The Tigers' first visit to Nationals Park will officially start Wednesday night, and it's going to last a bit longer than expected.
Their two-game series with the Nationals was scheduled to begin Tuesday night, but that game was postponed due to rain and rescheduled for Thursday afternoon. So on Wednesday night, Detroit will kick off its first trip to the nation's capital since 2007, when it swept three games at RFK Stadium.
"Because of this being such a weird situation, just two games, and not coming back, I think you just have to do what you have to do," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Both clubs' rotations will remain on turn, however, so Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez will take the mound against Nationals righty Jordan Zimmermann in the series opener -- just a day later than they'd planned on it.
"I got out of my street clothes for 15 minutes and they canceled the game," Zimmermann said Tuesday. "It wasn't like I was in game mode. I'll come back here to tomorrow and do it all over again."
The Tigers come in hot, 4-0 on their road trip after a sweep of the Astros and with nine wins in their past 10 games. The Nationals have won two straight and come home off a 4-3 road trip.
Although the Tigers are new to Nationals Park, their starting pitcher on Tuesday is not. Sanchez, who played for the Marlins until his trade to Detroit last summer, is 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in six career starts there. In 19 total games against the Nationals, he is 8-0 with a 1.97 ERA.
The Detroit right-hander is 3-2 with a 1.82 ERA this season. He hasn't allowed a home run and has held the opposition to three runs or fewer in each of his six outings. After a 17-strikeout performance against the Braves on April 26, he struck out nine more on Wednesday against Minnesota, overcoming a tough start to retire the last 11 batters he faced.
"He calmed himself down," catcher Brayan Pena said, "and he came back with me and said, 'Let's keeping attacking the strike zone. Let's not shy away from contact.' And that's exactly what he did. He kept us in the ballgame. He gave us a shot to come back."
Zimmermann is one of the few pitchers off to a stronger start than Sanchez this season. Zimmermann enters Tuesday with an 18-inning scoreless streak. The righty has logged two complete games, including a shutout, and opponents are batting .168 with a .446 OPS against him.
Zimmermann (5-1, 1.64 ERA), who will make his first appearance against the Tigers, allowed two hits, walked none and struck out eight Braves on May 1.
"They are swinging a good bat now. I have to bring my 'A' game, and we will see what happens," Zimmermann said. "I enjoy facing any lineup. I have a lot of challenges, a lot of lefty bats in there. I'm excited."
Tigers: A little more rest for the weary
Tuesday's rainout cost the Tigers an off-day on Thursday, but it's hardly going to have a huge impact on their players. Detroit has another day off May 20, in the middle of a road trip to Texas and Cleveland. And the Tigers had an off-day Monday, which means they're technically coming off two days of rest entering Wednesday's series opener.
Tuesday was the second time this season that the Tigers have had a series opener postponed immediately after an off-day, as their April 23 matchup with the Royals was scratched due to rain. Detroit played the final two games of that series as scheduled and postponed the rained-out game to a later date.
• Since the Tigers kept their rotation in line despite Tuesday's rainout, Doug Fister will start Thursday's 4:05 p.m. ET game at Nationals Park.
Nationals: Werth could play Wednesday
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said right fielder Jayson Werth (tight right hamstring) wouldn't have played Tuesday if the field was wet, but he could play Wednesday if the field is dry.
"He had his doctor put him through all kinds of tests. His hamstring is not pulled. He feels pretty good about that," Johnson said. "But I would not run him out there on this field. So he will have to wait until tomorrow."
• Right-hander Dan Haren, who was scheduled to pitch Wednesday's game, will get pushed back a day and start Thursday's series finale. Haren has gone 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA over his last three starts.
"You have to take it in stride. Today was pretty much an off-day anyway. You get so many off-days in a season. ... At least they called it early, so we can just relax," Haren said.
• Johnson said Tuesday that outfielder Bryce Harper won't be fined or suspended for his altercation with third-base umpire John Hirschbeck on Sunday.
• The Tigers have won all six games against the Nationals since the franchise moved to Washington from Montreal.
• Sanchez held most of the Nationals' key hitters in check during his days with the Marlins. Ryan Zimmerman is 10-for-42 (.238) with one home run against him, Adam LaRoche is 6-for-30 (.200) and Werth is 5-for-30 (.167) with one homer.
• Sanchez is one of three Tigers to have faced Zimmermann. Infante, another former Marlin, is the only one with more than three at-bats, going 3-for-14 with a homer.
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.