Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals face Bo Porter and the Astros tonight at Osceola County Stadium.
First, Young will take the mound this evening to face the Astros in what could very well be his final start for the Nationals. The veteran right-hander has progressively gotten better with each outing this spring, culminating with five scoreless innings last time out against the Marlins. We'll see how he handles Bo Porter's Houston squad tonight.
All the regulars are in the lineup for the Nationals. In fact, every position player still in camp besides Kurt Suzuki made the trip to Kissimmee for this one.
Updates to come, please check back...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. HOUSTON ASTROS
Where: Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee
Gametime: 6:05 p.m. EST
TV: MLB.tv (live), MLB Network (delayed at 3 a.m.)
Radio: Astros radio via MLB Gameday Audio
Weather: Sunny, 67 degrees, Wind 14 mph out to RF
CF Denard Span
RF Jayson Werth
LF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
RHP Chris Young
2B Marwin Gonzalez
3B Brett Wallace
1B Carlos Pena
LF Chris Carter
RF Fernando Martinez
CF Justin Maxwell
C Jason Castro
DH Rick Ankiel
SS Ronny Cedeno
(RHP Alex White)
6:07 p.m. -- And we're underway with a ball from Alex White to ... wait, who's the leadoff guy wearing No. 91 for the Nationals? That is indeed Denard Span, who apparently forgot to bring his regular No. 2 jersey with him on the trip. So he had to take whatever clubhouse manager Mike Wallace had available.
6:17 p.m. -- Span hasn't had a tremendous spring at the plate, but he has shown a good eye. He drew his 10th walk in 58 plate appearances, not a bad ratio at all. Unfortunately, Span was wiped out on a 4-6-3 double play by Jayson Werth. Bryce Harper then produced yet another hit to raise his spring batting average to .441, but Ryan Zimmerman was robbed of a line drive hit by Brett Wallace at third base.
6:30 p.m. -- A long bottom of the first for Chris Young, but he got out of it without any damage. He did issue a walk to Carlos Pena and allowed Marwin Gonzalez to reach on an infield single but also struck out Brett Wallace. Scoreless through one inning here.
6:44 p.m. -- Not the prettiest bottom of the second. Young plunked Justin Maxwell to start the inning. Then Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond had some miscommunication on a pop-up behind third base, with the ball falling harmlessly to the ground. Luckily, Zimmerman was able to still force Maxwell out at second base. Young then got a double-play grounder out of Rick Ankiel. So again, no harm, no foul. Scoreless through two.
7:00 p.m. -- Hey, if nobody wants to sign Young to pitch, maybe some NL club will want him as a bat off the bench. He just singled in the top of the third and has now reached base all three times he's stepped to the plate this spring. He even managed to go first-to-third on Werth's single, then scored on Harper's single to right. For those keeping track, that's Harper's sixth consecutive hit. He's now batting .450. Nats lead 1-0.
7:18 p.m. -- Wilson Ramos continues to swing a hot bat, lacing an RBI single to right in the top of the fourth. He's now hitting .321 for the spring and making a real case to be the starting catcher on Opening Day. 2-0 Nats.
7:29 p.m. -- The Astros get on the board in the bottom of the fourth, though it wasn't Young's fault. Harper dropped a shallow fly to left field after calling off Desmond and Span. So that's an unearned run, meaning Young has tossed nine consecutive scoreless innings, allowing only four hits during that time. Good stuff. Nats lead 2-1 heading to the fifth.
7:37 p.m. -- Harper with another base hit in the fifth, his seventh straight hit. A quick check of the Bryce-O-Meter now has him at a cool .459. And then LaRoche blasted his second homer in as many days. It's 4-1 Nats as Henry Rodriguez enters, thus likely ending the Chris Young Era in D.C. His line tonight: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 61 pitches, 38 strikes.
7:51 p.m. -- Well, that was quite the Henry Rodriguez inning of relief, wasn't it? His first pitch nearly went to the backstop, saved by Wilson Ramos. His third pitch nearly decapitated Rick Ankiel, who eventually walked. Rodriguez's first seven pitches all were balls, bringing Steve McCatty out to the mound. Yet after all that, H-Rod completed a scoreless inning: 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 1 Ankiel Life-Flash-Before-His-Eyes Moment.
8:23 p.m. -- Craig Stammen loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth but somehow escaped. I'd tell you how he did it, except my view was blocked by Orbit, the Astros' new mascot who decided to walk up to the press box window and pester me for several minutes. Fun times. I think it's still 4-1 Nats as we go to the seventh.
8:48 p.m. -- Just got back from the clubhouse. First, the news: Chris Young has filed paperwork to opt-out of his contract. But the Nats have 24 hours to put him on the roster or work out some kind of other deal, and Young is hopeful they might be able to get something done. Reading between the lines, my hunch is that he would be willing to go to Syracuse to start the season, but would want another opt-out date sometime early in the season if he's not called up. He seems realistic about the situation, so it still wouldn't be surprising if he signs elsewhere in the next 24 hours. Meanwhile, in the game, Stammen was roughed up in the seventh. He was charged with five runs on six hits. Drew Storen has now entered, with the Astros now leading 6-4.
9:21 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. Nats lose 6-4. J.C. Romero did make it in for his Nats debut and pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth. So that was good. So was Chris Young and the guys in the starting lineup. Craig Stammen, not so much.