Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats and Tigers wrap up the series with a 4:05 p.m. makeup game.
Dan Haren gets the start for the Nationals, looking to build off his stellar outing last week in Atlanta and seeking his third consecutive win. He's opposed by right-hander Doug Fister, perhaps the unsung hero of the Tigers' rotation, entering today 4-0 with a 2.38 ERA.
One change to the Nationals' lineup (aside from the every-other-day catcher thing): Roger Bernadina gets the nod in left field this afternoon. Davey Johnson's rationale: Tyler Moore is struggling, plus he wanted to get Ian Desmond out of the 2-hole and put him back in his more natural No. 6 position in the lineup. Jayson Werth, of course, remains out, though initial reports on the MRI he received on his hamstring today are clean; he's also now on antibiotics to fight a stomach ailment that has left him dehydrated (and perhaps led to hamstring cramps).
I'll have updates throughout the game and then the Instant Analysis, then I'll hang over postgame coverage to Chase while I head up to CSN studios for tonight's episode of "The Baseball Show." A friendly reminder that you can watch the show live at 11 p.m., and there are no conflicts tonight that would preempt it or cause a delayed start, always a relief...
DETROIT TIGERS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 187
Weather: Partly cloudy, 75 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to RF
CF Denard Span
LF Roger Bernadina
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
RHP Dan Haren
CF Austin Jackson
RF Torii Hunter
3B Miguel Cabrera
1B Prince Fielder
LF Andy Dirks
SS Jhonny Peralta
C Alex Avila
2B Omar Infante
RHP Doug Fister
HP Jerry Layne (cc)
1B Alan Porter
2B Greg Gibson
3B Hunter Wendelstedt
4:06 p.m. — And we're underway with a ball from Dan Haren to Austin Jackson. Pretty sparse gathering at first pitch. Either everyone who had tickets to Tuesday's rainout will be exchanging them for a future date ... or just couldn't come today and at the ticket.
4:14 p.m. — Haren navigated his way through a scoreless top of the first, though he was probably fortunate not to suffer any damage after both Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder hit frozen ropes off him. Cabrera singled to left. Fielder smoked a liner to right, but Bryce Harper was able to track it down to end the inning. Eighteen pitches for Haren, 13 of them strikes.
4:32 p.m. — How about that? The Nats pounce on Fister for three quick runs in the bottom of the first. Five of their first six batters recorded base hits, highlighted by Denard Span's leadoff double, Adam LaRoche's single to center (his eighth hit in 14 at-bats) that scored Bryce Harper (thanks to Jackson's error in center) and Ian Desmond's subsequent RBI single up the middle. Good stuff from the Nats, giving Haren a 3-0 cushion after one inning.
4:42 p.m. — But the Tigers get one run right back in the top of the second, with the run scoring off the bat of ... Fister?! Yep, two-out RBI single to center. So it's 3-1 now heading to the bottom of the second.
4:57 p.m. — And the Nats storm right back with two more runs in the bottom of the second. Another hit for Zimmerman, bringing Span home. And another hit for LaRoche, bringing Bernadina home and making Adam 9 for his last 15. It's 5-1 Nats after two, and they've already racked up seven hits off Fister.
5:10 p.m. — The rain started coming down pretty heavy in the third inning, and at one point Austin Jackson nearly lost a flyball looking up into the drops. But just like that, the skies have cleared and there's bright sunshine covering the field again. It's still 5-1 after three.
5:21 p.m. — Two curious moves from Jim Leyland in the top of the fourth: 1) He pinch-hit for Fister, yanking his starter after only three innings, albeit three very shaky innings, and 2) He burned up Victor Martinez to do it. That seemed a bit early to be using your best hitter off the bench, but the Tigers had two on and two out, so Leyland decided to take a shot right there. Well, it backfired on him. Haren struck out Martinez on a 2-2 cutter, quashing the rally and sending this game into the bottom of the fourth, with the Nats still leading 5-1 and now getting to face the Detroit bullpen the rest of the afternoon.
5:39 p.m. — Haren now through five innings of one-run ball, though I wouldn't exactly call the top of the fifth "clean." In one of the more bizarre plays you'll ever see, Haren snagged Hunter's line drive comebacker and then turned to find Jackson about 20 feet off second base and basically conceding the easiest double play you'll ever get. So Haren threw the ball toward the base. Just one problem: Both Desmond and Espinosa started toward the bag, then stopped dead in their tracks. So the ball sailed into center field untouched. Wacky stuff, though it didn't cost Haren because he simply retired Cabrera and Fielder to end the inning. Good stuff from the right-hander so far today, and because of it the Nats still lead 5-1.
5:56 p.m. — Well, as one media member sitting down the row from me blurted out as soon as Matt Tuiasosopo crushed a 3-run homer off Haren in the top of the sixth: "Uh-oh." Yep, pretty sure I didn't just imagine Tuiasosopo's towering home run. Just like that, the Nats' lead is down to 5-4, and Haren can no longer be credited with a quality start.
6:11 p.m. — This was a rare day with Davey Johnson using three straight left-handed hitters in his lineup, and it might have cost him just now. With Leyland using lefty Drew Smyly in the bottom of the sixth, Davey decided to pinch-hit Tyler Moore for Bernadina, looking for an insurance run. But Moore struck out — the 10th time he's done that in his last 18 at-bats — and now he'll be in left field for the rest of the game, with the Nats still clinging to a 5-4 lead. Not an ideal scenario.
6:16 p.m. — Nice job by Ryan Mattheus during a scoreless top of the seventh, his first appearance in six days.
6:30 p.m. — The Nats just haven't been able to tack on any insurance runs. They haven't scored since the bottom of the second. So now it's up to Drew Storen to protect a 5-4 lead in the eighth. He's facing Peralta, Avila and Infante.
6:40 p.m. — The good news: Storen tossed a scoreless eighth. The bad news: Rafael Soriano will have to face Miguel Cabrera in the ninth. Hang on folks, this is going to get tense.
6:48 p.m. — And here we go: Soriano vs. Jackson, Hunter and Cabrera, up 5-4 in the ninth.
6:57 p.m. — That's it. Prince Fielder launched a flyball to the warning track in center, but Span hauled it in and the Nats win, 5-4, and sweep the two-game series. They've won four in a row and have improved to 19-15 with the Cubs coming to town for the weekend.