Mar 042013
 

First Cuts of Spring TrainingZach Walters’ walkoff single cashed in a 9th-inning leadoff double by Wilson Ramos, sending in PR Sandy Leon from third as the Nats rose above .500 with their fourth Grapefruit League win, 7-6 over the Cards.

After the game, the Nationals announced LHPs Bill Bray, Brandon Mann, and Will Ohman and RHP Tanner Roark were reassigned to minor-league camp.

The starting lineup was the closest to what we’ll see next month, with the exception of Steve Lombardozzi at 3B and Ryan Zimmerman as the DH. They accounted for eight of the 14 Washington hits, with Denard Span drawing two of the Nats’ five walks.

Ross Detwiler made his second appearance, the last before leaving the team to take park in the World Baseball Classic. The 26-year-old gave up a run on four hits in his two innings of work but struck out four and walked none. He was followed by Craig Stammen, who turned in three innings and allowed the second St. Louis run.

The regulars built a 3-2 lead before turning the game over to the reserves, who had to overcome the shoddy work of southpaws Mann and Pat McCoy, as the two combined to cough up four runs on five hits and two walks in the three-run 7th (Mann) and the one-run 8th (McCoy).

Chad Tracy’s two-run HR in the 6th extended the Nats lead to 5-2. The veteran doubled with one out in the 8th and scored two batters later on Carlos Rivero’s two-out RBI single, with Corey Brown, who had walked after Tracy, committing the, um, cardinal baserunning sin of making the third out at third base to end the inning.

Ryan Mattheus pitched a 1-2-3 top of the ninth and got the “W” as Ramos, who had entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Zimmerman, justmissed a HR with a double off the fence in right-center. He was replaced by the not-speedy Leon at second with Chris Marrero grounding out to the right side to move Leon to third to set up Walters’ gamewinner.

A quick rundown of the notable minor-leaguers’ lines:
• PR-RF Brown 1-1, BB
• PR-LF Rivero 1-2, RBI
• PR-DH Leon 0-0, R
• 1B Marrero 0-1, BB
• SS Walters, 1-1, BB, RBI
• C Jhonatan Solano 0-2, R
• Mann 1IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, BB, K
• McCoy 1IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 0K

As reported yesterday, today is the first of three scheduled off days during 2013 Spring Training for Washington. The Nationals return to action tomorrow, with the Houston Astros visiting for a 1:05 p.m. start. The game can be heard online with the newly hired tandem of Robert Ford and former knuckleballer Steve Sparks making the call.

Mar 032013
 

Photo by Jennifer Shiffman (@jtshiffman)

Photo by Jennifer Shiffman (@jtshiffman)

Three Nationals hit home runs, including prospects Anthony Rendon and Chris Marrero, as the Washington nine tripled up the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-2 yesterday afternoon.

The big fly was the first for Marrero and Ian Desmond, both solo shots smacked into the left-to-right wind that was officially listed at 9 m.p.h., but described as gusting by Jeff Bridges after three glasses of bourbon KMOX radio man Mike Shannon and beat reporters on Twitter.

Rendon’s two-run circle clout came in the Nats four-run second that put the game away early and gave Gio Gonzalez the “win” for his three innings of work, in which he gave up two runs on five hits and a walk but struck out none.

Nathan Karns made his second appearance for an inning as the first man out of the ‘pen, but against major-leaguers (as opposed to the Mets, natch) loaded the bases on a hit and two walks but stranded them after a visit to the mound by pitching coach Steve McCatty. No word on whether McCatty reminded him about the death of Babe Ruth and the efficacy putting the ball over the plate.

More encouraging, however, was the three innings by Ryan Perry that followed against the Cardinals reserves: three innings pitched, two hits allowed, seven of nine outs on the ground. Drew Storen and Erik Davis closed out the game with scoreless inning apiece, though Storen loaded the bases on two hits and a walk while Davis set ‘em down in order.

Rendon and Marrero both went 2-for-3 with two RBI as the starting corner infielders. Notable minor-leaguers coming off the bench…

…DH Sandy Leon pinch-hit and went 0-for-1
…SS Zach Walters went 0-for-1
…LF Carlos Rivero went 0-for-1
…1B Matt Skole drew a walk
…RF Destin Hood went 0-for-1 with a K
…3B Mike “Don’t Call Me George” Costanzo pinch-ran and went 0-for-1
…CF Michael Taylor went 0-for-1

After the game, CF Eury Perez was named as a replacement for Yankees OF Melky Mesa on the Dominican Republic’s entry in the World Baseball Classic. With LF Jimmy Van Ostrand also leaving to represent Team Canada, one has to wonder if CF Brian Goodwin will make an appearance soon despite previous stories noting that the Nats are (again) having him focus on small-ball skills.

