Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Bo Porter and the Astros are back at Space Coast Stadium today.
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...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. HOUSTON ASTROS
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EST
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.