V-Mart's bat shows no signs of rust
LAKELAND, Fla. -- A pair of hitters on the comeback trail stole the limelight from an expected pitchers' duel on Sunday at Joker Marchant Stadium. While Ryan Howard doubled twice with an RBI, including a drive to the right-field fence against Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez continued his triumphant return with a three-hit performance, including a home run off Roy Halladay, as the Tigers and Phillies dueled to a 5-5 draw.
The Verlander-Halladay pairing was expected to make for a quick afternoon, and their easy opening innings certainly suggested it would. Once Howard smacked a line drive to the fence leading off the second inning, however, the offensive onslaught was on.
Freddy Galvis' RBI double completed a three-hit second inning off Verlander to open the scoring, and Halladay struck out two of his first four batters with a nasty selection of pitches. Once he fell behind Martinez, though, he served up a pitch that the Tigers' designated hitter sent deep to right-center field for his first home run since the 2011 American League Championship Series.
Martinez added a fourth-inning single through the right side before flaring a single into right field leading off the sixth. He improved to 4-for-7 this spring.
"This is only my third game, but I think I've been really surprised," said Martinez. "The big thing is to pick up the ball out of the pitcher's hand."
"It was good," Halladay said. "The hardest part of every Spring Training is slowing yourself down. You're anxious. But I felt good. I felt like that was the biggest thing. Five or six pitches I rushed. I rushed a cutter and a couple changeups. I felt good. I'm happy with where things are. It's just a matter of getting repetitions in and getting myself under control."
Howard ripped a line drive into the right-field corner off left-hander Kyle Lobstein in a two-run third inning before Kevin Frandsen homered off Lobstein in the fourth. Alex Avila's sacrifice fly started Detroit's rally in the bottom of the inning ahead of Omar Infante's two-run double.
Prince Fielder's RBI single in the fifth gave the Tigers a lead to protect, but Dominic Brown jumped an Al Alburquerque fastball for a game-tying home run in the eighth.
Up next: The Tigers and Phillies complete their home-and-home set on Monday with a televised 1:05 p.m. ET contest at Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater. Cliff Lee will make his first start of the spring opposite fellow Arkansan left-hander Drew Smyly, who will begin his quest to win a rotation spot for the second consecutive spring. MLB Network and MLB.TV will have the live broadcast, while AM 1270 will have the radio call in Detroit.