Jordan Zimmermann entered last night's game with a streak of eighteen-straight scoreless innings going which stretched back two-plus starts to his April 21st outing against the Mets in NY. Detroit's starter Anibal Sanchez entered the first game of two for the Tigers on the road in the nation's capital with a streak of 39.2 IP in which he hadn't allowed a home run. Both pitchers' streaks would end before the night was over. Zimmermann's ended first when Torii Hunter doubled to left with two down in the top of the third, then scored on an RBI single by Miguel Cabrera that gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead. The Nats tied the game up in the bottom of the inning when Denard Span hit a leadoff triple and one out later scored on a sac fly by Bryce Harper.
In the fourth inning, the Nationals took a 2-1 lead when Adam LaRoche tagged at second and took third on a one-out fly to right by Kurt Suzuki only to have the throw in from right field bounce off him and into the photographer's well on the third base side of the field. LaRoche was awarded an extra base and the Nats jumped ahead of the visiting Tigers, 2-1. 43.2 IP into the 2013 season, however, Anibal Sanchez still hadn't allowed a home run. The Tigers' starter was up 44.1, with two down in the fifth, when Bryce Harper took the Detroit starter deep to end that streak:
Sanchez had already shown Harper the curve in their first inning matchup of the night, and had started Harper with an offspeed pitch, a change, the second time the 20-year-old slugger stepped to the plate. Harper hit the changeup to left for a sac fly in the third, and he jumped on the first-pitch curve the next time he stepped to the plate and crushed it for a solo blast that soared over the out of town scoreboard in right and fell in under the United Airlines sign on the facade of the second deck in Nats Park.
Asked after the game if Harper had anticipated the first-pitch curve, Nats' skipper Davey Johnson said that his three-hole hitter didn't have to guess. "He doesn't really have to look for breaking balls," Johnson said, "He tracks the ball really good. He's had some awfully good at bats. I mean, he's hit 3-2 split fingers, put his bat on it. He's real good at that. It looked like on that one [Sanchez] left it kind of up in the zone and out over the plate a little bit and [Harper] crushed it."
Harper's 10th HR of the year made it 3-1 Nationals. 32 games and 129 PAs into his second major league season, the Nats' 2010 no.1 overall pick has a .313/.395/.652 line with six doubles, a triple and 10 HRs.