The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Spring Training Day 10 (Cardinals v. Nats)

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in both Viera and the District of Columbia, the Washington Nationals took on the St. Louis Cardinals at Space Coast Stadium.  Stephen Strasburg took the mound for the Nationals in his second start of the spring, facing young Cardinals’ starter Joe Kelly and a lineup filled largely with reserves.  The Nationals put together a superb offensive performance against Kelly and the Cardinals’ relievers, putting up 11 runs on 15 hits in an 11-1 victory.  Here as always, the good, the bad, and the ugly of today’s game.

THE GOOD

Wilson Ramos sure knows how to hit a baseball. In the bottom of the third inning, he took an 0-2 off-speed pitch from Joe Kelly and snuck it into left field for an RBI single:

ramos single

Then in the next inning, Ramos somehow elevated a low pitch, hitting 390 feet to the opposite field:

ramos double

The prowess he’s displayed at the plate in Spring Training (and he’s also looked good on the bases) makes one imagine the possibilities for Ramos if he manages a full, healthy season.

Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa are currently engaged in an open competition for second base, and right now, both are playing well enough to make a good claim for the spot.  Rendon batted leadoff today, and did this to a Joe Kelly curveball in his first at-bat:

rendon hr

He also added a single to lead off the fourth inning, capping a 2-3 day.  Meanwhile, Espinosa went 2-3 with a run scored.  This competition might just go down to the wire.

— Stephen Strasburg was solid in his second start, but the real stars on the mound were the pitchers who followed him.  Matt Purke, Drew Storen, Craig StammenChristian Garcia, and Luis Ayala went a total of 6 scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and walking none.  Garcia was particularly impressive in his appearance, striking out the side in a dominant inning of work.  Garcia, Storen, and especially Purke have struggled thus far in the spring, so today’s results were particularly encouraging.

THE BAD

Eury Perez’s chances at making the major league club this year are slim, and today’s game does those chances little good.  Perez got the start and went 0-3, leaving five men on base, including grounding into a 5-3 double play with the bases loaded in the second.  However, before this game, Perez had acquitted himself quite well, compiling four hits in ten at bats, while playing strong defense in seven games.

THE UGLY

— Honestly, this game featured very little ugly for the Nationals.  Out of the starting lineup, only Perez and Nate McLouth failed to get a hit, and McLouth drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.  Strasburg struggled with command in the first inning, but manage to minimize the damage, and looked sharp in his next two innings.  The rest of the Nationals’ pitchers shined — it was a good day.  Enjoy this near-flawless performance, Nats fans, because we’re unlikely to see many more of them this spring.

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