Thursday, March 14, 2013

Nats vs. Astros - 3/14/13

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Bo Porter and the Astros are back at Space Coast Stadium today.
VIERA, Fla. -- Davey Johnson has wanted his regulars to begin getting more playing time, and today nearly all of them will get an opportunity to start back-to-back games for the first time. This is essentially the same lineup as Johnson fielded yesterday, except for Steve Lombardozzi at third base instead of Chad Tracy.

Among those going back-to-back is Wilson Ramos, who caught five innings yesterday and is scheduled to do the same today. The only remaining hurdle for Ramos in his return from ACL surgery will be to play a full, nine-inning game. Johnson suggested today that neither Ramos nor fellow catcher Kurt Suzuki is likely to do that for another week or so.

Today is Ross Detwiler's turn to pitch, but with the lefty in Miami with Team USA, Chris Young will again get the nod for the Nationals. Young was a bit erratic in his first start, so he'll be seeking some more consistency this time out. Each one of the right-hander's outings is significant at this point, because he can opt out of his contract on March 24. If he pitches well, you've got to think there will be a couple of major-league clubs interested in his services.

Plenty of updates and analysis to come, so please check back often...

Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EST
TV: None
Radio: WHFS (1580 AM), MLB Gameday Audio
Weather: Partly cloudy, 59 degrees, Wind 17 mph out to CF
CF Denard Span
RF Jayson Werth
LF Bryce Harper
DH Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
3B Steve Lombardozzi
(RHP Chris Young)

SS Marwin Gonzalez
1B Brett Wallace
LF Chris Carter
DH Carlos Pena
CF Justin Maxwell
RF Rick Ankiel
C Jason Castro
3B Matt Dominguez
2B Jake Elmore
(RHP Alex White)

1:06 p.m. -- And we're underway with a strike from Chris Young to Marwin Gonzalez.

1:12 p.m. -- Well that was ... well, not very good. Gonzalez launched Young's fourth pitch of the day over the right-field fence for a leadoff homer. Appeared to be a high fastball, but we'll see what Young has to say afterward. Moments later, Brett Wallace skied a routine flyball to right field and Jayson Werth flat-out missed it. Can't blame the sun, which is behind him here in Viera, but the wind may have been a factor. Anyways, Young got out of the inning without any more damage and even struck out Carlos Pena. So it's 1-0 Astros as we go to the bottom of the first.

1:27 p.m. -- That's one way to atone for a Little League error. Werth blasts his first homer of the spring in the bottom of the first, a shot to deep left-center on Alex White's 3-2 pitch. Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, meanwhile, continue to make solid contact, though Harper was robbed of a base hit up the middle by White (who made a nifty play on a comebacker). Zim then stroked a double down the left-field line to raise his spring training average to .500 (10-for-20). It's now 1-1 after one.

1:38 p.m. -- Better stuff from Young in the top of the second, though he did commit a cardinal sin: He walked Rick Ankiel. That's not easy to do. Otherwise, Young was solid, striking out Jason Castro and then retiring the bottom of the Astros' order. It remains 1-1 moving to the bottom of the second.

1:52 p.m. -- And the Nats take the lead in the bottom of the second thanks to three singles by Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos and Steve Lombardozzi. Danny Espinosa also sent a deep drive to right-center that was caught at the base of the wall. Seems to continue to be swinging the bat well from the left side of the plate. 2-1 Nats after two.

2:04 p.m. -- Bryce Harper leaps at the wall to take a hit away from Justin Maxwell to end the top of the third. Funny, a couple years ago, that was Maxwell out there doing that. Times have indeed changed around here. Still 2-1 Nats in the middle of the third.

2:13 p.m. -- Another double for Zimmerman, his second of the day. He's now hitting .524 this spring. Yes, .524.

2:34 p.m. -- How about that, Wilson Ramos beats out a grounder deep into the hole at shortstop. That was about as good a test of his knee as he's had this spring. He's out of the game after four innings, though so are several other starters, so I don't think it's a response to that play. That'll do it for Young, as well. His final line: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 72 pitches, 43 strikes. Kind of like last time, there were some good things and some bad things from the right-hander. Will be interested to hear what he has to say about it. The Nats still lead 2-1 as we go to the fifth.

3:01 p.m. -- Couple of scoreless innings for Zach Duke, who is settling in nicely to his long relief role. Still 2-1 Nats in the middle of the sixth.

