The Tigers consider it progress, only.

Bruce Rondon stitched together his fifth consecutive decent outing Monday in a 5-1 thumping of the Nationals.

Rondon, who worked the sixth inning, allowed no hits, struck out two, issued a walk on a 3-2 pitch, and coaxed a ground-out as he threw 19 pitches, 11 of which were strikes.

"He's been a little better," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who is being careful in reacting to a 22-year-old right-hander's spring auditions for Detroit's vacant closer's job.

Leyland saw Rondon throw his usual assortment of 100-mph fastballs, wrapped around several sliders and at least one change-up. Rondon struck out Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche on high-velocity heaters and got Jayson Werth on a grounder to short.

Werth saw 100-mph fastballs from Rondon.

"No kiddin'," Werth said when told of the radar-gun's reading. "They say he threw hard. The scouting report was up to 103 or something like that.

"I knew it was up there. I knew it was firm. And the next guy I faced (Luis Marte) was like 96, 97. They brought their guys over today."

Scherzer sharp

Max Scherzer pitched five innings and maintained his deliberately delayed path toward a first regular-season start.

Scherzer allowed five hits and one run (opposite-field homer by LaRoche), while walking one and striking out another. He worked with a curveball he hopes to add to his fastball-slider-change-up repertoire.

"Got in a good groove," Leyland said of Scherzer, who didn't start until March 3 as he sought to replicate his 2012 schedule. "Just getting his arm strength built up. Max threw good."

From The Detroit News: