Nats Homer Early, Tigers Homer Last For 7-7 Tie

The Nats used the longball to score in five straight innings to build a 6-2 lead but the ‘pen gave it away with two in the 7th, and solo HRs in the 8th and 9th innings for a 7-7 tie.

A.J. Cole stepped in for Stephen Strasburg and shut down Detroit on the first turn through the lineup but was dinged for his fourth HR in four appearances with the big club, finishing with two runs allowed on the one hit and two walks with five strikeouts over three and 2/3rds.

Tanner Roark turned in his second clean outing in relief of Cole, getting the last out of the 4th and pitching around a pair of singles in the 5th.

Michael Taylor homered twice off Tiger ace Justin Verlander to lead off the 3rd and 5th innings and finished the afternoon at 2-for-3, which raised his spring batting average to .324 (11-for-34).

Out-of-options Sandy Leon also started and went 1-for-3 with an RBI. In ten appearances, he’s 6-for-19 with three RBI.

Coming off the bench were…

…Delta Cleary Jr., who struck out in his lone at-bat as Taylor’s replacement.
…Cutter Dykstra, who subbed for Dan Uggla at 2B and was 0-for-1.
…Randolph Oduber, who pinch-ran for Tyler Moore and scored and later singled and scored a second run.
…Matt Skole, who pinch-ran for Ian Stewart and drove in Oduber with an 8th-inning single. He was later caught stealing to end the 8th.
…Spencer Kieboom, who followed Leon and was 0-for-1.

The Nats return to Viera tomorrow to host the Yankees. The game will be broadcast live on MASN and on the radio at 1580 and 1500 AM.

Nats Split Spring Training Doubleheader

Split Doubleheader
The hometown fans left the park happy today, as the Nats doubled up the Marlins, 4-2 in Viera while the Braves followed the Disney fun mandate with a 5-2 triumph in Orlando.

At Space Coast, the Nats scored all four in the 3rd inning as Wilson Ramos plated two with a one-out single, then Dan Uggla homered to erase an early 1-0 deficit. Jordan Zimmermann went five innings total in his fourth spring start, scattering eight hits while walking none and fanning four.

The Marlins got their final run in the 9th off Rafael Martin, who issued a one-out walk and gave up a two-out double, but was credited with the save.

At Champion Stadium, a 2-0 lead vanished when journeyman reliever Evan Meek allowed the first five runners to reach base in the 4th and three of them came around to score. Taylor Jordan got the start and allowed just a hit and a walk over three innings.

Michael Taylor got the start in CF for the visiting Nats and went 2-for-3 with a run scored.

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

  • Kevin Keyes subbed for Bryce Harper in RF and was 0-for-1 with a strikeout.
  • Shawn Pleffner followed Ryan Zimmerman at 1B and struck out in his lone at-bat.
  • Chris Bostick took over at 2B from Uggla and singled in the 8th inning.
  • John Wooten subbed for Danny Espinosa at 3B and was 0-for-1.
  • Cutter Dykstra grounded out to first as a pinch-hitter.

And in Orlando:

  • Rafael Bautista followed Taylor in CF and went 0-for-1 with a whiff.
  • Matt Skole was 0-for-1 in relief of Mike Carp at 1B.
  • Tony Renda went 0-for-1 as the sub for 2B Kevin Frandsen.
  • Sandy Leon was 0-for-1 as the replacement for C Jose Lobaton.
  • Drew Vettleson drew a walk as the second RF, following Clint Robinson.

The Nats make their second trip to Lakeland to visit the Tigers, with A.J. Cole getting the start in place of Stephen Strasburg. The game can be heard locally on 1580AM.

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In the latest transaction report from Baseball America, we learned that RHPs Richie Mirowski and Melvi Salazar joined Jeff Kobernus on the list of released players over the past few days. Mirowski was a 45th Rd. pick in 2011 and came into the 2014 season with much promise after a strong AFL campaign in the fall of 2013, but struggled in his second go ’round in AA, posting a 6.23 ERA in 10 appearances before dropping down to Potomac. Salazar, who turned 20 in December, hit the wall in the GCL with 25 baserunners allowed in 15⅓ innings. In 2013, he had been 4-0 with 13 saves and a 0.98 ERA in his second DSL season.

Nats Ride Four-Run 1st To 7-5 Win

Washington scored four times in the 1st and withstood a pair of late rallies by Houston to win, 7-5. Starting pitcher Max Scherzer was dinged for a solo HR but gave up just three hits total in his five innings of work to earn the win. He struck out six and walked none.