3:17 p.m. -- Whoops, Rafael Soriano's first blip of the spring. The veteran closer, who had made three scoreless appearances prior to today, just gave up a leadoff single to Brandon Laird in the top of the seventh, then served up a 2-run, opposite-field homer to Nate Freiman. Just like that, the Astros have taken a 3-2 lead on a blown save of sorts by Soriano.

3:28 p.m. -- Could be a long year for Bo Porter and the Astros. They just let the Nats load the bases without a ball leaving the infield. Then Micah Owings brought everyone home with an opposite field grand slam off John Ely. Nats take a 6-3 lead in the seventh.

3:53 p.m. -- A scoreless inning for Henry Rodriguez, though he did walk one batter and allow a stolen base. Also struck out one. Still 6-3 Nats in the bottom of the eighth.

4:05 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. Tyler Clippard closes out a 6-3 victory. The Nats improve to 9-8-2 for the spring.


A DC Wonk said...

from a few threads ago (as I slowly work myself out of winter hibernation...)

Rendon and Harper have 2 different swings, different leverage, extension. Harper is so strong.

I will tell you that in all of my years of watching hitters that I've never seen a player like Harper that throws his hands at the ball like he does. His bat speed gets an exponential boost in the last 10 inches of his swing by doing that.

I said it last year, I'll say it again. That vicious swing does remind me of one other player I saw as a youngster: Willie Mays. (I was the youngster when I saw him, not Mays!) I was always amazed at how fast the bat went, how much power, and yet could still hit .300+

(starting to come out of winter hibernation . .. ;-) )

MicheleS said...

Seriously as a fan I want to .. UGH..

James Wagner‏@JamesWagnerWP
Rodriguez said his elbow hurt for 1.5 years, maybe two. Thought it was part of pain of pitching. “I feel like new."

MicheleS said...

Wonk.. you have been missed...

NatsLady said...

Line-up looks familiar.... :)

Got new-posted on this. Final grades for the Nats' lefties. Looks like we could go into the season with just Zach Duke.

Lefty contest - Final Grades

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

MicheleS said...
Seriously as a fan I want to .. UGH..

James Wagner‏@JamesWagnerWP
Rodriguez said his elbow hurt for 1.5 years, maybe two. Thought it was part of pain of pitching. “I feel like new."

March 14, 2013 12:17 PM

Pain is one thing as many athletes play with pain. Glad his pain is gone. He throws 100 mph so it wasn't affecting his Velo as he threw 100 the beginning of this year. I don't think you can blame the pain on his accuracy as he has had the bouts of wildness much longer than 1.5 years, maybe 2.

Theophilus T. S. said...

Elbow pain for a year and a half doesn't explain a lifetime of being as wild as a March hare. Frankly, I don't believe him.

NatsLady said...

If you want some good laughs, the Mariners videos are out. There is a funny one with Mikey Morse.

M's Promotional videos

MicheleS said...

NatsLady.. even the out takes are hilarious

UnkyD said...

MicheleS said...
Seriously as a fan I want to .. UGH..

James Wagner‏@JamesWagnerWP
Rodriguez said his elbow hurt for 1.5 years, maybe two. Thought it was part of pain of pitching. “I feel like new."

Theophilus T. S. said...
Elbow pain for a year and a half doesn't explain a lifetime of being as wild as a March hare. Frankly, I don't believe him.
MichelleS: as a fan, I say WooooHoooo!!! With that behind him, maybe he becomes a weapon, so lethal, we'll be required to register him with the police :)

And Theo.... I'm concerned. You seem to be going all "Eeyore" on us. This is the happiest time we've had, as Nats fans! Turn da frown up-side down, Brudder! I'll bet you that if any one if us was to drop a slice of jammy bread on the floor, it would land face up... Smile with me.... My Boy HRod is about yo become the FOURTH A-list closer on this roster!!!

UnkyD said...

Hi, Charlie!! Hi, Dave!!!

MicheleS said...

UnkyD.. all the antacids, bourbon and Maalox we have had to take over the last 2 years..... I hope you are right.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Chris Young's start needs to hit the erase button on that tape.

Are there re-do's in Spring Training since these games don't count?

Anonymous said...

When the ol' ball coach is watching, all these games count.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

UnkyD said...
Smile with me.... My Boy HRod is about to become the FOURTH A-list closer on this roster!!!

I agree with Michele, I hope you're right.

I've always known HRod could bring the Cholula Hot Sauce but except for a few outings of dominance he has been one of the most inconsistent parts of this Nats team since he arrived.

I think he also has used up his 9 lives. Fairly certain of that.

