March 15, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Joker Marchant Stadium. The Tigers defeated the Orioles 4 - 2. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
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The talk used to be about Justin Veralander starting slowly, then coming around in the month of May. If he pitches during the first month of the regular season anything like he did today against the Orioles, it could be his best April yet.
After allowing a lead-off home run, Verlander settled in for eight strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings. Not a bad day's work.
The only pitcher competing for a roster spot was right-hander Collin Balester, who struck out two and allowed a run in 2 1/3 innings on the mound.
Gerald Laird drove in a pair of runs with a sixth-inning single to knot the game at 2-2 for Detroit, with the game-winning run coming when Jerad Head scored on a throwing error by Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. However, Danny Worth was the only Tigers player to have a multi-hit game. Meanwhile, as some noted in a game thread, Austin Jackson went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts at the top of the batting order. He has 10 strikeouts in 23 at bats, for a rate of more than 43 percent. Not a good sign for your lead off batter who supposedly fixed his swing to cut down on strikeouts.
Miguel Cabrera had a hit, which was good after he gave everyone a scare with an injury to his wrist earlier in the day while taking fielding practice. MLB.com's Jason Beck reports Cabrera was taking ground balls when Austin Jackson, taking batting practice, inadvertently pulled a ball right at Cabrera.
So everyone exhale some relief. Let's get to the regular season, fast.