• Today's Top 5:
5. Gorzelanny Strong In Loss: Rick Ankiel had his eyes on Tigers' DH Victor Martinez as V-Mart rounded second and was heading for third after Brandon Inge lined a 3-1 pitch from Nats' lefty Tom Gorzelanny to center in the top of the second, and the rumored leader in the race for the center field spot on Washington's Opening Day roster misplayed the two-out single to set Detroit up with runners on first and third with two down. Gorzelanny got a fly ball from Alex Avila though and escaped danger (and the one-out walk to V-Mart) with his second scoreless frame of the day. In the third, Ryan Raburn got on with a two-out single and scored when Don Kelly jacked an 0-1 fastball that Gorzelanny threw low and inside to the left-handed hitter who launched it into the wind and way out to right for a two-run blast and a 2-0 Tigers' lead.
Gorzelanny walked Victor Martinez again in the fourth, but a double play grounder erased the baserunner and another groundout ended the former Pirates' prospect and Cubs' starter's fourth inning of work. A one-out single in the fifth was followed by two pop fly outs and Gorzelanny's day was done after 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K's and 1 HR allowed.
4. Roster Decisions, Roster Decisions: Jerry Hairston is diving for grounders that have almost reached the left field grass behind third. Alex Cora and Alberto Gonzalez are ripping singles off Tigers' Opening Day starter Justin Verlander. Roger Bernadina's showing off arm in the outfield and trying (unsuccessfully) to turn singles into doubles. Wilson Ramos is displaying his power (400ft double). Rick Ankiel's looking to catch everything he can and throw out any runner on base. The talk all morning was about who would end up winning the most tightly-contested battles that remain undecided with just eleven days left before Opening Day. Matt Stairs must have heard the reports this morning that had Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman saying he would likely make the Nats' roster as a late-game bench bat (or HR-in-a-can) because he made the most of his one at bat this afternoon as the All-Time Major League Pinch Hit HR Champ has 23 times in his career. Stairs took Tigers' reliever Tyler Perry deep to right for the Nats' only run of the game, and once again raised the question (Q:) of whether or not a one-dimensional player has a place on the Nats' 2011 roster? A: MASN analyst F.P. Santangelo: "He’s on the team. It’s official."
3. Verlander: With a 95 mph heater, devastating change and brutal curve, Justin Verlander didn't need much help through his first five scoreless frames but he got it anyway as the home plate umpire Ed Hickox repeatedly called pitches strikes that the Nats' batters weren't buying. The Nationals got a double from Wilson Ramos in the second, but he was stranded two outs later. Alex Cora singled to start the third but was quickly picked off. Alberto Gonzalez and then Nyjer Morgan followed with singles with Gonzalez going first to third on Morgan's hit as the Nats' outfielder hustled around first and took second when Ryan Raburn misplayed it in left. Verlander abused Rick Ankiel and got help on a called strike three, and Jayson Werth flew out, however, and the Tigers' starter was through three scoreless. Verlander allowed a two-out single, again to Gonzalez in the fifth, and issued a one-out walk to Adam LaRoche in the sixth, but that was it for Nats' baserunners and neither scored. Verlander's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K's.
2. Snap Throw Gone Bad: Todd Coffey looked strong retiring the Tigers in order in the sixth, though he did give the first batter he faced, Don Kelly, a little-too-nice an 0-2 pitch that was laced to right, but Jayson Werth got there and caught the first out. The new Nats' reliever struck Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez out to end the top of the frame. Called upon again in the seventh, Coffey got back-to-back groundouts to start the frame, but things quickly took an unfortunate turn. A two-out single by Alex Avila found its way into left. A passed ball with Ramon Santiago at the plate allowed Avila to take second and Coffey gave Santiago a free pass with a two-out walk.
Nats' catcher Wilson Ramos tried to help his pitcher out in the next AB with a snap throw to first trying to catch Santiago sleeping, but Ramos threw it into foul territory in right allowing Avila to score, and after Alex Cora caught the relay from right, he turned to throw to third before realizing that the runner had stopped at second. Cora's throw went right by Hairston at third allowing Santiago to score the second run which put the Tigers up 4-0. Casper Wells followed with a single to center and Coffey issued another walk before he was lifted for Drew Storen...
1. 4 E's: Danny Espinosa probably cursed the wind which greeted him during the first play that came his way at shortstop after he'd entered the game in the top of the eighth. A one-out infield pop got caught on a breeze that swept it across the infield pulling the ball from above short to the right side of second and out of Espinosa's reach. E on the dropped ball, and a single by Will Rhymes and an RBI double by Danny Worth follow in the next two at bats, with Storen leaving a hanging slider up for Worth, who makes it 6-1 Tigers. That's how it ends...
Tigers win 6-1 final. Nats drop seventh straight.