Theophilus T. S. said...

UnkyD -- Sightings of "Good Henry" occur as regularly as Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorje. The only saving grace of the most recent apparition is that there is no obvious candidate to replace him on the 25-man roster. The Nats can treat him as a Rule 5 draft pick.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

JWerth trying to take out a windshield!

Steady Eddie said...

Ghost -- given that HRod is still on the roster and looks likely (at least as of now) to be on it on Opening Day, I would amend that to say he's used up eight of his nine lives. Down to fish or cut bait time.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Theo, I actually agree with your last comment. There is just nobody stepping up to grab that last spot in the bullpen. I don't think HenRod has earned it rather moreso that he has no options remaining and gets it by default. It would be a tougher decision if Abad or Bray really impressed.

Steady Eddie said...

MicheleS -- agreeing with you and UnkyD, but I don't think a winning team gives you any pass on the need for bourbon and Maalox. Even the best team will lose 60+ times, with plenty of raw nerves on the many wins, too.

In fact, probably MORE bourbon and Maalox games as there are fewer games where they will be entirely blown out and non-competitive.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Steady Eddie said...
Ghost -- given that HRod is still on the roster and looks likely (at least as of now) to be on it on Opening Day, I would amend that to say he's used up eight of his nine lives. Down to fish or cut bait time.

March 14, 2013 1:23 PM

OK, 8 of his 9 lives but even if Henry disappoints, there has to be someone better to replace him with. Abad, Bray, Kimball, Garcia, etc.

The only other 2 choices I see is if Rizzo makes a trade or they fear losing Young on an opt-out would cause them to make Young the long man in the pen.

Rizzo in an interview today when asked who his 6th starter would be didn't even name Young as his 6th starter. He specifically named Duke, Stammen, Karns or another Minor Leaguer.

Maybe Lohse goes un-signed a few months longer.

NatsLady said...

Here is a short article where the author compared hitters' results in ST with regular season results. He concluded,

"... there is no meaningful connection between spring training statistics and the subsequent regular season statistics for hitters. Even after looking at three different offensive metrics the highest correlation we have is with slugging percentage at just .052."

Spring training

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Ryan Zimmerman now batting exactly .500 in the Spring. He is hitting it hard everywhere.

Avar said...

Over/Under on HRod release date of May 1st...anyone?

Steady Eddie said...

Avar @ 1:36 -- answer unclear, ask again later.

Agree with Ghost that he's there by default and the post-surgery hope/possibility that he'll regain at least some of his late 2011 PFB form.

But just saw on GameDay: Rick Ankiel walks.

So anything is possible.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsLady, that seems to support that most veteran players will play back to their career stats and their ST numbers aren't very indicative of what's to come.

I, on the other hand am hoping that Bryce Harper hits over .400 BA [WINK] and Espi follows his better mechanics and approach into the regular season!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Steady Eddie, Rick Ankiel will make the Houston roster. He will start hot and make some great throws in the outfield...then go into a long and agonizing slump.

I've seen that movie played over many many times.

Tcostant said...

Lets look at the positive, Young now more likely to accept a minor league stint.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Avar, interesting over/under. I just see nobody poised to step up. Best chance looks like Christian Garcia getting healthy.

I would say if Garcia is ready to go I would take the under.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Tcostant, I hope you are right on Young accepting a AAA deal.

NatsLady said...

Rick Ankiel will be helpful to Bo with all those young players. How much he produces on the field pretty much won't matter, but he can coach on positioning, how to get jumbs, which base to throw to, etc. As long as he's not a hitting coach...

NatsLady said...

If Young is this year's John Lannan that would be fine. I just don't see Perry cutting it, and Maya, well, we all know Maya....

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

From the last post, re Rendon: Just wondering, Rendon would have the same "keep him in the minors for a month or so, or else lose a year later" contract issue that Harper had last year, wouldn't he? Not that he's in AAA because of it, just wondering.

John C. said...

Sec. 3, Rendon is subject to the rule the same way that all other rookies are subject to service time rules for free agency. I am dead. flat. certain. that had nothing to do with this demotion though. He hasn't proven to be able to stay healthy the last couple of years, and he needs to learn how to play positions other than third base so the team knows its options. Most importantly, there's simply no place to put him. He's not replacing any of the three guys with Silver Slugger awards, and even Espinosa is playing well this spring. And it does no good at all for Rendon to sit on the bench.

Now, check back with me in 2014 and service time issues may become more important at that point.

Tcostant said...

