Nationals 5, Tigers 4: Fister lasts only three innings as comeback falls short

USA TODAY Sports

On a day which belonged to the bullpens, Dan Haren was a little better than Doug Fister, which ultimately was the difference in the game. Matt Tuiasosopo's home run pulled the Tigers to within a run, but could not complete the comeback.

The Washington Nationals swept their two game interleague series with the Detroit Tigers, holding on for a 5-4 victory this afternoon.

Winning pitcher Dan Haren (4-3) scattered nine hits over six innings, allowing all four Tigers runs. Raphael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth for his twelfth save. Losing pitcher Doug Fister (4-1) gave up five runs, four earned, in three innings, losing for the first tme in 2013.

Ryan Zimmerman led the Nationals with three hits and an RBI, Adam LaRoche adding a pair of base hits and an RBI. Matt Tuiasosopo supplied almost all the Tigers' offense with one swing, a pinch hit three run home run in the sixth. Fister drove in the other Tigers run on the day with a second inning single.

Haren pitched a scoreless first, only allowing a single to Miguel Cabrera. Bottom of the inning, Denard Span led off by being Denard Span whenever he plays the Tigers. A pain in the Tigers' ass, triggering a three run rally.

Taking up from where he left off anytime Span plays the Tigers, he doubled down the right field line.

This being the National League, the lead off man reaching base means you must bunt. Roger Bernadina laid down a good one, using his speed to beat Fister to the bag for a bunt single, moving Span to third.

Of course Span would score, because that's what he does against the Tigers. Bryce Harper's 4-6 fielder's choice drove in Span, the Nationals up 1-0.

Zimmerman followed by lashing a single to center. LaRoche did the same, and it would have loaded the bases, Harper was being held at third. But in his rush to make a play, Austin Jackson overran the ball, allowing it to scoot past him. Harper scored on the error, Zimmerman taking third.

Ian Desmond had the fifth hit of the inning, bouncing an RBI single up the middle to plate Zimmerman,

Fister would get out of the inning on a pair of strikeouts, but the Nationals were up 3-0.

The Tigers countered with a run in the second, the big bat of Fister playing a part.

One down, Jhonny Peralta singled. Alex Avila yanked a line drive which looked to be over Harper's head. It wasn't, the speedy right fielder running the liner down at the warning track.

Omar Infante looped a soft single to center, Peralta taking third. But Fister was due up, so the rally was going to die an NL style death. Or so we thought.

Fister stunned us all, lining an 0-1 pitch into center for an RBI single, pulling the Tigers with two at 3-1. Haren allowed another out to end the inning, Jackson lining out to Span.

Span kept causing trouble,starting another rally in the second. Fister hitting grazing him with a pitch with one down. Bernadina moved Span into scoring position with a walk. Fister broke Zimmerman's bat, but he was able to drive an RBI single to center, Span making it a 4-1 game.

Rain coming down and fans taking cover, LaRoche followed with his second straight single, Bernadina scoring to make it a 5-1 game.

Fister would finally get out of the inning when Desmond softly lined to Fielder, his 61st pitch in just two innings.

The tigers putting a runner in scoring position in the fourth ended Fister's afternoon. After Peralta singled with one out and Infante when two were down, Jim Leyland elected to pinch hit Victor Martinez for Fister.

Martinez struck out, stranding the runners.

Making his first appearance since Sunday, Darin Downs took the mound to start the bottom of the fourth. The Nationals would go down in order for the first time all afternoon.

Jackson led off the fifth with a line drive to the gap in left center for a stand-up double. He should have been doubled off when Haren gloved Torii Hunter's liner and was caught far off second. Haren fired off an on target throw, Jackson dead to rights, but both second baseman Danny Espinosa and Desmond at short thought the other would take the throw. They stopped short of the bag and watched Haren's perfect throw sail into center, Jackson scrambling back to the bag.

The Tigers couldn't take advantage of the silly miscue, Cabrera and Fielder flying out.

Downs had another impressive inning, needing only eight pitches in a 1-2-3 fifth.

Once again, Peralta and Infante reached base in sixth, but this time the Tigers were able to convert ducks on the pond into runs.

Peralta walked after one out, Infante laid down a bunt single after two were down. Pinch hitting for Downs was Tuiasosopo. He came through in a huge way, crushing a Haren breaking ball for a three run homer. Tuiasosopo's second home run of the season changed the complexion of the game, pulling the Tigers within a run at 5-4.

Bottom half of the inning, Luke Putkonen took over for the pulled for a pinch hitter Downs. He walked the first batter faced, Wilson Ramos. After Ramos was sacrificed to second, Drew Smyly was brought in with the left-handed Span due up.

Smyly would pitch out of trouble, Span grounding out, pinch hitter Tyler Moore striking out.

In the seventh inning, the two teams would exchange singles, Fielder with two out against righty Ryan Mattheus, Zimmerman (his third hit) with one out while facing Smyly. Neither runner advanced further in a scoreless inning.

Avila finally hit the ball where there wasn't a Nationals outfielder in the eighth, singling to right with one out. But righty reliever Drew Storen K'ed Infante swinging, and pinch hitter Don Kelly sent a can of corn to right.

