Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Comerica Park, home of the Tigers, with downtown Detroit in the background.
In the middle of it all is a pretty good Tigers team that currently sits at 33-29 and sends an intriguing young right-hander to the mound tonight in Max Scherzer. Picked up from the Diamondbacks in the three-way Curtis Granderson trade that included the Yankees, Scherzer is only 2-6 with a 6.30 ERA but since returning from a minor-league stint has looked much better. He struck out 14 Oakland A's in only 5 2/3 innings in his first start back in the majors. (Hmm, sound like anyone we know?)
The Nationals counter with John Lannan, who is coming off a rough outing (five runs, 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Pirates) but has overall pitched well since overcoming his elbow/forearm issue.
No Stephen Strasburg in this series, but that doesn't mean he's out of the spotlight entirely. Sports Illustrated revealed today that he's on the cover of this week's issue. If he gets hammered by the White Sox Friday night, you'll know who to blame.
Check back for updates throughout...
NATIONALS at TIGERS
Where: Comerica Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Cloudy, 78 degrees, Wind 13 mph in from CF
2B Cristian Guzman
CF Nyjer Morgan
3B Ryan Zimmerman
DH Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
RF Roger Bernadina
1B Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
(P John Lannan)
CF Ryan Raburn
DH Johnny Damon
RF Magglio Ordonez
1B Miguel Cabrera
LF Brennan Boesch
2B Carlos Guillen
3B Brandon Inge
C Gerald Laird
SS Danny Worth
(P Max Scherzer)
6:28 p.m. -- I've amended the weather forecast for this game. Looks like any threat of rain isn't going to arrive until after midnight. So unless this game goes 26 innings, we shouldn't be affected by it.
6:37 p.m. -- If you haven't seen it already, I posted injury updates on Scott Olsen, Chien-Ming Wang, Jesus Flores, Ross Detwiler and Jordan Zimmermann on the homepage, so be sure to check that out.
7:06 p.m. -- And we are underway here with a ball from Scherzer to Guzman.
7:11 p.m. -- What do you know: Nyjer Morgan scored a run almost entirely by himself! Beat out a bunt single. Stole second. Took third when Gerald Laird's throw skipped away. Scored on Ryan Zimmerman's sac fly to right, narrowly beating Magglio Ordonez's throw to the plate. Nats lead 1-0.
7:16 p.m. -- John Lannan managed to navigate his way through the heart of the Tigers' lineup without suffering any damage. He put Ordonez and Cabrera on with two outs, but got a groundball out of Brennan Boesch to end the first inning without a run scoring.
7:37 p.m. -- Everyone was raving about the punch at the bottom of the Nats' lineup tonight, but it failed to come through there in the top of the second. With two on and one out, Michael Morse struck out on a 2-2 slider from Scherzer. Ian Desmond then flied out to left, stranding both runners on base and keeping the score 1-0 Nats heading to the bottom of the second.
7:52 p.m. -- If I told you Lannan was going to give up three hits and a walk in the second inning, how many runs would you think he surrendered? How about only one? Thanks to some nice plays by Desmond and Morse to gun down two runners at the plate, Lannan escaped without significant damage. The Tigers did push one run across when he walked Ryan Raburn on an outside 3-2 fastball with the bases loaded. But Lannan came up big to get Ordonez to fly out to left with the bases still loaded to end the inning. So it's only 1-1 after two. Lannan has, however, already thrown 44 pitches. He may not be long for this game at that rate.
8:08 p.m. -- Talk about a clutch hit. With two on, two out and facing an 0-2 count, Willingham tags a pitch from Scherzer into right-center field to score Morgan with the go-ahead run. Moments later, Rodriguez singles up the middle to bring home Dunn and put the Nats up 3-1. Couple of really big hits from those two after the Tigers intentionally walked Dunn. Apparently Jim Leyland didn't realize Dunn is 0-for-25 with two outs and runners in scoring position this season.
8:19 p.m. -- And Lannan proceeds to give one of the runs back. Cabrera laces a double to left to lead off the third, takes third on a grounder to the right side (nice diving play by Guzman) and then scores on a chopper to first. Morse tried to throw out the Tigers' third baserunner at the plate already tonight, but his throw was just slightly to the right side of the plate, and Pudge couldn't make a spinning tag of Cabrera, who slid in untouched. Lannan has put men in scoring position in each of his three innings so far, hasn't looked sharp. It's 3-2 Nats after three.
8:26 p.m. -- Michael Morse to the rescue! Crushed an 0-2 fastball from Scherzer over the right-field fence. Dude is now hitting .429 with a .679 slugging percentage. Jim Riggleman says there's not really a place for him in this lineup on a daily basis. Might be time to find one.
8:41 p.m. -- Another inning, another jam for Lannan to try to pitch out of. He couldn't quite do it this time. Tigers brought home two more runs, thanks to an RBI double by Ordonez and then a sac fly by Guillen which followed an intentional walk to Cabrera and an actual walk to Boesch. Lannan has put 12 men on base in four innings. Something's not right here. Either he's hurting, or he's regressed as a pitcher, big-time.
8:59 p.m. -- Well, you had to see that coming. Starting the fifth on 91 pitches, Lannan crumbled. Laird led off with a single (his third in three at-bats). Guzman then booted Worth's slow roller. That set the stage for Rayburn to destroy a 1-0 fastball over the heart of the plate to left field for a three-run homer. Tigers lead 7-4, and Lannan is done. His pitching line is not pretty: 4.1 ip, 10 h, 7 r, 4 bb, 1 k. 104 pitches, 63 strikes. As my colleague Adam Kilgore just pointed out, Lannan has now recorded 23 strikeouts in 13 starts this season. Stephen Strasburg has 22 in two starts.
9:28 p.m. -- Things have settled down here, though not necessarily in a good way. Tyler Walker has silenced the Tigers' lineup since entering for Lannan. But the Nationals' lineup has done nothing since Morse' homer in the fourth. Scherzer retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced, and lefty Phil Coke retired the side in the seventh. All of a sudden, the Nats are down to their final six outs and still trail by three runs. It's 7-4 in the bottom of the seventh.
9:43 p.m. -- Ten in a row retired by Detroit's pitching staff. Nats are down to their last three outs, still trail by three runs and will most likely face closer Jose Valverde (13 saves, 0.66 ERA) in the ninth.
10:03 p.m. -- Ballgame over. Nats lose 7-4. Lannan falls to 2-4. Will be interested to hear what he and Riggleman say after this one.