Results tagged ‘ Detroit Tigers ’

Daily Wrap: Strasburg named Opening Day starter, Detwiler talks bullpen, & more

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by Amanda Comak

VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals fell to the Houston Astros, 2-0, on Wednesday night, despite a strong five-inning performance from Taylor Jordan and solid relief work from Ross Detwiler, Rafael Soriano and Tyler Clippard.

To the Daily Wrap…

News of the Day: Stephen Strasburg will be the Nationals’ Opening Day starter.

Stephen Strasburg was named the Nationals' Opening Day starter for the third straight year.

Stephen Strasburg was named the Nationals’ Opening Day starter for the third straight year.

Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams announced Wednesday night that, for the third consecutive year, Stephen Strasburg will be the team’s Opening Day starter.

“He’s earned it,” Williams said after the team’s 2-0 loss to the Houston Astros. “He’ll toe that slab for us on Opening Day.”

This spring, Strasburg has allowed just one earned run in three starts while working on holding runners and incorporating a new pitch. He’ll make his fourth start of Spring Training on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers, and that start will line him up to be on turn for the Nationals’ March 31 opener at Citi Field against the New York Mets.

And while Strasburg was perhaps the expected choice, the uber-talented right-hander having done it the previous two years, Williams acknowledged that some of the other Nationals starters gave him pause before making the final decision. Jordan Zimmermann, a 19-game winner and an All-Star a season ago, was chief among them.

“We have a number of guys who could fill that position,” Williams said of the Opening Day honor. “But we spoke to Jordan and he’s good with pitching wherever and whenever. Opening Day is important, but the rest of the games are important, too.”

Quote of the Day: Ross Detwiler on taking a team-first attitude on his move to the bullpen.

Detwiler pitched a scoreless inning in relief on Wednesday night, the first step in his transition into the Nationals’ bullpen. Earlier in the day, the left-hander discussed the team’s decision with reporters, taking a team-first attitude to the move.

“I still view myself as a starter,” Detwiler said. “But I’m not going to go out there and hope somebody does bad or somebody gets hurt. We’re in it to win. And I think it’s going to hurt worse if we don’t win the whole thing this year.”

Video highlights:

Taylor Jordan strikes out five in five innings.

Ross Detwiler fans Jason Castro in the sixth.

Danny Espinosa makes a diving stop and shows off his throwing arm.


Williams said Wednesday that right-hander Doug Fister, who pitched in a Minor League game on Monday, will return to the Major League rotation on Saturday against the Miami Marlins… Williams also said he expects the top of the Nationals’ rotation to feature Gio Gonzalez behind Strasburg and Zimmermann behind Gonzalez.

Nationals Acquire Doug Fister in Four-Player Trade with Tigers

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals took a significant step toward deepening their starting rotation on Monday night, acquiring right-hander Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers. In exchange for Fister, the Nationals sent infielder Steve Lombardozzi, left-handed reliever Ian Krol and left-handed Minor League prospect Robbie Ray to the Tigers.

The 29-year-old slides into a rotation that already includes three All-Stars in Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez, and brings with him a track record of durability and significant playoff experience. In 2013, Fister went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA for the American League Central champions.

“This is an exciting day for the Washington Nationals,” said President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “We feel we’ve added a talented, young veteran to our starting pitching corps. Doug is battle-tested through playoff experiences, and the depth he brings to our staff is exceptional. We are thrilled to welcome him aboard.”

In a Major League career that has spanned parts of five years, the 6-foot-8 right-hander has thrown over 200 innings in two of the last three seasons, and pitched in the postseason in each of the last three years. He is 3-2 with a 2.98 ERA in eight postseason games (seven starts).

Since 2011, the right-hander ranks 10th among Major League starting pitchers in WAR (13.1, per, ninth among MLB starting pitchers in walks per nine innings (1.82), and walk rate (4.9). He is fifth among Major League starting pitchers in home runs per nine innings (0.62) in that span, and 20th in all of the majors in ERA (3.30).

In 2012, while helping the Tigers reach the World Series, Fister set an American League record for consecutive strikeouts when he struck out nine Kansas City Royals in a row on Sep. 27.

