Shifting Gears

Shifting-GearsIt’s time to shift gears away from day-to-day coverage and wait for the minors to start up. This is the third time in four years that I’ve pulled the plug without a specific action or event, just a feeling that it’s been enough.

It’s an indulgence for a minors site to write about spring training, but especially when there are virtually no jobs up for grabs. There’s a teeny-tiny bit of drama over who might be the backup catcher or who’s the #5 starter, but the big club’s made it pretty damn clear that it’s not going to be one of “our guys.”

So sometime this week, Pedro Severino, Erick Fedde, Victor Robles, and Andrew Stevenson will get the proverbial red card in their lockers and prepare to play the RailRiders on April 5 instead of the Reds on March 29.

This year when the minors start up I’ll be in New Orleans for a work conference (and the Baby Cakes, natch), so it might be a little bumpy at the beginning of Season 9 of this little site. My hope is that the week-long gap (as opposed 2-3 days) will enable the full-season rosters to be set earlier, too (if no one gets hurt).

Until then, we’ll back to offseason mode… waiting for news… waiting for… snow?!

Cards Blank Nats, 10-0

The wheels came off the bus in the 6th as the Cards decked the Nats for five runs en route to a 10-0 shutout.

A.J. Cole gave up a run on a home run and two hits total over four innings. He walked one and struck out six while suffering his second spring loss.

Anthony Rendon singled twice and Matt Adams pushed a bunt down the third base line against the shift to comprise the Washington “attack.” The rest of the lineup went 0-for-23.

Victor Robles (CF) and Severino (C) were in the starting lineup while Andrew Stevenson came off the bench as the second center fielder.

The loss drops Washington to 10-11-2. Max Scherzer is expected to make the start tomorrow; same time, same venue, but different opponent (Marlins). The game can be heard on MLB Audio (Miami feed).

Mets Outslug Nats, 9-7

The Mets put up crooked numbers in three big innings to hand the Nats a 9-7 loss.

Tanner Roark, who was rocked for three runs on Sunday, put on seven baserunners in three innings and let in three of ’em to take the loss.

As mentioned in this morning’s post, Michael Taylor and Adam Eaton were both in the starting lineup, CF and LF respectively. Taylor went 1-for-3 with two whiffs while Eaton homered once in two trips to the plate.

Just three Watchlist players appeared in the game.
• Andrew Stevenson pinch-hit for Sammy Solis in the 4th and struck out.
• Victor Robles subbed for Taylor in CF and went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
• Osvaldo Abreu was the third SS and flew out to make the second out in the 8th.

Washington hits the road for Jupiter, Fla. to play St. Louis tomorrow. Both the Nats and Cards radio teams will be broadcasting while the St. Louis feed will be broadcast on

Nats Double Up Cards, 4-2

Down 1-0 after five and half innings, Washington’s regulars broke out for four runs in the 6th and the subs held the lead for a 4-2 win over St. Louis.

Gio Gonzalez started and gave up a run on a home run and three hits total over five innings. He walked one and struck out three.

Erick Fedde nearly completed the game, allowing the second Cards run on three hits and a walk over three and 2/3rds innings. He was lifted for Tim Collins who preserved the win for Fedde by retiring the only batter he faced on a 6-3 grounder to end the game.

Andrew Stevenson was the lone Watchlist player to start, taking left field and three trips back to the dugout after going 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Fellow watchlister Victor Robles came off the bench to replace Brian Goodwin in CF but struck out in his only plate appearance, which is making it far easier to send him down for service-time manipulation than some other 20-year-olds.

The Mets come to West Palm Beach this afternoon to face Tanner Roark and the Nats. The game will interrupt the prattling about Kirk Cousins on WJFK 106.7FM, and both Michael Taylor and Adam Eaton are expected to play.

Houston Has No Problem, 12-3

The Nats shut the Astros out for six innings yesterday. In the other three innings, Houston scored three in the 1st, four in the 5th, and five in the 9th as they blasted Washington, 12-3.

