Luke Erickson

Luke Erickson is a season-ticket holder for the Potomac Nationals, but makes a point of seeing games in Hagerstown and Harrisburg at least once a summer. When the PNats are away on the weekend, Luke finds a minor-league game somewhere to watch, and generally attends 70-80 baseball games a year up across several states. A former sportswriter with newspapers in Massachusetts and Oregon, Luke lives in Western Fairfax County with his wife and two sons.

Mar 192014
 

It’s tough to top perfect, which is what Houston Jared Cosart was for five innings as the Astros blanked the Nationals, 2-0. The loss drops Washington to .500 with mark of 10-10-1.

Taylor Jordan was losing pitcher, giving up a run on three hits and a walk over five innings while striking out five. Tyler Clippard was charged with the second run on a home run in the 8th. Ross Detwiler, Rafael Soriano, and Ross Ohlendorf each turned in a scorless inning in relief.

Anthony Rendon broke up the perfecto with one outs in the 6th and advanced to third after a two-out Denard Span single and an Ian Desmond walk. Ryan Zimmerman left ‘em loaded with a flyout to right field.

In the 7th, the Nats were also a safety away from tying the game after singles by Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos but neither Adam LaRoche nor Rendon get the equalizer.

The offense flailed for five straight K’s from the 8th through the 9th, a streak that included Zach Walters and Jeff Kobernus, who entered the game on defense at 3B and CF respectively.

Brock Peterson notched the fifth and final Washington hit with two out in the 9th before Sandy Leon ended it with foul pop.

Day baseball returns tomorrow with a visit to Jupiter for the Nationals. The Nationals confirmed after the game that tomorrow’s starter — Stephen Strasburg — will indeed be the Opening Day starter in New York, shocking nobody but MASN commenters.

Mar 192014
 

Yesterday was the first scheduled off day of the spring and the next game isn’t until tonight. I debated whether or not to pull the plug on ST coverage with the last set of cuts, but have decided to stick around for a little while longer. There’s still some drama as to whether or not a couple of our guys will make the team, as Adam Kilgore aptly noted yesterday with Aaron Barrett, Zach Walters, and Jeff Kobernus.

In the meantime, let me run some photos, courtesy of our intrepid volunteer Springfield Fan to give folks a taste of what Mother Nature can’t quite decide to let us see ’round these parts.

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Mar 172014
 

Rained-Out-2014The Nats got an extra day off (well, kind of) just before the one official off day in spring training with a rainout of the Nationals-Tigers game in Lakeland.

In a related story, the Nationals announced that Ross Detwiler has been dropped from the battle for the 5th starter’s spot and will being the season in the bullpen. As noted on Twitter, the logical deduction is that Sammy Solis will remain a starter.

Sure enough, within an hour or so, the Nats announced that Eury Perez and Steve Souza were optioned to Syracuse, Solis was optioned to Harrisburg, while Brian Goodwin, Mike Fontenot, and Koyie Hill were reassigned to minor-league camp.

While searching for the appropriate bulldog pic this post was being written, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reported that Hill was subsequently traded to the Phillies for a PTBNL or cash. Two days ago, the Nationals made a similar deal with the Royals for journeyman IF Brandon Laird.

While there may or may not be a relationship between those two trades, one could also infer that Chicago may be edging towards making a decision on Rule 5 pick Adrian Nieto. Yesterday, Tyler Flowers was named the starting catcher for the White Sox, thus, the battle for who will back him up has been whittled down by one and there are rumors that Chicago is interested in Yankee backup Francisco Cervelli. Therefore, the trade of Hill may be a signal that Nieto is returning to the organization, which is not a particularly clairvoyant observation as Rule 5 position players are far less likely to “stick” than Rule 5 pitchers.

Mar 162014
 

Split Doubleheader
The Nationals split their third and final doubleheader of the 2014 spring, losing to the Tigers, 2-1 while edging the Astros, 4-3.

In Viera, Jordan Zimmermann let up a 1st-inning run then turned in three scoreless in his fourth spring outing, allowing four hits total, hitting a batter, walking a batter, and striking out three. Sammy Solis followed with two no-hit innings, ending a two-week hiatus due to back problems. He walked just one while fanning none. The loss went to Michael Gonzalez, who gave up a run in the 8th on two hits and a walk.

At Kissimmee, Gio Gonzalez pitched into the 5th, allowing a run on three hits and a walk while setting down four on strikes, which earned him the win by ST scoring. Rafael Soriano followed with the tying runs on base and stranded them. The save went to Manny Delcarmen, who pitched the final two frames while striking out two (both in the 9th).

Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers did this afternoon:

VIERA
• Eury Perez subbed in CF and went 0-for-1
• Justin Bloxom subbed at 1B and went 0-for-1
• Drew Vettleson subbed in RF and went 0-for-1
• Caleb Ramsey subbed in LF and went 0-for-1 with a strikeout
• Jeff Kobernus started at 2B and went 0-for-2 with walk, run, and a stolen base
• Blake Treinen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with a K

KISSIMMEE
• Cutter Dykstra subbed at 2B and went 0-for-1 with a strikeout
• Stephen Perez subbed at SS and went 0-for-2
• Randolph Oduber pinch-hit for the DH and struck out in his only AB
• Isaac Ballou subbed in LF and went 0-for-2
• Zach Walters started at 3B and went 0-for-5 with three K’s
• Sandy Leon started at C and went 1-for-3
• Steve Souza started in RF and went 3-for-3 with two solo HRs, a triple, and three RBIs
• Brian Goodwin started in CF and went 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI single

The Nats rematch against the Tigers in Lakeland as a full squad. Tanner Roark is slated to start. The game can be heard on MLB radio.

Mar 152014
 

Stephen Strasburg tossed four scoreless innings to lead the Nats to a 2-1 win over the Marlins, ending a four-game skid. The 25-y.o. ace gave up two hits, walked one and struck out four in his third spring appearance.

Bullpen stalwarts Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen, and Jerry Blevins combined for four innings in relief, the lone Marlins run charged against Stammen. Aaron Barrett whiffed the first and last batters in the ninth, shaking off a two-out error by Zach Walters to earn the save.

Ryan Zimmerman (sac fly) and Wilson Ramos (RBI single) accounted for the two runs in the 3rd and 5th innings as the reserves didn’t begin filtering until the 6th.

Steve Souza was given the start in RF and reached base twice with a walk and a single in three PAs. Here’s a rundown of how the rest of the notable minor-leaguers did:

• Walters replaced Danny Espinosa at SS and was 0-for-1 with a strikeout
• Brian Goodwin subbed for Bryce Harper in LF and also went 0-for-1 with a whiff
• Brandon Miller followed Souza in RF and was 0-for-1
• Jeff Kobernus took over CF from Nate McLouth and collected a single and a stolen base

Tomorrow is the third and final split-squad doubleheader with games against Detroit (home) and Houston (away). Jordan Zimmermann gets the ball in Viera while Gio Gonzalez makes the road start in Kissimmee. Both games are at 1:05 p.m. with MASN broadcasting the Tigers game while the Astros game can be heard via MLB Radio.

Mar 142014
 

The Tigers clawed the Nats pitchers for four in the 3rd and five in the 4th en route to a 12-6 win, the fourth straight defeat for the DC nine.

Taylor Jordan worked around a single in the first and a double in the second but couldn’t escape the, um, teeth of the Detroit lineup the second time through in the 3rd as they bit him for four runs on five hits. It was the third consecutive outing in which Jordan had been scored upon. He walked none and struck out two.

After Tyler Moore answered with a two-run homer in the the top of the 4th, the Tigers picked up where they left off against Luis Ayala, who couldn’t finish the inning, charged with five runs on six hits with no walks and no strikeouts. Journeyman Zach Jackson let in one of two inherited runners to finish the frame.

Blake Treinen was the fourth pitcher out of the ‘pen to start the 6th. He was knocked for a double and two singles but only gave up one run, thanks to Sandy Leon gunning down a runner and a pickoff of his own. He pitched a scoreless 7th to finish with one run allowed on four hits with no walks and no K’s over two innings.

Thanks to the custom of regulars skipping road games, Jeff Kobernus (1-for-3, K) and Zach Walters (2-for-3, R) got the start in LF and SS respectively. As we edge towards the Ides of March, here’s a look at how the rest of the notable minor-leaguers did today:

• Brian Goodwin replaced Denard Span in CF and went 0-for-1
• Steve Souza followed Nate McLouth in RF and struck out in his AB
• Sandy Leon subbed for Jose Lobaton behind the plate and was 0-for-1 at the plate and 1-for-2 gunning down Tigers trying to steal
• Eury Perez took over LF from Kobernus and was 0-for-1

The Nats remain on the road to visit the split-squad Marlins in Jupiter tomorrow afternoon. Stephen Strasbug is scheduled to start. Si puedes leer esto oración, entonces usted entenderá emisora de radio de Miami

Mar 132014
 

The Mets struck for four in the 8th and two more in the 9th to hand the Nats their third straight defeat, 7-5 in Viera.

