Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Grapefruit League concludes today at Space Coast Stadium.
Jim Riggleman's starting nine today is very likely what you'll see when the Nationals are facing a left-handed starter, with Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche flip-flopped and Jerry Hairston in center field over Rick Ankiel.
The Mets, meanwhile, are going with what appears to be their regular lineup, including Carlos Beltran (who has been dealing with a lingering knee injury but will apparently avoid the DL to open the season.
No TV or radio coverage today, so check back here for updates throughout the afternoon...
METS at NATIONALS
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 12:05 p.m.
Weather: Partly cloudy, 76 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to LF
STARTING LINEUPS11:40 a.m. -- Maybe I spoke too soon about that Mets lineup being the likely Opening Day group. Jason Bay strained a ribcage muscle during BP this morning, has been scratched and could have to open the season on the DL. Wow, what a mess that team is going to be this year.
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
CF Jerry Hairston
2B Danny Espinosa
C Ivan Rodriguez
P Jordan Zimmermann
SS Jose Reyes
CF Angel Pagan
3B David Wright
RF Carlos Beltran
Jason BayLucas Duda
1B Ike Davis
2B Brad Emaus
C Josh Thole
P Chris Capuano
12:05 p.m. -- We're underway with a strike from Jordan Zimmermann to Jose Reyes.
12:13 p.m. -- Zimmermann allowed a couple of singles but escaped the first inning without allowing a run. He froze David Wright with a nice breaking ball for a strikeout. He also wasn't helped by his defense. Carlos Beltran hit a weak fly ball to medium left-center that looked like it would normally be an out. But neither Michael Morse nor Jerry Hairston got there quickly enough to make a play at the ball and it fell in for a single. That could be something that plagues the Nats this season when Hairston (not a natural center fielder) and Morse (still learning left field to an extent) are paired up out there together.
12:24 p.m. -- Nothing happenin' for the Nats in the bottom of the first. Ian Desmond, after fouling off a couple bunt attempts, lined out to center. Jayson Werth drew a walk, but Ryan Zimmerman struck out and Michael Morse grounded into a fielder's choice.
12:41 p.m. -- Not exactly a crisp performance from Zimmermann so far. He loaded the bases with nobody out in the second, then fell behind 3-0 to Capuano before allowing a three-run double to the opposing pitcher. That's not good. Then Danny Espinosa, playing in after Capuano advanced to third, booted a sharp grounder for an error. Throw in a double to the right-center gap by David Wright, and this is not what the Nats were looking for out of their No. 3 starter today. Mets lead 4-0 and Zimmermann has to have thrown at least 50 pitches already.
12:55 p.m. -- The good news: The Nats loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the second. The bad news: They failed to score even one run. Ivan Rodriguez scorched a liner to left on the first pitch he saw, not deep enough to score Adam LaRoche from third. Zimmermann lofted a fly ball to medium left field which may have been deep enough to score LaRoche, but Bo Porter didn't want to take a chance so he put up the stop sign. Desmond then grounded to short to end the inning with the Nats still trailing 4-0.
1:04 p.m. -- Better job by Zimmermann in the third. He struck out Lucas Duda looking, then gave up a fly ball toward the left-field corner that Morse couldn't track down and turned into a double. Morse did make up for it by nicely backtracking to the wall to snag Emaus' drive, then Josh Thole grounded to short to end the inning.
1:14 p.m. -- That will do it for Zimmermann. He's done after three shaky innings, with a final line like this: 3 ip, 7 h, 4 er, 1 bb, 2 k, 63 pitches, 42 strikes. Next time out it counts: Sunday against the Braves. Brian Broderick now in to pitch the top of the fourth.
1:23 p.m. -- Adam LaRoche has been insisting all week that his left shoulder injury (a slight tear of the labrum) has no effect on his swing. And he's backed that up. Just crushed a solo homer to right to cut the deficit to 4-1 in the fourth.
1:41 p.m. -- Nice inning from Tyler Clippard, who retired the side in the fifth, striking out both David Wright and Lucas Duda.
1:56 p.m. -- Boy, it's a good thing this game started an hour earlier than usual. Otherwise I might be worried about making my flight home tonight. We're still only in the bottom of the fifth, which is dragging along pretty good thanks to a Nats rally. They loaded the bases off D.J. Carrasco, then got one run on Hairston's fielder's choice. Carrasco then drilled Espinosa in the right elbow (right on the pad he wears). Blaine Boyer now in for the Mets, who lead 4-2.
2:20 p.m. -- It's now the seventh inning, still 4-2. Was down in the clubhouse talking to Jordan Zimmermann, who wasn't overly worried about his shaky start. Zimmermann attributed his second-inning troubles to a tempo that was too fast. Said it happens to him every once in a while and he just has to remind himself to slow things down a bit. He did seem to start figuring things out in the third. Drew Storen now pitching for the Nats.
2:22 p.m. -- Whoa, just realized Ivan Rodriguez is playing first base right now. Jim Riggleman mentioned this as a possibility yesterday. With few right-handed bats off his bench, Riggleman may feel the need to pinch-hit Wilson Ramos during the season. Rather than risk playing without an emergency catcher on the bench, Riggleman might then keep Ramos in behind the plate and move Pudge to first base, just in case.
2:55 p.m. -- Was down in the clubhouse talking to Adam LaRoche, and wouldn't you know it: Drew Storen got tagged for four runs and seven hits in two-thirds of an inning. Gave up a three-run homer to David Wright. Was yanked with the bases loaded. We'll see what Drew has to say afterward, but that's a discouraging development after three straight solid appearances. So it's 8-2 Mets in the eighth. As for LaRoche, he said his left shoulder "feels great" after receiving a cortisone shot Friday. He's not yet able to cut loose with his throws, but his overall concern is minimal: "I'm really not worried about it at all."
3:14 p.m. -- Sean Burnett wraps up a fantastic spring with a scoreless top of the ninth. Didn't allow a run in 9 1/3 innings, and didn't issue one walk until just now. Last shot for the Nats, trailing 8-2.
3:23 p.m. -- That'll do it. Nats lose, 8-2, but finish the spring with a 15-14 record: their first winning Grapefruit League record since they moved to D.C.