Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg faces the Cardinals in the spring's final home game.
Stephen Strasburg makes his final tune-up before Opening Day, but don't look for anything spectacular. Davey Johnson plans to pull his ace after only 60-70 pitches, then turn to No. 5 starter John Lannan (who will appear out of the bullpen).
A couple of lineup tweaks, including Danny Espinosa at shortstop (don't get any grand ideas, Johnson is just giving Ian Desmond a rest and preparing Espinosa in case of emergency). Roger Bernadina was originally penciled in as the starting center fielder, but he wasn't due to return from his father's funeral in Curacao in time for the game, so Corey Brown was summoned from minor-league camp to fill that spot.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back often...
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
Radio: Cardinals feed via MLB Gameday Audio, XM 186
Weather: Partly cloudy, 83 degrees, Wind 11 mph in from RF
STARTING LINEUPS1:08 p.m. -- And we're underway as Stephen Strasburg fires a fastball high to Rafael Furcal for ball one.
2B Steve Lombardozzi
SS Danny Espinosa
3B Chad Tracy
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
C Jesus Flores
CF Corey Brown
LF Brett Carroll
P Stephen Strasburg
SS Rafael Furcal
CF Jon Jay
RF Carlos Beltran
1B Lance Berkman
3B Matt Carpenter
C Tony Cruz
LF Erik Komatsu
2B Daniel Descalso
P Jake Westbrook
1:15 p.m. -- A potentially scary moment as Strasburg is a bit late covering first base on a grounder to Adam LaRoche, then has to dodge Jon Jay to avoid a collision as LaRoche's throw sails high. Strasburg seemed to be walking around a little slower after that play, and he was kind of slow walking back to the dugout at the end of the inning. Not saying anything actually happened on that play, but it's something to keep an eye on. The good news is that Strasburg pitched quite well in the top of the first, striking out both Furcal and Carlos Beltran on changeups and getting Lance Berkman to ground out to short. 16 pitches, 11 strikes.
1:20 p.m. -- Good news: Danny Espinosa made contact. Bad news: He grounded into a double play. Scoreless after one.
1:34 p.m. -- A shaky top of the second for Strasburg, though his defense didn't help. He gave up back-to-back singles to Matt Carpenter and Tony Cruz, then labored through a long at-bat against former Nat minor-leaguer Erik Komatsu before finally getting him on a fielder's choice. No. 8 hitter Daniel Descalso then roped a double down the left-field line, scoring two and advancing to third when Espinosa's relay throw sailed to the backstop. Descalso surprisingly took off for the plate on Jake Westbrook's chopper to a drawn-in Lombardozzi and would have been out had Lombo's throw not been wide. Credit to Jesus Flores for not even attempting to make the tag and instead firing to first to complete an odd, 4-2-3 RBI groundout. It's 3-0 Cardinals in the middle of the second.
1:49 p.m. -- How often have you seen Strasburg issue a four-pitch walk? Can't remember many of those. He did, however, rebound to get Berkman to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the third. And I have to say, Espinosa looked very smooth turning that double play from the shortstop side. (He says, fully aware he just released the hounds...)
2:03 p.m. -- That'll probably do it for Strasburg. He wasn't in peak form by any means today, but he got his work in. His line: 4 ip, 5 h, 3 r, 2 er, 1 bb, 3 k, 67 pitches, 43 strikes. Nats trail 3-0 in the middle of the fourth.
2:11 p.m. -- Not a whole lot of offense today from the Nats against Westbrook. Though four innings, they've got one hit (Chad Tracy's single up the middle just now) and a couple of walks. Though Jesus Flores did just drive one to the warning track in left. It's 3-0 Cards as John Lannan enters to pitch the fifth.
2:35 p.m. -- Pretty sloppy game here today. The Cardinals added three more runs in the top of the sixth off Lannan, but the lefty wasn't helped by his defense much. Lombardozzi struggled to come up with a grounder to his right. Espinosa made another poor relay throw to the plate. This is by no means the Nats' regular defensive alignment today -- Werth and LaRoche are the only starters at their usual position -- but it hasn't been pretty. Cards lead 6-0 in the sixth.
2:43 p.m. -- Chad Tracy to the rescue. Solo homer off the roof of the batting cages beyond the right-field fence. I still don't think the Nats are going to have room for this guy on the roster, but he's still lingering here in camp. I guess you never say never. It's now 6-1.
3:20 p.m. -- Strasburg following his last start of the spring: "I'm ready to get out of Florida, that's for sure." Aren't we all, Stephen. Aren't we all. 6-1 in the 8th.
3:30 p.m. -- Another 1-2-3 inning for Brad Lidge. His spring totals: 9 ip, 5 h, 1 er, 0 bb, 11 k. Last chance for the Nats, still down 6-1.
3:40 p.m. -- That's yer ballgame. Nats lose this one, 6-2. Stephen Strasburg takes the loss and finishes the spring 1-4. I'm really worried. Aren't you?