The first inning of Stephen Strasburg's sixth Spring outing started with the 24-year-old Washington Nationals' right-hander painting the outside corner for a called strike three on a 96 mph heater that Detroit Tigers' outfielder Quintin Berry watched all the way in to Kurt Suzuki's mitt, thinking it was low and away. A grounder to short from Don Kelly and a swinging K from Victor Martinez, who swung over a diving 1-2 change, ended a quick, 12-pitch* top of the first for Strasburg in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium.
* = Pitch counts differed all day depending on the source.
Top of the second. A 1-1 fastball inside to Prince Fielder got Strasburg a groundout to first, and the right-handed pitcher got over to cover, retiring the Tigers' slugger on three pitches for the fourth-straight out to start the game. Brayan Pena worked the count full and grounded weakly back to the mound on a 95 mph heater for out no.2, but Strasburg left a 2-1 fastball to Matt Tuiasosopo up in the zone away and the 26-year-old Tigers' outfielder took it out the other way for a solo home run to right that made it 1-0 Tigers in the second. A fly to left by Ramon Santiago ended the inning, but not until after the Tigers took the lead. 14-pitch inning for Strasburg.
A fastball outside got Tigers' infielder Danny Worth looking for out no.1 of the third and K no.3 for Strasburg in 2.1 IP. The Nats' right-hander got a weak grounder toward short from Kevin Russo in the next at bat. Ryan Zimmerman charged it, reached down, but came up empty. E5. Quintin Berry reached for a changeup outside from Strasburg and punched an opposite field single to right to move Russo around to third, but Don Kelly rolled one out to second and started a 4-6-3 inning-ending DP that quickly ended the threat against Strasburg and the top of the third. 37 pitches for the Nationals' starter after an 11-pitch frame.
Stephen Strasburg was the ninth-straight batter set down by Drew Smyly in 3.0 scoreless and hitless by the Tigers' left-hander. The Nats' starter retook the mound quickly for the top of the fourth. Victor Martinez turned a 95 mph 1-2 fastball inside around and singled to right to start the inning. Prince Fielder lined a 95 mph fastball back up the middle, off the heel of Stephen Strasburg's gloved hand and into center. Strasburg was fine, remained in the game and got a force at second, but no DP on a Brayan Pena grounder to second. First and third with one out. A brutal 2-2 curve got Matt Tuiasosopo swinging for out no.2 and K no.4 and Ramon Santiago K'd looking at a two-strike curve for out no.3 and K no.5. 48 pitches [acc to MASN] total after a 12-pitch frame.
Denard Span was the tenth-straight batter set down by Smyly, but Jayson Werth singled through the left side of the infield for the Nationals' first hit of the game. One pitch later, Bryce Harper lined to right for hit no.2, but Ryan Zimmerman K'd swinging at a 93 mph 1-2 fastball outside and Adam LaRoche grounded out to first to end the Tigers' starter's fourth scoreless inning of work.
Danny Worth took a fastball from Strasburg back up the middle for a single to center to start the fifth. A fly to Jayson Werth in right by Kevin Russo and a swinging bunt by Quintin Berry followed in the next two at bats, and with Worth on second and two down, Don Kelly worked the count full and walked to put two on for Victor Martinez. Strasburg got behind 2-0 and gave up an RBI single on a fastball that Martinez lined to center for a 2-0 lead. A pop to center by Prince Fielder on a 2-1 pitch from Strasburg brought Don Kelly around too and made it 3-0 Tigers before the right-hander got out of the fifth.
Ian Desmond was 1 for 2 today and 15 for 51 this Spring after he hit his second Grapefruit League home run out to left to lead off the Nationals' fifth. Drew Smyly retired the next three Nationals in order to preserve a two-run lead after five. 3-1 Tigers.
Strasburg got three quick outs in the top of the sixth, two groundouts to short (Grounder. Desmond. Out. x 2) and a pop to Adam LaRoche in foul territory off first. 89 pitches total for Strasburg according to Twitter. After Denard Span singled to start the bottom of the sixth, Jose Alvarez replaced Drew Smyly on the mound for the Tigers. Jayson Werth grounded into a force at second, but beat the throw to first to avoid the DP. Tyler Moore flew to Jeff McVaney in right for out no.2, but Ryan Zimmerman kept the inning alive with a two-out, ground ball single to center. Adam LaRoche's groundout to first ended the sixth, however, still 3-1 Tigers.
• Strasburg's Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 89 P, 55 S.
Henry Rodriguez's first pitch in the seventh soared clear over Nats' catcher Kurt Suzuki and home plate ump Ed Hickox, soaring straight to the backstop netting at 90 mph. The Nats' right-handed reliever worked back from 3-0 to a full count and gave up a leadoff double by Kevin Russo. Quintin Berry walked to put to on for Jeff McVaney who walked to load the bases. 21-year-old pinch hitter Steven Moya K'd swinging at a 2-2 slider from Rodriguez. 27-year-old Jordan Lennerton flew to deep center where Roger Bernadina made a diving catch [CHOMP!] for out no.2, but it was good for a sac fly and a 4-1 Tigers' lead. A weak liner to short by Brayan Pena ended the inning there.
Ian Desmond walked to start the eighth and took third on a double to center by Danny Espinosa. Tigers' lefty Phil Coke got a fly to right from Kurt Suzuki, but it was deep enough for Desmond to tag and score to make it 4-2 Detroit. Espinosa took third on Suzuki's fly, and scored on a sac fly by Steve Lombardozzi. 4-3 Tigers after seven.
Ryan Mattheus three a quick 1-2-3 eighth vs Detroit. Tigers' right-hander Brayan Villarreal took over in the bottom of the inning, Jayson Werth was 2 for 4 today and 13 for 41 this Spring after singling to start the eighth. Tyler Moore was punched out on a check-swing strike three on a shoulder-high heater from Villarreal and Ryan Zimmerman erased the runner with a chopper to second that started an inning-ending 4-3 DP. Still 4-3 Tigers.
Tyler Clippard threw an 0-2 fastball by Kevin Russo for the first out of the ninth. Quintin Berry walked in the next at bat. Jeff McVaney went down swinging for out no.2 and Steven Moya was out and K no.3. Detroit right-hander Luis Marte got a check-swing strike three from Adam LaRoche for out no.1. Carlos Rivero K'd swinging through a 1-2 fastball for out no.2 and Chad Tracy flew to right to end it. 4-3 final in the Tigers' favor.