Verlander's spotless spring continues

Verlander's spotless spring continues

LAKELAND, Fla. -- J.D. Martinez hit a three-run home run and James McCann crushed a grand slam in support of four scoreless innings from Justin Verlander, sending the Tigers to a 10-6 win over the Braves on Tuesday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Martinez's fourth home run of the spring was his third in as many games. The drive off Atlanta starter Bud Norris landed just to the left-field side of the giant batting eye beyond center field, plating Justin Upton and Miguel Cabrera after back-to-back strikeouts. Mike Aviles added a two-out RBI single later in the inning to score Nick Castellanos.

That was more than enough for Verlander, who retired the Braves' lineup in order the first time through, striking out four. Ender Inciarte's bloop double down the left-field line comprised the only baserunner Verlander allowed.

J.D. Martinez's three-run homer

"Today in the first inning, he was having a little bit of trouble with his breaking ball," manager Brad Ausmus said. "But just towards the end of the first inning, something clicked, and both breaking balls were very good. As a matter of fact, all of his offspeed [pitches] were very good the rest of the way."

Verlander allowed one hit with five strikeouts over his four innings, but he threw 61 pitches, 21 of them to strike out the side in order in the second inning. The Braves broke up the shutout when Gordon Beckham scored on a Bruce Rondon wild pitch in the sixth.

In three Grapefruit League starts, Verlander has allowed just three hits and racked up seven strikeouts over nine scoreless innings.

McCann's grand slam

Norris, making his third appearance this spring after seven innings of one-run ball in his previous two outings, gave up six runs on nine hits over three innings.

"Any time you're on the road in Spring Training, you're pretty much going to get the 'A' lineup through the seven hole," said Norris. "I've seen a lot of the Tigers in the last couple years. They've got one of the best lineups in the game, but I've got to execute my pitches. The pitch to Martinez was definitely a mistake and he put a good swing on it. You tip the cap. But once again, this is Spring Training. But I've seen them before, and I know how to get them out when I need to."

Swanson's nice pick, throw

Inciarte drove in two runs for the Braves while top prospect Dansby Swanson, Nick Swisher and Emilio Bonifacio also picked up RBIs. The bulk of the damage came off Tigers relievers Bruce Rondon and Angel Nesbitt.

"He seemed a little out of whack mechanically today," Ausmus said of Rondon, who has given up runs in back-to-back outings since hitting triple digits on the stadium radar gun in a dominant performance last week.

Swanson also showed off his range in the eighth, as he made a stellar play to rob Mike Gerber of a hit.

"He's a special player," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Swanson. "You don't get picked No. 1 in the country if you're not a special player."

Up next for the Braves: First baseman Freddie Freeman, who has been pacing himself in the Grapefruit League while coming back from the wrist and hand injury that nagged him last season, will begin picking up the pace beginning Wednesday against the Cardinals at Champion Stadium. He is expected to make the first of three straight starts for the first time this spring. First pitch is 1:05 p.m. ET, and fans can listen to the action on Gameday Audio. Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin will be making his third spring appearance, second start.

Up next for Tigers: Steven Moya, owner of four Grapefruit League home runs, gets his chance to continue his power-packed Spring Training when he bats cleanup for the Tigers' visit to Kissimmee, Fla., to face the Astros on Wednesday. Jordan Zimmermann is scheduled to make his third start of the spring in the 1:05 p.m. ET game that will air on MLB.TV. Anthony Gose, Jose Iglesias, Ian Kinsler, James McCann and Bryan Holaday are also expected in the starting lineup against Brad Peacock.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.