Washington Nationals Drop 2-1 Decision To Detroit Tigers; Dan Haren Goes 4.0 In 3rd Spring Start

USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals' right-hander Dan Haren made his third start of the Spring for the Nats this afternoon when they met the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Florida's Joker Marchant Stadium where the defending AL champs beat the defending NL East division winners 2-1. 4.0 IP for Haren today, but the defense betrayed him...

Washington Nationals' 20-year-old left fielder, Bryce Harper, took a 1-0 fastball from Detroit Tigers' 24-year-old right-hander, Rick Porcello, back up the middle for a two-out single to center in the top of the first of this afternoon's Grapefruit league game in Lakeland, Florida's Joker Marchant Stadium. Harper stole second with Wilson Ramos at the plate, but was stranded when the Nats' catcher grounded out to end the opening frame. The two-out single for Harper left the second-year major leaguer 13 for 27 so far this Spring, with two doubles, a triple, two home runs and now one stole base one at bat into his 11th Spring Training game. Nats' starter Dan Haren needed just eight pitches to retire the Tigers in order in the bottom of the inning. 0-0 after one.

Tyler Moore stood still in left field and let a pop fly off Prince Fielder's bat drop in for a hit when the Nats' outfieder lost it in the sun or maybe the so-called "high sky" in Lakeland, FL. One out later, Fielder took second on a Jhonny Peralta single, and then scored when an Alex Avila grounder got under first baseman Chris Marrero's glove. No E3 apparently. Ruled a hit. Fielder scored on the should-have-been-an-E and it was 1-0 Detroit early. A double to left by Don Kelly brought Jhonny Peralta in from third to make it 2-0 Tigers. 23-pitch inning for Haren according to the Twitter. 31 through 2.0. Matt Skole started the Nats' second with a broken-bat single to center off Rick Porcello. Skole moved up on a groundout by Anthony Rendon, but the Tigers' starter got a swinging K from Corey Brown and a pop to short left from Steve Lombardozzi to end his third scoreless inning in Detroit's Spring home.

Dan Haren had much better luck in the third, with Bryce Harper showing off his range while catching the first two outs of the frame before a grounder back to the mound by Prince Fielder ended a quick, 1-2-3 inning. 2-0 Tigers after three. Haren, according to Twitter, threw 11 pitches in the third, which left him at 42 pitches total after three innings vs Detroit.

Tyler Moore hit a two-out single to center in the Nationals' fourth, but a nice sliding play by Jhonny Peralta robbed Chad Tracy of a potential bloop hit in the next at bat. 4.0 scoreless for Porcello. Tigers' outfielder Andy Dirks doubled to start the Tigers' fourth with the fifth hit off Haren today. Three quick outs later Dirks was still standing on second, however, with a sliding catch by Corey Brown in right robbing Don Kelly of a two-out potential-RBI hit. 2-0 Tigers after four. 61 pitches for Haren (according to Twitter) after a 19-pitch inning in the fourth.

Anthony Rendon grounded out to third to end Rick Porcello's fifth scoreless inning against the Nats. The groundout left Rendon 0 for 2 today and 8 for 26 so far this Spring. 25-year-old Nats' reliever Drew Storen took over on the mound in the bottom against the Tigers in the bottom of the fifth. Storen struck both second baseman Kevin Russo and center fielder Austin Jackson out for the first two outs of the inning, and the right-hander got help from third baseman Anthony Rendon, who fielded a short-hop expertly, and Matt Skole, who went up for Rendon's high throw, on a groundout by Torii Hunter that ended a scoreless bottom of the inning for the Nats' 25-year-old late-inning reliever/set-up man/B-pen closer. Still 2-0 Detroit.

The Nationals came up empty against Tigers' right-hander Joaquin Benoit in the top of the sixth. Nats' right-hander Yunkesky Maya gave up a one-out walk by Prince Fielder and a single by Andy Dirks, but two outs later both runners were left on base when the 31-year-old, Cuban-born Nationals' pitcher completed his seventh inning of work this Spring.

27-year-old Tigers' lefty Duane Below loaded the bases in the Nationals' seventh, walking Carlos Rivero and Zach Walters around a one-out single by Chad Tracy. The Nats scored their first run of the game when Matt Skole hit a sac fly to center to bring Rivero in from third, 2-1, but Anthony Rendon K'd swinging to end the rally there. 2-1 Tigers after six and a half. Ryan Mattheus gave up a two-out single by Quintin Berry in the bottom of the seventh, but a Brennan Boesch groundout ended a scoreless inning of relief work by the Nats' right-handed reliever.

25-year-old Venezuelan-born Tigers' right-hander Brayan Villareal struck out the side in a quick, 1-2-3 top of the eighth. Nats' right-hander Cole Kimball threw a quick, 1-2-3 bottom of the inning by the Nationals' 27-year-old right-hander, who's still recovering from surgery for a torn rotator cuff that ended his 2011 season not long after his MLB debut. The Tigers turned to right-hander Luis Marte in the top of the ninth and he retired Sandy Leon for out no.1 before Carlos Rivero reached on an error by Detroit third baseman Argenis Diaz. A grounder to second by Chad Tracy started a double play, however, and the 4-6-3 DP ended today's game.

2-1 Tigers final.

• [ed. note - "FBb regular Jeff550 pointed us toward the Twitter account of former major league scout Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff) who tweeted the following observations on the Nats from today's game..."):

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