Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nats vs. Mets - 3/20/12

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg faces the Mets tonight at DigitalDomain Park.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Stephen Strasburg is going to see plenty of the Mets over the course of this season and future ones, so might as well get used to facing New York's lineup here in spring training. Tonight, the presumptive ace of the Nationals' staff gets a chance to go up against Jason Bay, Ike Davis and others as the NL East rivals meet in Port St. Lucie. Strasburg wasn't great his last time out, getting hit around a bit by the Braves, so you would imagine he'll be motivated to put forth a strong outing tonight.

The Nationals' lineup features an interesting twist, something we could see from time to time this season: Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa all starting, batting 1-through-3 in manager Davey Johnson's lineup. Johnson believes he can get Lombardozzi 300 at-bats over the full season if he plays multiple positions, and one of those positions will be third base (with Ryan Zimmerman getting the occasional day off).

Johnson also acknowledged today he has considered giving Lombardozzi some time in the outfield. He hasn't spoken to the rookie infielder yet about it, but Johnson likens Lombardozzi to Ben Zobrist, the Rays' super utilityman who came up as a middle infielder but has seen considerable time in the outfield so far in his career. Certainly something to keep an eye on moving forward...

If you've got the MLB.tv online package, you can watch tonight's game live. If you've got the urge to stay up until 3 a.m., you watch it tape delayed on MLB Network. Everyone else can just check back right here as I provide updates throughout live from DigitalDomain Park...

Where: DigitalDomain Park, Port St. Lucie
Gametime: 6:05 p.m.
TV: MLB.tv (live), MLB Network (tape delayed at 3 a.m.)
Radio: None
Weather: Partly cloudy, 78 degrees, Wind 16 mph in from RF
3B Steve Lombardozzi
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
1B Mark DeRosa
C Wilson Ramos
CF Rick Ankiel
LF Brett Carroll
RF Roger Bernadina
P Stephen Strasburg

CF Andres Torres
2B Daniel Murphy
LF Jason Bay
1B Ike Davis
RF Lucas Duda
3B Justin Turner
C Josh Thole
SS Ruben Tejada
P Dillon Gee
6:20 p.m. -- We're underway here with Dillon Gee tossing a scoreless top of the first. Steve Lombardozzi flied out to right. Ian Desmond struck out looking at a borderline 3-2 pitch on the outside corner. Danny Espinosa drew a two-out walk, but Mark DeRosa flied out to center to end the inning. Stephen Strasburg now taking the mound for the bottom of the first.

6:30 p.m. -- Strasburg was kind of all over the place in his first inning. He didn't allow a run and put only one man on base, but he threw just seven of 16 pitches for strikes, issuing a one-out walk to Daniel Murphy (who then stole second). Stadium radar gun had Strasburg's fastball at 94-95. Scoreless after one.

6:35 p.m. -- The Nats go down 1-2-3 in the second, with Wilson Ramos grounding out to third and Rick Ankiel and Brett Carroll flying out to center.

6:44 p.m. -- Wow, nice job by Strasburg to avoid a flying shard of Josh Thole's bat and still field the ball and make the play at first base to end the second inning. Could've been a scary moment there. Instead, Strasburg retires the side on 17 pitches (12 strikes). He got Lucas Duda looking at a nasty 97 mph fastball on a full count. Total of 33 pitches, 19 strikes for Strasburg through two scoreless innings.

6:50 p.m. -- And now Strasburg (making the first plate appearance by any Nats pitcher this spring) smokes a hard chopper to second base, eating up Murphy and then beating the throw to first for a single. Not bad. Then again, Strasburg might want to work on his baserunning a bit. He nearly got his head taken off when Lombardozzi grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Never even attempted to slide, just kind of ducked out of the way. Still scoreless as we go to the bottom of the third.

7:04 p.m. -- Give the Mets credit for making Strasburg work so far, especially Murphy, who just battled his way through an 11-pitch at-bat before grounding out to end the third. Strasburg has put only two men on base (one walk, one chopped double past a lunging Lombardozzi) but he's thrown 56 pitches (35 strikes). He's got a couple of strikeouts through three scoreless innings. Still 0-0 here.

7:13 p.m. -- Desmond beats out a ball to the left-side hole for a leadoff single in the fourth, then steals second. But he's stranded there as Espinosa and DeRosa each strike out and Ramos grounds out to third. The Nats have two infield singles and a walk off Gee so far. Still scoreless.

7:20 p.m. -- Just about everyone in the ballpark thought Strasburg had closed out the fourth inning with a strikeout of Duda on a nasty curveball. Duda himself started walking back to the dugout. But plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt thought otherwise, and because of it, Duda got a chance to drill Strasburg's next pitch over the left-field fence for a solo homer. So the Mets take a 1-0 lead. Strasburg's line through four innings: 1 run, 2 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts. 70 pitches, 44 strikes. No bullpen action yet, so it looks like he'll return for the fifth.