Early on, the game was a pitcher’s duel between a pair of pitchers looking to make their team’s starting rotation as the #5 man, as Ross Detwiler faced off against Daisuke Matsusaka.

Denard Span doubled, stole third, and came around on a Bryce Harper groundout to score the Nats first run.

Detwiler pitched into the 4th, but couldn’t hold the 1-0 lead. The 27-year-old southpaw gave up two of three hits he allowed in the 4th, with David Wright plating the equalizer with two outs on an RBI double and chasing the Nats’ 2007 1st Rd. pick from the game. Detwiler walked one and fanned two in his third appearance.

Christian Garcia followed Detwiler and walked the first batter he faced but stranded Wright and his free pass with a flyout to second batter he faced, then struck out two in a 1-2-3 fifth inning.

After the Nats took a 2-1 lead on an error in the 7th, the Mets took control with a four-run outburst against NRI reliever Manny Delcarmen, who retired one of six batters faced and while putting the other five on via walk (three times) or base hit (two singles), and minor-league veteran Rob Gilliam, who let in two of three inherited runners via a wild pitch and a sac fly before ending the inning.

Brock Peterson cashed in a pair of walks issued to Steve Souza and Emmanuel Burris to the game at 5-5 with an Earl Weaver special.

Gilliam was lifted for Brian Dupra after giving up a two-out single. The Mets victimized the final Nats reliever with a single-walk-single sequence that drove in the final two New York runs. Stephen Perez drew a leadoff walk and Eury Perez singled two batters later to get the tying runs on with one out but neither Souza nor Burriss could get the ball out of the infield as both popped up for the final two outs.

The Nationals hit the road for the next two days before splitting the squads again on Sunday (one home, one away).

As for the third round of cuts mentioned in the headline: Prior to today’s game LHP Matt Purke and OF Michael Taylor were both optioned to Harrisburg, while LHP Danny Rosenbaum and RHPs Clay Hensley, Daniel Stange, and Josh “Do You Know Who My Brother-In-Law Is?” Roenicke were reassigned to minor-league camp.

The pare-down slices the MLB camp roster to 49 players with 15 games left for the spring and 18 days until the season opener in New York.

Mar 122014
 

The second round of cuts wasn’t too painful or unexpected… just a pair of 22-y.o.’s that most reasonable folks have penciled in as the starters for Harrisburg in the persons of A.J. Cole and Felipe Rivero.

Today’s games? Well, perhaps a little more distressing as the Astros and Braves both rallied in the bottom of the 9th to hand the Nats losses of 3-2 and 10-9 respectively.

In Lake Buenavista, Chris Young got the start and was assaulted for a two-run homer by Freddie Freeman with two outs in the 3rd to erase an early 1-0 lead. He gave up three hits and a walk and struck out three over three innings. Robert Benincasa took the loss after a leadoff single, a steal, and a one-out single plated the third Atlanta run.

Tanner Roark took the hill in Kissimmee but was only able to keep the Astros at bay in the second as Houston scored in 1st, 3rd, and 4th innings as the 27-y.o. struggled in his third outing, giving up three runs on three hits and two walks and was lifted with one out in the 4th. Xavier Cedeno couldn’t hold the 9-7 lead and coughed up three runs on four hits while retiring just two batters for the blown-save-loss.

Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers did this afternoon:
@ ATLANTA
• Jeff Kobernus subbed in CF and went 1-for-2
• Jason Martinson subbed at SS and went 0-for-1
• Caleb Ramsey subbed in RF and went 1-for-1 with an RBI
• Michael Taylor subbed in LF and went 0-for-1
• Cutter Dykstra subbed at 3B and went 0-for-1 with a K and committed an error
• Matt Skole subbed at 1B and went 0-for-1 with a K
• Zach Walters started at 2B and was 0-for-3
• Drew Vettleson pinch-ran for the DH but did not get an AB
• Sandy Leon started at C and was 0-for-2
• Danny Rosenbaum pitched two scoreless innings, giving up a walk and two hits while fanning one

@ HOUSTON
• Steve Souza subbed in RF and went 0-for-1
• Destin Hood pinch ran and scored a run and subbed in LF
• Brian Goodwin pinch-hit for Hood and subbed for him in LF and was 0-for-2 with a strikeout
• Eury Perez started in RF and shifted to CF when Souza came in and was 1-for-4 with an RBI double but also committed an error
• Aaron Barrett stranded two runners in the 7th and pitched a scoreless 8th to keep his ERA at 0.00

The Nats go full-squad tomorrow afternoon (sounds dirtier than what it means) as they host the Mets. Ross Detwiler is expected to make the start. There is no broadcast from either team.

