LAKELAND, Fla. -- After giving up four hits and two runs to the first five batters he faced, Justin Verlander made an adjustment.
What a difference a little bend makes.Verlander retired 15 of his final 18 batters after talking to pitching coach Jeff Jones and the Detroit Tigers beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-3 Sunday in a game between split squads."I left some pitches up," Verlander said of the first inning. "I started working in the second and third getting my chest over my body a little bit and that seemed to help. I got away from that a little bit in the first and I felt it."Verlander retired 12 in a row at one stretch and allowed just three infield singles after the first."One of his big keys is to make sure he stays a little bit bent at the waist," Jones said. "He was kind of staying upright a little too much (in the first). But, he's very good at making adjustments on his own."For the day, Verlander gave up seven hits and two runs with three strikeouts and no walks in six innings. In five spring starts, Verlander is 1-0 with a 2.18 ERA.His final spring start will be on March 31 against the Atlanta Braves, when he expects to throw around 100 pitches. He is scheduled to start the Tigers' season opener against Boston's Jon Lester in Detroit on April 5.Philadelphia's Scott Elarton limited Detroit to two hits and one run in four innings. The 36-year-old Elarton, who pitched for four major league teams from 1998-2008, is a non-roster invitee competing for a bullpen spot. He hasn't pitched in the majors since 2008 and was out of baseball completely in 2011."I'm glad that one's over," Elarton said. "I'll take the results but it was a struggle from the beginning. I struggled with just about everything but was able to battle through it and get some guys out."Elarton said he's not sure what's going to happen in his comeback attempt, adding, "I guess I'm past the point of worrying about that stuff. You think about it, but whatever they tell me, I'll live with it or be happy with it, one of the two."Detroit's lone run off Elarton came in the first on a triple by Brennan Boesch and a sacrifice fly by Prince Fielder.Detroit minor leaguer Tyler Collins broke a 2-all tie in the seventh with a three-run homer and minor leaguer James McCann added a solo homer in the eighth.Cody Overbeck homered with two outs in the ninth for the Phillies.
With Sunday's game being a split-squad game for both teams, neither manager was at Lakeland. Detroit's Jim Leyland went to Tampa for the Tigers' game with the Yankees, and Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel stayed in Clearwater for the Phillies' game against Baltimore.