|Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER|
Davey Johnson is trying a slightly different look for today's game. Denard Span (15-for-42 in his career vs. Verlander) is leading off, with Bryce Harper right behind him. Meanwhile, the red-hot Jayson Werth (.371/.448/.629 in July) swaps spots with the ice-cold Adam LaRoche (.167/.237/.298 in July).
Gio Gonzalez gets the nod for the Nationals, hoping to keep this potent Detroit lineup in check and get his team back on the winning track before they head out of town for a weekend in Milwaukee.
Updates to come...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at DETROIT TIGERS
Where: Comerica Park
Gametime: 1:08 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, Ch. 9, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500), XM 176
Weather: Cloudy, 74 degrees, Wind 6 mph in from LF
CF Denard Span
LF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Anthony Rendon
C Kurt Suzuki
2B Steve Lombardozzi
(LHP Gio Gonzalez)
CF Austin Jackson
RF Torii Hunter
LF Matt Tuiasosopo
1B Prince Fielder
DH Victor Martinez
SS Jhonny Peralta
2B Hernan Perez
3B Ramon Santiago
C Alex Avila
(RHP Justin Verlander)
HP Brian Gorman (cc)
1B Manny Gonzalez
2B Tony Randazzo
3B Larry Vanover
1:08 p.m. — And we're underway with a light rain falling here in Detroit. Justin Verlander starts off Denard Span with a fastball for ball one.
1:21 p.m. — And the Nats jump on Verlander for a quick 1-0 lead. Span drew a leadoff walk. Bryce Harper crushed the very first pitch he ever saw from the Tigers ace to right field for a base hit. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Ryan Zimmerman drew a walk, loading the bases with nobody out for the Nats' hottest hitter. And Jayson Werth delivered a sac fly to right, recording his NL-leading 22nd RBI of July. The Nats did squander a chance to add more when Adam LaRoche put forth an awful, half-swing attempt at a Verlander curveball to strike out and Ian Desmond grounded to short. But they'll take an early 1-0 lead as Gio Gonzalez takes the mound.
1:28 p.m. — The Tigers hit the ball hard off Gonzalez in the bottom of the first, but Torii Hunter's ground-rule double was the only base hit. Prince Fielder did come oh-so-close to connecting with two outs, but he just got under the ball and skied it to center field to end the inning.
1:51 p.m. — In a word: Oof. The Tigers just scored five runs in the bottom of the second. And it probably felt like even more. Anthony Rendon, playing third base today with Zimmerman serving as DH, couldn't make a lunging stop of a Ramon Santiago bouncer to his right. That brought home two runs. Alex Avila then did his thing again, lashing an opposite-field, two-run homer. At that moment, the Tigers had scored nine runs in this series, all nine RBI coming from their 7-8-9 hitters. That streak ended abruptly, though, when Torii Hunter crushed a 3-1 pitch to left for another homer. Add a Rendon throwing error and this one's really going well for the Nationals right now. It's 5-1 Detroit after two. Like I said, oof.
2:09 p.m. — And LaRoche's slump continues. He has struck out twice today and is now 8 for his last 65. His season batting average has plummeted to .234.
2:21 p.m. — Hey, now it's raining! Still 5-1 in the bottom of the fourth.
2:55 p.m. — And it's gotten worse. Much, much worse. The score is now 10-1. Gio Gonzalez was charged with all 10 runs, becoming only the second pitcher in Nationals history to give up 10 runs in a game. The other: The immortal Jason Simontacchi in 2007. Both starts, by the way, came against Detroit. But wait, it gets worse, because Ross Ohlendorf threw only 11 pitches in relief of Gonzalez before departing with an injury. We'll have to find out what exactly happened, but his fastball topped out at 86 mph, only five days after he was throwing 95-96 during a 114-pitch start against the Mets. Sweet. Fancy. Moses.
3:04 p.m. — Meanwhile, the Nats haven't scored off Verlander since the top of the first. LaRoche just struck out for the third time today. He has stranded six men on base, four of them in scoring position. Still 10-1 in the middle of the fifth.
3:24 p.m. — The sixth inning has ended. The score remains 10-1. That is all.
3:33 p.m. — Can it get worse? Well, maybe. Bryce Harper just winced after a swing in the top of the seventh, bringing Davey Johnson and Lee Kuntz out of the dugout. Harper stayed in the game, but you've got to wonder if something in his knee didn't feel right there. Still 10-1 at the stretch.
3:43 p.m. — 11-1. Onto the eighth. It's almost over. I promise.
3:52 p.m. — Harper is now out of the game, replaced by Roger Bernadina. We'll see if he actually hurt himself or if this is just a blowout situation.
4:00 p.m. — Meanwhile, the trade deadline just passed. Barring something completely out of the blue in the last few minutes, the Nationals didn't do anything.
4:08 p.m. — And now this game is over. Nats lose 11-1. They've reached the two-thirds point of the season at 52-56, leaving them on pace to finish with 78 wins in 2013.