KISSIMMEE, Florida — Justin Verlander was sharp for 3 2-3 innings and Victor Martinez hit a two-run double to help the Detroit Tigers beat the Houston Astros 5-0 Saturday in a split squad game for both teams. Verlander gave up three hits and struck out three. Rookie left-hander Andy Oliver pitched two hitless innings, striking out the Astros in order in the sixth. The Tigers’ ace appears set for another good year. He has won 19 games once, 17 once and 18 twice, including last season. “Obviously that’s something I would like to do,” Verlander said after pitching 3 2-3 innings in his second start of the spring, “but it’s not a personal goal to reach 20 wins. I think it’s the media that sets it as a benchmark, more so than the players. “But obviously if you get to there, things have gone pretty well for you that year.” Verlander broke out his slider for the first time this spring and struck out Bill Hall with it on his 55th and final pitch. Magglio Ordonez was scratched from Detroit’s lineup because of spasms in his left hamstring. Martinez’s RBI double came in the third inning off Astros starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, who pitched three innings. Hunter Pence had two of Houston’s five hits. The Astros’ other split squad lost 1-0 to St. Louis. Detroit’s lost 7-4 to Toronto.
J.D. Martinez, Houston’s minor league player of the year, went 0 for 3 as a DH with two line drives. Martinez had been slowed by a sore right quad. An MRI on the shoulder of Astros reliever Alberto Arias revealed no structural damage. He had surgery last April.
“Now he can let it go and he doesn’t have to be fearful that there’s some other damage in there,” manager Brad Mills said.