Nats Drop Another One, 4-3; First Cuts Announced

First Cuts of Spring Training
The Nats fell into a 4-0 hole in the middle innings and fell one run short, 4-3 to the Astros last night in Viera. It was the second straight defeat for the D.C. nine.

Bronson Arroyo got the start and tossed three perfect innings with three strikeouts. Houston had no problem with the next two relievers, getting Gott for two runs (and the loss) in the 4th and humoring Laffey for a pair in the 6th.

None of the watchlisters were in the starting lineup. Here’s a rundown of how they did coming off the bench (or from the ‘pen):
• Christopher Bostick subbed for Dan Murphy at 2B and went 1-for-2 and committed an error
• Matt Skole followed Anthony Rendon at 3B and was 1-for-2 with a run scored
• Trea Turner replaced Danny Espinosa at SS and went 0-for-1 with an RBI on a sac fly
• Abel De Los Santos pitched the 8th and worked around a leadoff single for a scoreless inning
• A.J. Cole gave up a two-out double in the 9th but retired the fourth batter on a flyout for a zero on the scoreboard

Prior to the game, the first set of cuts were announced with IF Wilmer Difo, LHP Matt Grace, and RHP Taylor Jordan optioned to AAA while C’s Raudy Read and Brian Jeroloman, RHPs Paolo Espino and Taylor Hill were reassigned to minor-league camp.

Giolito Roughed Up in 11-5 Nats Loss

The Nats’ top prospect struck out the side again but was also taken deep for a solo home run, the fifth allowed by Washington pitchers in yesterday’s 11-5 loss to Detroit in Lakeland, FL.

Tyler Collins led off the 8th against Lucas Giolito with a big fly to dead center. Thomas Field followed with a double before Giolito recovered to send the next three batters down swinging. Thus, the 21-y.o. finished with a line of 1IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 3K.

Starter Gio Gonzalez was also mauled by the Tigers, giving up four runs (two earned) on two hits (one homer) and four walks over two and 2/3rds innings. Likewise for Sammy Solis, who surrendered an Earl Weaver special in the 7th and put on four baserunners total in his lone inning of work.

Spencer Kieboom started at catcher and batted 9th. He went 0-for-1 with a walk and a run scored at the plate and 0-for-3 throwing out baserunners. Pedro Severino was his replacement and was 1-for-2.

Here’s a rundown of how the other watchlisters fared:
• Wilmer Difo subbed for Dan Murphy at 2B and went 0-for-2 with a K
• Brian Goodwin replaced Bryce Harper in RF and was 0-for-1
• Trea Turner was the third SS of the afternoon and had an RBI groundout in the 8th

Tonight the Nats host the Astros with Bronson Arroyo slated to start. The good news is that the game will televised. The bad news is that it’ll be MASN. The worse news is that you won’t be able to mute the audio and turn on the radio.

Nats Take Fourth Straight, 4-2 vs. Astros

The wins may be meaningless, but it’s a refreshing change of pace from past springs as the Nats doubled up the Astros, 4-2 for their fourth straight win yesterday afternoon.

Max Scherzer put on four baserunners in his two innings of work but let in just one run on three hits and a walk while striking out two. The win went to Yusmeiro Petit, who laid three goose eggs on the scorebooard after Scherzer.

Austin Voth struck out two and let up one hit as the first of a trio of relievers who were awarded holds before Michael Brady came on to close out the 9th for the save.

Trea Turner (0-for-1) and Wilmer Difo (1-for-2) were among the starting nine and combined to reach base four times. Turner drew a pair of walks while Difo took one free pass in the 2nd and connected for a double in the 4th.

Matt Skole came off the bench to replace Tyler Moore at 1B and also walked. He scored in the 8th on a Scott Sizemore double.

Christopher Bostick went 0-for-1 with a walk as Jason Martinson’s sub at 3B. The Nats notched six walks total during the game.

Andrew Stevenson was the final watchlister to see game action, coming in during the bottom of the 9th as a defensive replacement in CF. He made one putout.

The Nats stay on the road with a visit to Lakeland to face the Tigers this afternoon. Gio Gonzalez is expected to get the start. The game can be heard on MLB Audio (with the away feed).

Nats Deck Cards, 5-2 for 4th win in Five Games

Washington put up two spots in the both 2nd and 3rd innings en route to 5-2 win over St. Louis this afternoon in Jupiter, FL.

