Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg faces the Tigers today at Space Coast Stadium.
As an added treat, Stephen Strasburg is on the mound today to make his second-to-last start of the spring. Look for the right-hander to perhaps even reach the 100-pitch mark this afternoon, then dial things back next time out in advance of his Opening Day assignment against the Marlins.
If you aren't one of the fortunate folks who are here in person, you're still in luck because Bob and F.P. are here today and will have the game on TV back in D.C. And, of course, you can get all your updates and analysis right here throughout...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. DETROIT TIGERS
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EST
Weather: Partly cloudy, 73 degrees, Wind 8 mph LF to RF
CF Denard Span
RF Jayson Werth
LF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Stephen Strasburg
CF Quintin Berry
RF Don Kelly
DH Victor Martinez
1B Prince Fielder
C Brayan Pena
LF Matt Tuiasosopo
2B Ramon Santiago
SS Danny Worth
3B Kevin Russo
(LHP Drew Smyly)
1:09 p.m. -- We are underway on a windy Friday afternoon in Viera as Stephen Strasburg fires ball one to Quintin Berry.
1:13 p.m. -- And Strasburg cruises through the top of the first on 12 pitches. He struck out Berry looking and then got Victor Martinez swinging to end the inning. Good stuff from the ace to get this one started.
1:19 p.m. -- And an equally fast bottom of the first for Drew Smyly. He got Denard Span to ground out to second, Jayson Werth to pop-out (with Ramon Santiago electing the basket catch at second base) and Bryce Harper to bounce out to first base. Scoreless after one.
1:27 p.m. -- Things were going along swimmingly again for Strasburg in the top of the second ... until Matt Tuiasosopo unleashed havoc on the Nats again. The Tigers outfielder, who homered on Sunday in Lakeland, did it again today, taking a 2-1 fastball from Strasburg deep to right to put the Nats in a 1-0 hole. Strasburg has thrown 26 pitches (15 strikes) through two mostly efficient innings.
1:41 p.m. -- Ryan Zimmerman is charged with his first error of the spring, but it had nothing to do with his throwing or shoulder. Zim just couldn't handle a slow roller to his left. That helped prolong the top of the third and put Strasburg in a first-and-third, one-out jam. But the big guy came up big and got Don Kelly to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Through three, Strasburg has been quite efficient by his standards: 39 pitches, 26 strikes. Still 1-0 Tigers.
1:49 p.m. -- Drew Smyly is perfect through three innings against the Nats' Opening Day lineup. Think Jim Leyland will let him go the distance today? Yeah, probably not.
2:02 p.m. -- Uh-oh, scary moment in the top of the fourth as Strasburg takes a smoked line drive from Prince Fielder directly on the left wrist/forearm. The ball ricocheted all the way into center field (which actually could be a good thing, since that probably means it was more of a glancing blow). Davey Johnson, Steve McCatty and trainer Lee Kuntz came out to examine Strasburg, who was shaking the hand for a while. But after a couple of warm-up tosses, he was given the green light to stay in the game. And I guess he's fine because he immediately recorded three quick outs, two of them strikeouts. Scary moment nonetheless. Still 1-0 Tigers in the middle of the fourth, with Strasburg now at 56 pitches(38 strikes).
2:14 p.m. -- Well, at least the perfect game is over. Werth and Harper stroked back-to-back singles off Smyly with one out in the bottom of the fourth, though the big guys behind them couldn't drive them in. Zimmerman struck out swinging and LaRoche grounded out to end the inning with the Tigers still ahead 1-0.
2:28 p.m. -- Just when it looked like Strasburg was cruising -- he had thrown first-pitch strikes to nine consecutive batters -- he had a hiccup late in the top of the fifth. He issued a two-out walk to Don Kelly, with Victor Martinez and Prince Fielder on-deck. That's a no-no, and sure enough, Martinez and Fielder each singled home runs. So it's 3-0 Tigers in the middle of the fifth, with Strasburg now at 82 pitches (51 strikes). He's due up fourth in the bottom of the inning, and I'll be interested to see if he stays in.
2:36 p.m. -- Ian Desmond puts the Nats on the board at last, sending a leadoff blast to left-center in the bottom of the fifth. That's Desmond's second homer of the spring, and it was a legit one. Nats now trail 3-1 as Strasburg re-takes the mound for his sixth (and likely final) inning.
2:45 p.m. -- Strasburg cruises through a seven-pitch sixth, so he's only at 89 total now. Curious to see if Davey will let him come back out for the seventh and try to reach 100.
2:58 p.m. -- And the answer is: He won't. Henry Rodriguez enters for the top of the seventh, so Strasburg's final line is: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, 89 pitches, 55 strikes.
3:15 p.m. -- Oh, Henry. Henry, Henry, Henry. First pitch hits the backstop on the fly. He proceeds to go 3-0 to the first three batters he faces, prompting a mound visit from Steve McCatty. (What do you think McCatty says in those mound conferences?) Then he gets bailed out by Roger Bernadina on a ridiculous catch in deep right-center to rob what would've been a three-run triple. After all that, it's 4-1 Tigers at the stretch.
3:30 p.m. -- The Nats storm back for a pair of runs off Phil Coke in the bottom of the seventh. Desmond draws a walk, Espinosa singles to center (and shows nice hustle to take second on a bad throw) and then Suzuki and Lombardozzi each loft sac flies to right. So trim the deficit to 4-3 as Ryan Mattheus enters for the eighth.
3:46 p.m. -- Good eighth inning for Mattheus, who mowed down the side with a couple of strikeouts. Tyler Clippard now in for the top of the ninth, the Nats still trailing 4-3 and needing a rally.
4:10 p.m. -- Game over, Nats lose 4-3. Stephen Strasburg, meanwhile, says he's fine after taking that Prince Fielder line drive off the base of his left hand, the fleshy part. He said it was numb for a moment but not really a problem.