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.