LAKELAND, Fla. -- Facing his former team for the first time Monday afternoon, Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta looked like he felt right at home at Joker Marchant Stadium, blasting a solo homer in each of his first two trips to the plate.
But with a big chunk of their expected Opening Day starting lineup playing against St. Louis, the Tigers showed that they still have plenty of firepower left, putting up seven early runs and holding on to win, 8-5.
Peralta, who played for Detroit from 2010-13 before signing a four-year, $53 million deal with St. Louis over the offseason, was greeted warmly with a round of applause as he approached the plate in the first inning to face Tigers left-hander Drew Smyly. He promptly swatted the first pitch he saw well over the left-field fence, then homered again to tie it up in the third inning, this time banging a 1-1 pitch from Smyly off the scoreboard in right field with a little help from the outbound wind.
"I hit the ball pretty good, but I know the wind is blowing to right field. It helped a lot," Peralta said. "But I tried to put a good swing on the ball."
"I'll give him credit on the first one. He ambushed me and got it pretty good," added Smyly. "But the second one was an out."
Detroit had an answer for each of Peralta's solo shots, however. Ian Kinsler drew a leadoff walk in the first, stole second and came around to score on a single by Victor Martinez. Miguel Cabrera, who also walked, went to third on Martinez's RBI knock and scored on Austin Jackson's single to left off Cardinals starter Joe Kelly.
Kelly gave up two runs on two hits and two walks while striking out two in 1 2/3 innings. Smyly, meanwhile, allowed two runs on three hits and struck out two in three innings of work.
"I felt like I located pretty well for the most part, threw some good changeups that they swung and missed on," Smyly said. "For the most part, I had pretty clean, efficient innings, kept my pitch count low. So that's good."
The heart of the Tigers' order went to work again, plating five runs in the third inning, with four of them charged to St. Louis righty Boone Whiting. Cabrera singled to left, Martinez bounced a ground-rule double to center and Alex Avila walked to load the bases. Jackson doubled in two runs, Nick Castellanos singled home another and Danny Worth drove in Jackson with a sacrifice fly to center.
Rajai Davis lined a single to right that bounced past Randal Grichuk, allowing Davis to wheel all the way to third base and Castellanos to score. Castellanos added to Detroit's lead in the fifth, lining a solo homer to left off St. Louis lefty Tyler Lyons.
Up next for the Tigers: Right-hander Rick Porcello will make his second start of the spring on Tuesday as the Tigers welcome the Pirates to Joker Marchant Stadium. He'll be followed by lefty Ian Krol, closer Joe Nathan and right-handers Bruce Rondon, Joba Chamberlain, Justin Miller and Jhan Marinez. Pittsburgh is scheduled to start right-hander Charlie Morton, and Davis, Steve Lombardozzi, Torii Hunter, Cabrera, Jackson and Andy Dirks are slated to appear in Detroit's lineup.