Another day, another game. Today, the Nationals faced division foe Atlanta Braves for the second time this Spring. Stephen Strasburg made his first appearance of the spring, going up against Kris Medlen. We got to see potential Opening Day starters like Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, Anthony Rendon, and Danny Espinosa. Unfortunately, the Nationals lost this game 8-4. Here are today’s good, bad, and ugly.
Ian Desmond had possibly the best performance by a Nat this Spring. In the first, Desmond got the first hit of the ball game with a double off the wall. Then after a single in the third, he stole second, making him 3-3 in steals this season. Then, in the fifth, Desmond went yard for his first home run of the spring. All in all, it was a good day for Ian Desmond.
Stephen Strasburg made his first start of the Spring, and did not disappoint. After getting Jason Heyward to fly out, Strasburg struck out B.J. Upton on a slider, a pitch he added to his repertoire this spring.
Then in the second, after giving up a hit to Justin Upton, Stras got Chris Johnson to ground into a double play.
Everything looked good, and according to Strasburg himself, everything felt good, too.
A.J. Cole continued his dominant Spring with two very strong innings, striking out two Brave batters without allowing a baserunner. In two appearances this Spring, Cole has struck out 4 batters in 4 innings, without allowing a run.
Taylor Jordan made his second appearance of the Spring today after looking very good against the Mets on Friday. He continued to look very solid in his first inning of work today, but struggled in his second inning of work, allowing 4 consecutive Brave batters to reach base to start the fourth, and two of them to score.
The Nationals who are competing for the starting second base job had a bad day today, and usually, they would be on the ugly list. Rendon and Espinosa combined for 0-6 with 4 K’s. So far this Spring, neither player has gotten a hit, and only Espinosa has been on base, by virtue of a hit by pitch.
In his first spring appearance, Drew Storen unfortunately looked like he did for most of last year. He started off the seventh inning with back to back walks. Then, after getting Dan Uggla to fly out, Storen gave up a two run double to Andrelton Simmons. While this was obviously just one poor performance, one has to wonder if his woes from last year will carry over to this year.
Mark Wiedmaier was brought in this offseason to become the Nationals “defensive coordinator”, a term more aligned with football then baseball. Today, we got our first look at what Wiedmaier maybe bring to the Nationals in the eight inning with the bases loaded and one out.
As you can see, the Nationals brought in the right fielder Stephen Souza Jr. to first so that they could have five infielders. But this plan backfired spectacularly when Phillip Gosselin lined a ball directly where Souza would have been playing in right, allowing three runs to score, and what would have been a run-scoring sacrifice fly turned into a bases clearing, game winning triple.
Luis Ayala is trying hard to make the Nationals very coveted last bull pen spot, but his chances took two hard blows today. First, the Nationals announced that they had signed LHP Mike Gonzalez to a minor league deal. Then, Ayala had a rough outing today. To start off the eighth inning, Ayala gave up back to back walks to Ernesto Mejia and Joey Terdoslavich. Then, Ayala gave up a single to catching prospect Christian Bethancourt to load the bases. After getting Tommy La Stella to line out to Jamey Carroll, Ayala gave up Gosselin’s go-ahead “triple”. While that play is more attributable to “interesting” defensive positioning, than a mistake by the pitcher, Ayala still had a rough day locating the ball.
The Nationals take on the Split Squad Mets tomorrow at 1:05 at Space Coast Stadium in Viera. Gio Gonzalez takes on Mets minor leaguer Jenrry Mejia. The game can be heard on Nationals.com through the Mets radio broadcast.