Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals host the Mets today at Space Coast Stadium.
Davey Johnson has almost all of his regulars in the lineup. That includes Ryan Zimmerman, who is once again DH'ing. I talked to Zim this morning about his progression in the field, and he said everything remains on course for him to debut at third base on Monday. He's doing the full pregame routine now, and from what I saw this morning, he looks perfectly normal out there.
Jordan Zimmermann takes the ball for his fourth start of the spring, his first since a ragged outing against the Cardinals in which the right-hander was dealing with some "dead arm" issues. He hopes to put that behind him today.
There's another split-squad Nationals team playing in Kissimmee today against the Astros, with Ross Ohlendorf on the mound. This game's on the radio, and I'll have plenty of updates and analysis here all afternoon, so please check back...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. NEW YORK METS
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EST
Radio: WHFS (1580 AM), MLB Gameday Audio
Weather: Partly cloudy, 67 degrees, Wind 17 mph out to RF
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 Chad Tracy
(RHP Jordan Zimmermann)
CF Collin Cowgill
3B Jacob Turner
1B Ike Davis
RF Marlon Byrd
LF Lucas Duda
C Travis d'Arnaud
SS Omar Quintanilla
2B Brian Bixler
RHP Matt Harvey
1:08 p.m. -- And we are underway from Viera with a fastball from Jordan Zimmermann to Collin Cowgill for strike one.
1:21 p.m. -- Well, that turned into quite a laborious top of the first for Zimmermann, though it wasn't entirely his fault. Chad Tracy couldn't handle a chopper to his right (it was scored a hit but could've been an error) and then we saw the rarest of the rarities: A routine grounder right through Adam LaRoche's legs. That error brought home two runs and further prolonged the inning. By the time it ended, the Mets scored two runs and Zimmermann racked up 30 pitches.
1:35 p.m. -- Sweet Fancy Moses, is Bryce Harper crushing the ball or what? He just destroyed a pitch from Matt Harvey over all the signage in right-center field for a three-run homer, his third of the spring. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's only spring training. Still, Harper is now batting .455 and slugging .848. I'd say he's ready to get the season started. Nats lead 3-2 after one.
1:44 p.m. -- Much better stuff from Zimmermann in the top of the second. He retired the side, striking out a pair. Still 3-2 Nats as we move to the bottom of the second.
1:57 p.m. -- More good stuff from Zimmermann in the third. He's now retired seven in a row (three via strikeout) since the shaky top of the first. There's no radar gun readings here, so it's tough to say whether he's completely over the dead-arm issue. Through my untrained eye, he certainly looks fine. Still 3-2 Nats.
2:03 p.m. -- Eh, maybe this Harper kid needs some more seasoning after all. He struck out to lead off the bottom of the third, lowering his spring training batting average to .441. What a bum.
2:16 p.m. -- Both pitchers have settled into a nice groove now. Zimmermann has retired 10 of the last 11 he's faced, allowing only a two-out single to Omar Quintanilla in the fourth. Harvey, meanwhile, has retired seven in a row, four on strikeouts. It remains 3-2 Nats as Zimmermann re-takes the mound for the top of the fifth.
2:33 p.m. -- A two-out walk to Lucas Duda in the top of the fifth brought Captain Hook out of the dugout and Zimmermann out of the game. Craig Stammen entered and immediaely gave up an RBI single to Marlon Byrd but otherwise escaped the inning unscathed. So Zimmermann's final line is: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER 2 BB, 6 K, 82 pitches, 54 strikes. He looked pretty sharp, especially after that laborious first inning. It's now 3-3 heading to the bottom of the fifth.
2:38 p.m. -- Meanwhile in Kissimmee, Ross Ohlendorf allowed four runs on five hits and three walks in three innings. The Nats and Astros are tied 4-4 in the bottom of the fourth.
2:42 p.m. -- As we move to the sixth, Kurt Suzuki has taken over behind the plate for Wilson Ramos. This was the second time Ramos has caught five innings this spring, and the plan is for him to continue to increase his workload until he's ready to go the full nine.
2:56 p.m. -- Mass changes for the Nats in the top of the seventh, including Drew Storen on the mound after 1 1/3 scoreless innings from Stammen. It's still 3-3.
3:04 p.m. -- Storen had some trouble in the seventh, falling behind several hitters. One of them, Collin Cowgill, crushed a 2-0 fastball to left-center for a solo homer that was perhaps a bit wind-aided but nevertheless was well-struck. So the Nats now trail 4-3 at the stretch.
3:24 p.m. -- While the rest of the world is being introduced to the new pope, Tyler Moore smacks an RBI single to right in the bottom of the seventh, tying this game 4-4. Harper then delivered another RBI single, this one to left field bringing two runs home (one on an error). And then Zimmerman finished off the rally with an RBI single to center. The Nats lead 7-4 and Zim is now hitting .474 for the spring.
3:29 p.m. -- A 1-2-3 inning of relief from Ryan Mattheus preserves the 7-4 lead for the Nationals as we move to the bottom of the eighth.
3:47 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. The Nats win 8-5.