Washington's Nationals began the second game of two with the Tigers in Detroit, Michigan's Comerica Park with a little under three hours to go before this afternoon's 4:00 pm EDT Non-Waiver Trade Deadline and little expectation of any big deals going down to help the 52-55 defending NL East Champs.
Denard Span, who was once again atop the order this afternoon, walked to start the first inning and took second on a Bryce Harper line drive single to right. Justin Verlander threw a wild pitch that Alex Avila managed to block, but both runners advanced into scoring position in front of Ryan Zimmerman, whose walk loaded the bases with no one out. Jayson Werth entered today's game 33 for 89 with a .371/.448/.629 line, two doubles and seven home runs in 26 games and 105 plate appearances in the month of July and Werth hit a sac fly to right that brought Span in to make it 1-0 Nats early. Verlander threw Adam LaRoche an over-the-top 1-2 bender for a check-swing strike three and out no.2 though, and Ian Desmond grounded to short to end a 23-pitch top of the first.
Torii Hunter hit a one-out, ground-rule double to right field that bounced up into the stands off the warning track dirt. Matt Tuiasosopo flew out to right as well and deep enough to advance Hunter to third, but Prince Fielder's fly to center was caught by Denard Span to end a seven-pitch bottom of the first for Nats' lefty Gio Gonzalez.
After a long first, Justin Verlander needed just 12 pitches to retire the Nationals 7-8-and-9 hitters in order in the top of the second.
Victor Martinez started the Tigers' half of the second inning with a line drive single to left then went around to third on a double to left and off the wall in Comerica Park by Jhonny Peralta. Gio Gonzalez struck second baseman Hernan Perez out with a 2-2 change for the first out of the inning, but Detroit third baseman Ramon Santiago hit a sharp grounder by Anthony Rendon at third to drive in two runs and make it 2-1 Tigers in the second. Alex Avila's two-run opposite field home run in the next at bat made it 4-1 over the Nationals in the second. One out later, Torii Hunter hit a solo home run to left on a 3-1 fastball from Gio Gonzalez to make it 5-1 Tigers after two. 36-pitch inning for Gonzalez. 43 pitches overall for the Nationals' left-hander.
Denard Span took a 2-1 change from Justin Verlander to center for a leadoff single in the top of the third, but three outs and one two-out walk to Jayson Werth later he was still standing at first when the Tigers' starter completed a 21-pitch inning with Detroit's 5-1 lead in tact. 56 pitches in three innings for Verlander. Gio Gonzalez was at 49 pitches overall after three innings once he'd followed up a 36-pitch second with a six-pitch third. Still 5-1 Tigers after three in Detroit.
Ian Desmond walked to start the Nationals' fourth, but after he stole second base he was stranded there as Justin Verlander retired the next three batters in a scoreless sixteen-pitch inning that had him up to 72 pitches overall. Alex Avila walked with one down in the Tigers' fourth went first-to-third on a grounder to second by Austin Jackson that got by Steve Lombardozzi's backhand at second. Austin Jackson's line drive single to right brought Avila in to make it 6-1 and Matt Tuiasosopo's RBI single to left brought Jackson in to make it 7-1 Tigers in the fourth. Prince Fielder's broken bat single to right made it 8-1 Detroit. Victor Martinez's single in the next bat made it 9-1 and ended Gio Gonzalez's outing. Ross Ohlendorf took over and gave up an RBI single by Hernan Perez that made it a 10-1 game. Ohlendorf then left the game with an injury and Craig Stammen took over on the mound and got the Nationals out of a long inning.
Gio Gonzalez's line: 3.1 IP, 11 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 2 HR, 77 P, 46 S, 2/5 GO/FO.
Denard Span and Bryce Harper hit back-to-back singles off Justin Verlander to start the Nats' fifth, but Harper was erased from the basepaths on Ryan Zimmerman's DP grounder and after a walk to Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche K'd swinging for the third time in three at bats today to end the top of the inning. Craig Stammen gave up a two-out walk in the bottom of the frame, but completed a scoreless 12-pitch 5th without the Tigers adding to their lead.
Ian Desmond K'd looking at Justin Verlander's 100th pitch for the first out of the sixth. Anthony Rendon flew to left on pitch no.101 for the Tigers' right-hander. Kurt Suzuki grounded out to third to end the Nats' fifth with Verlander at 103 pitches overall and done for the afternoon. Craig Stammen needed 11 pitches to get through a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth inning in Detroit.
Phil Coke retired the Nationals in order in the top of the seventh, and Bryce Harper appeared to tweak something on a swing and miss though he stayed in the game and struck out to end the frame. Ian Krol took the mound in the bottom of the seventh and gave up a walk to Ramon Santiago, a single by Alex Avila and a two-out RBI double by Torii Hunter that made it an 11-1 Tigers' lead.
Detroit right-hander Al Albuquerque replaced Phil Coke on the mound and threw a quick, 1-2-3 top of the eight to keep it 11-1 Tigers. Ryan Mattheus came out for the bottom of the eighth. Roger Bernadina took over for Harper, though there was no official word on what was bothering the Nats' 20-year-old outfielder. Mattheus gave up a one-out walk and a single, but got an inning-ending double play to get the Nationals out of the eighth. Still 11-1 Tigers in Comerica Park.
Anthony Rendon singled off Tigers' reliever Evan Reed with one down in the ninth to break up a string of 11-straight Nats set down by Tigers' pitchers, but Kurt Suzuki grounded weakly to first for out no.2 and Steve Lombardozzi flew to left field to end it. Ballgame.
Nationals now 52-56