Tillman's arm, Young's bat not enough as O's fall to Tigers
By Jason Beck and Brittany Ghiroli
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Ten months after Miguel Cabrera hit a go-ahead home run off Tommy Hunter at Camden Yards, the slugger led a Tigers comeback with a game-tying drive off the Orioles reliever. However, it took a Victor Martinez home run in the eighth inning to break the tie and send Detroit to its second straight victory by a score of 6-4 on Thursday at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Martinez's home run restored Detroit's lead after Jayson Nix homered off a hanging slider from Joe Nathan in the top of the inning to tie the game. Add in a Yoenis Cespedes homer, and the power display broke up a pitching duel between aces David Price and Chris Tillman.
Price, making his next-to-last start before Opening Day, retired the first 10 and final 10 batters he faced. In between, he gave up three runs on three hits in a three-batter stretch of the fourth inning, paced by former Tiger Delmon Young's two-run triple. He ended up going 6 2/3 innings, which was his longest outing of the spring to that point.
Tillman gave up two runs on five hits over 5 ⅓ innings. Both runs came from Cabrera, whose sacrifice fly to the right-field fence drove in Rajai Davis in the opening inning. Two innings later, Davis tripled to the fence in left-center field and scored on a Cabrera blooper to shallow center field.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cabrera hits first homer of spring: It wasn't just the opponent or the timing that made Cabrera's homer feel familiar. The line drive had the kind of carry that looked like Cabrera's swings from two or three years ago. He nearly homered on his sacrifice fly to right.
Cabrera, who returned to game action earlier in the week after recovering from right ankle and foot surgery, will have Friday off after playing three consecutive games.
Tillman goes the distance: The O's righty became the first starter to pitch into the sixth inning this spring, allowing five hits and a walk and striking out four against a tough Tigers lineup.
"Early in the spring you get through [the lineup] once and they start making adjustments. And you got to adjust with them as you get deeper into the game," said Tillman who retired the final eight batters he faced.
Tillman, the Orioles likely Opening Day starter, said that have been no new extension talks between the club and his agent although he would obviously like to remain in Baltimore long-term.
Hanging slider, hanging nail: Nathan, pitching back-to-back days for the first time this spring, gave up a game-tying home run to Nix off a hanging slider. The bigger concern for him was a hanging nail that cut into his right thumb, leaving his finger bleeding.
"My guess is that the cut on the thumb played into [the home-run pitch]," manager Brad Ausmus said.
Nathan will have three days off before his next outing, Ausmus said. He'll also have his closer role; Ausmus confirmed that there is no competition for the role despite the late spring resurgence of Joakim Soria.
Baltimore's bats rally The O's plated three runs in the fourth inning, on Delmon Young's two-RBI triple and Nolan Reimold's sacrifice fly, which temporarily gave them the lead.
"Really, the way the wind was blowing, I was afraid this game was going to be 15-14. The pitchers did a nice job." -- Ausmus, noting a strong, consistent wind blowing out to left-center field.
Jimmy Paredes continued his red-hot spring, collecting a hit and a run scored to raise his Grapefruit League average to .405. The infielder is vying for a roster spot.
Angel Nesbitt, an outside candidate for a spot in the Tigers bullpen, retired both batters he faced in relief of Price. The hard-throwing young right-hander, who split last season closing between Class A Lakeland and Double-A Erie, has proven to Tigers officials he's close to Major League ready, but faces an uphill battle in a bullpen stocked with well-established right-handers.
Justin Verlander will make his fifth start of the spring for the Tigers on Friday, trying to reverse the home-run trend that has developed over his last couple starts. He'll travel to Dunedin, Fla., to face the Blue Jays in a 1:05 p.m. ET game, which you can watch live on MLB.TV. Bruce Rondon, Ian Krol and Kyle Ryan are also scheduled to pitch, while Alex Avila will make his first start at first base. Drew Hutchison is scheduled to start for the Jays.
Baltimore will send Bud Norris to the mound on Friday at 1:05 p.m. ET at Ed Smith Stadium against the Tampa Bay Rays. Norris will be opposed by Rays lefty Everett Teaford.