Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Joker Marchant Stadium, longtime spring home of the Detroit Tigers.
Tonight, this venerable venue hosts the Nationals, who send Scott Olsen to the mound in a critical outing for the left-hander. As we've been talking about all spring, Olsen still doesn't appear all the way back from his shoulder surgery. I think it's safe to say we'll all have one eye on the radar gun here tonight, curious if his fastball comes closer to approaching 90 mph for the first time this spring.
Be sure to check back for updates throughout the late afternoon/evening and check the homepage for any non-game news...
NATIONALS AT TIGERS
Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland, Fla.
Gametime: 6:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: No TV/Tigers radio via XM and MLB Gameday Audio
Weather: Clear, 67 degrees, Wind 10 mph LF to RF
CF Willy Taveras
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
DH Kevin Mench
RF Roger Bernadina
2B Alberto Gonzalez
(P Scott Olsen)
CF Austin Jackson
LF Johnny Damon
3B Brandon Inge
1B Miguel Cabrera
RF Ryan Raburn
DH Gerald Laird
C Alex Avila
2B Scott Sizemore
SS Adam Everett
(P Max Scherzer)
5:55 p.m. -- Jim Riggleman cautions against placing too much weight on Scott Olsen's performance tonight: "I think that's a little ahead of it," the manager said. "He's got tonight and at least one more to show us that he's continuing to progress. I think he has progressed. From where he was right before spring training to his bullpen sessions to his few outings, he's brought it up a little bit each time. He's getting closer to where he was a few years ago, but he's still got a ways to go." Riggleman did say he thinks Olsen's fastball needs to be at least 88 mph (preferably higher) for him to have a chance at being effective.
6:10 p.m. -- Quick top of the first for Max Scherzer, who retires Willy Taveras, Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman all on flyouts. Scott Olsen now taking the mound for the bottom of the first.
6:12 p.m. -- Olsen's first pitch clocked at 89 mph. It's high and wide.
6:14 p.m. -- Pitch just came in at 91 mph to Johnny Damon.
6:16 p.m. -- Despite a leadoff double by Austin Jackson (a sinking liner to right that went off Roger Bernadina's glove) Olsen gets out of the first unscathed. He struck out Damon on a nice breaking ball, then got Brandon Inge to ground out and Miguel Cabrera to fly out. Hit 91 mph a couple of times, was consistently at 89 mph with his fastball. An encouraging first inning from the lefty.
6:23 p.m. -- Another 1-2-3 inning for Scherzer, who retires Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham and Ivan Rodriguez on groundballs. Scoreless heading to the bottom of the second.
6:32 p.m. -- Through two innings, Olsen has surrendered four hits, but that's a bit misleading. Bernadina couldn't catch that sinking liner in the first, and Dunn couldn't make a play on a bouncer to his left in the second. Fortunately for Olsen, Gerald Laird grounded into a 5-4-3 double play and Adam Everett popped out to first to end the inning. So despite the four hits, Olsen has not allowed a run. Fastball was consistently around 89 mph this inning.
6:37 p.m. -- Scherzer just cruising through the Nats' lineup. Nine batters faced. Nine retired. Oh yeah, this guy entered with an 11.37 spring ERA. (And yes, I know he's a highly touted pitcher. Just wanted to point that out.)
6:46 p.m. -- We're through three innings now, and Olsen appears to be fading a bit. He allowed a run on a couple of singles in the third, though the first (a drag bunt by Austin Jackson) might have been an out had Alberto Gonzalez made it over to cover first base faster. More importantly, Olsen's fastball is down a tick or two from the first inning. Was more consistently in the 88-89 mph range in the third. Tigers lead, 1-0, through three.
7:13 p.m. -- Some more cracks in Olsen's armor. The Tigers add two more runs in the fourth on doubles by Gerald Laird and Austin Jackson (who looks pretty impressive, by the way -- nice job by Detroit getting him and Scherzer in the Curtis Granderson trade). Fastball remains in the 88-89 range after topping out at 91 mph in the first. Nats still don't have a hit off Scherzer through four, but Willy Taveras did draw a walk, so it's not a perfect game.
7:18 p.m. -- Pudge Rodriguez breaks up the no-hitter with a single to center in the fifth.
7:23 p.m. -- Wow, four straight singles from the Nationals: Rodriguez, Mench, Bernadina and Gonzalez. But a 4-6-3 double play from Taveras (made possible by a nice play by second baseman Scott Sizemore) kills the rally and leaves the Nats with only one run. We're heading to the bottom of the fifth, the Tigers leading 3-1.
7:26 p.m. -- Brandon Inge sends an 88 mph fastball over the left-field fence to make it 4-1.
7:30 p.m. -- And Laird blasts a two-run homer to left on an 83 mph pitch. Not sure what that was, but it wasn't good. Tigers lead 6-1, amassing 11 hits while making only 13 outs.
7:31 p.m. -- Make that 12 hits and 13 outs after Avila doubles to left. Olsen's night is over. His line: 4.1 ip, 12 h, 6 er, 1 bb, 1 k. He's still responsible for the man on second.
8:15 p.m. -- Just got back from talking to Olsen. I'll have a full posting on him after the game, but suffice it to say, he understands the situation he's in. He says his arm feels great and he wasn't even tiring by the fifth inning, but he knows he's not going to make this team if he keeps giving up six runs and 12 hits. Nats still trail, 6-2, in the eighth now. Miguel Batista has looked decent in relief of Olsen.
8:28 p.m. -- Steve McCatty, Jim Riggleman and trainer Beth Jarrett just made the trip out to the mound to visit Sean Burnett, who is pitching the bottom of the eighth. Whatever it was they saw, Burnett must have convinced them it's nothing serious because they quickly turned around.
8:37 p.m. -- Ballgame over. Nats lose, 6-2. They amassed only five hits off Tigers pitching, four of them coming off Max Scherzer in the fifth, the other a Pudge Rodriguez double in the seventh. Olsen obviously gave up six runs, but Miguel Batista, Matt Capps and Sean Burnett all pitched well, combining on 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
9:11 p.m. -- A quick update on Burnett: He said everything's fine. Riggleman and McCatty got concerned when he threw six straight pitches up in the zone, thinking he might have been hurting or something. But Burnett assured them nothing was wrong, aside from some mechanical issues. He immediately fixed that and threw the ball well the rest of the inning. ... Full Olsen post with quotes from the lefty, the manager and the pitching coach coming up soon on the homepage.