A native of Merced, Calif., Fister was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the seventh round of the First-Year Player Draft in 2006, and was acquired, along with David Pauley, by the Tigers on July 30, 2011, in exchange for Charlie Furbush, Francisco Martinez, Casper Wells and Chance Ruffin.

A second-year arbitration-eligible player, Fister is under contract through the 2015 season.

Lombardozzi, a Columbia, Md., native, served in a utility role for the Nationals the past two seasons – appearing at third base, shortstop and in left field, though his natural position is second base. In 257 Major League games, Lombardozzi is a career .264 hitter. The Nationals selected him in the 19th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

Krol, 22, was acquired by the Nationals in March as the Player to Be Named in the three-way trade that sent Michael Morse to Seattle and brought the Nationals pitching prospects A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen from the Oakland Athletics. The left-hander enjoyed a meteoric rise once joining the organization and made his Major League debut on June 5 vs. the New York Mets. He did not allow a run in his first nine appearances (9.2 innings).

Ray, 22, posted a 3.36 ERA between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. Baseball America ranked Ray as the fifth-best prospect in the Nationals’ system. Washington selected him in the 12th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Brentwood (TN) High School.

What to Watch for: 7.31.13

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Washington Nationals (52-55) vs. Detroit Tigers (60-45)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-3, 2.97) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (10-8, 3.99)

Washington takes aim at a two-game split and a season series victory over the Tigers as the Nationals send Gio Gonzalez to the hill against Justin Verlander. The Nationals have a travel day Thursday before concluding their road trip with three games in Milwaukee over the weekend.


1. Span CF

2. Harper LF

3. Zimmerman DH

4. Werth RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Rendon 3B

8. Suzuki C

9. Lombardozzi 2B

LHP Gonzalez


Not only did Verlander and Gonzalez finish second and third, respectively, in their league’s voting for the 2013 Cy Young Awards, both rank second in their league in wins since the beginning of last season. Gonzalez’s 28 victories rank trail only Lance Lynn’s 30 in the NL, while Verlander’s 27 rank 2nd behind teammate Max Scherzer’s 31 in the AL.


Washington is 9-7 (.563) in interleague play this season (3-0 vs. White Sox, 2-1 vs. Tigers, 1-3 vs. Orioles, 2-1 vs. Twins, 1-2 vs. Indians). The Nationals need to win at least two of the four remaining interleague matchups (one at Detroit, three at Kansas City) this season to record a third consecutive winning mark against the AL (10-8 in 2012, 8-7 in ‘11). League-wide, the NL is 99-114 (.465) against the AL this season. The last time the Senior Circuit posted a winning interleague record was 2003 (137-115, .544).


JULY 31, 2010 – Ryan Zimmerman clouts a three-run homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning off Philadelphia’s Brad Lidge for his seventh career walk-off home run, giving Washington a 7-5 home win over Phillies.

Highlights: 7.30.13

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7.30.13 – Tigers 5, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: Bryce Harper led off the game with a triple and scored Washington’s lone run in the first inning.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez improved to 9-1 career versus the Nationals.

It Was Over When: Alex Avila broke a 1-1 tie with a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth against Stephen Strasburg.

What to Watch for: 7.30.13

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Washington Nationals (52-54) vs. Detroit Tigers (59-45)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (5-8, 2.85) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (8-7, 2.68)

The All-Star break provides a number of opportunities for players. The four days are a chance to catch your breath, lick your wounds, and get a mental restart for the stretch run. For managers though, it also provides a chance to reset the pitching rotation to best match up with opponents.

In Davey Johnson’s case, that meant he could line up Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez for this two-game set against Detroit, beginning Tuesday night in the Motor City. It also means Jordan Zimmermann will get to start back in his home state of Wisconsin on Friday night in Milwaukee, where he delivered six strong innings to earn his fourth win in a very strong month of August last season.

Of course, it also means the rotation will roll over once more, setting up the top three Washington starters to pitch during the Nationals upcoming August 5-7 home series with Atlanta. With a little tinkering, Johnson could work around the off days to do the same for the road series against the Braves, August 16-18 at Turner Field.

