The New York Yankees very rarely travel from Tampa to Viera during Spring Training — they made the trip just once in 2012, and not at all in 2013. But today, the Yankees brought several of their regulars — starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia among them — on the two hour cross-state trip to Space Coast Stadium to take on Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals. Here now, the good, the bad, and the ugly of today’s 3-2 Nationals’ victory.
— Jordan Zimmermann’s impressive 2013 season (19 wins, 3.25 ERA, his first all-star appearance) all but ensured that he would never again be overlooked in the Nationals’ rotation. And so far this spring, he has done nothing to dissuade from thinking that his next season will be equally as impressive. Zimmermann threw four innings today, making 54 pitches, 37 of which were strikes. In that span, he struck out four, and did not allow a single baserunner.
In nine scoreless innings pitched for Zimmermann this spring, he has allowed just three hits and a walk, and struck out nine. Even if Spring Training stats don’t matter, those are some pretty impressive numbers.
— Anthony Rendon didn’t get a hit until his ninth at bat of the spring, striking out six times in those first eight at-bats. But in the 11 plate appearances since that first hit, Rendon has been scorching — 6 hits in 10 at-bats, a walk, a home run, and 3 RBI. Today, Rendon walked in his first at-bat, coming into score on a Wilson Ramos force out. Then in his second at-bat, with two outs and two on, Rendon roped a double into the left-field corner, scoring both runners:
— There’s a lot more to aggressive baserunning than simply stealing bases. Intelligent, aggressive baserunning also entails taking the extra base whenever possible and, as we saw today, successfully executing the hit and run. The Nationals put on the play twice today, and both times, it worked to a tee. With one out in the first, Anthony Rendon took off for second, forcing the second baseman to vacate his position. Jayson Werth placed a ball right into the newly created hole:
Rendon moved to third on the play, and came around to score later that inning. In the second, Tyler Moore came up with Danny Espinosa on. Espinosa headed for second, and Moore blooped a ball into left-center field:
— Drew Storen has now made three appearances on the spring, and in each of them, he has given up a run. Today’s outing was much better than the first two — Storen managed to strike out the side, and both his slider and changeup looked stronger than they did at many points last year. But with two outs, nobody on, and two strikes on Eduardo Nunez, Storen left a fastball right over the middle of the plate, which Nunez promptly banged into the right field corner for a triple. He then left a fastball up in the zone to the next hitter, Dean Anna, who pulled it into right field for an RBI single. Storen was one well-located fastball from a strong bounceback outing, but two mistake pitches turned a good outing sour.
— After Jayson Werth’s single to lead off the third, the Nationals had four hits and three runs in two plus innings. But in the next six, they would only manage one more hit (a Chris Snyder 8th inning single), and would not score again. Obviously, this is just Spring Training, when the regulars are long gone after the first several innings. But in the regular season, adding on runs will be essential — today, the Nationals watched a comfortable lead turn into just a one-run win.
Nate McLouth’s catch in the fourth inning:
The Nationals have another split squad day tomorrow, with one squad traveling to Orlando to face the Braves and another heading to Kissimmee to take on the Astros. Chris Young will start against the Braves, while Tanner Roark will get the ball against the Astros. Both games will start at 1:05 — the Nationals-Astros contest will be televised on CSN Houston and MLB.tv.