LAKELAND, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers beat the Washington Nationals, 2-1, on Wednesday at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.
The Tigers improved to 7-6 in Grapefruit League play.
A simple walk gave the Tigers an opportunity.
Zack Short worked a leadoff walk against right-handed reliever Jackson Rutledge in the sixth inning. The next batter, Jonathan Davis, sent a 97 mph fastball to center field for a single, advancing the runner to third base. And the next batter, Austin Meadows, drilled a high heater to center field for a sacrifice fly.
It was the first run of the game
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The Tigers finished with four hits, one walk and five strikeouts, while the Nationals finished with seven hits, two walks and 11 strikeouts. One walk from Short ultimately led to the difference on the scoreboard.
Short also hit a double in the third inning.
Diego Rincones, called up from minor-league camp, hit an RBI single in the eighth inning for a 2-0 lead.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez started his final game for the Tigers in spring training before joining Team Venezuela for the World Baseball Classic. He is expected to pitch for Venezuela on March 14 against Nicaragua in Miami.
It will be Rodriguez’s first WBC appearance.
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On Wednesday, Rodriguez fired 3⅓ scoreless innings with four hits, one walk and six strikeouts.
He threw 36 of 56 pitches for strikes.
Rodriguez wanted to call his own pitches after doing so in his previous start, but in a next-day meeting with the pitchers and catchers, the Tigers stressed collaboration among several voices. This time, Rodriguez and catcher Eric Haase called pitches based on the scouting report.
He threw 24 four-seam fastballs, 19 cutters, 11 sinkers and two changeups. His six strikeouts: Lane Thomas (91.5 mph fastball), Matt Adams (92.6 mph sinker), Michael Chavis (92.5 mph sinker), Riley Adams (92.4 mph fastball), Thomas (87.3 mph cutter) and Matt Adams (91.8 mph sinker) .
Rodriguez’s fastball averaged 91.5 mph.
At the plate
Infielder Andre Lipcius, who split time defensively between third base and second base, finished 0-for-3 with three balls in play. He grounded out in the second inning, lined out in the fifth inning and flew out in the seventh inning.
Lipcius seems lined up to receive more playing time in the absence of Tyler Nevin. He is hitting .389 (7-for-18) with one double, three home runs, zero walks and two strikeouts in nine games.
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First baseman Spencer Torkelson went 0-for-2. He hit the ball hard twice and flew out to deep center field twice. Both pitches were high-velocity fastballs inside the strike zone, a problem area for Torkelson last season.
His exit velocities: 109.7 mph in the second inning and 105.6 mph in the fourth inning. His distances: 410 feet and 382 feet. His expected batting averages: .980 and .920. Simply put, Torkelson had two of the unluckiest plate appearances in spring training.
He is hitting .150 in eight games.
On the mound
Five relievers followed Rodriguez: left-hander Troy Holton, right-hander Alex Lange, righty Jason Foley, lefty Tyler Alexander and lefty Zach Logue.
Holton recorded the final two outs in the fourth inning — after Rodriguez walked a batter with one out — and tossed a scoreless fifth. The 26-year-old threw 21 of 28 pitches for strikes and recorded eight swings and misses.
His changeup was solid again.
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Lange and Foley fired back-to-back scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh before Alexander took over for the eighth. He allowed a single and two walks while recording two outs.
The Tigers went to Logue, another lefty, with the bases loaded.
He struck out Jacob Young on four pitches. In the ninth, Logue gave up a run on three singles before getting the final three outs.
1. Holton; 2. Rodriguez; 3. Short.
Thursday (1:05 pm) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton.
Contact Evan Petzold at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers win 2-1 vs. Nationals in Eduardo Rodriguez’s final start before WBC outing