The Nats and Cards rematch this afternoon at 1 p.m. in Viera before the first of three scheduled off days tomorrow.

Mar 022013
 

Highlighted by a three-run double from Carlos Rivero, the Nationals rallied for five runs in the top of the 8th and held off the Braves in 9th for a 6-5 win on Friday night.

Five straight batters reached base, starting with a Jhonatan Solano single, a Eury Perez single, a walk from Anthony Rendon, an RBI single by Will Rhymes, and an RBI walk from Steve Souza. After a Zach Walters popup, Rivero emptied the bases with a shot off the fence in left-center. [Insert out of options mention here]

The outburst made a winner out of Fernando Abad, who pitched the seventh and gave up a hit but no runs while striking out two. Cole Kimball tossed his third shutout inning of the spring for the “H,” giving up a walk but setting down two on strikes. Jeremy Accardo was knocked around for four hits in the 9th but allowed just a run, thanks in no small part to a great stop from Rhymes with two out that kept the tying run on third.

Jordan Zimmermann made his second start and gave up two runs on five hits over three innings. Working on his changeup, Zimmerman threw 29 of 35 pitches for strikes and walked none. Bryce Harper went deep for the first time this pring, while Jason Heyward swatted his third big fly to give the AP copy editor the easy headline.

Back to “our guys.” Four of ‘em got the start — Eury Perez (1-for-4, R, K) in right field , Chris Marrero (1-for-3) at first base, Cory Brown (0-for-2, K) in left field, and Sandy Leon (0-for-2, K) at catcher. Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers did:

  • Rendon 0-for-1, R, BB at SS
  • Souza 0-for-0, BB, RBI as PR-RF
  • Walters 0-for-1 as PH-DH
  • Rivero 1-for-1, 2B, 3RBI as PH-3B
  • Skole 0-for-1, K as PR-1B
  • Jimmy Van Ostrand 0-for-2 at LF
  • Solano 1-for-2, R at C

It’s back to day play for the Nats as they visit the Cardinals this afternoon at 1 p.m.

Mar 012013
 

Photo Credit: Luis Albisu via Twitter @ItsLuisF

The Nats posted a picket fence in the second, third, and fourth innings but couldn’t hold the 3-1 lead over the Mets last night in Viera, settling for another extra-inning tie at 4-4.

Like Gio Gonzalez on Monday, Nats starter Stephen Strasburg struggled some with the heat but was stone-cold killer with his offspeed offerings, striking out six primarily with the curve and change over three innings. The Nats ace gave up a run in the first on a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly but finished with just three hits and two walks allowed while tossing 53 pitches, 31 for strikes.

As the headline teases, Anthony Rendon continues to impress this spring. The 22-year-old doubled to right with two outs to tie the game in the second, then tapped into a 6-4 putout with one out in the 4th to bring in the run that put the Nats up 3-1 in the 4th. In five games, Rendon is now 5-for-12 with a HR, two doubles, and five RBI and living up to hype that comes with being the team’s #1 prospect.

Zach Duke followed Strasburg on the mound and let in an unearned run in his two innings to “earn” a blown save while Yunesky Maya coughed up two earned runs in his two for his “BS.” Both gave up three hits. Pat McCoy rebounded from his previous outing to turn in a 1-2-3 frame. Ryan Mattheus closed out the game with two goose eggs. Nats pitchers combined for 14 K’s over the 10 innings.

Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-league subs did:
• Eury Perez beat out an IF hit while going 1-for-3 in RF
• Corey Brown singled up the middle in a 1-for-3 effort as the CF
• Chris Marrero walked, doubled, struck out, and scored a run for his 1-for-2 at 1B
• Zach Walters singled and struck out twice while going 1-for-3 at SS
• Carlos Rivero pinch-ran and went 0-for-2 with a K while playing LF
• Matt Skole drew a bases-loaded walk for an RBI and struck out in an 0-for-2 effort at 3B

It’s a week off from local TV & radio for the Nats, who head back to the House of Mouse Orlando to take on the Atlanta Braves tonight at 6:05 p.m.