Blake Treinen got the win with two scoreless innings in his first appearance this spring, allowing one hit. Nick Lee set the side down in order in the 9th again to earn the save. A trio of relievers – Nick Masset, Aaron Laffey, and Michael Brady – earned holds for one scoreless inning apiece in the 6th, 7th, and 8th.

Matt Skole (0-1, BB) and Tree Turner (0-3, SB) got the start at 3B and SS respecitvely and both drove in a run: Turner on a groundout to 2B in the 2nd that he couldn’t beat out for a single as he did in his first AB, Skole on a sacrifice fly in the 3rd.

Spencer Kieboom was the starting DH but was 0-for-2 with a whiff.

Here’s a rundown of how the watchlist minor-leaguers did:
• Brian Goodwin spelled Michael Taylor in CF and was 0-for-2 with a K
• Wilmer Difo subbed for Turner at SS but was also 0-for-2
• Chrisopher Bostick followed Stephen Drew at 2B and went 0-for-1 with a walk
• Pedro Severino doubled in the final Nats run in the 8th as Kieboom’s replacement at DH and was 1-for-2 overall
• Matt Grace hit a batter, walked a batter, and struck out a batter as the first reliever to follow Treinen

The Nats return to Viera tomorrow afternoon to play the Marlins. The game will not be broadcast on either radio or TV.

Nats Go Deep Thrice in 8-4 Win Over Tigers

Washington got back in the win column for spring training with an 8-4 win over Detroit.

Ben Revere and Matt Skole each smacked two-run blasts while Scott Sizemore put up a one-spot with a solo shot as the Nats overcame deficits of 2-0 and 4-2.

Stephen Strasburg got the start and spayed five of the first Motor City kitties he faced before giving up a two-run homer to Bryan Holaday with two out in the 2nd. The Nats 2009 retired the next batter to finish with a line of 2IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 5K.

Taylor Hill was awarded the win by vritue of pitching two scoreless innings in the 6th and 7th. Sammy Solis did his best imitation of Nuke LaLoosh by issuing a pair of walks with a single in between to load the bases with nobody out. He struck out the next two batters, then got a grounder to short to escape the jam and earn the hold.

Here’s how the watchlist minor-leaguers fared on Saturday afternoon:
• Brian Goodwin pinch-hit for Revere and lofted a sac fly and drew a walk at the plate while replacing the former Jay in CF.
• Skole struck out in his first AB to go 1-for-2 with 2RBI as Anthony Rendon’s sub at 3B.
• Pedro Severino started at catcher and reached base twice with a single and a walk.
• Spencer Kieboom followed Severino behind the plate and went 1-for-2 while throwing out a runner.
• A.J. Cole was roughed up for two runs on four hits, including a home run in his only inning of work

The Nats return to Jupiter tomorrow to play the St. Louis Cardinals. Blake Treinen is expected to start. The game will be broadcast on the MLB Network with the Cardinals TV feed, which may confuse some folks.

Giolito Fans Three in 5-4 Walkoff Loss

Both hands on the keyboard.

The Nats top prospect for the past four seasons lived up to the billing in his first spring training outing as he struck out three in the first of his two innings of work yesterday against the Marlins. He worked around an error in the 5th and gave up a hit in the 6th while rolling three groundouts.

As for the game, the Nats lost with one out in the 9th when ex-Nat Justin Maxwell took non-roster invite Paolo Espino deep for a three-run homer to hand Washington its first loss of the spring.

Gio Gonzalez also made his spring training debut and threw two scoreless innings, giving up a pair of two-out safeties in the 2nd before retiring the fifth batter of the inning on a flyball.

The Nats used the lonbgball to take the 4-2 lead that was later lost. Michael Taylor left the band the yard as went he went solo with one out in the 2nd. Wilmer Difo (1-for-3, R, 3RBI) continued to channel Ian Desmond as he committed his third error in three games but also hit a three-run homer in the top of the 5th.

Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers fared yesterday:

  • Trea Turner started at 2B and went 0-for-1 with a walk
  • Ditto for Christopher Bostick as Turner’s sub
  • Jason Martinson followed Tyler Moore at 1B and was 1-for-2
  • Brian Goodwin was the DH to start and went 0-for-1 with a walk
  • Raudy Read pinch-hit for Goodwin and went 0-for-2 with a whiff
  • Abel De Los Santos struck out two while working around a Bostick error in the 8th

Stephen Strasburg will take the hill today in Viera, opposed by ex-Nat Jordan Zimmermann. The game can be heard on MLB Audio with the Detroit radio feed.

