CLEARWATER, Fla. -- For a spring training game, it was something to see, two ace pitchers who looked clearly in midseason form.
The Detroit Tigers beat the Phillies, 1-0 in a game where Justin Verlander and Cliff Lee weren’t just out there to get a few innings in.
The two pitchers competed fiercely. Had Bobby Abreu gotten to an Ian Kinsler fly to right that dropped for a triple, then Lee would have had a shutout.
Lee had to settle for allowing one run (when Kinsler scored on Miguel Cabrera’s groundout to short), in five innings.
Another thing that made the pitching performances impressive is that the Tigers and Phillies had basically their main lineups. The Phillies didn’t play Carlos Ruiz and Cody Asche but had the rest of their starters, while centerfielder Austin Jackson got the day off for Detroit.
In his last three starts, Lee has gone 16 innings and allowed three earned runs, with 16 strikeouts and three walks. In fact Lee was consistently dominant in most of his six starts.
“I’ll take just about all those outings every time if I could,” Lee said. “It’s spring training and whether you do really goo or really bad at this point it’s over and time to move on the regular season.”
Verlander, who was simply throwing gas, even upstaged Lee, allowing just a Chase Utley single in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked one.
This is a pitcher who had offseason core muscle surgery, but has finished with a spring ERA of 0.00.
“I was efficient and that comes back to fastball control,” Verlander said. “I was able to locate well and get a head of guys and it was a good day.”
Actually, it was a good spring for two of baseball’s better pitchers, both who treated their final tune-up seriously, giving 9,209 at Bright House Field, an opening day type matchup before the season actually begins.