BRAVES 6, TIGERS 1
By JEFF BERLINICKE
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — The Atlanta Braves would be happy to see a power display like this during the regular season.
B.J. Upton hit his first home run in an Atlanta Braves uniform and Dan Uggla also hit his first homer of spring training in a 6-1 win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
Upton’s two-run drive came off Doug Fister in the fourth inning. Upton, who like brother Justin joined the Braves during the offseason, is batting .368 (7 for 19) in the exhibition season. Justin Upton had an RBI double in the fifth against Bruce Rondon.
Tyler Pastornicky and Dan Uggla also homered for Atlanta, and the Braves’ Joey Terdoslavich went 1 for 2 to raise his batting average to .625 (10 for 16).
Tigers starter Max Scherzer, slowed by a sore right shoulder at the end of last season, breezed through two hitless innings in 14 pitches and retired six straight batters.
For Scherzer, two innings weren’t enough for his first appearance of the exhibition season. He went to the bullpen to pitch a simulated third inning and said he didn’t feel any pain.
“All I was trying to do was throw strikes,” Scherzer said. “I threw strikes and they were swinging. All I wanted to do was make sure I didn’t walk the house my first time out.”
Scherzer is just behind ace Justin Verlander at the front end of the Tigers’ rotation. Verlander led the major leagues with 239 strikeouts, eight more than Scherzer, who pitched just four innings after Sept. 23 as Detroit’s rested him for the postseason.
“I got beat, but he kind of won by default,” Scherzer said with a smile. “We were one-two in all of baseball.”
Scherzer did lead in strikeouts per nine innings at 11.08.
Scherzer was making his first game appearance since the fourth and final game of the World Series, when he didn’t get a decision in a 10-inning loss to San Francisco.
“He was fantastic,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He did fine. I am more anxious to see how he feels tomorrow than I am right now. We are still in the infant stages of spring training. He threw strikes and that’s what I wanted to see.”
For Scherzer, the end of his 2012 season is a distant memory.
“I feel fine,” he said. “Everybody is making a bigger deal than they should.”
Braves starter Mike Minor allowed one hit in three scoreless innings, combining with six relievers on a three-hitter. Minor allowed two runs and walked two in two innings against Washington on Feb. 26.
“That was a lot better than my first outing,” he said. “I need to be consistent. I got the ball down and got it over the plate. That’s what it’s all about in spring training.”
AP Photo Atlanta Braves’ B.J. Upton reacts, while rounding first base, after hitting a two-run home run during the fourth inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Kissimmee, Fla., Sunday.×