The Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers were rained out last night, or at least postponed because of the threat of rain. It didn't actually end up raining during the hours the game would likely have been played. There was, however, actual rain at the scheduled start time for tonight's matchup between the defending NL East Champs and the defending American League Champions. The tarp was rolled out over the field in Nationals Park at around 4:30 pm this afternoon.
A half hour before 7:00, reporters noted that no players were on the field and neither pitcher had warmed up. The start of tonight's game would be delayed. The tarp wasn't pulled up and rolled until around 7:30 pm. The first pitch of the two-game set was thrown at 8:02 pm EST. Jordan Zimmermann's second pitch of the game was lined out to right by Austin Jackson at 8:03 pm. Bryce Harper caught it for the first out of the game.
Adam LaRoche committed his second error of the year when Torii Hunter sent a weak grounder spinning out toward first. It bounced up and handcuffed the Nats' Gold Glove-winning first baseman, but Miguel Cabrera lined out to Ian Desmond at short in the next at bat and Desmond's strong throw to first completed a 6-3 DP and a nine-pitch inning by the Nats' right-handed starter. Nationals' leadoff man Denard Span reached first safely to start the bottom of the inning on a pop to short center no Tiger could reach. Span got picked off first by Anibal Sanchez, however, and two groundouts later, the Tigers' right-hander had his own scoreless first after 13 pitches.
Prince Fielder hit a 79 mph 0-2 curve off the out-of-town scoreboard in right for a leadoff double in the Tigers' second. Back-to-back groundouts to short followed, with Zimmermann forcing Fielder to stay put. Zimmermann missed inside with a 3-2 slider to Tigers' catcher Alex Avila that home plate ump Hunter Wendelstedt called ball four, but a groundout to third from Omar Infante in the AB that followed allowed Ryan Zimmerman to walk over and step on third, ending a 17-pitch innning, after which Zimmermann was at 26 overall with 20-straight scoreless innings in a row on the mound.
Adam LaRoche went the other way for a one-out single to left-center on a first-pitch fastball low and away from the Tigers' Anibal Sanchez. One out later, Danny Espinosa dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line, just onto the infield grass. Espinosa beat the throw to first by the Tigers' catcher, Alex Avila. The Nats' catcher, Kurt Suzuki, worked the count full in a 10-pitch at bat with two runners on and two out and sent a backspin pop out to the grass in front of short where it died. Infield hit. Bases loaded. But a force at second on a grounder to short by Jordan Zimmermann ended the frame. 0-0 after two in Nats Park.
Zimmermann got Sanchez looking with an 0-2 fastball for out no.1 in the third. An 86 mph 2-2 slider got a foul-tip strike three from Austin Jackson. A sharp grounder by Torii Hunter got by Ryan Zimmerman at third and got the Tigers their second hit of the game off Zimmermann, and their second double. And it brought Miguel Cabrera up. The Detroit slugger and 2012 Triple Crown winner improved to 24 for 44 w/ RISP this season with an RBI single to left that brought Hunter around to make it 1-0 Tigers. Zimmermann's scoreless inning streak ended at 20-straight on the hit. A 1-2 fastball got Andy Dirks swinging for out and K no.3 of the game for the Nats' right-hander who was at 51 overall after a 25-pitch frame.
Denard Span hit a low liner to right on a 2-0 fastball from Anibal Sanchez for a leadoff triple in the bottom of the third. Ian Desmond lined out to first in the next at bat, but a Bryce Harper fly to left tied it right up. 1-1 after three in Washington, D.C.
Jhonny Peralta started the third with a broken bat single, but an Alex Avila grounder to second started a 4-6-3 DP for the first two outs of the frame and a groundout to third ended a six-pitch inning with Jordan Zimmermann at 57 overall in a 1-1 tie. Another opposite field single for Adam LaRoche started the bottom of the fourth. One out later, Danny Espinosa lined a fastball back up the middle for another single and his second hit of the game. LaRoche took third aggressively on a Kurt Suzuki fly to right and the throw from Hunter in right bounced off LaRoche, by third baseman Miguel Cabrera and into the third base camera well. Run scores when it goes out of play. 2-1 Nats after four.
Given a lead to work with, Jordan Zimmermann went right after the Tigers' pitcher, striking Sanchez out with an 0-2 fastball. A 2-2 fastball popped Austin Jackson up for out no.2 and 95 mph full-count fastball got Torii Hunter swinging for out no.3 and K no. 5 in 5.0 IP. The 16-pitch inning had Zimmermann at 73 overall. Anibal Sanchez retired the first two batters in the bottom of the frame, but a first pitch curve to Bryce Harper was a mistake. The Nats' 20-year-old slugger crushed it for a no-doubter to right field in Nats Park. Over the out-of-town scoreboard and GONE!!!! for Harper's 10th of 2013. 3-1 Nationals after five. First home run off Sanchez this season.
• Harper's 10th:
Miguel Cabrera grounded out to short to start the sixth. Grounder. Desmond. Out. Jordan Zimmermann threw a 1-2 fastball by Prince Fielder for a swinging strike three and K no.6. Andy Dirks and Jhonny Peralta hit back-to-back two-out singles off Zimmermann in the Tigers' half of the inning, but Alex Avila took a called strike three on a backdoor 0-2 slider that caught the Detroit catcher off guard. 7 Ks total. 14-pitch frame. 87 overall. Anibal Sanchez struck out the side in the Nationals' sixth, getting Adam LaRoche looking and Tyler Moore and Danny Espinosa swinging in a 14-pitch frame of his own that had him at 98 overall, down 3-1 after six.
Jordan Zimmermann gave up a two-out single by Austin Jackson in the Tigers' seventh, but popped Torii Hunter up to end a 14-pitch frame at 101 overall. 3-1 Nationals after six and a half. Anibal Sanchez entered tonight's game (8-0) against the Nats in 19 career starts. Detroit's right-handed starter left the game in line for the loss with right-hander Jose Ortega taking over for the Tigers in the bottom of the seventh. Ortega threw a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 frame and the Nationals led 3-1 after seven in D.C.
Jordan Zimmermann's line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 101 P, 72 S, 7/1 GO/FO
Tyler Clippard came out for the eighth. Miguel Cabrera flew to center to end a 10-pitch at bat. Prince Fielder K'd flailing at an 0-2 change for out no.2. Andy Dirks worked a two-out walk out of the Nationals' right-handed reliever and Jhonny Peralta took the second-straight free pass. Two on, two out. Clippard got up 1-2 on Alex Avila and got him swinging with a 2-2 fastball to end a long top of the eighth with the score still 3-1 Nats. 34-pitch inning for Clippard.
Joaquin Benoit retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the eighth, setting ian Desmond, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman down in order. Rafael Soriano came out looking for save no.11 in 12 opportunities. "Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano!" Omar Infante lined an 0-2 pitch to left, but there's a Shark there. [CHOMP!] ONE!!!! Roger Bernadina made a sliding catch for out no.1. Victor Martinez flew to left too for out no.2. TWO!!!! Austin Jackson worked the count full and flew out to right. Ballgame.
Work's done. Untuck that jersey, son!!
Nationals win, 3-1 final.
Nationals now 18-15.