The would-be closer looked like a should-be closer.

"Obviously his best outing," manager Jim Leyland said about Bruce Rondon retiring the side in order Thursday.

Leyland stopped well short of a coronation, though.

For one thing, it was the ninth inning of a windy 9-1 Tigers victory over the Mets.

Not exactly a lot of pressure.

And it's not as if Rondon faced the heart of a dangerous order.

But an unhittable slider is easily identified no matter who's standing at the plate, and if it's his slider for strikes the Tigers have been awaiting, they had to be happy with Rondon's outing.

Rondon threw 12 pitches in the ninth against the Mets, eight for strikes, including two outstanding sliders to shortstop Brian Bixler, the last of which struck him out.

Rondon also threw two 99 mph fastballs in tight on Bixler, a location he had not been throwing to in previous outings.

Rondon was understandably happy about the outing.

Leyland was happy, but far from giddy about his reliever's progress.

"He was a little better," Leyland said. "It was good to see some swing-and-miss breaking balls with pretty good command.



From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130315/SPORTS0104/303150332#ixzz2NcZ5SVQk