The ability to set up the top of the rotation is great, but it is made all the more important by the success of the rest of the starters, like the three huge starts delivered by Ross Ohlendorf, Dan Haren and Taylor Jordan over the weekend. After one of their toughest losses of the season in the opening game of the doubleheader with the Mets on Friday – and with All-Star Game starter Matt Harvey and Nats nemesis Dillon Gee on the horizon – Washington needed big performances from all three to have a successful weekend.

That’s exactly what they got. Ohlendorf, Haren and Jordan combined to deliver 20 innings over which each allowed just a single earned run (1.35 combined ERA) on 14 total hits and four walks while striking out 21 Mets batters. The offense did just enough to muster a win Friday night, with Ryan Zimmerman providing the ninth-inning heroics, then powered three home runs Saturday and came alive to set season highs in hits and runs on Sunday. That gave the Nationals three straight wins heading into their current Midwest road trip.

If the rotation can continue to feed off of itself and the lineup behind it finds its groove, the Nationals will be as well positioned as they could possibly hope for the upcoming division showdowns with Atlanta that may well determine the fate of the division.


1. Harper LF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Span CF

8. Ramos C

9. Tracy DH

RHP Strasburg


The Nationals won four of the final five games on their season-long 11-game homestand. They batted .302 (52-for-172) and plated 29 runs during the 4-1 surge since last Thursday, averaging 5.8 runs per game over that stretch.


Jayson Werth is batting .331 (56-for-169) with 23 walks, seven doubles, 11 home runs, 30 runs scored, 32 RBI, and a .410 OBP in 48 games since returning from the disabled list (right hamstring) on June 4. During the month of July, Werth paces the National League in batting average (.376), OPS (1.103), on-base percentage (.455) and RBI (21). He also ranks among the Senior Circuit’s top five in home runs (tied-second, seven), slugging percentage (third, .647) and hits (tied-fifth, 32).


With Wilson Ramos’ bases-clearing blast in the third inning on Sunday, the Nationals have now blasted three grand slams in 2013. The club went 70 games before hitting a grand slam, with Ian Desmond providing the first of the year, in the 11th inning on June 19 in Philadelphia. Since then, Washington has collected three in 36 games, also including Ryan Zimmerman’s shot against San Diego on July 7 in The District.

Highlights: 5.9.13

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5.9.13 – Nationals 5, Tigers 4

Stat of the Game: Washington scored five times in the first two innings, improving to a perfect 13-0 when scoring five or more runs this season. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: The bullpen turned in three scoreless innings to preserve a one-run lead in the victory.

It Was Over When: Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder’s long fly ball came up short of the wall in center field as Denard Span squeezed the final out for the two-game series sweep.

What to Watch for: 5.9.13

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Detroit Tigers (19-12) vs. Washington Nationals (18-15)

RHP Doug Fister (4-0, 2.38) vs. RHP Dan Haren (3-3, 5.01)

The Nationals look for a two-game series sweep of the Tigers, following Wednesday night’s 3-1 victory behind Jordan Zimmermann. Dan Haren rides a two-game personal winning streak into this afternoon’s affair against Detroit righty Doug Fister.


1. Span CF

2. Bernadina LF

3. Harper RF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Haren RHP


On Wednesday night, Jordan Zimmermann became the first Washington Nationals (2005-present) pitcher to garner a win in three straight starts despite Nationals bats posting three or less runs of offensive support (3-1 on Wednesday vs. Detroit, 2-0 on May 1 at Atlanta, 1-0 on April 26 vs. Cincinnati). Zimmermann has pocketed the win in seven consecutive starts at Nationals Park.


The Nationals are a perfect 4-0 this season against the American League (1-0 vs. Detrit, 3-0 vs. Chicago). Washington is also 22-15 in interleague play since the beginning of 2011. The corresponding .595 winning percentage paces NL clubs (fourth in MLB) in that 2+ year span, during which Washington is 12-7 (.632) at Nationals Park against the AL.


Bryce Harper slugged his 10th homer of the season in his 111th at-bat of the season on Wednesday. In doing so, Harper reached the double-digit home run plateau quicker than any National (2005-present) with the exception of Adam Dunn, who blasted his 10th homer of the 2009 campaign n his 103rd at-bat, May 10 at Arizona.

