Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats face the Mets once again at DigitalDomain Park.
Well, check out who's starting at first base today in a big-league game against the Mets.
We'll see what the rationale for this was, but my hunch is that manager Davey Johnson (who has been preaching the idea of preparing for every contingency and trying out all sorts of different combinations) wanted to get one look at Nady before camp ended. And with first baseman Adam LaRoche potentially returning from a foot injury tomorrow, this may have represented the last opportunity to see Nady.
Jordan Zimmermann, meanwhile, makes his second-to-last start of the spring. You can watch the game live (and apparently for free) on MLB.tv, and you can also watch the game tape delayed on MLB Network at 4 p.m. You can also, of course, get plenty of updates and analysis right here...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. NEW YORK METS
Where: DigitalDomain Park, Port St. Lucie
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV: MLB.tv (live), MLB Network (tape delayed at 4 p.m.)
Weather: Partly cloudy, 79 degrees, Wind 14 mph RF to LF
STARTING LINEUPS1:10 p.m. -- We are underway with Ian Desmond fouling off Jon Niese's first pitch. I'll have a full story on Xavier Nady after the game, but here's the pertinent pregame quote from Davey Johnson: "He plays outfield and first base. Last I checked, I had some guys on injured reserve. So why not look at him?" Davey's mangling of baseball lingo notwithstanding -- last time I checked, it's called the disabled list, not injured reserve -- the rationale makes sense. Might as well get a look at Nady against big-league pitching today. I still don't believe he'll be a legitimate candidate to make the Opening Day roster, but you never know...
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
C Wilson Ramos
LF Jason Michaels
1B Xavier Nady
CF Brett Carroll
P Jordan Zimmermann
CF Scott Hairston
2B Daniel Murphy
LF Jason Bay
1B Ike Davis
RF Lucas Duda
3B Justin Turner
SS Ruben Tejada
C Rob Johnson
P Jon Niese
1:19 p.m. -- Well, here's a rarity: Both Desmond and Danny Espinosa reached to start the inning (both on choppers up the middle, though the latter was ruled an error on Ruben Tejada) ... and then the big guns in the middle of the lineup couldn't advance them. Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth each struck out looking (Zim at a curveball, Werth at a fastball), then Wilson Ramos chopped one back to the mound to end the inning.
1:25 p.m. -- Good stuff from Jordan Zimmermann in the bottom of the first. He needed only nine pitches (seven strikes) to retire the side. A couple of groundballs to the left side of the infield and a weak popup to second. Scoreless here after one.
1:30 p.m. -- Jon Niese appears to have his curveball working today. He's made several guys look silly already, including Xavier Nady, who in his first AB wearing a Nats uniform struck out swinging at an Uncle Charlie in the dirt. Niese retired the side in the top of the second, with an assist from second baseman Daniel Murphy, who made a nice lunging play over his shoulder to snag Jason Michaels' soft liner.
1:37 p.m. -- The Mets get a single in the bottom of the second as Werth can't quite make a sliding catch of Lucas Duda's sinking liner to right. But no worries, because Zimmerman, Espinosa and Nady turned a nice, clean, 5-4-3 double play to end the inning with the game still scoreless.
1:43 p.m. -- Wow, Desmond and Espinosa do it again, each singling in the third, with Desmond advancing to third base. That set the stage for Zimmerman's sac fly to center, bringing Desmond home with the first run. Espinosa, though, inexplicably tried to take second base on the deep fly ball, hesitating at first and then taking off. He was easily thrown out. Not a smart baserunning play from a guy who usually doesn't make that kind of mental mistake. Nats lead 1-0 heading to the bottom of the third.
1:48 p.m. -- Zimmermann looks really sharp here in the early going. He's faced the minimum through three innings, needing only 30 pitches (21 strikes) to do it.
1:55 p.m. -- Jayson Werth with another towering home run to left field. Crushed it. I can confirm this one did not hit his truck, which is safely parked behind the first-base clubhouse. I saw it this morning. How monster is it? Let's just say it could drive straight down the south face of the Grand Canyon and then back up the north face. Meanwhile, Nady struck out again, this time looking. It's 2-0 Nats in the middle of the fourth.
2:00 p.m. -- Zimmermann may have to go the distance today. He's only thrown 38 pitches (27 strikes) through four innings, and he's supposed to get up to 80-85 pitches by the end of the day. Just a model of efficiency so far.
2:08 p.m. -- How about that Ian Desmond? He's now 3-for-3 with two singles and a double. He's now 10 for his last 25, apparently peaking just in time for Opening Day. Still 2-0 as we got to the bottom of the fifth.
2:13 p.m. -- Zimmermann continues to pound the strike zone and baffle the Mets lineup. Another 1-2-3 inning, featuring a couple of groundballs (and a nice play at first base by Nady) and a strikeout of Justin Turner. Five scoreless innings in the books for Zimmermann, only 51 pitches (37 strikes). He'll become the first Nats starter to pitch into the sixth inning this spring.
2:31 p.m. -- Someone else finally got to Zimmermann, as Rob Johnson laces a double in the bottom of the sixth. But Jordan shook that off and closed out his day in fine fashion. His final line: 6 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 0 bb, 2 k, 68 pitches, 47 strikes. Fantastic stuff from him. It's still 2-0 after six.
2:44 p.m. -- The Mets get a run back off Tom Gorzelanny in the seventh, highlighted by Duda's RBI triple down the right-field line. Actually, it should only have been a double, because the ball got stuck in the Nats bullpen amid a see of relievers and BP pitchers. Somehow, the umps let the play continue as Corey Brown tried to find the ball. It's 2-1 after seven.
2:55 p.m. -- The Nats get the run right back in the eighth thanks to some shoddy defense from the Mets' backup second baseman. It's 3-1 heading to the bottom of the eighth. I've got to run down to the clubhouse to talk to Jordan Zimmermann and Xavier Nady, so I may not make it back up here before the game ends. Just in case you wonder why there are no more updates for a while...