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Observations from Nats’ 5-4 win over Mets

Feb 28, 2014, 6:30 PM EST

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Spring training records mean nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Matt Williams knows this. So more than the fact his Nationals rallied late to beat the Mets, 5-4, in Friday’s Grapefruit League opener at Tradition Field, the rookie manager was excited about the way his team played.

The Nats made several nice plays in the field. They were aggressive on the bases. They executed in a couple of key spots. All points of emphasis this spring.

“It’s gratifying to put into practice what we’ve talked about,” Williams said. “[Jeff Kobernus] getting a really good read on the ball in the dirt, one. The way we wanna play the game. Ian (Desmond) stealing a base. So, that’s the kind of way we want to go about doing it. There’ll be times when the ball is flying out of the ballpark, and it’s going to be fun to just sit there and hit. But we’re gonna have to play that way, too. That’s gratifying. Regardless of win or loss, that’s the way we gotta play.”

Williams didn’t make too big a deal out of his inaugural game as a big-league manager. Beforehand, he was most concerned with where he’d stand in the dugout and whether he’d hold that position throughout or pace up and down.

The verdict? “No, wasn’t a pacer today,” he said. “I was pretty calm standing there.”

Some other observations from the game…

— Christian Garcia didn’t appear in any big-league games (regular season or spring training) last year, so the right-hander was understandably excited to take the mound for the fifth inning against the Mets. The results, though, weren’t pretty: four runs on four hits, including a two-run double by Cesar Puello and a towering home run by Ike Davis.

Both big hits came on changeups, something Garcia said he didn’t have much feel for and thus kept trying to perfect throughout the inning.

“I knew what I was making a mistake on,” he said. “So I was trying to make the adjustment, and I just didn’t make it within the inning and it cost me.”

Garcia, who dazzled in Sept. 2012, is trying to make his case for a spot in the Opening Day bullpen. This opening performance didn’t help his cause, but it’s way too early to make firm judgments.

“It’s the first one,” he said. “Get that one out of the way. I guess it can only get better from here. It can’t get any worse, hopefully.”

— Things did go very well for Manny Delcarmen, who tossed a scoreless eighth and struck out a pair of Mets. The veteran reliever was a big part of the Red Sox’s World Series-winning bullpen in 2007, and his experience could give him an upper hand if it comes down to a tough decision at the end of camp.

“He does have experience,” Williams said. “He’s been here before. So far, he’ss thrown the ball really well. I like how he looked today.”

— The Nationals rallied to win the game in the top of the ninth thanks to Michael Taylor’s RBI triple. The young center fielder has been lauded for his elite defensive skills, but he also showed he’s got some pop in his bat. The triple sailed to deep center field, allowing Taylor to show off his wheels as he legged out 270 feet with ease.

“I was really just kind of looking for a good pitch to hit, something up out over the plate,” he said. “I got ahead early and once it was 2-0, I just tried to stay with my plan, just look for something out over. I got it, and was able to get the barrel to it.”

— Jordan Zimmermann faces the Braves tomorrow in Viera. Doug Fister will start Sunday against the Marlins on Sunday. And away we go…

  1. David Proctor - Feb 28, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    “And away we go…”

    Music to my ears.

  2. natsfan1a - Feb 28, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    A little traveling music, Mr. S. Oh, wait. They’re at home tomorrow. Never mind.

  3. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 28, 2014 at 7:32 PM

    Tried to listen to the game on satellite radio (which we now have for the first time) and was disappointed that it wasn’t available. But glad to see a Curly W, even if it’s the Spring Training version.

  4. Don - Feb 28, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    The game is on MLB TV tonight at 9pm of you missed it earlier.

  5. scnatsfan - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:37 PM

    Wins aren’t important. But given the choice of winning or losing…

  6. scmargenau - Mar 1, 2014 at 12:27 AM

    Woot! So excited for baseball! GYFNG !!

    • nats128 - Mar 1, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      It wouldnt surprize me to see Karns turn into a good pitcher since it was the Rays making the trade. They scout very well the players they want. As long as the players the Nats received turn into productive players its all good.

      • Section 222 - Mar 1, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        Exactly. I’d actually like to see Karns and Robbie Ray turn into good pitchers for their new clubs. That would reflect well on our system and perhaps make teams even more interested in dealing with Rizzo. For me, it’s a good trade if Lobaton does well for us, even if Karns goes on to be a star. He wasn’t going to do that in a Nats uniform.

  7. Section 222 - Mar 1, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    Watched some of the broadcast last night. Fun to see some of our prospects (Skoke, Walters, Taylor particuarly) take some good rips. And it’s reassuring to hear that Garcia was “working on stuff.” I’d really like to see him return to form and be a force in our BP this year.

    How annoying to listen to the Mets broadcast team ramble, particularly as the game wore on. They could hardly be bothered to say who was batting. Did anyone hear their uninformed rant about the new home plate collision rule? Oy. It’s a shame because I enjoyed Ron Darling on MLB Network and feel like generally he’s much better now than when he was with the Nats.

    • David Proctor - Mar 1, 2014 at 10:24 AM

      I think the radar gun might have been slow. It had Taylor Jordan around 87 early on and it had Rafael Montero for the Mets at 89-90 when he throws mid-90s.

      • David Proctor - Mar 1, 2014 at 10:25 AM

        Woops. Responded to the wrong guy.

      • Sonny G 10 - Mar 1, 2014 at 3:29 PM

        I don’t know, but I doubt the pitchers really cut loose this early in the spring.

  8. Doc - Mar 1, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    I guess it might be attributed to ‘being early in ST’ but CGar’s FB was only 91-92.

    Could be that the competition for a job is between Walters and Espi, not lEspi and ARen. Walters really smoked a couple, while Espi didn’t do anything with the bat.

    The Mets’ announcers described Michael Taylor as an 80/80 fielding OF—-he looked like 80/80 at bat too!

    • DaveB - Mar 1, 2014 at 10:09 AM

      It may be that his FB was off some, but all the big hits against him were on 82/83 mph change-ups / hanging curves (and he threw a bunch of them) … It looked reasonable to me that he was “working on stuff”.

    • knoxvillenat - Mar 1, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      What is an 80/80 outfielder?

      • nats128 - Mar 1, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        80 point scale has him at the top of the range. Could never understand why it wasnt a 100 point scale.

    • Jb - Mar 1, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      Keep in mind that Walters did his smoking against Mets AAA pitching.

      • Doc - Mar 1, 2014 at 11:59 AM

        True, and Espi did his feeble ABs against ‘Mets AAA pitching’.

  9. ArVAFan - Mar 1, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    Take Spring Training games’ radar readings with a grain of salt. One, they aren’t always the most accurate, and Two, the pitch speed for all pitchers trends up during Spring Training (assuming normal progression). Now, if there’s a big difference between pitchers in the same game, or a pitcher’s “fastball” is still reading 85 by March 29th, that’s a different story.





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