The Detroit Tigers are rolling after a four-game sweep, though they may be facing a stiffer challenge to start the week as they look to continue their winning ways.
The Tigers go for their fifth straight victory as they open a two-game series against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.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 career 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 on 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 on 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 Tuesday.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 Tuesday. 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.