Nats Hang on to Edge Tigers, Take 2-Game Sweep in Potential World Series Matchup

Andrew Rocco@@Andy_RoccoContributor IMay 10, 2013

May 9, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Rafael Soriano (29)  throws during the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers hit the ball hard for two days against the Washington Nationals with not much to show for it.

Thursday's ending was no different as Prince Fielder flew out to the warning track in center with the tying run on base to end the Tigers' 5-4 loss to the Nats.

Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano combined for a shutout in relief of Dan Haren, who nearly squandered a four-run lead to complete a two-game sweep of the defending American League champions.

Detroit had entered the series with nine wins in 10 games only to get swept for the first time since losing three games against the Angels in mid-April.

In what may prove to be a pivotal turning point in the Nationals season, this two-game sweep is exactly what they needed.

Wrapping up their second win against the Tigers last night, the heart of the Nationals lineup combined for six hits, four RBI and two runs scored in support of Dan Haren to complete the mini-sweep.

Ryan Zimmerman provided three of those hits, snapping out of slump following a stint on the disabled list. Adam LaRoche, who has also been slumping early this season, chipped in two hits and an RBI.

The two-game series was widely considered a World Series preview between the Nationals and Tigers. Washington certainly showed how tough they could be and played like the team that won the National League East division last season.

They came up with timely hitting, solid pitching and stellar defense. The Nationals were perhaps trying to leave a message of the type of team they truly are after many early-season doubters thought otherwise.

Washington has now won four in a row and has closed the gap between the Atlanta Braves to two games. This could be the start of a hot streak that may have started a month late, but could ultimately give the Nationals sole possession of first place in the NL East.