Collins' homer puts cap on Tigers' strong pitching
Scherzer, Putkonen combine for 10 K's; Rondon fans two, earns win
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Jordany Valdespin's seventh-inning home run off Jose Ortega provided some punch to a pitching duel, but Tyler Collins' tiebreaking home run in the bottom of the eighth sent the Tigers to their fourth straight victory with a 3-2 win over the Mets on Friday at Joker Marchant Stadium.
On a day when Max Scherzer and Luke Putkonen combined for 10 strikeouts over the first five innings, Dillon Gee's four innings of one-run ball along with scoreless innings from LaTroy Hawkins and Bobby Parnell kept the game close. Valdespin broke a 1-1 tie by sending a line drive off the right-field scoreboard for his second homer of the spring.
Until then, Valdespin's feat on the day was being the only Met to put the ball in play against Scherzer, who struck out six of the 11 batters he faced to go with three walks over 2 2/3 hitless innings. Though Scherzer's fastball command wavered, he induced 10 swings and misses from Mets hitters with a mix of changeups, sliders and a curveball he has been tinkering with this spring.
Putkonen, who's trying to make the team as a long reliever, hit three Mets but struck out four others.
After Wilfredo Tovar's two-out error at shortstop allowed the Tigers to tie the game again in the bottom of the seventh, closer candidate Bruce Rondon stranded two runners with a fly out to fall in line for the win once Collins jumped a pitch from Cory Mazzoni and sent it to the batting cages beyond right field for his first homer of the spring.
Collins, an early surprise in camp after a solid season at Class A Lakeland last year, now leads the Tigers in hits for the spring.
Up next for the Tigers: While Doug Fister makes his third start of the spring Saturday, the Tigers will be making their first visit of the spring to Dunedin, Fla., for a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Blue Jays, live on Gameday Audio. Al Alburquerque, Luis Marte, Darin Downs and Casey Crosby are also scheduled to pitch. Lefty Ricky Romero will start for Toronto. Among the regulars slated to make the trip are Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter and Alex Avila.