Bryce Harper shaded his eyes with his gloved left hand, stood under a fly to right by Austin Jackson and waited for it to fall back to Earth. Harper made the catch for the first out of tonight's game a few feet in front of the warning track. After a groundout to second baseman Danny Espinosa off Torii Hunter's bat, Washington Nationals' starter Dan Haren managed to throw a mid-80's cutter and splitter by Miguel Cabrera, but the Detroit Tigers' slugger connected with an 87 mph 1-2 fastball and lined a single through the left side of the infield for a two-out hit. Prince Fielder got hold of a 1-2 splitter, but the left-handed hitting power bat lined out to Harper in right to end an 18-pitch first by Haren.
The Nationals' hitters jumped on Doug Fister early in the bottom of the first with Denard Span doubling on a low liner to right in front of Roger "The Shark" Bernadina, who bunted his way on and moved Span to third. Bryce Harper grounded into a force at second, bringing Span in and beating the throw to first to avoid the double play. 1-0. Ryan Zimmerman lined a 2-1 curve to left for a single that moved Harper into scoring position and an Adam LaRoche single to center allowed Harper to score when Austin Jackson misplayed it. 2-0 Nats. Zimmerman took third on the E and scored on Ian Desmond's single to center to make it 3-0 Nats before Fister got out of the first.
Jhonny Peralta singled to left off Haren with one down in the top of the second, sending a 2-0 cutter out to Roger Bernadina. Bryce Harper showed off some speed and range in right tracking down a line drive off Alex Avila's bat on the warning track for the second out of the inning, but a two-out single to left by Omar Infante put runners on the corners with two down and Doug Fister singled in a run with a grounder up the middle. #NLBall. 3-1 Nationals. And only a good read and jump by Denard Span on a line drive to center by Austin Jackson held it there. 16-pitch inning for Haren, 34 overall after two.
Fister hit Denard Span to put the Nats' center fielder on with one down in the Nationals' second. Roger Bernadina took ball four after battling back from an 0-2 count, putting two runners on for Bryce Harper. A full-count fastball inside fooled Harper when it broke back in for a called strike three and out no.2, but before the Tigers' starter could get out of the second, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche hit back-to-back singles to drive in Span and the Shark and make it 5-1 Washington after two in Nationals Park. 33 pitches by Fister in the second. 61 overall.
Dan Haren needed 10 pitches to set the Tigers down in order in the top of the third. 44 overall for the Nats' right-hander. Haren lined to center with two down in the Nationals' half of the third, making Fister throw an extra six pitches before he got out of the inning on a Denard Span fly to center field. 74 pitches for Fister after three. An 88 mph 2-0 fastball to Andy Dirks got Haren a groundout to short. Grounder. Desmond. Out. Jhonny Peralta was 2 for 2, however, when he lined to right with one down. Bryce Harper caught out no.2, sliding in over the slick sun-and rain-soaked grass to snag a line drive off Alex Avila's bat. A two-out single by "All-Star" Omar Infante forced the trailing Tigers to pull Fister for pinch hitter Victor Martinez, but the DH K'd swinging over a diving 2-2 cutter to end a 14-pitch frame that had Haren at 58 overall.
Detroit lefty Darin Downs took over for Fister on the mound in the bottom of the fourth and struck the first two batters he faced out before Ryan Zimmerman flew to right to end the inning. Still 5-1 Nats after a 16-pitch inning by the Tigers' middle reliever.
Austin Jackson doubled to center to start the Tigers' fifth. Jackson should have been doubled up, but Nationals' middle infielders Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa deferred to each other on a throw to second by Dan Haren on what should have been a double play. Haren caught a line drive to the mound by Torii Hunter, turned and fired a throw to second, but it sailed into center when both Desmond and Espinosa pulled up short. No E, but not good. Two fly balls to center later, however, Haren was through five with a four-run lead. 14-pitch inning for Haren, 72 overall. Darin Downs made it six in-a-row set down when he retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the fifth.
Dan Haren got Andy Dirks looking with a 1-2 fastball for the first out of the sixth and his second K vs the Tigers. A walk to Jhonny Peralta in the next at bat was the first the Nats' starter issued this afternoon and a two-out bunt single by Omar Infante followed, bringing pinch hitter Matt Tuiasosopo up with two on and two out. Tuiasosopo's three-run home run to left hit the 106.7 the FAN in D.C. sign in the back of the visitor's bullpen and made it a one-run game at 5-4 after five and a half. The 22 pitch frame pushed Haren up to 94 overall and ended his day.
Tigers' right-hander Luke Putkonen walked Wilson Ramos to start the Nats' sixth. Steve Lombardozzi bunted the Nationals' catcher over/gave up an out. Drew Smyly took over there with Denard Span due up. Span's groundout moved Ramos up and brought pinch hitter Tyler Moore on to face the Tigers' left-handed reliever, but the pinch hitting right-handed slugger K'd swinging to strand Span on third at the end of the sixth. 5-4 Nats after six.
Ryan Mattheus got a groundout to second from Torii Hunter for the first out of the seventh. A 2-2 slider to Miguel Cabrera got the Tigers' Triple Crown-winner chasing for a swinging strike three. Mattheus stayed on to face Prince Fielder, and the second-straight left-handed hitter, Andy Dirks, after Fielder singled to center, and got a weak groundout to first from Dirks to end a scoreless inning of work with the Nats still ahead, 5-4. Ryan Zimmerman was 3 for 4 today after he singled to left with one down in the Nats' seventh. Drew Smyly got Adam LaRoche swinging for out no.2 of the bottom of the inning, and an Ian Desmond line drive to the Tigers' reliever ended frame. Still 5-4 Nats in D.C.
A broken bat groundout to short by Jhonny Peralta started the eighth. Alex Avila lined a single to right with one down. Drew Storen and Omar Infante faced off with one on and one out and Storen got a swinging K with a 2-2 slider, then got a fly to right from pinch hitter Don Kelly to end the top of the eighth after 15 pitches. Tigers' right-hander Jose Valverde came on for the Tigers in the bottom of the inning and retired the Nationals in order. What's that sound?
The Nats had a one run lead after eight. You know what that means: "Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano!" Austin Jackson took a high full-count fastball for a called strike three. ONE! Torii Hunter grounded out sharply to second! TWO!! Miguel Cabrera? Single to center. Prince Fielder? Long fly ball! Denard Span went back to the wall... and made the catch! Ballgame. Is your jersey still tucked in?
Work's done, untuch that jersey, son!!
Nationals win, 5-4 final.
Nationals now 19-15