Ross Detwiler allowed just one run in 4.0 innings pitched in his return from the World Baseball Classic, but the Washington Nationals’ bullpen nearly handed the Detroit Tigers a win Sunday afternoon.
Detwiler threw 34 of 57 pitches for strikes and gave up just three hits and one walk. The one run he allowed came in the form of a solo shot off the bat of Torii Hunter in the bottom of the first inning.
The Nats responded quickly as Kurt Suzuki doubled with one out in the second inning and scored on a single from Chad Tracy.
By the fourth inning, the Nats seemed to have figured out Detroit left-hander Drew Smyly’s pitching repertoire. Tyler Moore led off with a homer to left and Ian Desmond doubled to center. Suzuki walked before Tracy popped out for the first out of the inning, but Chris Marrero’s single plated Desmond to make it 3-1 Washington. Micah Owings’s grounder plated Suzuki and Danny Espinosa’s single batted in Marrero before Smyly recorded the third out.
Victor Martinez drew a one out walk in the bottom of the inning, but Detwiler forced Andy Dirks to ground into a double play to out the fourth.
Bryce Harper led off the top of the fifth with a double to center off Duane Below and Moore, yet again, homered – this time for two RBI – to give the Nats a 7-1 lead.
Ryan Perry came on in the bottom of the fifth to pitch a 1-2-3 inning, but somehow lost control of his pitches in the sixth.
Perry allowed a leadoff walk to Quinn Berry and drilled Hunter with a pitch to give Detroit runners at first and second with no outs. Perry then walked Miguel Cabrera to load the bases and the Tigers sent in Kevin Russo as a pinch-runner.
Prince Fielder singled up the middle in the next at-bat and scored Berry and Hunter to make it 7-3 Nats as Matt Tulasosopo came in to replace Fielder on the base paths.
Perry failed to stop the bleeding as Martinez doubled in the next at-bat, plating Russo and Tulasosopo to trim Washington’s lead to 7-5.
Jeremy Accardo came on to relieve Perry, but fell short of doing so as he allowed a single to Andy Dirks, a sacrifice fly to Herman Perez and a double to left off the bat of Alex Avila to make it a 7-7 tie before the inning ended.
Before the stretch, the Nats earned back a run through a series of singles off Detroit’s Phil Coke, which culminated in an RBI single by the still-hot Micah Owings.
Unfortunately for Nats right-hander Ryan Mattheus, Detroit overcame the Nats one-run lead quickly. Russo walked and Tulasosopo homered to left to give the Tigers an 9-8 lead.
Off Detroit’s Al Alburquerque, however, the Nationals mastered the art of the two-out rally.
Corey Brown walked with one out before Carlos Rivero struck out swinging. Then, Josh Johnson walked and Alburquerque’s pitch in the dirt allowed Brown to take third. Jhonatan Solano singled to drive in Brown and after Carlos Maldonado walked, the Tigers called upon Darin Downs.
Downs was short on luck, though, as Marrero singled and Owings reached on a force attempt coupled with a throwing error by shortstop Danny Worth. When the inning had finally wrapped up, the Nats had a 12-9 lead.
But, as was already evidenced, the luck of the Irish did not entirely swing in favor of the Nats’ bullpen, either.
Tyler Clippard gave up a hit and a walk in the bottom of the eighth, but pitched out of a jam without allowing a run to score.
Right-hander Erik Davis cut things closer for the Nats in the bottom of the ninth by giving up a double to Tulasosopo and an RBI single to Jeff Kobernus, but he cut things off there and sealed the Nats’ 12-10 win.
Winning pitcher: Ryan Mattheus: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 HR
Losing pitcher: Al Alburquerque: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
Honorable Mention: Tyler Moore: 2-for-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI