(Sports Network) - Rain washed away the opener of a two-game series between
the Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals, so the clubs will try to fit one
in Wednesday evening at Nationals Park.
Detroit and Washington will make up the game on Thursday, as Nationals starter
Dan Haren is slated to oppose Detroit's Doug Fister.
The Tigers look to keep rolling when they enter the nation's capital and have
won four straight and 10 of 12 games. They completed a four-game sweep of the
Houston Astros with Sunday's 9-0 victory and outscored the 'Stros, 26-2 in the
last two installments of the series.
In the finale at Minute Maid Park, ace Justin Verlander hurled seven shutout
innings, struck out nine and allowed only two hits for the win. Verlander
flirted with a no-hitter and threw 116 pitches, 80 for strikes.
"I really wasn't thinking about the pitch count," Verlander said. "It really
is a non-issue at that point. It's kind of out of my hands. I was early. But I
started getting in the sixth, seventh inning, I wasn't thinking about it. You
can't play the what-if, should-have, could-have game."
Darin Downs tossed the final two frames to preserve the win.
Verlander benefited from four home runs by Andy Dirks, Prince Fielder, Brayan
Pena and Omar Infante. Dirks was 4-for-4 with three runs scored Fielder ended
with three hits and four RBI for the Tigers, who are 1 1/2 games ahead of
Kansas City for the AL Central lead.
Anibal Sanchez gets the call for the defending AL champions on Wednesday and
he has lost two of his last three starts. In a 6-2 loss to Minnesota last
Wednesday, Sanchez gave up a season-high three runs in six innings and fanned
nine. He is 3-2 in six starts and his earned run average went from 1.34 to
Sanchez, though, has dominated the Nationals from his days with the Marlins
and the right-hander is 8-0 with a 1.97 ERA in 19 starts against them.
Washington won a series in Pittsburgh over the weekend and posted a 6-2 win
over the Pirates on Sunday behind home runs from Tyler Moore and Danny
Espinosa. Both players had three RBI for the Nationals, winners in four of
their last five games.
Gio Gonzalez picked up the win and pitched six innings of two-run ball, while
scattering five hits and striking out five. Relievers Drew Storen, Tyler
Clippard and Rafael Soriano tossed a scoreless inning apiece.
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was ejected early after arguing a called
third strike and Roger Bernadina replaced him. Bernadina was 2-for-4 with a
run scored in Washington's 17th game in as many days.
Harper will not be fined or suspended for his temper tantrum. He is batting
.312 with a .633 slugging percentage, nine homers, 18 RBI and 20 runs scored.
"That was good news," Nats manager Davey Johnson said. "(The ejection) turned
out good, because I wanted to give (Harper) the day off. The umpire (John
Hirschbeck) helped out there. (Harper) got a day off. With the day off
(Monday), he had two days off, so he should be ready to go for quite a while."
Nats veteran outfielder Jayson Werth missed his third straight game and is
dealing with a balky right hamstring. Werth may return Wednesday depending on
the condition of the field and could also just wait until Friday's series with
the Chicago Cubs.
"He had his doctor put him through all kinds of tests. His hamstring is not
pulled. He feels pretty good about that," Johnson said Tuesday. "But I would
not run him out there on this field. So he will have to wait until tomorrow."
The Nationals pulled within two games of Atlanta for the NL East lead after
the Braves lost to the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night.
Jordan Zimmermann has been the ace of the Washington staff so far and gets the
ball Wednesday. Zimmermann is 5-1 with a 1.64 earned run average in six
starts and has won back-to-back outings, including last Wednesday's 2-0 win at
Atlanta. He held the Braves to two hits over eight scoreless innings and
struck out a season-best eight batters.
"He's obviously got everything working right now," Nationals catcher Kurt
Suzuki said. "He's pitching up in the zone, down in the zone, in and out, he's
really mixing it up with his breaking balls, he's throwing breaking balls for
strikes. He's got it working. Even during the game, he keeps it loose. He's
really fun to work with."
Zimmermann hasn't given up a run in each of his last two starts, spanning 17
innings, and has allowed only two runs in the previous three trips to the
mound. The right-hander has won all three of his starts at Nationals Park this
season and will face Detroit for the first time.
The last time the Tigers and Nationals met Detroit swept a three-game series
at home in 2010. Washington lost all three matchups as the host in 2007.
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