At Last, a Number of Firsts

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Looking purely at the history of the matchup, not much favored the Nationals heading into Wednesday’s tilt with the Detroit Tigers. The franchise had never beaten Detroit since moving to D.C., going 0-6 over a pair on Interleague matchups since 2005. The Nationals also had never handed opposing starter Anibal Sanchez a loss in his 19 career starts against them.

But the Nationals had Jordan Zimmermann. And, as we’ve begun to learn this season, sometimes that’s enough to throw history out the window.

Zimmermann continued his early-season dominance to claim to the NL wins lead.

Zimmermann continued his early-season dominance to claim to the NL wins lead.

Behind seven strong innings from their emerging ace, the Nationals played great defense and found just enough timely hitting to pull out a 3-1 win. The victory also marked something of a first for Zimmermann, who took over the top spot in the National League with his sixth of the season. The righty lowered his ERA to just 1.59, trailing only Matt Harvey of the Mets.

Meanwhile, Bryce Harper became the first National to reach double digits in home runs, doing so before any of his teammates even hit their fifth of the season. His 10th blast, a no-doubter to right-center off Sanchez in the fifth inning, tied him with John Buck for second in the National League and provided the game’s final margin.

Wednesday night’s contest even included the proverbial “thing you’ve never seen before at the ballpark,” an idiom often used in baseball. The less-than-fleet-footed Adam LaRoche made an aggressive play to tag from second base on a fly ball to right field with one out in the fourth inning. Torii Hunter’s throw came in just as LaRoche went into his slide, but glanced off the runner’s hand, past third baseman Miguel Cabrera and into the photographer’s well next to the Tigers dugout, where it hit a camera and ricocheted back out onto the field. As the ball would have gone out of play, third base umpire Greg Gibson awarded LaRoche home plate for what would turn out to be the game-winning run.

LaRoche's aggressive baserunning led to a key run.

LaRoche’s aggressive baserunning led to a key run.

And so, even though some previous trends suggested a victory was unlikely, the Nationals upheld another trend that D.C. baseball fans might find pleasantly surprising. With the win, Washington improved to 22-15 in Interleague play since the beginning of the 2011 season, the best mark in the National League over that span. The Nationals also are now 4-0 against the American League this season, including a three-game sweep of the White Sox back in April. And at three games over .500 for the first time since entering play at 10-7 on April 21, they are just two games behind what is hopefully the next “first” on the list.

Highlights: 5.8.13

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5.8.13 – Nationals 3, Tigers 1

Stat of the Game: Bryce Harper became the first National to reach 10 home runs, and is now tied for second in the National League with 10 long balls. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: With another stellar performance, Jordan Zimmermann earned his league-leading sixth victory, dropping his already paltry ERA to just 1.59.

It Was Over When: Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano combined to record the final six outs and lock up the victory, Washington’s third in a row.

What to Watch for: 5.8.13

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Detroit Tigers (19-11) vs. Washington Nationals (17-15)

RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-2, 1.82) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (5-1, 1.64)

Following a two-day break – after playing 17 games in 17 days – the Nationals return home to take on the American League Central-leading Detroit Tigers in a short, two-game set. Familiar foe and former Marlin Anibal Sanchez matches up with Jordan Zimmermann, who shares the National League lead with five wins.


1. Span CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Harper RF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Moore LF

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP


In 13 games dating to April 23, Steve McCatty’s starting staff has fashioned a 2.96 ERA (28 ER/85.0 IP) thanks in part to a 3.4/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .218 batting average against.


The Nationals, since their arrival in the Nation’s Capital, have never beaten the Tigers, going 0-6. The Nationals have posted wins against each of Major League Baseball’s other 28 clubs. This is the Tigers first visit to Nationals Park, although Detroit did sweep a three-game set in D.C., June 15-17, 2007 at RFK.


The Nationals are 21-15 in interleague play since the beginning of 2011. The corresponding .583 winning percentage paces National League clubs (tied for fifth in MLB) in that 2+ year span, during which Washington is 11-7 (.611) at Nationals Park when facing AL competition.