Bruce Rondon had his best outing of the spring.

The Tigers rookie reliever threw 12 pitches, eight for strikes, in the ninth inning of a 9-1 win over the New York Mets at Tradition Field on Thursday.

"He was a little better," manager Jim Leyland said. "He threw some swing-and-miss breaking balls -- that was a good thing to see. Had pretty good command."

Rondon started with a 98-m.p.h. fastball for a strike, then threw an 84-m.p.h. slider for a strike before Collin Cowgill grounded to shortstop.

Against shortstop Brian Bixler, Rondon threw a fastball for a strike, then went inside on a 99-m.p.h. fastball.

Rondon followed with an 86-m.p.h. slider that Bixler swung at and missed. After throwing another 99-m.p.h. heater inside, Rondon went back to the slider, and Bixler missed badly to strike out.

"I thought today the slider was the best it has been all spring," Rondon said.

Rondon fell behind, 2-0, before Jamie Hoffman missed on a 96-m.p.h. fastball. Hoffman then flied to rightfield to end the game.

Rondon said it was his third time facing the Mets, so he tried to mix up his pitches.

It was the first time this spring he has challenged pitchers inside with the fastball. Rondon, speaking through an interpreter, said he previously didn't have the control he wanted with his pitches but has been getting better.