DETROIT--Aggressive baserunning was the theme of the day for the Detroit Tigers. Despite the Washington Nationals getting a two-run homer in the fourth, a solo home run in the sixth and four RBI along the way, the Tigers whipped the Nationals 12-6 in Lakeland, Fl on Friday.
After Nate McLouth knocked in an RBI double off of Rick Porcello in the first inning, Nick Castellanos hit a double to left field in the second inning which put the Tigers on the board and tied the game 1-1. The Tigers got even in the third inning and then some as they erased the tie and put the Tigers ahead 4-1.
Eight men came to the plate, three of which scored and it all got started because of a smoked ground-rule double off the bat of Ian Kinsler to left field. Torii Hunter, Victor Martinez and Nick Castellanos all had singles while Austin Jackson hit a double to left.
In the fourth inning the Tigers went through the entire lineup before Perez came up for his second at-bat of the inning and grounded out into a 4-3 inning-ending play. The top of the batting order, Kinsler, Hunter, Cabrera and Martinez combined for seven of the eight runs scored in the third and fourth innings.
Miguel Cabrera smiled through an 11-pitch battle as he figured out pitcher Luis Ayala, hitting a single line drive in the fourth. Cabrera's stare was also in mid-season form for home plate umpire Andy Fletcher, whose version of the strike zone did not agree with Cabrera on any level.
Castellanos remained calm and fought his own 12-pitch battle against Ayala in the fourth. After fouling every pitch the opposition tried to pepper the plate with, Castellanos hit a single to left which brought Alex Avila home. By the time the inning had finished, the score was 9-3 Tigers.
A line drive single by Eugenio Suarez in the six, a triple by Tyler Collins in the eighth followed by a sacrifice fly by Hernan Perez in the eighth made the final score 12-6 Tigers. The Tigers finished with 22 hits while committing no errors.
Torii Hunter went 4-4 and had a stolen base in the fifth inning. Three of his hits were singles, one of which nearly hit the pitcher in the first inning after the pitcher nearly hit Hunter. The other was a double fly ball to right field.
Phil Coke pitched a solid inning, striking one out and allowed no hits or runs while walking no one. The run which scored when Coke replaced Porcello was attributed to Porcello.
Coke needed just nine pitches to finish the inning and he let loose with his breaking ball which touched 91 mph according to The Detroit News' Tony Paul.
The only player who struggled was the Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello. He was charged with five of the Nationals' earned runs including 2-run homer in the fourth, and struck out only three.
Nate McLouth had a stolen base in the fourth and Jaime Carroll tripled on a line drive to Hunter which scored the Nationals' fourth run and ended Porcello's day. The run support the Tigers' offense provided helped lessen the sting of a frustrating outing Porcello experienced.
Saturday the Tigers will face Houston Astros for the third time in spring training. The Tigers have won the last two games they have played against the Astros, the first resulted in a 5-1 victory on March 1st followed by 3-0 shutout on March 5th.
Max Scherzer, who has a mere 0.93 ERA in spring training will be the starting pitcher for the Tigers while Astros pitcher Lucas Harrell will take the mound to face the Tigers. Saturday's game will be played at home in Lakeland, Florida.