Bryce Harper improved to 3 for 6 with two triples, a home run and a K in six career plate appearances against Anibal Sanchez when he tripled to right field on a 2-1 slider from the Detroit Tigers' right-hander to start tonight's game in Comerica Park. One out later, Harper scored on an RBI single to center by Ryan Zimmerman as the Washington Nationals took a 1-0 lead early in the first of two in the Tigers' home. Zimmerman was running when Adam LaRoche grounded out to second in the next at bat, so he avoided the double play, but after an infield single by Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond grounded into a force that ended a 23-pitch inning for Sanchez, who entered tonight's game with an (8-1) record, a 2.02 ERA, 47 walks (3.93 BB/9) and 167 Ks (7.68 K/9) in 124 2/3 IP vs Washington in his career.
Ian Desmond bounced a throw to first from deep in the hole at short in plenty of time for Adam LaRoche to make the scoop ahead of Austin Jackson's arrival at the first base bag. Torii Hunter was no match for Stephen Strasburg's changeup. Hunter K'd swinging at a 2-2 change on the seventh pitch the Nats' 25-year-old right-hander threw in the first. Miguel Cabrera, who started the game with a .361/.452/.620 line, 18 doubles and 21 HRs in 87 games and 377 plate appearances vs the Nationals franchise in his career, took the tenth pitch of the inning from Strasburg, a 96 mph 2-0 heater, back up the middle for a two-out single. Prince Fielder took a full-count fastball for ball four and a two-out walk and Victor Martinez took a first pitch fastball for a ride, but it died before the track and fell into Denard Span's glove to end a 17-pitch bottom of the first by the Nationals' starter. 1-0 Nats.
Anibal Sanchez was at 32 pitches overall after a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the second against the Nationals' 7-8-and-9 hitters. Stephen Strasburg was at 24 pitches total after a seven-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the frame. Sanchez gave up a one-out walk to Anthony Rendon, but stranded the Nats' infielder at second at the end of a 20-pitch third that had him to 52 pitches total, but down 1-0 to the Nats. Strasburg got over to cover on a weak grounder to first from Tigers' infielder Ramon Santiago. Home plate ump Larry Vanover liked a 2-2 fastball the Nats' starter threw to Austin Jackson though it appeared outside and Torri Hunter had words with the umpire after he punched Detroit's right fielder out on an 0-2 curve that caught the corner low and inside to end a 13-pitch frame that had Strasburg up to 37 pitches overall with four Ks after three scoreless innings of work. 1-0 Nationals.
Jayson Werth battled for nine pitches before taking a called strike three from Anibal Sanchez. Ian Desmond popped out to right on the first pitch he saw to give Sanchez two outs on ten pitches and Denard Span popped to short to end a quick, 12-pitch frame. Stephen Strasburg got a weak grounder back to the mound from Miguel Cabrera with an 0-1 curve, but he missed with a backdoor full-count bender to Prince Fielder in the next AB. Victor Martinez flew out to right for the second out of the inning, but Jhonny Peralta took a first-pitch fastball to center for a two-out single that put two on for Andy Dirks who took another first pitch fastball the other way for an RBI double to left that tied the game up. Fan interference held Peralta at third, however, and Alex Avila's fly to center ended a 17-pitch inning that pushed Strasburg up to 54 pitches and left it 1-1 after four.
Miguel Cabrera made a backhand stab and strong throw from behind third base to get Wilson Ramos for the first out of the fifth and Anibal Sanchez's 11th out from the last 12 Nationals he'd faced after Jayson Werth's two-out single in the top of the first. Chad Tracy reached on an infield single in the next at bat, but two quick outs later Sanchez had retired 13 of 15 batters in a game that was tied at 1-1 in the fifth. Stephen Strasburg need just five pitches to retire the Tigers in order in the bottom of the inning and finish up five innings on 59 pitches.
Adam LaRoche crushed a 2-0 sinker and hit his 13th double of the year to left-center where it bounced over the wall on one hop off the warning track. LaRoche took third on a Werth groundout and Ian Desmond walked with two down, but both runners were stranded when Denard Span grounded to second to end the Nats' sixth.
Prince Fielder was 1 for 1 with two walks after he singled to left with one down in the Tigers' half of the inning. The Tigers' first baseman went around to third when Victor Martinez doubled by a diving Adam LaRoche and into right on a 1-0 fastball from Strasburg and Jhonny Peralta spit on a 3-2 curve in the next at bat to load the bases with one down. Andy Dirks took a high fastball for ball three and a full count, but K'd swinging at a filthy 3-2 curve for out no.2. Just when it looked like Strasburg might get out of the jam, Alex Avila jacked a 2-1 fastball inside and sent it soaring out to right for a grand slam that broke things open and made it 5-1 Tigers after six in Detroit. 29-pitch inning, 88 pitches overall.
Not only was that the first time Strasburg had ever allowed a slam. It was the first HR he'd ever allowed with more than one man on.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 31, 2013
Anibal Sanchez needed seven pitches to retire the Nationals in order in the top of the seventh to finish seven on 95 pitches. After a 29-pitch sixth, Strasburg threw a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the inning that had him up to 98 overall.
New Tigers' right-hander Jose Veras took over for Anibal Sanchez in the eighth. Anthony Rendon grounded out on the first pitch he saw. Ryan Zimmerman grounded out to third. Adam LaRoche flew out to second. 13-pitch inning for Jose Veras in his Tigers' debut. Fernando Abad came on for the bottom of the inning and gave up back-to-back, two-out singles before striking Avila out to end the eight.
Joaquin Benoit took over for the Tigers in the ninth. Jayson Werth flew out to center. Ian Desmond grounded to short. Denard Span? Two-out single. Wilson Ramos? Fly to center field. Ballgame. 5-1 Tigers. Nats' three-game win streak ends.
Nationals now 52-55.