Nats Walk Off, 7-6; Four P’s Walk Back To Minors

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.

Rendon, Marrero Go Deep In 6-2 Nats Win

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.

Nats Reserves Come Up Big In 6-5 Win Over Braves

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.

Rendon Plates Two In Another Nats Tie

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.

Nats Bats Flat In 5-1 Loss To Marlins

via @NationalsPR on Twitter
The Nats mustered just three hits on offense, scoring their lone run on a Carlos Rivero sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 8th in a 5-1 loss to the Marlins this afternoon.

Dan Haren took the loss by virtue of giving up the first Miami run on two hits and no walks. He struck out three. Drew Storen rebounded from his previous outing — a blown save on Sunday — to turn in a scoreless inning, though he hit batter.

As the spring starts to ramp up, more regulars are playing as Zach Walters was the sole minor-leaguer in the starting lineup at shortstop, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout. Rivero made his first infield appearance, taking over at short for Walters.

Other notable minor-leaguers…

  • CF Eury Perez, 0-for-1
  • RF Corey Brown, 0-for-1, SO
  • 1B Chris Marrero, 0-for-1
  • 3B Matt Skole, two BB and R
  • C Carlons Maldonado, BB
  • 2B Will Rhymes, 0-for-1
  • LHP Fernando Abad – 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
  • RHP Tanner Roark – 1⅔IP, 4H, 4R, 2BB, 2K
  • RHP Erik Davis – 1⅔IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K, 2-2 IR-S

It’s another night game against the Mets, but you’ll be spared the SNY broadcasters trying to pretend they’re not looking at possible 90-loss team as MASN has the telecast at 6:05 p.m. tomorrow night.

Braves Slip The Nats A Mickey For A 9-5 Loss

A five-run fifth erased a 3-2 lead as the Braves handed the Nats a 9-5 loss at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

The loss was the second in four games and was delayed by rain for nearly an hour. Ross Detwiler made his first start of the spring but was charged with two runs on five hits over two and 2/3rds innings. He walked none and struck out two.

Unlike last night, a trio of Nats regulars made the trip to the Atlanta spring training digs at Walt Disney World® Resort. However, as expected, they were soon replaced after three PAs. Here’s a rundown of how the minor-leaguers fared at the plate:
• Eury Perez went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts as the starting CF
• Michael Taylor went 0-for-2 off as Perez’s replacement
• Steve Lombardozzi replaced Danny Espinosa at 2B but went 0-for-2
• Corey Brown came off the bench and went 0-for-2 with a strikeout as the replacement RF
• Matt Skole took a shift at 1B but went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts
• Zach Walters spelled Ian Desmond at SS, going 0-for-1
• Chris Marrero was the DH for the entire game, going 1-for-3 with a walk
• Carlos Rivero started in RF but went 0-for-2 with a walk and two strikeouts
• Destin Hood replaced Bryce Harper in LF and went 0-for-1 with a strikeout
• Anthony Rendon played the whole game at 3B and went 2-for-4 with an RBI
• Jhonatan Solano got the stert behind the plate and went 0-for-3
• Sandy Leon was Solano’s replacement, collecting an RBI double in his sole PA

Ryan Perry was the victim of the Braves big inning, as the reliever-turned-starter was charged with five runs on six hits, including a home run over just an inning and two-thirds. He walked two and struck out just one.

Brandon Mann made his first appearance of the spring, letting in the fourth and fifth runs for Perry, while walking two and striking out one. Bill Bray’s second appearance wasn’t any better than the first, as the southpaw gave up a pair of doubles in the 6th.

Jeremy Accardo and Cole Kimball pitched the 7th and 8th innings respectively, with Accardo giving up an unearned run on two hits and Kimball throwing a 1-2-3 final frame.

The Nationals return to Space Coast Stadium tomorrrow for a 1 p.m. matchup against the Miami Marlins. The game will be broadcast locally on 1580 AM.