Mar 112014
 

Jordan Zimmermann was perfect for four innings in his third outing as the Nats edged the Yankees, 3-2 to improve to 8-4-1 for the spring.

The 27-year-old “northpaw” needed just 54 pitches to do it, striking out four and inducing five ground balls. Drew Storen followed but was charged with a run on a back-to-back hits — triple, single — with two outs. Washington’s “other” 1st Rd. pick struck out the final batter to end the inning, with all three outs coming by way of the K.

Felipe Rivero gave up the other New York run on a leadoff double and a pair of flyouts that moved the Yankee runner the remaining 180 feet, then rolled a groundout by Mark Teixiera. Journeymen Daniel Stange and Manny Delcarmen both turned in a scoreless inning to preserve the one-run lead.

Wilson Ramos’s RBI groundout in the 1st and Anthony Rendon’s two-run double in the 2nd accounted for the Nats three runs on offense.

As we approach the time when the regulars start sticking around for a third AB (as alluded in the headline, more later), here’s a summary of how the notable minor-leaguers did coming off the bench:

• Zach Walters replaced Rendon at 3B and took a walk in his sole PA
• Steve Souza subbed for Jayson Werth in RF and struck out in his lone AB
• Brian Goodwin followed Scott Hairston in LF but did not bat and had no defensive chances
• Michael Taylor took over CF from Nate McLouth and also kept the batting gloves in the back pocket, but did snare a flyball to end the game

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Bill Ladson of MLB.com is reporting that the second set of cuts will be made after tomorrow afternoon’s games — both on the road, against the Astros and Braves — which is a little bit earlier than last year, but hardly a surprise given that the CW is that the losers in the battles for second base and the No. 5 starter are still very likely to make the 25-man roster via the bench or bullpen, respectively.

As previously written, the Nats have made it awfully clear that a rookie is extremely unlikely to head north with the club by virtue of the trades and veterans that have been brought in to camp. If I’m right, expect Matt Williams to trot out the old standby about playing every day instead of sitting the bench. If I’m wrong, let’s hope that’s not because of further injuries or another trade of MLB spare parts for prospects.

Mar 112014
 

The Astros scored seven unanswered runs, including five against “closer” Rafael Soriano in the 6th, as they handed the Nats a 7-4 loss to end a modest streak of three wins and a tie.

Gio Gonzalez was charged with the loss, giving up a two-run homer and three hits total in two innings of work. The southpaw struck out five and walked one in his second spring start.

Blake Treinen turned in another solid outing against the Houston regulars, letting up two hits and two walks but fanning a trio in three scoreless frames.

Like a Kennedy at an open bar, Soriano got hammered again. He retired just two of eight batters faced (both on strikeouts), and was charged with five runs on five hits with no walks. In two appearances, the reliever has given up seven runs on eight hits over one and 1/3rd innings.

Aaron Barrett cleaned up after Soriano with a flyout to center to end the 6th and faced the minimum in the 7th, letting up a two-out single but picking him off to finish the frame. He walked none and struck out one to run keep his spring ERA at 0.00.

Zach Walters got the start at 2B and turned a double in four innings played before playing the last two defensive innings at SS. The 24-year-old Wyoming native walked and singled to end a two-game streak without a hit and push his average to .615 (8-for-13) in eight games.

Outfielder Steve Souza also started (in RF) and went deep for his first spring HR, a solo shot in the 6th off Astros minor-leaguer Michael Foltynewicz. The Nats 2007 3rd Rd. pick, who turns 25 next month, has gone 7-for-21 this spring with three doubles, three RBI, and two walks in 11 spring games.

Here’s a rundown of how the rest of the notable minors guys fared:

• Michael Taylor spelled Denard Span in CF but went 0-for-1
• Jeff Kobernus replaced Bryce Harper in LF and was 0-for-1
• Stephen Perez subbed for Walters at SS and went 2-for-2
• Sandy Leon followed Jose Lobaton at C and was 0-for-2 with a strikeout
• Theo Bowe drove in a run on a groundout in the 9th after pinch-running for DH Jhonatan Solano
• Brian Goodwin took over RF from Souza and went 1-for-2

The Nationals host the Yankees this afternoon in Viera with Jordan Zimmermann getting the start. The game will be televised live at 1 p.m. on MASN and can be seen on tape delay tonight on MLB Network at 9 p.m.