7:35 p.m. -- That'll do it for Strasburg, who churned out five solid innings. His final line: 5 ip, 2 h, 1 er, 1 bb, 3 k, 85 pitches, 54 strikes. Much better than his last outing, though he wasn't perfectly in sync. Definitely seemed to get better and stronger with each passing inning.

7:52 p.m. -- Stop the presses! Ian Desmond has drawn a walk! That's his first base on balls of the spring, coming in his 36th plate appearance. Hey, better late than never, right? The Nats, however, squandered a two-out, bases-loaded rally when reliever Frank Francisco got Ramos to ground out to end the sixth. Mets still lead 1-0.

8:07 p.m. -- Bit of a rough sixth inning for Ryan Mattheus, who got two quick outs but then issued a walk, allowed a stolen base and then an RBI single to Ike Davis. Add a subsequent double and Mattheus was fortunate to get out of the inning without suffering more damage. Mets lead 2-0 as we go to the seventh.

8:22 p.m. -- Just when it looked like Henry Rodriguez was about to endure one of his not-so-good innings, the right-hander regrouped to induce a double-play grounder and complete a scoreless seventh. By all accounts, H-Rod has had a great spring and has avoided the kind of disastrous losses of control that haunted him at times last season.

8:30 p.m. -- Hey, a Jon Rauch sighting! The big guy just extended the Mets' combined shutout with a scoreless eighth. We should be seeing plenty of him this season as one of New York's setup men. We go to the bottom of the eighth, with Craig Stammen on to pitch and the Nats down to their last three outs.

8:39 p.m. -- We're in the ninth, but Strasburg is about to speak to us. So you won't see a final score update for a while.

9:11 p.m. -- Sure enough, the game ended while we were in the clubhouse talking to Strasburg. Final score: Mets 2, Nats 0. Full report on Strasburg's evening coming shortly, but here's the money quote from Davey about the young pitcher's better approach and command tonight: "He was hitting it in the fairway today instead of 400 yards into the rough."


JaneB said...

Oh, how sweet to have Mark live blogging it for us once more! Thanks, Mark!

Lombo, make your mark! Ian, get on base however you can. Nats, beat Dillon Gee!

JaneB said...

(little game time error there, but it's still ST)

Mark Zuckerman said...

Thanks, JaneB. Obviously tonight's game starts at 6:05 p.m., not 1:05 p.m.

Like most players who miss game action for two weeks down here, I need a little time to get back to 100 percent!

NatsJack in Florida said...

Hey Mark....with David Wrights injury aren't we looking at the 2012 Mets starting line up?

Anonymous said...

Espinosa in the clesnup slot--what a joke!

Anonymous said...

From the Post: "The Nationals’ plans to flee their spring training home in Viera for Florida’s west coast are gaining traction, with a move to Fort Myers growing more likely."
That would be City of Palms Park, just vacated by the Red Sox for their new park, "Fenway South," also in Fort Myers. COP Park has capacity of 7,000, while JetBlue (FS) has 11,000 (still sells out every game.)
The Twins are also in Fort Myers, and the Rays, O's and Pirates are fairly close.
Fort Myers is a beautiful city, but everything there would be more expensive than in Melbourne/Viera.
Serious negotiations are underway, the Post says. I was at JetBlue last Monday and there was a lot of talk about the Nats coming.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I stand corrected--it's DeRosa. Now I feel much better.

NatsLady said...

Got the email for my tickets-- scheduled for delivery March 26.... Will be holding my breath! (OK, maybe not holding it for six days.)

David said...

could Lombo play CF. i know from time to time this exact scenario has been brought up. but i forget what the consensus is? he is a great athlete. i think his instincts would be good enough for CF, reading the ball correctly etc. maybe that's how Lombo will reach 300 at bats?

UnkyD said...

Wow. Total audio blackout... Not even the Mets feed, on MLB...

Hondo69 said...

Just a reminder to everyone: tonight's game is on SNY live at 6pm. If you can't watch it live or get SNY (Ch. 639 on DirecTV), it is also being tape-delayed at 3am on MLB Network.

UnkyD said...

Weird, tonite.... I don't see a comment, since 6:13.... Wonder if a dozen will pop up, when I publish this.....

P. Cole said...

Does anybody know the probably starting pitchers for the rest of the week, especially Saturday @ the Orioles?

LoveDaNats said...

And Strassie's the one with the hit?

David said...

and Strasburg gets his first hit of the spring....

Sunderland said...

I don't know what has been announced, but it looks to me like they are lining them up, Stras, Gio, Zinn, Ejax and so perhaps Lannan Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Very conncerned with team not improving. Espinosa K's AGAIN!

Exposremains said...

I know its still spring but I haven't seen anything that tells me that this team will be better offensively. Can anybody give something so I feel more optimistic.

