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.