Bryan Holaday has made his case to back up catcher James McCann with an offensive outburst , batting 7-for-11 with three homers and nine RBIs in his first five games, Saltalamacchia provided a reminder of his offensive resume with his second spring homer. He greeted Nationals reliever Nick Masset with an opposite-field shot onto the berm in left-center field with two out in the third.
Four Tigers runs came home in the inning, extended by two Espinosa errors, a Rendon miscue and a J.D. Martinez walk. Miguel Cabrera added his second spring blast, a fourth-inning solo shot.
Washington's offense eventually awakened against Detroit's bullpen, plating two runs with a Murphy fifth-inning double off Blaine Hardy and another with Tyler Moore's sixth-inning homer off Jose Valdez.
Ian Kinsler, Nate Schierholtz and Tyler Collins also went deep for the Tigers, who finished with five homers.
Up next for the Nationals: Bronson Arroyo will make his first Grapefruit League start when the Nationals host the Astros on Thursday at Space Coast Stadium at 5:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV. Arroyo, who is competing for a rotation spot, threw two innings in relief against the Marlins on Friday. The Nationals plan on playing most of their starting position players in an effort to stretch them out ahead of the season.
Up next for Tigers:Jordan Zimmermann will make his second spring start against an old division foe when the Tigers visit Clearwater, Fla., for a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Phillies on MLB.TV. MLB Network will also broadcast the game live, including in Detroit. Jose Iglesias, Nick Castellanos and McCann are among the regulars expected to make the trip. Aaron Nola is scheduled to start for Philadelphia.