Former prospect/site favorite Tommy Milone took the loss as he was lit up for the first three runs on five hits and two walks. Current prospect Austin Adams walked all four batters he faced and all four came a round to score in the 5th.

Victor Robles got the start in center field but was 0-for-2 with a strikeout. He’s now hitting just .220 (9-for-41).

Here’s how the Watchlist players did coming off the bench:
• Blake Perkins took over for Robles in CF and went 0-for-1 with an RBI walk and a strikeout.
• Andrew Stevenson subbed for Ryan Raburn in LF and struck out three times in three PAs
• Pedro Severino was the second backstop and was 0-for-1 with a walk, an RBI, and a whiff.

The Cards come to West Palm Beach this afternoon to visit the Nats. Gio Gonzalez is expected to pitch. The game will be broadcast on MASN, but you will be unable to mute the sound and listen to an alternate audio feed. Sorry.

Nats Hold Off Mets, 7-4

The Nats burst from the gate to score three in the 1st and two in the 3rd then held off a late charge from the Mets to win 7-4.

Max Scherzer dominated New York’s regulars with nine K’s and just one hit allowed over five shutout innings for the win. Veterans Ryan Madson and Joaquin Benoit were “working on some things” for all four Mets runs in the 7th and 8th innings before Tim Collins cut things short in the 9th to earn the save.

Victor Robles and Jose Marmolejos continue to get reps in place of ailing regulars. Both were 1-for-3 with an RBI while playing CF and 1B, respectively.

Likewise, Andrew Stevenson and Rafael Bautista came off the bench to pinch-run and take the field (left and right). Bautista scored a run in Bryce Harper’s stead while Stevenson smacked a two-run double in the 6th to give the Nats a 7-0 lead before Madson and Benoit did their neck stretches.

Today is the final off day in Florida. They’ll play the next three in West Palm Beach against the usual suspects (Astros, Cardinals, and Mets) before heading to Jupiter (FL, natch) to play the Cards and Marlns on Sunday and Monday.

Nats Lose on Late-Inning HR, 4-3

The Nats rallied from a 3-0 deficit with a picket fence in the middle innings, but lost to the Cards on a HR in the 8th, 4-3.

Tanner Roark got the start but was not sharp, allowing the aforementioned three runs on five hits and two walks over four innings. Shawn Kelly wore the loss, giving up a solo HR to start the 8th [insert midseason form joke here] and three hard-hit balls total before St. Louis ran itself out of the inning.

Victor Robles and Jose Marmolejos once again started in center field and at first base, respectively. Robles grounded to third in the 2nd and drove in the first Washington run on a sac fly in the 5th while Marmolejos grounded out twice to the right side of the infield.

Four Watchlist players came off the bench:
   ●   Rafael Bautista subbed for Robles again in CF and drew a pair of walks, but was thrown out trying to steal in the 7th.
   ●   Carter Kieboom took over SS from Trea Turner and reached base on an error in the 7th and struck out to end the game.
   ●   Andrew Stevenson was the second left fielder and drew a walk with one out in the 7th but was erased on an inning-ending DP.
   ●   Drew Ward pinch-hit for DH Howe Kendrick and whiffed for the third out in the 8th.

The Nats fall to 7-8-2 in Grapefruit League play. Edwin Jackson is slated to start against the Tigers in Lakeland. The game will be broadcast on and MLB audio (Detroit feed for both).

Nats Don’t Lose, 2-2

The Nats trailed 2-0 after eight innings, but took advantage of a walk, an error, and a wild pitch to score the first run and got a two-out single from Jose “Orange” Marmolejos to score the second run and tie the game at 2-2 after eight and a half innings.

In the bottom of the 9th, Rafael Bautista made catch at the CF wall with one out rob Kyle Tucker while Chris Smith worked around a two-out walk to prevent a(nother) loss to the Astros.

Erick Fedde got the start instead of Gio Gonzalez, who threw a bullpen yesterday, and gave up the first Houston run on two hits and two walks over three innings in his third appearance of the spring.