Plenty To Love From The “Scrubs” In 6-4 Nats Win

With a starting lineup of just two Washington Nationals bench players, the Nationals reserves were still on the money in a 6-4 win over the Mets on Monday night.

Gio Gonzalez made his spring debut, laying a couple of goose eggs on the bottom of the scoreboard despite a walk and a pair of errors in the first. The Mets could not capitalize on the miscues by Zach Walters and Steve Lombardozzi (though the throw from infielder-in-the-outfield Carlos Rivero was less than stellar) while the Florida-born southpaw struggled with his fastball command.

Instead, Gonzalez went to his bread-and-butter bender to deny Ike Davis a chance to plate either of the two runners he had in scoring position with one out. He struck out two more in the 1-2-3 second frame. He finished with three K’s and no walks, but just 19 of his 35 pitches went for strikes.

Leadoff man Eury Perez keyed the three-run third with second of his three “leg” hits, beating out a chopper to the right side and gliding home on Washington utilityman Steve Lombardozzi’s bloop double to left. After a Corey Brown single sent Lombardozzi to third, Tyler Moore (the second “Big Nat”) delivered the second Nats run with a safety to center. Rivero capped the scoring with a double to left to drive in Brown.

Ross Ohlendorf was the first man out of the ‘pen and set down the first four batters he faced, including a nifty throw after coming off the mound to field a tapper to third. Alas, he was not so fortunate with the next batter (Davis) who turned a fastball into a souvenir for the fans in the outfield berm of Tradition field.

Nathan Karns, looking noticeably slimmer and clean-shaven, impressed with two shutout innings after Ohlendorf. The Nats 2012 Minor-League Pitcher of the Year lived up the title by showing off mid-90s heat and topping out at 97 mph, which ironically, was laced into right by Wright. Karns struck out three over two innings, including a nasty hook to Den Dekker to end the 5th.

Dekker would have his revenge in the 7th as he robbed Anthony Rendon of a home run at the CF wall. The Nats still got one in the inning to extend their lead to 5-1, thanks to a two-out RBI double by Destin Hood.

The Mets would pull within one at 5-4 in the bottom of the 8th as lefty Pat McCoy was roughed up for three runs on three hits, but the Nats got it right back in the top of the 9th on four straight singles by Michael Taylor, Will Rhymes, Rendon, and Adrian Sanchez. Ryan Mattheus closed out the game with a scoreless 9th, allowing a hit and striking out two.

The Nats “scrubs” totaled 17 hits, with the top two spots accounting for six of them as Perez went 3-for-3, Lombardozzi 2-for-3 and substitutes Michael Taylor and Rhymes went 1-for-2 and 2-for-2 respectively. Chris Snyder was the sole starter to go hitless.

It’s back to day play today as the Nats face the Atlanta Braves in Orlando at 1:05 p.m. The game can be heard locally on 1580AM.

Rendon Smacks HR In Nats Spring Home Opener

Rain delayed play for 66 minutes in the 4th inning but those that waited it out were rewarded in the 5th by seeing Anthony Rendon smack a two-run, opposite-field home run as the Nats and Marlins played to a 2-2 tie in 10 innings on Sunday afternoon.

The blast took starter Jordan Zimmermann off the hook as the Wisconsin native had given up a run over three innings in his first spring training start. He cruised through the first two frames but gave up a leadoff double then a walk in the third. A sacrifice and an RBI groundout put the first Miami run on the board.

Zach Duke followed Zimmermann with a 1-2-3 fourth while Yunesky Maya tossed three shutout frames after the rain delay, allowing just a hit and a walk while setting down one on strikes. Jeremy Accardo gave up a hit a walk but stranded them both in his first outing.

Drew Storen blew the save in the 9th, giving up a run on two hits and a grounder to the 3/4 hole to the first three batters he faced. Tanner Roark came on in the 10th and gave up a leadoff walk, then set down the next three batters.