Jose Valverde made a rare eighth inning appearance in the bottom half. Even rarer, it only took Papa Grande seven pitches to retire the side in order, topping off a marvelous day by the Tigers' bullpen.

To nail down save number twelve on the season, Nationals' closer Rafael Soriano would have to set down the top of the Tigers' order in the ninth.

Jackson battled to a 3-2 count, then was punched out looking on a letter high fastball. Looked like ball four on camera, but pitch tracking said otherwise.

After Hunter bounced out 4-3, Cabrera kept the game alive by lifting a single to right, giving Fielder a chance to tie the game.

Fielder almost gave the Tigers a lead. He drilled a 1-0, 92 MPH Soriano fastball to deep center, but it (like our hopes and dreams) died on the warning track. Of course, it was the bane of Tigers fans existence, Span, who caught the final out.

Game and series over, the Tigers more than ready for a weekend of home cooking and baseball played with a DH.

Losers of two straight, the Tigers fall to 19-13 on the season. They hold on to first place in the AL Central, their lead at one game on the Royals.

Winners of four consecutive games, the Nationals are 19-15, 1 1/2 games back of the first place Braves in the NL East.

The Tigers have 24 hours to lick their wounds before starting a three game series in Detroit with the smoking hot Indians. Corey Kluber (2-1, 3.06 ERA) gets the ball for the Tribe, strikeout machine Max Scherzer (4-0, 3.43 ERA) will try to jump start another win streak for the Tigers. First pitch is 7:08 PM.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

Game one of this series became game two thanks to a far too early postponement on Tuesday.

Tigers pitchers were 0-for-29 before Fister's second inning RBI single. Miracles do happen.

Fister hit Span in the second inning, his league leading tenth HBP this season. For what it's worth, if Span was hit, the ball barely grazed the fabric on his pant leg.

This is two games in DC in a nutshell: There was rain strictly over home plate while the Tigers were at bat in the fourth. The Nationals playing defense were standing in sunlight, rain nowhere to be seen.

Avila can't wait to get out of DC. The Tigers' catcher hit the ball on the sweet spot in three consecutive at bats, yet had nothing to show for it. Harper made a nice running catch on a liner hit over his head in the second, and made a sliding catch on a sinking liner in the fourth. Span caught his line drive to center in the sixth.

Last night Kelly was the first bat off the bench, raising the hackles of the Tigers' grumpy fan base. In the fourth inning this afternoon, Martinez got the first call to pinch hit. Rob tweeted what we all were thinking:

Confirming Leyland loves to troll Tigers fans.

In case you were wondering, Rod Allen's neighbor Jack, who has a PERFECT lawn, is on Twitter.

Matt Tuiasosopo's sixth inning big fly was the first pinch-hit of his career and the first for the Tigers since Avila went yard in the ninth inning against the White Sox on September 14, 2011.

Emotions swung wildly when Kelly pinch hit in the eighth. When he came to the plate:

After he flew out:

Leyland summed up the loss succinctly:

Doug (Fister) wasn't very good today.

Words we don't hear very often.

The Tigers head for home after a 4-2 road trip. I'll take a winning road trip every damn time.

THREE ROARS:

Matt Tuiasosopo: Doing his job by supplying power off the bench, something we've rarely seen in Detroit over recent years.

Omar Infante: Three hits raised Infante's average to .304 on the season. Second base is a black hole no more.

The bullpen: Downs, Putkonen, Smyly and Valverde combined for five shutout innings, allowing just one hit.

THREE HISSES:

Doug Fister: For whatever reason, the Tall Man just didn't have it today, allowing five runs, four earned, in just three innings.

Torii Hunter: Rough series, 0-for 5 today, 1-for-9 overall.

National League baseball: Good riddance.

GAME THREAD ROLL CALL:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 563
Total commenters 40
Commenter list 42jeff, Alex McHale, Allison Hagen, BSells12, BigAl, Chadster, Fielder'sChoice, Grand Rapids Howie, J_the_Man, JerseyTigerFan, Kwisatz Haderach, MSUDersh, MotorCityCat, NCDee, RationalSportsFan, RedWingedLigerFan, Rob Rogacki, SAchris, SanDiegoMick, ShowingBunt, Singledigit, SpartanHT, TheLegacyofJordanTata, TigerTom, Verlanderful, Wolfgang97, aarone46, aelix, ahtrap, bobrob2004, dishnet34, dominator039, j16941, japobere, jcbeckman, johnmoz, kland83, knucklescarbone, mrsunshine, stevenyc
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/5/9/4316476/game-32-tigers-at-nationals-4-05-p-m

TOP TEN 11 COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 jcbeckman 85
2 Rob Rogacki 54
3 SanDiegoMick 52
4 Singledigit 46
5 JerseyTigerFan 44
6 SpartanHT 37
7 stevenyc 26
8 bobrob2004 22
9 TigerTom 19
10 Fielder'sChoice 17
11 knucklescarbone 17


TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
4 j16941 D.C. is giving Seattle a run for it's $$$ as the rainiest part of Washington.
2 Rob Rogacki We can't pull him
2 jcbeckman It's D.C.


GAME 31 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Anibal Sanchez, as no one else was deserving.

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