Avila's double decisive after Porcello's solid outing
DH drives in two to break tie in eighth; Righty allows one run in 3 1/3 innings
JUPITER, Fla. -- Giancarlo Stanton provided the "wow factor" with his monstrous solo home run in the fourth inning. But the decisive blow was delivered by Alex Avila, who lined a two-out, two-run double in the eighth inning that vaulted the Tigers to a 3-1 win over the Marlins on Sunday afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium.
Avila, used in a designated hitter role, had left four on base in his first three at-bats. He came through in his final trip to the plate, ripping his double into the gap in right-center off A.J. Ramos.
"It's still relatively early in Spring Training and he's missed the first few games, so he's trying to get his timing and his mechanics and see the ball," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Often early in Spring Training, you've got all these things going through your head, and if you just go out there wanting to see the ball, hit the ball, everything seems to take care of itself. I don't know if that's the case or not, but I'll certainly take 1-for-4 with two RBIs every day."
Ramos got in trouble by issuing walks to Hernan Perez and Jordan Lennerton. Both scored on Avila's two-base hit.
Until the eighth, the game was even at 1-1, courtesy of a pair of solo home runs.
In the fourth inning, Miami went ahead, powered by Stanton's laser blast to left-center off Rick Porcello that clanked off the Marlins' building beyond the wall. The shot came on the slugger's 20th Grapefruit League at-bat.
"I let it go a little bit more today," Stanton said. "I was a little conservative the past couple of days. No real reason, just hitting line drives."
"His BP today was ridiculous," Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler said. "I was standing with [Brian] Bogusevic in left field after he hit like four off the center-field batters' eye, and one off that screen out there. Bogusevic turned around and said, 'He's feeling good today. Today is the day.' I like when he does that. Those are nice."
For a team looking for a boost offensively, Stanton's impact is uplifting in more ways than just delivering a run.
"The ball comes off his bat like no one I've ever seen," Koehler said. "So when he gets a hold of one like he did today, it just fires everyone up. We're all fans of the game. When you see someone do that to a baseball, it's almost like, 'Ohhh, you guys see that?' "
Porcello averted serious trouble in his 3 1/3 innings. Along with giving up the Stanton home run, he allowed four hits and struck out three.
"I was up in the zone a little bit today with a lot of pitches, but I was able to make pitches when I needed to," Porcello said. "Sinker was getting some ground balls. Really, the best part about today was my changeup started diving again."
In the third inning, the Marlins had runners on first and second after Stanton's home run. But reliever Jhan Marinez escaped further trouble by getting Greg Dobbs to tap to second with two outs.
The Tigers pulled even at 1-1 in the seventh inning Tyler Collins' home run to right field off Mike Dunn.
In the mix for the fifth starter spot, Koehler certainly didn't hurt his chances with his impressive four shutout inning performance.
The lone hit Koehler allowed was a two-out, first-inning single to Miguel Cabrera. It was the lone base runner the right-hander allowed. He retired 10 straight to end his afternoon.
Koehler's command was strong, as he struck out four, and of his 47 pitches, 35 were strikes. Twice, he struck out Ian Kinsler.
Carlos Marmol made his Grapefruit League debut in the sixth inning, and it was adventurous. The right-hander walked two and struck out two in a scoreless frame where he threw 32 pitches, with 16 strikes.
Up next: The Tigers are back at Roger Dean Stadium on Monday for the second leg of their Jupiter trip, but it's a homecoming of sorts for St. Louis native Max Scherzer. He'll make his third start of the spring against his old hometown team, the Cardinals, in a 1:05 p.m. ET game. Lefty Casey Crosby is scheduled to make his first spring appearance in his bullpen bid, while Kyle Lobstein, Jose Ortega, Blaine Hardy and Melvin Mercedes are also slated to pitch. Miguel Cabrera, Rajai Davis, Alex Avila and Nick Castellanos are all in the starting lineup. The game will be available online at MLB.TV and will mark the first telecast of the spring for Fox Sports Detroit. MLB Gameday Audio will have the radio call, as will AM 1270 in Detroit.