Thursday, March 4, 2010

"It can't get worse"

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nyjer Morgan went 0-for-4 in the Nats' 15-5 loss to the Astros.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Those were the words of Jason Bergmann following the Nationals' Grapefruit League opener today, a 15-5 shellacking at the hands of the Astros that wasn't easy on the eyes for anyone among the crowd of 1,742 at Osceola County Stadium.

Obviously, these games don't count for anything, and nobody's paying serious attention to the results. That said, I think Jim Riggleman and Co. would have preferred a slightly better showing for their exhibition debut.

Let's run through some players of note, with some analysis and quotes along the way...

GARRETT MOCK: No complaints here. The right-hander did what he needed to in his first outing. He threw strikes (13 of 21 pitches), let his defense do the work and didn't allow a run in his two innings on the mound. "I think it was a decent place to start out," he said. "I feel like I accomplished some of the goals I had set for attacking guys and inviting contact. But just like any other game, there's positive things to take from it, but there's also stuff to look at and take into my next outing." For example, Mock wasn't happy with the fact he opened the game with two straight balls to Michael Bourn (though he rebounded to induce a comebacker). Still, he wasn't going to make the rotation or get dropped out of the race based on today's game alone. I found it interesting that Mock said he's not concerned with numbers at all this spring. Really, he says he won't be concerned with numbers all season. "To be honest with you, I'm past looking at numbers," said the right-hander who went 3-10 in 2009. "There's been situations in the past where I haven't had great numbers and the team had a need and they felt like I could fill that spot. And there's been times I had great numbers and I couldn't fill that spot. Numbers, to me, are something you look at at the end of the season. So in October, that'll be a good time for me to check out some numbers. For right now, it's just a matter of keeping things simple and attacking guys. Tomorrow I have a different job to do. I've got to get ready for my next outing. I'm going to handle that then. Looking at the numbers, I'm not going to do that for a long time."

SHAIRON MARTIS: In a word: ugly. After cruising through his first inning, he proceeded to allow six runs on six hits in his next frame, recording only one out before getting yanked. "He just got a couple balls on the sweet spot," Riggleman said. On a day where a stiff wind turned routine fly balls to center and right fields into home runs, Martis was particularly hurt by several pitches he left up in the zone. Not the place this control artist wants to work. "It's early, but I've still got to work hard and focus on going low in the strike zone," he said. "I need to work on that."

DREW STOREN: Nice debut for the first-round pick. Picking up right where he left off last summer in the minors and last fall in Arizona, the reliever attacked the strike zone (seven of his eight pitches were strikes) and retired the side. He struck out Chris Johnson on a nice, 1-2 curveball. And he retired former Stanford batterymate Jason Castro to end his perfect inning. "It was fun," Storen said. "I didn't really try to think about who I was facing. I was trying to go in there, throw strikes and stay with my strengths."

MATT CAPPS, EDDIE GUARDADO AND JASON BERGMANN: The numbers don't look good -- they combined to allow six runs on nine hits and served up a homer a piece -- but each was victimized by the wind, and no one seemed particularly concerned about it afterward. "It was tough," catcher Wil Nieves said. "And when you keep the ball up, guys with power, they just put it in the air and there was a pretty good chance it was going to go out. ... It seemed like if we made a mistake, it went out. It's just tough to face good hitters with the wind blowing out."

Not too much to say about any offensive players today. Josh Whitesell had a pair of hits and drew a walk. Nieves had a single and two RBI. Roger Bernadina beat out an infield single, drew a walk, scored two runs and made a couple of nice plays in the field.

The story wasn't much better down in Jupiter, where the other half of the Nats' split-squad lost to the Marlins, 10-4. Starter J.D. Martin tossed two scoreless innings to get things started. Ron Villone couldn't find the strike zone, issuing three walks and a hit in one-third of an inning. Luis Atilano got smoked for four runs and five hits in one inning. Ian Desmond went 2-for-3 with a a double, a walk and a stolen base, started at shortstop and then moved to right field. Kevin Mench, brought over from minor-league camp for the day, homered.

That's all for now. The whole squad will rejoin tomorrow, hoping to put on a better showing against the Braves in the Happiest Place on Earth. Miguel Batista is slated to start against Derek Lowe.


Anonymous said...

Joe Beimel is still a free agent!

Anonymous said...

Matt Chico will turn things around for the staff!!

peric said...

Looks like JD Martin and Garrett Mock made a statement today. As did Desmond, Storen and Wilkie. Sure looks to me like these guys want to make the club ... perhaps that's why they brought in these veterans? To get the guys they know can perform to trot out their best stuff?

HabsProf said...

Well, who in the world is Atilano anyway? With the exception of Capps, the people we are counting on (or hoping for) came through: Mock pitched well, Martin pitched well, and Storen blew them away. Desmond hit well and Bernadina had a good day at the plate to accompany great work in the field.

Maybe throw Martis into the mix as a disappointment, but really, no one expects him to contend for a rotation spot this season.

Jim Webster said...

It can get worse -- and it has been worse. Marlins cleaned our clock 22-12 on March 7, 2006. Frank Robinson told Florida Today it was the worst he'd ever seen. I stopped keeping my scorebook after 5 innings with the Fish up 15-1. But I keep it as a souvenir.

markfd said...

Jim Webster -

I was at that game, I remember they ran out of numbers to use on the manual scoreboard because there were so many runs and hits. I also believe that day was very windy and the numbers kept blowing off the scoreboard...ah what fond Spring Training memories.

Dave said...

I was at the Marlins game, so let me give a few positive words, mostly about defensive plays.

Maxwell made an ESPN dive catch to save runs. I hope the guy can get on base because he fields well, and has power.

Harris at second and Bruntley at third made plays that were worthy of big applause (hard to say big applause at Jupiter; small crowds like at MIami)

J.D. Martin mowed down six pretty easily Ballester gave up the homer but was otherwise perfect.

On offense, Pudge hit the ball hard. So did Morse. Desmond got on base and ran well.

Running: Three SBs but both contested ones, the runners (Desmond and I forget) both ran in head first. So much for feet first training.

As for crowd: As thin as normal Miami crowds. I was wearing a Nats cap and saw two others. I'm sure there were more but this was behind the Nats dugout.

Anonymous said...

First game(s) out of the way, unfortunately with bad results. Martis, Atilano, Peralta, Guardado & Villone didn't do themselves any favors today, but nobody's going to start cleaning out lockers after one appearance. Let's see what the pitching looks like in another 7-10 days.


alm1000 said...

I was at that game in 06 also - I had blocked it out but when markfd mentioned the wind it all came back to me. It was funny watching the scoreboard guy chasing the numbers as they blew off.

Man I wish I was down there.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is-Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

"To be honest with you, I'm past looking at numbers," said the right-hander who went 3-10 in 2009.

Maybe Garrett Mock's IQ is higher than today's high temperature, after all.

Sam said...

I can get plenty worse. It could have been April, and this came could have actually counted. Fortunately for everyone involved, the score doesn't matter in games in March.

Andrew said...

Sam said...
I can get plenty worse. It could have been April, and this came could have actually counted. Fortunately for everyone involved, the score doesn't matter in games in March.

The first 2 innings were great though ;-)

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