Nats Score Early and Often in 9-4 win vs. Mets

Washington put up a four-spot in the 1st and never looked back in a 9-4 win over the defending N.L. champs.

The Nats’ ace Max Scherzer cruised through two scoreless innings, allowing one hit, no walks and striking out one. Yusmeiro Petit was the first of six relievers to follow Scherzer, and let in the second Mets run.

Non-roster invites Jhonatan Solano, Reed Johnson, and Jason Martinson were among the starters and batted 7-8-9 in the lineup, with Johnson collecting an RBI single and Martinson drawing a walk.

A rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers did yesterday…

  • Matt Skole followed Clint Robinson at 1B and went 0-for-2 with a whiff.
  • Trea Turner subbed for Danny Espinosa at SS and connected on a solo HR in the 5th, then flew out to RF to finish 1-for-2.
  • Spencer Kieboom spelled Solano (S-o-l-a-n-o, *ding*) at catcher and singled twice in two ABs while scoring a run.
  • Nick Lee pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and struck out one.

Lucas Giolito will set hearts aflutter—and social media atwitter—as he’s slated to make his spring training debut today in Jupiter, FL where the Nats will visit the Marlins this afternoon. Gio Gonzalez is expected to make the start.

Nats Triple Up Rays, 6-2 in Grapefruit League Opener

Scott Sizemore’s three-run blast in the 6th broke open a 2-1 game as the Nats tripled up the Rays, 6-2 in the 2016 Grapefruit League opener.

As is custom in spring-training road games, few regulars made the bus trip. Tanner Roark got the start and turned in two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and while fanning three.

The win went to Rafael Martin for pitching a scoreless 5th while the hold went to Sammy Solis (1-2-3 sixth) and the save went to Erik Davis, who came on in the 9th with two men on base and retired the only batter he faced on a 4-3 groundout.

Here’s a rundown of how the watchlist minor-leaguers fared:

  • Trea Turner went 0-for-2 with a strikeout as he led off and played SS
  • Wilmer Difo singled and scored a run but also committed two errors
  • Christopher Bostick went 1-for-3 with an RBI
  • Likewise for Matt Skole
  • Pedro Severino replaced Jose Lobaton as catcher and went 0-for-2
  • Spencer Kieboom batted 9th as the DH but struck out in both plate appearances
  • Matt Grace let up two hits in the 7th but let in neither
  • Austin Voth followed and allowed two hits and a walk but also struck out three

Washington makes its Viera debut today against the New York Mets with Max Scherzer expected to start. The game can be heard on MLB audio with the away feed (sorry, it’s another week until Charlie and Dave, but it’s still better than FP).

Let the Games Begin

And not a moment too soon.

It’s a certainly a different dynamic than a year ago. Expectations are much lower, but the managerial talent is much, much higher.

Like Matt Williams as a manager, we don’t belong here – spring training is for the big boys and the big club, even if the team’s undisputed No. 1 prospect is in the clubhouse (and he brought treats, too).

But we’ll pretend we do for about three weeks so I can re-establish my routine and have something to write about nearly every morning as opposed to once or twice a week.

It starts this afternoon with a road game against Tampa Bay with audio coverage via webcast.

2016 Spring Training Thoughts

Bulldog-Hates-SnowIt’s hard to imagine with the ice and snow we’ve been having lately, but pitchers and catchers do report to Viera on Friday. Allegedly.

And, according to some dispatches, it’s the last one at Space Coast stadium. So we’ve got one more year of beat writers bitching about Panera.

Yesterday, we got the news as to who the non-roster invites will be, though more than a few outlets chose to highlight Lucas Giolito.

While it would be quite a story if Giolito were to break camp with the big club, what may be more likely is top position prospect Trea Turner being handed the starting shortstop job. Of course, the presence of multiple veteran options gives cover to the Nationals if they decide to send one or both back to the minors to delay the arbitration clock for more seasoning.

Aside from those two, it would appear that it’s the usual drama for prospects/minor-leaguers: Who, if anyone, might surprise us and become the 12th man in the ‘pen or the last bat off the bench? Injuries forced an awful lot of promotions last year, but if everyone’s healthy, then could the opposite occur? Could we see Michael Taylor or Matt den Dekker sent down “so they can play everyday?”

I’ll freely admit that spring training coverage on this site is self-serving and specious, at least now that the Nationals are playoff contenders. It’s an excuse to get back into the habit of writing every morning in preparation for the minors’ regular season, which begins in (ugh) seven weeks.

And with that, I have to call it a day and get to work…