With the 25-man candidates playing longer, the Nats gave most of the veterAAAAn reserves time off the bench in preparation for the second and final split-squad doubleheader tomorrow. Just three watchlist players appeared in this afternoon’s game:

  • Cutter Dykstra, who was 0-for-2 with a strikeout while playing 2B in place of Dan Uggla
  • Sandy Leon singled twice in two ABs while subbing for C Jose Lobaton
  • Matt Skole struck out as a pinch-hitter for Scherzer

As aforementioned, the Nats will host the Marlins while sending a second team to the House of Mouse to visit the Braves. The Viera game will be broadcast locally on 1580 AM while the Orlando contest can be heard on MLB Radio.

Nats, Tigers Play To 0-0 Tie; More Cuts

The Nats managed just five hits over 10 innings on offense while their pitchers gave up just seven to play the visiting Tigers to a ten-inning, 0-0 tie, the second of the spring for Washington.

Gio Gonzalez spun four innings of two-hit ball, walking one and striking out five in his third outing. Matt Grace and Rafael Martin were among the quintet of relievers to combine for the extra-innings shutout, with Grace pitching the 9th and Martin the 10th.

Despite his 0.00 spring ERA, Grace was optioned to Syracuse along with C Dan Butler while IF Wilmer Difo was optioned to Potomac after the game as the Nats continue to make roster cuts in small slices.

Michael Taylor struck out four times in four at-bats to lower his average to .250 and increase his K mark to 11 in 28 AB’s. Meanwhile, Tony Gwynn Jr. went 1-for-2 while playing LF.

Washington visits Houston tomorrow, a game which will be televised on MLB Network.

Marlins Stop Streaking Nats, 5-4

Three in a row was too much to hope for as the Marlins rallied for two in the last of 8th to break a 3-3 tie and held on for a 5-4 win against the Nats.

Blake Treinen was unable to work around Cutter Dykstra’s error, which rendered both runs unearned though Treinen was dinged for three hits to take the loss. Treinen struck out two and walked none.

Doug Fister was strafed for six hits over his four innings of work and allowed two runs, no walks, and struck out one in his third spring outing.

Michael Taylor returned to the starting lineup and was 1-for-3 with a single and a stolen base while playing CF. The notable minor-leaguers to come off the bench included…
• Wilmer Difo, who subbed for Dan Uggla at 2B and was 0-for-1.
• Matt Skole, who homered in the 9th in place of Ryan Zimmerman at 1B.
• Dykstra was 0-for-1 in relief of Ian Stewart at 3B.
• Sandy Leon took over behind the plate for Jose Lobaton and went 0-for-1.

Prior to the game, RHP A.J. Cole was optioned to Syracuse as the Nats continue to make cuts in small drib and drabs, including the release of IF-OF Jeff Kobernus yesterday.

The Nats return to Viera tomorrow to host the Tigers. The game can be heard on MLB Radio and locally on 1580 AM.

Nats Win Again, 6-4

The offense churned out 10 hits and the bullpen survived a late charge as the Nats defeated the Tigers, 6-4 to win consecutive games for just the third time this spring.

Stephen Strasburg struck out five over four scoreless innings to get the “W.” The 26-y.o. gave up three hits and no walks while lowering his spring ERA to 3.18.

A.J. Cole went the next three frames but gave up his third HR in as many appearances. He finished with one run allowed on two hits and no walks and struck out his first two batters of the spring.

Matt Skole was the sole (hey, that rhymes!) prospect to start, going 1-for-3 with an RBI and a strikeout while playing third base. The following players were among the notable minor-leaguers to come off the bench:
• Wilmer Difo subbed for Ian Desmond at SS and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the 7th. He was 0-for-1 overall.
• Isaac Ballou followed Bryce Harper in RF but was 0-for-1.
• Cutter Dykstra scored as a PR on Difo’s flyball in the 7th and went 0-for-1 in relief of 2B Kevin Frandsen.

Yesteday, the Nats sent southpaws Felipe Rivero and Sammy Solis and outfielder Brian Goodwin to minor-league camp. The next major cuts will most likely come after Saturday’s split-squad games.

The Nats stay on the road tomorrow with a trip to Jupiter, FL to face the Marlins. The game can be heard on MLB Radio.

Nats Clip ‘Stros, 2-1

Clint Robinson’s two-out RBI triple was the difference in a 2-1 slugfest to secure the first Washington win in nearly a week.

The 7th-inning surge made a winner out of Felipe Rivero, who tossed two shutout frames with no walks and two strikeouts. Rivero was the second reliever to follow starter Jordan Zimmermann, who went the first innings. The Wisconsin native gave up an unearned run on three hits and a walk in his third spring outing.

