Right-hander allows just one hit over 6 1/3 shutout frames
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Opening Day starters Justin Verlander and Cliff Lee engaged in a pitching duel on Wednesday afternoon, and the visiting Tigers edged the Phillies, 1-0, in a Grapefruit League game at Bright House Field.
Verlander put the finishing touches on a stellar spring in which he did not allow a run over 20 innings. He surrendered just one hit over 6 1/3 innings against the Phillies, striking out seven and issuing one walk. Verlander retired 16 consecutive batters before walking Reid Brignac to lead off the seventh.
"I was efficient and that comes back to my fastball control," Verlander said. "I was able to locate real well and get ahead of a lot of guys. It was a good day."
Verlander said five of the seven strikeouts came on pitches other than the fastball.
"I'm definitely encouraged," he said. "Obviously, there hasn't been a lot of solid contact, so I know that what I'm working on has been beneficial to me. I think I've got a good angle on my fastball and my off-speed stuff's been really good."
Lee also looked sharp in his final start of the spring, scattering six hits over five innings of one-run ball. The left-hander struck out seven against one walk. The Tigers had at least one baserunner in each inning against Lee, but the lefty was able to pitch out of jams and induced two double plays. Lee finished the spring with a 2.55 ERA over six starts.
The Tigers scored the game's only run in the first inning. Ian Kinsler belted a one-out triple to right and scored on Miguel Cabrera's grounder to shortstop.
After struggling to score runs early in the spring, the Phillies entered Wednesday hitting .295 over their last eight games. But their bats were silenced by Verlander, a former American League Cy Young Award winner. Chase Utley had the Phillies' only hit against the flamethrower, a single in the first inning.
Up next:Max Scherzer will make his final Spring Training tuneup before his Cy Young defense on Thursday, when he faces the Braves in a 1:05 p.m. ET matchup at Joker Marchant Stadium. Scherzer, who made headlines earlier this week when the Tigers announced they've tabled talks on a contract extension, has pitched well through the potential distraction, though he has allowed eight runs on 12 hits over 10 1/3 innings in his last two outings. MLB.TV will have the game live online, while FS Detroit will carry the game back to Michigan.