Spring training move?

NatsLady said...

Clip and Storen on the radio this morning. (about 8 minutes into the clip, er, segment). Drew is the union player rep and Clip is the alternate. Bryce was on the radio, too, but he has more y'knows than I can take... :)

Clip and Storen

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Sec, yes, but there isn't a position for Rendon. Yes, by the end of April you buy another year but it also means 4 years of arbitration.

sjm308 said...

I am in the Unkyd camp on this and not because of his guitar playing!

I realize HRod drives us crazy with a great performance one game and something worse than horrible the next. BUT... if he can control his emotions and his pitches he really does give us that 4th plus plus relief pitcher and makes this bullpen one that might go down as the best ever!

It's funny that I don't think about things like family but I like him even more knowing he has a wife and kids. I am sure he is not the lone ranger on this but I wonder how much support the Nationals give to players that do not speak English as their first language?

Go Nats!!

NatsLady said...

Grand Slam for Micah Owings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NatsLady said...

So, Pena and Maxwell both stole 2B while Duke was pitching. Luckily Ankiel struck out--for a change.

UnkyD said...

What are we gonna do with Micah?

NatsLady said...

Maldonado getting a year's worth of baserunning in one game. Gonna miss them Astros in the NL.

Tcostant said...

Who do I need to talk to to get this at Nats Park:

Scott Margenau said...

I'm starting to like Micah!! What to do?? Trade to DH team?

natsfan1a said...

sjm, on a related note, when I read that I found it rather comforting because I imagined they may have been a source of moral support and perspective for him during the rough times.

It's funny that I don't think about things like family but I like him even more knowing he has a wife and kids.

natsfan1a said...

Cheer him?

UnkyD said...

What are we gonna do with Micah?
March 14, 2013 3:36 PM

Drew said...

Two takeaways from today's game:

1. As Pope Francis would say: Sweet Fancy Moses, Micah Owings can hit.

2. Looks like Nats Jack has a sunburn.

SonnyG10 said...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...
...I don't think you can blame the pain on his accuracy as he has had the bouts of wildness much longer than 1.5 years, maybe 2.
March 14, 2013 12:23 PM

Even HRod agrees with you, Ghost. He said as much in the article.

baseballswami said...

I have noticed that some of you have been enjoying Seattle's commercials. I lived out there for many years and they have a long history of quirky commercials. My absolute favorite was Randy Johnson as a knife thrower in a circus, throwing knives all around his catcher 's body. Seeing these new ones brings back good memories- the Mariner's were the first team for my children back in the Kingdome. Wishing Morse a great experience there. Great city.

Doc said...

Span and ALR-Garcia are now sub-Mendoza Line with their Dead Bat Syndrome.

Senior Mendoza would be pleased.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

Micah Owings will be in Syracuse ready for the first goon to get injured.

baseballswami said...

Doc- I think Lombo may be residing 'neath yonder line also.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

SonnyG10, thanks for that. Charlie and Dave talked about Henry also in his ups and downs.

MicheleS said...

Tcostant.. you can get those bacon taco shells at Champs

Laddie Blah Blah said...

Micah Owings - another Rizzo coup.

Rendon will be up earlier than most here believe, if I correctly read Rizzo's presser yesterday. He has a way of telegraphing what he intends to do, and it's got nothing to do with "reps" in the minors for Rendon. Danny is having a good ST, but he had a good one last year, too, and actually started out the first week or so of the season with as many walks as Ks.

Based on that I predicted a breakout year for him last year, and he immediately reverted to type. Even if he plays up to the potential so many see in him, he will never be half the player Rendon is, right now.

Ryan played in all of 68 games in the minors before he was brought up, for good, in 2005. Rendon has played 43 games in the minors and another 22 in the AFL, or a total of 65 games in the minors and the AFL. He doesn't need any more reps, now, than Ryan did in 2005. He is more ready now than Ryan was then.

Injuries? Please. Does RZ have to prove he can get through a year without injuring himself, yet again? Ramos? Werth? ALR? Span? That's more than half the starting team that has missed extended time just during the last 2 years because of serious injury. Desi missed a month last year with hamstring problems, and Espinoza came into camp and is playing with a torn rotator cuff. That leaves Harper as the only starter without a recent history of injury, and most of those injuries were serious, other than Desmond's.

Rizzo will bring Rendon back as soon as there is an opening after he serves enough time to avoid the Super 2 bogeyman. You cannot keep the most talented hitter on the team down on the farm.