Michael Taylor once again started in CF and led off the game with a triple and scored the first Nats run. He went 1-for-4 overall.

Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers did today…
• Rafael Martin threw a scoreless inning following Zimmermann, allowing a hit, no walks, and striking out one.
• Mark Grace pitched around a double and a single in the 8th to preserve the 2-1 lead.
• Wilmer Difo subbed for Ian Desmond at SS but struck out twice in two at-bats.
• Matt Skole followed Ian Stewart at 3B and drew a walk in his only plate appearance.
• Cutter Dykstra reached base twice with a pinch walk and a single as the replacement DH.
• Sandy Leon went 0-for-1 as the substitute for backup backstop Jose Lobaton.

The Nats head back out on the road to face the Detroit Tigers tomorrow afternoon. The game can be heard on MLB radio.

Nats Winless Streak Extended to Five

The bell did not toll for Heath as the Astros blasted the 37-y.o. non-roster invitee for all three of its runs in the 5th and held off a late rally for a 3-2 win over the Nationals in Kissimmee. The loss was the third straight and fourth in five games as the Nats have not won since last Wednesday.

Max Scherzer lowered his spring ERA to an even 2.00 with four shutout innings, allowing just a 1st-inning double to Luis Valbena and a walk to Andrew Aplin to lead off the 3rd. The 30-y.o. struck out three in his third Grapefruit League start.

Michael Taylor started in CF and led off but was 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He was followed by FA pickup Delta Cleary Jr. who struck out in his lone at-bat.

Matt Skole began in the field at 3B and was 1-for-3 with two strikeouts. Cutter Dykstra was his replacement as a pinch-runner and at third, and also struck out in his only plate appearance.

With the loss, the Nats fall to 4-7-1 for the spring. They host the Astros in Viera tomorrow, a game which is slated for a live MASN broadcast and a tape-delay showing on the MLB Network.

Nats, Astros Tie, 6-6

The Astros rallied for two in the 9th to salvage a 6-6 tie and preserve the Nats’ .500 record at 4-4-1 for the spring.

Houston posted a picket fence on the scoreboard with single runs in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings. Washington rallied for three in the 3rd, two in the 6th, and for what appeared to be an insurance run in the 8th before Scott McGregor gave away two in the 9th.

Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers did coming off the bench:
• Rafael Bautista went 0-for-2 with an RBI in CF
• Wilmer Difo went 0-for-2 with a strikeout at SS
• Kevin Keyes went 1-for-2 in RF
• Cutter Dykstra went 0-for-1 with a run scored at 2B
• Matt Skole went 0-for-1 as a PH for the DH
• Sammy Solis struck out three over two and 2/3rds innings and gave up a run on a home run and four hits total

Prior to the game, catchers Spencer Kieboom and Pedro Severino were reassigned to the minor-league camp. More cuts are expected after tomorrow’s pair of split-squad games vs. the Mets and at the Marlins.

Nats Firemen Bring The Gas In 11-9 Loss

The Nats offense tried to salvage a nine-run bullpen implosion in the bottom of 8th with a five-run retort in the top of the 9th, but fell short in an 11-9 loss today in Port St. Lucie.

The Mets sent 13 men to the plate in the frame, with losing pitcher Mitch Lively retiring one of four batters faced (three hits to the others), Eric Fornataro getting one of seven out (two walks, four hits, including a HR), and Brian Rauh letting in an inherited runner with a single before getting the third and final out.

Clint Robinson’s pinch-hit grand slam capped off five straight men reaching base to start the 9th, but the Nats could only muster one more baserunner — a Sandy Leon single, his second in two at-bats as the second DH — before Derrick Robinson (0-for-2) and Jeff Kobernus (0-for-2) struck out to end the game.

A.J. Cole made the start in place of Stephen Strasburg, but was fortunate to allow just one run (a homer to Curtis Granderson) as the Mets strafed him for four hit and two walks over an inning and 2/3rds.

Among the highlights for the prospects…
• Michael Taylor started in CF and connected for a two-run double in between two strikeouts
• Wilmer Difo followed Danny Espinosa at SS but whiffed twice in two ABs and committed an error
• Matt Skole walked and scored in the 9th, his first PA after subbing for Ian Stewart at 3B
• Cutter Dykstra drew a bases-loaded walk ahead of Clint Robinson’s homer after taking over at 2B from Emmanuel Burriss, who was 0-for-2
• Matt Grace pitched a scoreless 7th, giving up a hit for his third clean outing of the spring

The Nats return to Viera tomorrow to host the Astros. The game can be heard on MLB Radio.