Tigers-Nationals Preview

The Detroit Tigers are rolling after a four-game sweep, though
they may face a stiffer challenge in their next series as they look
to continue their winning ways.

The Tigers go for their fifth straight victory as they start a
two-game set against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.
The opener of the series was postponed Tuesday because of rain and
will be made up Thursday.

Detroit swept woeful Houston to close last week to give it nine
wins in 10 games, outscoring opponents 74-25 in that stretch.
Justin Verlander didn’t allow a hit into the seventh inning of a
9-0 victory Sunday and four Tigers homered.

Detroit (19-11) has batted .316 with 19 homers in the last 10
while posting a 2.27 ERA with 117 strikeouts in 95 innings.

“Any time you score a lot of runs, it is fun, and plus our
pitching has been outstanding, so everything is working really well
right now,” said first baseman Prince Fielder, whose home run
Sunday gave him a team-best eight to go with 32 RBIs.

The Tigers will send Anibal Sanchez (3-2, 1.82 ERA) to the mound
to face a team he’s baffled throughout his career. The right-hander
went 8-0 with a 1.97 ERA in 19 starts against Washington while with
the Marlins.

Sanchez followed up a 17-strikeout, eight-inning performance in
his previous start by allowing three runs in six innings with nine
strikeouts in a 6-2 loss to Minnesota last Wednesday.

“I think Sanchy was just too excited at the start,” manager Jim
Leyland said. “He was throwing too hard, and it hurt his
command.”

Sanchez will be opposed by Jordan Zimmermann (5-1, 1.64), who
will look to lead the Nationals (17-15) to their fifth win in six
games. The right-hander hasn’t given up a run in 18 innings,
allowing three hits and two walks in that span.

“He’s obviously got everything working right now,” catcher Kurt
Suzuki told the team’s official website after Zimmermann threw
eight innings in a 2-0 victory over Atlanta last Wednesday. “He’s
pitching up in the zone, down in the zone, in and out, he’s really
mixing it up with his breaking balls, he’s throwing breaking balls
for strikes.”

Outfielder Jayson Werth missed his third game in a row Sunday
due to a strained right hamstring but expects to play
Wednesday.

Werth is among several key Nationals who have had trouble
against Sanchez. Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Werth are batting
a combined .206 versus the pitcher.

Zimmermann could benefit from the Tigers’ unfamiliarity with
him. Only two Detroit position players have faced him, with second
baseman Omar Infante going 3 for 14 as the Tigers player with the
most at-bats versus Zimmermann.

The Nationals franchise has lost six straight in this series,
its last win coming June 12, 2002, when the club was the Montreal
Expos.