Micah Owings has been the best bat off the bench, hands down, and the more reps he gets, the better he hits. What will Mike do? Good question. I wonder if Mike knows yet, himself. As usual, he has plenty of options.

Doc said...

Correctomundo, Swam!

Lombo has shown less stick than Rivero!

ALR is reportedly a late bloomer at the start of a season, but his current average looks like he won't be blooming at all.

Span, I'd be worried about too. He seems to be getting more than his share of K's.

Section 222 said...

That's a really perceptive post Laddie. Thank you. The argument that Rendon has to prove he can play a full season without injury before he can play in the majors has always bothered me, and thanks to you I now know why. It makes no sense. Kudos.

Rendon is going down because this team is stacked, and because, as with Harper, you don't want to lose a year of control by putting him on the 25-man too soon. (I don't think Super-2 status is of that much concern with someone of his talent, just as it didn't prevent Rizzo from bringing up Harper.) But when there's a spot for him in the infield, or even on the bench, because of injury or lousy performance, I think you're right that we'll see him in DC. In a WSOB season, you're not going to leave one of your best bats in the minors if he can help the team.

baseballswami said...

Doc- conventional wisdom in MLB is that the AL is the tougher league. I scoff at that as I have watched NL pitching and defense dominate the last two all star games and World Series . I worry about Span facing NL East pitching , especially the first series with each team. Ultra tough pitching that is new to him. We need him to get on base. I hope Eckstein and the veterans help him get up to speed.

JD said...

Laddie and 222,

I disagree with the comparison to Zim and subsequent conclusions. When Zim was coming up he started out in A ball and dominated each level on the way to the majors and the Nats were a crappy team that needed a big time prospect so he was fast tracked to the majors.

Harper is a consensus - once in a generation talent; not my opinion; every baseball person's opinion.

Rendon has yet to dominate at any level and there is a strong young player at every position he could conceivably play. Should he go down to AA and dominate (he didn't last year) he may earn a promotion to AAA which is exactly what happened with Harper but Rizzo is certainly not benching Espinosa in April to play Rendon and Rendon is not coming up to be a utility infielder.

JD said...

Oh and Harper would not have come up in April last year were it not for the injuries to Morse and Zim.

NatsNut said...

With all due respect Laddie, you're saying all those injuries are the signs that these great players, except Desmond and Harper, are on the brink of career-ending catastrophes and that this is the reason RENDON is just waiting in the wings to take over? Rendon, who has practically been injured since high school? He's good but I think that's a bit of a stretch.

Doc said...

Lots of us have speculated that Rendon comes up when Zim goes to 1B.

If ALR keeps at his current pace, that might come sooner than later. Not sure Rizzo would want to keep somebody on the bench at $12mm and counting.

There's always injuries, like Desi being out for a month last year, Zim being on the DL, and of course we haven't seen Espi complete a full month of competition with his rotator cuff.

One thing that struck me recently is how the scouts and Rizzo had the cojones to draft Rendon, when other teams were passing on his injured status. Clearly, this guy had all the qualities of being #1 in the Draft.

I remember Davey saying last season, that Rendon had a swing that could hit at any level.

MicheleS said...

Outside of 2011, Hasn't ALR always been the most consistent player? Seriously, you all are ready to dump a GG/Silver Slugger 1B for a kid that has yet to play 50 MINOR LEAGUE games.

Agree with NatsNut Sorry, that's just way to much of a stretch.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, sure---that was months ago. How's he been when the games don't count, huh?

MicheleS said...

Thank you Sofa

Mac said...

LaRoche is ultra-consistent defensively, for sure. But they hated him in Pittsburgh (and still boo him there) because he had a habit of not getting going at the plate until the season was well along. He put up good numbers there, but he never started until the team was already out of contention.

NatsJack in Florida said...

As someone who watches Spring Traiming closely, Adam LaRoche's head is still in a tree stand in Kansas.

He will start hitting around May 1st or when ever Davey kicks him in the ass.

baseballswami said...

I thought maybe he got off to a great start last year because his time off had left him refreshed and his rehab had him in the best shape of his life.

sjm308 said...

Wow - probably won't get any responses because of the new post but I can't believe people are jumping on a veteran like LaRoche because he is not hitting in SPRING TRAINING!! And, while we are at it, lets bring up a kid who has not had a full season of baseball the last 3 years and play him at a position that he has not played, replacing a young man who is a tremendous defensive player and has shown no problems so far with his shoulder. Yep, just what we need to do.

Sometimes I just shake my head.

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