LAKELAND, Fla. - If not for a couple defensive miscues in the second inning, Dan Haren might have had a pretty darn impressive outing.
Instead, it was just pretty impressive. We'll leave out the "darn."
Haren allowed two runs on five hits with two strikeouts over four innings, and he gives way to Drew Storen to start the fifth.
Making his third start of spring, Haren threw 61 pitches, 43 for strikes.
Haren pitched a clean, 1-2-3 first inning, but he got a couple bad breaks in the second. Tyler Moore lost a lazy fly ball in the sun, allowing Prince Fielder to reach base to lead off the frame, and then after Johnny Peralta ripped a single to left, first baseman Chris Marrero misplayed a grounder, giving Alex Avila an RBI single.
The Avila ball was hit solidly, but Marrero didn't stay down on it, and his backhand attempt was futile.
Another run came around in the second on a Don Kelly double, but Haren faced just one over the minimum over his final two innings to put a positive cap on his outing.
The veteran right-hander was working at 89-91 mph with his fastball, according to the stadium gun, and mixed in a bunch of cutters.
The Nationals have managed very little offensively thus far. Bryce Harper ripped a single up the middle and stole a base in the first, continuing his hot spring, and Tyler Moore and Matt Skole have also added singles.
It's 2-0 here in the bottom of the fifth.
Update: Storen worked a dominant fifth inning, setting down the Tigers in order with strikeouts of Kevin Russo and Austin Jackson. Both came on 94 mph fastballs blown by the hitters up in the zone.
Yunesky Maya and Cole Kimball then combined to work three scoreless innings, but the Nats could manage only one run and fell to the Tigers 2-1.
Back with more in a bit.