Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals are back at Tradition Field this afternoon.
We'll also see Roger Bernadina making his first start of the spring in center field. The Shark, fresh off a 20,000-mile journey around the world during the WBC, made a fantastic catch late in yesterday's game, so he doesn't appear to be rusty at all. Espinosa, meanwhile, will get a rare start at shortstop. (Johnson plans to use him there this season if Ian Desmond needs a day off.)
Gio Gonzalez gets the start, his first against a big-league team since he mowed down the Puerto Rican lineup in the WBC (he faced minor-leaguers last time out). Like Stephen Strasburg yesterday, this will be Gonzalez's final full-scale tune-up before the season begins; he'll get one more start next week, but he'll be capped at about 70 pitches.
[UPDATE AT 11:40 A.M. -- Lineup change for the Nats: Bryce Harper was scratched after getting jammed on a pitch yesterday. His left thumb is swollen. Davey said it's not serious and that Harper will be back in the lineup tomorrow. Carlos Rivero will start in his place.]
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. NEW YORK METS
Where: Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie
Gametime: 1:10 p.m. EST
TV: MLB.tv (live), MLB Network (delayed at 12 a.m.)
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM)
Weather: Partly cloudy, 84 degrees, Wind 15 mph out to LF
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Danny Espinosa
1B Tyler Moore
3B Chad Tracy
C Wilson Ramos
LF Carlos Rivero
2B Steve Lombardozzi
RF Micah Owings
LHP Gio Gonzalez
CF Collin Cowgill
2B Justin Turner
RF Marlon Byrd
1B Ike Davis
C John Buck
LF Lucas Duda
3B Zach Lutz
SS Ruben Tejada
RHP Rafael Montero
1:10 p.m. -- We are underway on a warm afternoon in Florida. 87 degrees as Rafael Montero fires his first pitch to Roger Bernadina.
1:15 p.m. -- Clearly the Nats are missing Bryce Harper's bat today. OK, I kid, though you do have to assume he wouldn't have grounded into a 5-4-3 double play the way new No. 3 hitter Tyler Moore did to end the top of the first. The good news: Danny Espinosa lined another single to right field. He's really been swinging the bat well over the last couple weeks, a good sign.
1:23 p.m. -- A solid bottom of the first from Gio Gonzalez. He did allow a two-out double to old pal Marlon Byrd, who it appears is going to be the Mets' Opening Day right fielder(?!), but got a couple of groundball outs and then benefited from some perfect defensive positioning on Ike Davis, who lined out directly at left fielder Carlos Rivero to end the inning. 13 pitches, 8 strikes for Gio. Scoreless after one.
1:41 p.m. -- Oh those leadoff walks, they'll get you every time. Gio issued a free pass to John Buck to open the bottom of the second and paid the price for it. After Lucas Duda singled to right, advancing Buck to third, Zach Lutz lofted a sacrifice fly to deep center. That puts the Mets up 1-0 after two, with Gonzalez having through 34 pitches, 19 strikes.
1:59 p.m. -- A nice sliding catch in left field by Rivero to end the third. He's had a very nice spring, and the Nats clearly like him. But because he's out of the options, the club is worried it's going to lose him via waivers. Gonzalez, meanwhile, has pitched well and is through three innings on 42 pitches, 25 strikes. Still 1-0 Mets.
2:18 p.m. -- Gonzalez cruising along now, having retired five straight. He struck out back-to-back hitters in the fourth on curveballs, catching both John Buck and Lucas Duda looking. 59 pitches, 35 strikes after four.
2:28 p.m. -- Micah Owings with the rare, 350-foot single off the left field wall. He swings a hefty bat, but he's not exactly the fleetest of foot. Nats still getting shut out through five, still down 1-0.
2:31 p.m. -- Somebody named Francisco Soriano is now playing shortstop for the Nationals. Your guess is as good as mine.
2:35 p.m. -- And the previously unknown Mr. Soriano was right in the thick of the action in the bottom of the fifth. He snagged a hard line drive for one out, then while trying to throw the ball around the horn fired it into the bullpen. Moments later, he scooped up a grounder and then fired low to first base for an error. Guess we know the scouting report on him now: Good glove, questionable arm. Still 1-0 after five.
2:53 p.m. -- That'll probably do it for Gio today. He's through six innings, having allowed one run on four hits and a walk, striking out three. He's at 85 pitches, 51 strikes. All in all, a solid tune-up start for the lefty. The Nats still haven't plated a run against Mets pitching today. Still 1-0 after six.
3:10 p.m. -- High drama in the top of the seventh as Soriano (wearing No. 1) lofts a sac fly to left to score Lombardozzi (also wearing No. 1) to tie this game at 1. The Nats then loaded the bases for noted power threat Jerad Head ... who struck out on a check swing. You can cut the tension with a knife here. 1-1 at the stretch, Drew Storen now entering.
3:37 p.m. -- Sorry for the lack of updates. Wireless internet went down in the press box here. But it's now 3-1 Mets after Storen allowed a solo homer to Lucas Duda in the seventh and Zach Duke allowed an RBI single in the eighth. J.C. Romero now warming, but the inning just ended, so it doesn't appear he'll pitch today unless the Nats rally and force the bottom of the ninth.
3:50 p.m. -- That'll do it. The Nats lose 3-1, so no J.C. Romero today. He did look fabulous warming in the bullpen, though.