Victor Robles was the only Watchlist player to start (CF), but went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Coming the bench…
   ●   Bautista took over CF from Robles but tapped back to the mound to end the 8th.
   ●   Stevenson reached on the Astros’ error in the 9th and scored the tying run.
   ●   Marmolejos subbed for Matt Adams at 1B and, as aforementioned, had an RBI single with two out in the 9th.
   ●   Pedro Severino was the second catcher of the game (Wieters) but grounded into a force play to end the 9th.

Washington remains home as the St. Louis Cardinals come to West Palm Beach tomorrow. Tanner Roark is scheduled to start for the Nats. The game will be broadcast on both MASN and WJFK 106.7 FM.

Nats Stop Slide, 8-5 over Mets; First Cuts Announced

The Mets posted a picket fence in the middle innings but the Nats knocked it down with a four-run 5th en route to an 8-5 victory that stopped a three-game losing streak.

Stephen Strasburg made his second outing but was strafed for two runs on three hits and two walks over three and 1/3rd innings. He did, however, strike out five and hit 99 on the (more than likely juiced) stadium gun while throwing 63 pitches, 39 for strikes. Austin Adams came on to stop the bleeding as he got the last two outs in the 4th, issuing a walk, fanning one, and stranding one.

Jose Marmolejos was the only Watchlist player to get the start, as he played 1B but went 0-for-3 with two whiffs.

Here’s how the Watchlist players did yesterday:
   ●   Victor Robles took over CF from Brian Goodwin and drove in two with an 8th-inning single. He was 1-for-2 overall.
   ●   Kelvin Gutierrez subbed for Anthony Rendon at 3B and reached base twice with a single in the 7th and a walk in the 8th.
   ●   Andrew Stevenson followed Bryce Harper in RF and scored in the 8th on Robles’s single after drawing a walk.
   ●   Pedro Severino was the second catcher after Miguel Montero and grounded out in the 8th.
   ●   Wander Suero threw two pitches in the 8th and was removed due to “left side tightness”

Prior to the game, Washington announced Austin Voth had been optioned to Syracuse while Osvaldo Abreu, Jimmy Cordero, Brady Dragmire, David Goforth, Taylor Gushue, Roman Mendez and Cesar Vargas were reassigned to minor-league camp. Today is the first of two scheduled off days in Florida (a third is the day before an exhibition against the Twins on March 27th).

Tomorrow, the Nats play the Astros yet again as the road team in West Palm Beach. Gio Gonzalez is expected to pitch while the game will be broadcast locally on WJFK 106.7FM and (*sigh*) 1580AM after the start of the Caps game.

Nats Drop Third Straight, 4-3

The Nats put 15 baserunners on but cashed in just three as they were edged by the Cards, 4-3.

Two double plays and just one hit in ten RISP opportunities led to ten runners left on while St. Louis scored four from its nine baserunners, overcoming a 2-1 deficit in the middle innings and breaking a 3-3 tie in the 8th.

Max Scherzer got the start and walked one and gave up one hit—a second-inning solo HR—over four innings for the no-decision. Brandon Kintzler coughed up two in the 7th for the blown save, Sammy Solis gave up one in the 8th for the loss.

Two Watchlist players were in the starting lineup. Victor Robles went 1-for-3 with an RBI as the CF while Kelvin Gutierrez was 0-for-3 at 3B.

   ●   Juan Soto took over RF from Moises Sierra and went 0-for-1 with a walk.
   ●   Jose Marmolejos pinch-hit for DH Bryce Harper and grounded into a double play in the 9th.
   ●   Rafael Bautista subbed for Robles in CF and slid over to LF when Daniel Johnson came into the game. He was 0-for-2 with two K’s.
   ●   Johnson played CF and flew out to LF in the 8th.
   ●   Osvaldo Abreu followed Matt Reynolds at 2B and drew a walk in his lone PA.

The Nats return to West Palm Beach to host the Mets today. Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to make his second spring outing. The game will not be broadcast.

This is the last game before the first of two scheduled off days in Florida. The first cuts should be coming soon, perhaps as soon as this afternoon.