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Nationals 6, Tigers 4: Candyman’s revenge

The Tigers had a ton of chances to take control of this game, but bad swings in key at-bats cost them dearly.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers fell to the Nationals 6-4 in the rubbermatch from DC on Sunday afternoon. In what is becoming an unfortunate theme, at no point in his start was Joey Wentz able to get consistent outs. The Tigers went down 6-1 early, and despite scratching across a few more runs, couldn’t come up with the big hit when they had opportunities for big innings.

For Wentz, the very first pitch he threw of the afternoon ended up as a single to left field, and it really only got worse from there. He surrendered four hits and two runs before even recording an out, with the Nationals getting their runs courtesy of singles from Joey Meneses and Stone Garrett. That prompted a mound visit to rethink things, but the Nationals were able to put one more on the board before Wentz could get out of the first.

The Nationals wasted no time in the second inning, with Riley Adams hitting a leadoff home run to put them on top 4-0. Wentz would allow two more base runners, but another mound visit settled him down just enough to get out of the inning without further damage.

At the plate, the Tigers put traffic on the bases all afternoon but had trouble capitalizing. Josiah Gray was all over the place for the Nationals, walking six. It wasn’t until the third inning that the Tigers were able to scratch across a run thanks to a Spencer Torkelson RBI single, but the inning had the chance to be much bigger. Just a batter earlier with runners on first and second and no outs, Riley Greene grounded into a double play after two straight walks to start the inning. The Nationals would answer right back in the bottom half of the third, getting a Dominic Smith single and a Ildemaro Vargas home run to put Washington up 6-1. That chased Wentz after only 2+ innings of work.

The Tigers had multiple bases loaded opportunities that they weren’t able to cash in on, and that ended up being the difference in the game. In the fourth inning, the Tigers loaded the bases with no outs thanks to hits from Nick Maton and Matt Vierling, and a walk from Akil Baddoo. From there, Gray needed only five more pitches to dispatch Jake Rogers, Zach McKinstry, and Javier Báez without allowing a run.

In the sixth, facing reliever Andrés Machado, Maton led of the inning with his fifth home run of the year. Baddoo followed with his third walk of the day, and Vierling with his second hit of the day. With one out, McKinstry laced a single to the right-center field gap to bring the deficit to three. After a pitching change, a Báez strikeout, and a Greene walk, Torkelson strode to the plate representing the run that would give the Tigers the lead to face Kyle Finnegan. Tork got himself a meatball to hit right away but got way under it popping it into the infield, and slamming his bat into the ground as the ball nestled into the first baseman’s mitt.

The Tigers scratched another run across in the seventh to keep the pressure on Washington. Andy Ibanez was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and then Maton hit a ground ball to first base that looked like it was destined to be a double play ball. Instead, Smith overthrew Vargas at second base, and Ibanez and Maton were able to scamper to third and second with nobody out. Again though, the Tigers just couldn’t capitalize the way they needed to, getting only one run off of a fielders choice from Baddoo that got Maton thrown out at third.

This loss should be a tough one to swallow for the Tigers, as the National practically handed it to them on a platter. Despite Wentz’s short outing, Jose Cisnero, Mason Englert, Tyler Alexander, and Jason Foley combined for six shutout innings to hold the Nationals at six runs. On the flip side, Washington’s pitching couldn’t stop giving free passes. They combined for eight walks and one hit by pitch, but the Tigers just couldn’t take advantage, leaving 11 runners on base.

That was a really frustrating game to lose, particularly to take just their second series loss of the month.

The Tigers head out to Kansas City tonight for three night games from Monday to Wednesday, before coming coming Thursday to face the Chicago White Sox and then the Texas Rangers at Comerica.