Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Space Coast Stadium hosts its first game of the spring.
One of the good, young arms Miami picked up during its fire sale is right-hander Henderson Alvarez, formerly of the Blue Jays. Alvarez will be on the mound today, facing a Nationals lineup with some similarities to yesterday's group, but with a few key changes. Danny Espinosa, Kurt Suzuki and Steve Lombardozzi each get their first start of the spring. So does Anthony Rendon, the organization's top prospect, who will start at third base and bat second.
Jordan Zimmermann gets the ball from Davey Johnson, looking to get his spring off on a strong note. The right-hander has spent much of the last two weeks working on his changeup, which he wants to make a bigger part of his arsenal this season. We'll see if he's able to apply it in a game situation today.
No TV coverage of this one, but Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler are here and will have the game on the radio. And, of course, I'll have plenty of updates and analysis throughout, so please check back often...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. MIAMI MARLINS
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EST
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM)
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to LF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
LF Bryce Harper
RF Tyler Moore
1B Chad Tracy
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
DH Steve Lombardozzi
(RHP Jordan Zimmermann)
3B Chone Figgins
CF Chris Coghlan
DH Greg Dobbs
LF Austin Kearns
C Rob Brantly
1B Matt Downs
SS Nick Green
2B Chris Valaika
RF Bryan Petersen
(RHP Henderson Alvarez)
1:02 p.m. -- We are underway with a strike from Jordan Zimmermann to Chone Figgins. Hazy afternoon here in Viera, a rare day with only a slight breeze blowing out to left.
1:08 p.m. -- A solid, 12-pitch top of the first for Zimmermann, who allowed a two-out single up the middle to Greg Dobbs but otherwise recorded three groundball outs. He threw eight of those 12 pitches for strikes, and must've had good downward movement to get all those grounders. Solid way to start the game.
1:14 p.m. -- Probably safe to say Bryce Harper is ready to go. For the second straight day, he roped a base hit to right in his first at-bat. Nothing else happening for the Nats in the bottom of the first, though, with Denard Span taking a borderline outside fastball for strike three, and Anthony Rendon and Tyler Moore each flying out to center. Scoreless after one.
1:27 p.m. -- Another strong inning for Zimmermann in the second. He retired the side on 11 pitches, getting a pair of groundouts and a strikeout. At only 23 total pitches, he'll be back out for the third. Nothing doing in the bottom of the second for the Nats, though, with Chad Tracy, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa set down in order by Henderson Alvarez. Still scoreless heading to the third.
1:38 p.m. -- A little hiccup for Zimmermann in the top of the third. He allowed a leadoff double to Chris Valaika past Tyler Moore in right field, then walked Bryan Petersen. An RBI groundout brought home the game's first run, but there were some positives in the inning as well. Like Anthony Rendon's nifty play at third base. He scooped up Figgins' bunt attempt barehanded, then fired a laser to first for the out. Zimmermann's final line: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 43 pitches, 26 strikes. The Nats trail 1-0.
1:42 p.m. -- A pair of singles for the Nationals in the bottom of the third -- from Kurt Suzuki and Denard Span -- but they went for naught. Steve Lombardozzi grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Rendon, meanwhile, grounded to short to end the inning. Still 1-0 Marlins as Zach Duke enters for the top of the fourth.
1:48 p.m. -- A nice 1-2-3 fourth inning for Duke, featuring a strikeout of old pal Austin Kearns (who took a big hack at an offspeed pitch for the K).
1:56 p.m. -- And now it's pouring here. They've brought the tarp out and we're in a rain delay. The good news: Harper managed to notch another base hit before the rains came. He's now 3-for-5 this spring. Still 1-0 Marlins in the bottom of the fourth. Stay tuned for updates...
2:35 p.m. -- Still in a delay here in the bottom of the fourth. It stopped raining for a while, and it looked like they might be ready to peel back the tarp. But then it started pouring again. Looks like it's going to be this on-and-off stuff all day. Probably doesn't bode well for a resumption of play.
2:45 p.m. -- The tarp is being rolled up at last. So there will be more baseball today, with the total delay likely to be around one hour. If I'm not here when they do resume, it's because we're about to get called down to the clubhouse to speak to Jordan Zimmermann on his start, which feels like it ended 15 hours ago.
3:16 p.m. -- The game indeed resumed (after a 1-hour, 6-minute delay) while we were down in the clubhouse talking to Zimmermann, who was quite pleased with his performance. Noted that he threw more changeups as planned and had good success with it. Meanwhile, we're in the bottom of the fifth here, the Nats still down 1-0.
3:21 p.m. -- Whoa, Anthony Rendon with a 2-run, opposite-field homer off Ryan Webb in the bottom of the fifth. There's a little bit of wind after the storm, but not a ridiculous breeze that would've made a huge difference. That was a legit homer. The Nats take a 2-1 lead heading to the sixth.
3:40 p.m. -- Couple of scoreless innings of relief from Yunesky Maya, who got a big assist from Chris Marrero at first base. Marrero flashed some great reflexes to snag a scorched liner, then tagged the bag to complete an unassisted double play. We've reached the seventh-inning stretch here, with the Nats still clinging to a 2-1 lead.
3:58 p.m. -- Jeremy Accardo escapes a two-on jam in the top of the eighth. So the lead remains 2-1 heading to the bottom of the eighth, and I believe Drew Storen is warming for the ninth.
4:09 p.m. -- Here's Storen for his first save opportunity since ... well, you know. Slightly less on the line today, of course.
4:19 p.m. -- Uh-oh. Storen blows the save. Gave up a couple of hard-hit singles, then an RBI groundout to make this a 2-2 game heading to the bottom of the ninth. Now, before anybody goes nuts: If you're actually giving any credence to a ninth-inning appearance on Feb. 24, you're in need of professional help.
4:24 p.m. -- You know what the only thing worse than a rain-delayed spring training game is? How about a rain-delayed, extra-inning spring training game. Ugh.
4:41 p.m. -- That's it. It's all over. This game ends in a 2-2 tie after 10 innings.