Anonymous said...


Matt Stairs is gone.

That's the best I can do for optimism.

The "new" left-handed Espinosa looks a lot like last year's model.

HHover said...


Baseball Prospectus projects the Nats to score 704 runs this season, vs 624 last season.

Don't know how much that'll do for you, but it's something, I guess.

LoveDaNats said...

We need guys who hit.

m20832 said...

Morse isn't healthy, RZimm isn't playing. Werth isn't in the lineup. There's your offense.

Don't want to beat a dead horse, but Fielder would have come to Washington.



Dead Horse said...

Don't want to beat a dead horse, but Fielder would have come to Washington.

Stop beating me!!!

sjm308 said...

85 pitches! He is ready right now and we still have two weeks. Can't wait to hear the negative spin on this one. My half full glass just got a little more ice in it!!

Exposremains said...


The negative spin is that the Nats couldn't score for him, he's in line for a loss

Anonymous said...

At this rate it's 1970's record all over again. Way to many holes in this lineup.

A DC Wonk said...

OK -- I have no facts, or even specific recollections to back this up -- just a vague recollection (you know, it comes with the territory of getting older ;-) -- but:

Doesn't it seem familiar for Stras (or, perhaps another of the younger pitchers, or both?) the the ump misses a called strike three, th epitcher gets distracted and/or loses concentration, and on the next pitch, the batter does damage?

Am I remembering right?

(If so, it's a good spring training lesson for Stras)

A DC Wonk said...

At this rate it's 1970's record all over again. Way to many holes in this lineup.

Wanna bet?

Dead Horse's Wife said...

He's gonna beat you off all night

Anonymous said...

Another Loss, Should Davey Just quit now? LOL

David said...

C Brown will get a hit that leads to a run, and maybe we can get Stras a no decision.... Just a prediction :-)

Anonymous said...

You guys are the typical fans. Love them until they lose. I have seen fans from many teams thru the years on blog sites. You hate all the older players. You can only talk about Harper. Who? You most likely sat the bench in school. For once back your team.

UnkyD said...


(boy... Some mouth on that dead horse's wife, huh?)

SBrent said...

Thanks Hondo! Your timely reminder has me watching my first baseball game of the spring in hi-def on SNY. Benefit for being up here in NYC.

Wally said...

Just tuned in to MLB.tv to see HRod pitch the 7th (already was 1 out). Walked a guy, then got a DP. He faced some guy named Johnson, first pitch FB, then a slider which had the guy so locked up and scared it was a FB coming at him it made me laugh.

Of course I say that, but there is no way that I would get in the box against him. They also mentioned that HRod had the highest FB average velocity in the majors last season 98 mph).

Looking forward to the regular season.

Wally said...

Hey SteveM - are you out there? Can you share the Lannan rumor that you had, now that a few days have passed?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'd leave her mouth out of it before this blog gets an R rating!

gonatsgo said...

Wow - just got in and the game is about over already. I checked gameday and I have no idea who some of these players are that are apparently on our team. Glad to see Stammen get an inning - always had a soft spot for him.

Anonymous said...

Well - no offense tonight, but no errors either and Ian drew a walk. How much koolaid is in your glass tonight?

LoveDaNats said...

@anon at 8:16
You can still love a team and be disappointed with the offense on any given night.
Stammen looked decent.

sjm308 said...

Not only do I love the team, I love the game of baseball and the fact that it can be 1-0 one night and 8-7 the next. Its 162 games and you never know what you are going to see.

All this angst and yet its DC, we have a team that has improved each year for the last 3 and I am thinking this will be a great season.

Lots of people will go to bed with their glass half empty tonight with the lack of offense but I look at SS, HRod, Desmond with a hit and a walk and my glass stays half full.

Go Nats!!

(and our tickets arrived but my guy didn't call until tonight!) Life is good!!

Natalicious said...

Man we had some pathetic guys on the field at the end of this game. Pathetic. Are we really this shallow as a team?

C.Cohen said...

Relax people, no need to panic yet.

I'm not going to pretend that desmond and espi at the top of the order couldn't cause problems, or that ankiel and bernadina could be a real liability when we face a team with decent left handed pitching.

But as for tonight... Granted no offense. But if you take the 3-4-5 hitters out of the lineup for almost any team in the league, they are probably going to struggle to score runs (see: no zimmerman, no morse, no laroche).

In the mean time, it's good to see the guys work on fundamentals and different approaches on the mound and at the plate.

LoveDaNats said...

Some of those guys were A and AA guys.

JaneB said...

Desi did well tonight, you guys, He did.

NatsLady, our tickets were to be delivered on March 26, but they went a lot faster and we should have them tomorrow, I think. SO keep an eye on the tracking.

I love baseball.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

It's an L. Go get 'em tomorrow.

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