Drew Smyly gave his best crack at earning the Detroit Tigers’ fifth starter spot and Stephen Strasburg could not match his performance Friday as the Washington Nationals fell 4-3 at Space Coast Stadium.
Smyly retired the first 10 batters he faced before giving up a one-out, fourth inning single to Jayson Werth. Strasburg, on the other hand, recorded his third loss of the spring, allowing three runs on seven hits and one walk in 6.0 innings pitched.
The Tigers earned their first run on a second inning solo shot by non-roster invite Matt Tuiasosopo.
In the fourth inning, Nats fans suffered a scare when Prince Fielder hit a line drive that struck Strasburg in the left wrist. Strasburg had attempted to make a play on the ball, but instead it ricocheted off his hand into center field for a single to give Detroit runners on first and second. Team trainer Lee Kuntz took a look at the wrist, but Strasburg remained in the game.
Strasburg forced Brayan Pena to ground into a force out before striking out Tuiasosopo and Ramon Santiago to get out of the jam.
In the fifth, Detroit added two runs to their total on singles by Danny Worth, Victor Martinez and Fielder, but the Nats earned one back on a lead-off homer by Ian Desmond in the bottom of the inning to make it 3-1 Detroit.
Henry Rodriguez came on to replace Strasburg in the seventh and quickly gave up a leadoff double to Kevin Russo before walking Quintin Berry and Jeff McVaney. Rodriguez struck out Steven Moya for the first out, but Jordan Lennerton’s sacrifice fly scored Russo to make it 4-1 Tigers.
Washington gained ground in the bottom of the inning after Desmond led off with a walk off Detroit reliever Phil Coke. Espinosa singled to center in the next at-bat and advanced to second on a throwing error by Berry in center.
Kurt Suzuki followed with a sacrifice fly to score Desmond from third and Steve Lombardozzi followed with the same to plate Espinosa and trim Detroit’s lead to 4-3.
Roger Bernadina lined out to end the inning and both Brayan Villarreal and Luis Marte kept the Nats scoreless to round out the Tigers’ 4-3 win.
Winning pitcher: Drew Smyly: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 5 K, 1 HR
Losing pitcher: Stephen Strasburg: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR
Honorable mention: Ian Desmond: 1-for-2, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 K