The Nationals threatened to win it in the 10th as Eury Perez singled with one out but was thrown out when he tried to take 3rd on Matt Skole’s subsequent single. Corey Brown reached on an error to set up 1st and 3rd for Carlos Rivero, but the game ended when Rivero flew out to center.

Rendon was lifted after his homer and finished the game with a 1-for-3 mark as the starting third baseman. Following the rain delay, manager Davey Johnson sent in the substitutes. Here’s a look at how they did:

  • CF Eury Perez went 1-for-3 with a strikeout
  • 3B Matt Skole went 1-for-2
  • LF Corey Brown pinch-ran and doubled while going 1-for-3
  • RF Carlos Rivero went 0-for-3 with a strikeout
  • 1B Chris Marrero pinch-hit and turned an unassisted DP but went 0-for-2
  • SS Zach Walters went 0-for-2
  • 2B Will Rhymes pinch-hit and went 0-for-3
  • Sandy Leon went 0-for-3 in his first start at catcher

The Nats return to Port St. Lucie tomorrow night at 6 p.m. for a rematch against the Mets. The game will be televised on MLB Network.

Nats Drop Grapefruit League Opener, 5-3

A two-run sixth by the Mets off non-roster invitee Bill Bray broke a 3-3 tie as the Nationals lost the first game of Spring Training, 5-3.

The first outing for Nats ace Stephen Strasburg was marred by a Ruben Tejada home run in the last of the first with no outs. Strasburg was also touched for a double, but retired five of the last six batters he faced. He finished with two runs allowed on three hits in his two innings, walking none and fanning one.

The Nationals reclaimed the lead in the next half inning. Ian Desmond singled with one out, came around to score on a Chris Marrero double, then Chris Snyder took Mets starer Shane Marcum deep for a brief 3-2 lead.

The Mets tied it up with three singles in the fourth, the last two coming with two outs off the second Nats pitcher, Craig Stammen, who was charged with a blown save. He had pitched a scoreless third, working around an error by Chad Tracy.

There were plenty of minor-leaguers who saw game action. Here’s a rundown of how they did:
• Marrero was 1-for-3 overall as the starting 1B
• Eury Perez went 1-for-3 in CF, taking over for Denard Span
• Corey Brown went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts, following Bryce Harper in LF
• Carlos Rivero made his first appearance in the OF, going 0-for-2 while taking over RF from Tyler Moore
• Matt Skole drew a walk in his sole plate appearance and played 3B after Chad Tracy was done
• Anthony Rendon popped up as a pinch-hitter and left two runners on in the 8th
• Jhonatan Solano went 0-for-2 after Snyder was done catching
• Micah Owings went 1-for-4 as the DH and played 1B after Marrero was done, committing an error
• Fernando Abad walked two and struck out one in his lone inning of work (5th)
• Erik Davis walked one and struck out two in the 7th inning
• Cole Kimball walked one and struck out none in the 8th

The Nationals return to Viera tomorrow afternoon for a game against Miami. The game will be broadcast on the radio with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Rendon is expected to get the start at third base while Sandy Leon will be the first catcher off the bench.

Let The Games Begin

The wait is over. Sure, it’s a week earlier than last year but it sure doesn’t feel that way.

For most folks, that’s because expectations have never been higher for the parent club. As a minors guy, it means I have some semblance of a routine back again — the end of previews and Top 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or more and the beginning of boxscores.

As mentioned earlier this month, I don’t expect there to be too much drama this year… at least from a minors’ perspective. Perhaps a guy competing for one of the last spots in the ‘pen or at the end of the bench.

The signing of veterans like Will Rhymes, Chris Snyder, and Chris Young seems to suggest that even a significant injury won’t automatically open the door for a minor-leaguer. Sorry to anyone sticking pins in their voodoo dolls in hopes of seeing, say, Anthony Rendon at second base on Opening Day.

In any case, the days without baseball for 2013 are gone. Time for us to peek at the goal for “our guys” for three or four weeks.