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Detroit Tigers edged by Houston Astros 3-2; Rondon hurting

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The Detroit Tigers might have won a rare Grapefruit League game if not for their starter as the team dropped their 19th game of the spring, 3-2 against the Houston Astros.

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Starting in place of Justin Verlander after his uh–cramp, minor league Kyle Ryan was blitzed for three runs on three hits in the first inning as the Houston jumped out to a 3-0 lead.

Ryan pitched a scoreless second inning and was removed for an effective third inning from Joe Nathan, striking out Evan Gattis (swung through two pitches), striking out Chris Carter before Jason Castro worked a four-pitch walk. The next batter flew out to deep center for the final out and with a wink and a nod, Nathan left the game without a scratch.

Dallas Keuchel started and was strong for the Astros, going 5.2 innings allowing a run in the fifth inning, striking out five and issuing five walks. With his effort, Keuchel lowered his spring ERA to 1.80.

The Tigers’ two runs came when James McCann doubled home J.D. Martinez in the sixth inning and Dixon Machado singled in Dominic Ficociello in garbage time of the 8th inning.

Detroit had their chances, loading the bases with one out in the fourth inning and putting a runner at third with two outs in the fifth inning but could not bring home a run in either situation.

Aside from Ryan, the Tigers’ pitching was strong with Tom Gorzelanny, Guido Knudson, Al Alburquerque, Blaine Hardy and Paul Voelker for five innings of work, allowing no runs and three hits.

One pitcher not included in that pitching line was Bruce Rondon, who was scheduled to pitch today in Kissimmee. He felt something tighten in his shoulder before getting loose and the Tigers took the precautions of sending him back to Lakeland for treatment. Coming off Tommy John surgery, Rondon is listed as day-to-day, though Brad Ausmus did not seem to like his chances of making the 25-man roster.

If Rondon doesn’t go north with the Tigers, that could be a huge blow to an already questionable bullpen. Stay tuned on that one.

The Tigers will head back to Lakeland tomorrow for the first of two final games at Joker Marchant Stadium in 2015. They will face the New York Yankees tomorrow at 1:05 with Shane Greene getting the start against his former teammates. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

Next: Detroit Tigers Top 10 Opening Day Facts

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