Detwiler pitches well as Nats win a slugfest

Ross Detwiler allowed one run on three hits over four solid innings in his return from the World Baseball Classic. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Craig Heist,

LAKELAND, Fla. – Ross Detwiler allowed one run on three hits over four solid innings in his return from the World Baseball Classic, and Tyler Moore hit two home runs as the Nationals outslugged the Tigers 12-10.

Detwiler gave up a solo homer to Torii Hunter with one out in the first but then settled in getting seven ground ball outs the rest of the way. He walked one and struck out one while throwing 57 pitches, 34 for strikes.

The left-hander was facing the Tigers “A” lineup, which he thinks is good for him as the regular season approaches.

“It’s a good lineup and you just try to keep the ball down,” Detwiler said.

“Actually, the only ball I threw down in that first inning was to Torii Hunter and I don’t think he missed it. I was just going out there trying to throw strikes and get ahead and when I did get ahead, I was effective and those balls were hit hard when I was behind except for the hanging curveball.”

Detwiler is scheduled to start two more times this spring and may throw a simulated game during the Nats off day during the Marlins series which is plenty of time for him to build his pitch count toward 90.

He had not pitched in eight days since his WBC appearance against Italy when he pitched four scoreless innings picking up the save in the USA’s 6-2 win. Sunday’s game certainly didn’t have the intensity of a WBC game but it was all about getting his work in nonetheless.

“I didn’t think it was that much different,” he said. “I had the same mentality to just go out there and throw strikes and get ahead and that’s something I want to focus on this year.”

“I thought he was great,” said manager Davey Johnson. “I thought he had good location, threw some good change-ups and while he didn’t have much of a curveball today I thought he moved the ball in and out pretty well.”

Moore goes deep twice

Tyler Moore hit a solo homer leading off the fourth inning against Tigers starter Drew Smyly and then in the fifth, blasted a two-run shot to right off Duane Below.

Moore is hitting .264 this spring with three home runs and seven RBI and he knows after getting a great deal of at bats during Spring Training, he has to start preparing himself for being a guy off the bench once the season starts.

“The closer the season gets on you kind of want to make that push and really start locking in,” Moore said. “So, our regular starters are going to be there the last week or so, so you want to get locked in and there’s a sense of urgency there so it’s just good to get that done.

Bullpen collapse

Nationals reliever Ryan Perry was handed a 7-1 lead when he entered the game in the bottom of the fifth for Detwiler.

The right-hander had a relatively smooth 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout but in the sixth, Perry couldn’t get anyone out.

The Tigers loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter. Prince Fielder singled home two and Victor Martinez doubled home two more. Jeremy Accardo came on relief of Perry and didn’t fare much better. He gave up a sac fly to Omar Infante and an RBI double to Alex Avila to tie the game at 7-7.

Matt Tuiasasopo drilled a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh off Ryan Mattheus to give the Tigers a 9-8 lead.

Perry was charged with five earned runs on two hits over his one-plus inning of work and saw his spring ERA balloon to 10.24 which had Nats skipper Davey Johnson wondering what happened after his right-hander set down the side in order in the fifth.

“You tell me. The wheels fell off. He threw great the first inning and then couldn’t find home plate the second.” Johnson said.

The Nats did come back to take the lead in with a four run eighth inning.

Jhonatan Solano singled home the tie run and then Chris Marrero singled home two more to make it 11-9. A throwing error by shortstop Danny Worth on a ball hit by Micah Owings allowed another run to score.

Solano in LF

For as long as this game was (3 hours and 27 minutes), the best part of it came in the final two innings when catcher Jhonatan Solano was sent in to play left field for manager Davey Johnson.

“He asked me, ‘You play left field?’ I said, ‘Sure, why not?” Solano said. “I saw the opportunity to enjoy another position.”

A reporter then asked him if had ever played left before.

Solano said, “No, my first time ever.”

So another reporter reminded him he had lied to his manager. Solano responded, “Yea,” to laughter. “I really enjoyed those two innings.”

Solano has played second base six times in the minor leagues but the outfield was just a bit different for him.

“The first fly ball I said, ‘Oh my God, it’s going to come to me and I catch it. The first line drive in the last inning, I said, ‘Wow, it’s not too easy.’ But, I enjoyed so much playing left field.'”

Return tripM

The Nats take on the Tigers Monday at space Coast Stadium. Jordan Zimmermann faces Max Scherzer. Game time is 1:05 p.m.

Follow @cheistWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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