Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jordan Zimmermann and the Nats host the Braves today at Space Coast Stadium.
So it'll be quite a challenge for Jordan Zimmermann, not to mention Kris Medlen, as each right-hander makes his penultimate start of the spring. Zimmerman is coming off a fantastic, six-inning outing against the Tigers and looks poised to open the season on a strong note.
All the regulars are back in the Nationals' lineup, including Bryce Harper, who said his jammed left thumb is still sore but not enough to keep him from playing. He planned to take BP wearing a rubber ring around the thumb that many players use for cushioning, but he was worried it wouldn't be comfortable and figured he probably wouldn't use it in the game.
Plenty of updates to come, please check back...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EST
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM)
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 27 mph RF to LF
CF Denard Span
RF Jayson Werth
LF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
SS Andrelton Simmons
RF Jason Heyward
LF Justin Upton
1B Freddie Freeman
2B Dan Uggla
3B Juan Francisco
CF Reed Johnson
C Matt Pagnozzi
RHP Kris Medlen
1:06 p.m. -- We're underway on a brutally windy Sunday afternoon. Jordan Zimmermann fires strike one to Andrelton Simmons.
1:09 p.m. -- A nice and tidy top of the first for Zimmermann. Though he issued a one-out walk to Jason Heyward, he got Justin Upton to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
1:25 p.m. -- If Bryce Harper's thumb is barking, it sure didn't look like it during his first at-bat today. He laced a base hit to right off Kris Medlen, then stole second and forced a wild throw from catcher Matt Pagnozzi that brought home a run. Adam LaRoche later added an RBI single, putting the Nats up 2-0 after one.
1:43 p.m. -- They certainly struggled to do it last year -- as did pretty much everyone -- but the Nats are finding a way to hit Medlen around this afternoon. They've already got three runs on five hits through two innings, with Jayson Werth providing his own RBI single in the bottom of the second to score Danny Espinosa. The inning would have continued but Kurt Suzuki was thrown out trying to score. A questionable decision by Trent Jewett to wave him around, and not the first questionable decision Jewett has made in the third base coaching box this spring. 3-0 Nats after two.
2:02 p.m. -- What did I say earlier about getting a ball into the air toward left field? Espinosa just found out, sending an opposite-field, line drive over the fence and toward Cape Canaveral. That three-run homer puts the Nats up 6-0 on Medlen after three innings. Zimmermann, meanwhile, has faced the minimum through three. He has recorded 27 outs since surrendering his last base hit: the first batter of his last start. That's pretty good, no?
2:14 p.m. -- And of course as soon as I mention that, Zimmermann goes out and gives up three hits in the fourth. The Braves get on the board, but Jordan redeems himself with a nifty 3-6-1 double play to end the inning. Nats now up 6-1 heading to the bottom of the fourth.
2:37 p.m. -- Make it a 3-for-3 day for Harper after he laces an opposite-field double to open the fifth. Raise that spring training batting average to .431. Still 6-0 after five innings.
2:47 p.m. -- If Espinosa is planning to try out for the Harlem Globetrotters, he picked the wrong time to audtion just now. I'm not sure why he did it, but Espinosa tried to flip the ball behind his back to Desmond at shortstop when he probably had enough time to do it the conventional way. Anyways, that error wound up leading to two Braves runs. So it's now 6-3 in the middle of the sixth.
2:57 p.m. -- Espinosa atoned for the defensive gaffe in the bottom of the sixth, roping a double to left-center for his third hit of the day. He's now hitting .333 for the spring and certainly seems to have put the concerns about his shoulder to rest. Now 7-3 Nats as Ryan Mattheus enters for the seventh. Jordan Zimmermann's final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 85 pitches, 55 strikes.
3:06 p.m. -- Tornado warning issued in the area. These two teams continue to play, though, not even bothering to turn on the stadium lights. Wonderful.
3:11 p.m. -- Adam LaRoche laughs in the face of tornadoes. Two-run, opposite-field homer in the bottom of the seventh. The Nats now lead 9-3.
3:20 p.m. -- And we're now in a delay at last. Can't imagine they'll resume this one.
3:48 p.m. -- This game has officially been called. Nats win 9-3 in seven innings.