Justin Verlander finished off his spring with a 2.02 ERA by walking none and striking out five against the Braves on Saturday during a 2-1 Tigers win that was called after six innings.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Justin Verlander is ready to do it all over again — with one big difference: He wants that elusive World Series title.
The ace right-hander tuned up for opening day with a crisp outing in his final spring start as the Detroit Tigers beat the Atlanta Braves, 2-1, on Saturday in a game called after six innings due to rain.
Verlander went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA last season. He won the AL Cy Young Award and was voted MVP, making for a whirlwind winter. But he’s ready to move on.
“I appreciated it a lot,” he said of the postseason accolades. “It is something I can look back on, but I won’t change my work ethic or anything because of it. It doesn’t change my desire to be the best.”
Verlander allowed four hits in six innings against Atlanta, finishing the spring with a 2.02 ERA. He struck out five and walked none.
“I didn’t have anything to work on (Saturday),” said Verlander, who will face the Boston Red Sox on Thursday in the Tigers’ regular-season opener. “There’s nothing more I can do. I’m just trying to pitch and treat it like it’s the regular season.”
Verlander’s first pitch against the Braves registered 96 mph on the radar gun. That might be nice in July, but it showed he was a little amped up for a meaningless exhibition game.
“That was an accident,” he laughed. “It came out a little hot.”
Tommy Hanson also pitched six innings for the Braves, yielding five hits. He’s also slated to start on opening day on Thursday against the New York Mets.
Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel came in for the seventh but that’s when the game was called after a seven-minute delay.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had already seen enough by the time the game was called.
“Tommy Hanson was great,” Gonzalez said. “He got his work in, and he threw strikes. He’s lined up to start the opener, and he’s looking great.”
Miguel Cabrera went 1 for 3 with an RBI and moved his spring average to .444, and Clete Thomas homered for the Tigers. Dan Uggla went 1 for 2 with an RBI for the Braves.
NOTES: Gonzalez said he saw some positive swings from 2B Josh Wilson and OF Eric Hinske off Verlander. … Gonzalez already announced that Hanson will start the season opener, but added that RHP Jair Jurrjens will start the home opener April 13 against the Milwaukee Brewers.