Mar 20, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
VIERA, Fla. — As far as spring training matchups go, it doesn’t get a whole lot better than this: Stephen Strasburg vs. Max Scherzer, with a bunch of regulars in both the Nationals and Tigers lineups.
Strasburg, who last night was officially named the Nats’ Opening Day starter, makes his fourth appearance of the spring and is scheduled for five innings of work. He’ll be followed out of the bullpen by Ryan Mattheus, making his first appearance of the spring after getting delayed by a freak, upper chest injury.
It’s fairly interesting to note that Matt Williams has seven of his regular position players back in the lineup only 17 hours after they started last night against the Astros. You don’t find a whole lot of veterans playing day games after night games in the Grapefruit League. The only change from last night: Danny Espinosa starts at second base instead of Anthony Rendon.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back throughout…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. DETROIT TIGERS
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 1580 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 71 degrees, Wind 11 mph LF to RF
CF Denard Span
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
1B Adam LaRoche
2B Danny Espinosa
RHP Stephen Strasburg
2B Ian Kinsler
LF Tyler Collins
1B Victor Martinez
RF Don Kelly
C Alex Avila
CF Austin Jackson
3B Nick Castellanos
DH Trevor Crowe
SS Danny Worth
(RHP Max Scherzer)
1:06 p.m. — And we’re underway with a fastball from Stephen Strasburg to Ian Kinsler for strike one. There’s a pretty sizable brush fire off in the distance. I’d be worried except for the fact these things happen almost daily here.
1:11 p.m. — Well, in the book it’ll look like a 1-2-3 top of the first inning for Strasburg. Except, it wasn’t anything like a normal 1-2-3 inning. Denard Span flat-out dropped Kinsler’s line drive right at him. Can’t imagine what caused that, there are no excuses. Then came an even weirder play: a 6-4-3 double play in which the ball deflected off Ian Desmond’s glove, was barehanded by Danny Espinosa, who stepped on second and fired to first to complete the twin-killing. Victor Martinez then sent a routine flyball to left to end a very strange top of the first.
1:19 p.m. — Man, did Jayson Werth square up a ball off Scherzer in the bottom of the first. Drilled a double to the gap in left-center. Otherwise, nothing of note for the Nats in the inning.
1:26 p.m. — A nice top of the second for Strasburg, who struck out Don Kelly and Alex Avila looking at curveballs and then got Austin Jackson to ground out to short. Also interesting: The Nats employed the same shift on Avila that they used last night on a left-handed batter. It involves Ryan Zimmerman positioning himself basically where a second baseman usually stands, with Ian Desmond remaining at shortstop and Danny Espinosa moving to shallow right field. Definitely a Mark Weidemaier special.
1:41 p.m. — Strasburg allowed a bloop single to Nick Castellanos to open the third, but the Nats erased him by … get this … throwing him out trying to steal second! How about that? Still 0-0 as we go to the bottom of the third.
2:00 p.m. — And the Nats take a 3-0 lead with an explosion against Scherzer in the bottom of the third. Espinosa lined a sharp single to right, then took second on Strasburg’s sac bunt. Span then put together a fantastic at-bat against Scherzer, eventually sending a grounder up the middle for a single. Bobby Henley, meanwhile, waved Espinosa around and though the throw beat him to the plate, Espinosa made a nifty move to elude the tag and then dove back to the plate to score the run. Moments later, Desmond tattooed an 0-2 pitch from Scherzer over the wall in left-center, a 2-run bomb. So just like that, things looking up for the Nats.
2:25 p.m. — That cheer you just heard emanating from Space Coast Stadium wasn’t for Strasburg striking out Avila. It was Craig Stammen and Jerry Blevins finding out that their Dayton Flyers just beat Ohio State in the NCAA tournament. But seriously, Strasburg wrapped up a strong outing. He went 5 scoreless innings, scattering three hits and a walk, striking out five and recording only two flyball outs. Excellent stuff. For the spring as a whole, Strasburg has now allowed one run and 8 hits over 14 innings, striking out 10 while walking 4. Still 3-0 Nats in the middle of the fifth.
2:49 p.m. — Drew Storen entered for the sixth and wound up allowing a run, though it came via a soft double down the right-field line and a soft single up the middle that just eluded Espinosa’s reach. 3-1 Nats now as we go to the bottom of the sixth.
3:14 p.m. — Not a bad showing from the Nats lineup today. They put up five runs in 5 2/3 innings against Scherzer. Also, Ryan Mattheus just made his spring debut, and though he did give up a couple of rockets, he retired the side in the seventh and notched a strikeout. It’s 5-1 Nats at the stretch.
3:25 p.m. — And a 1-2-3 eighth for Michael Gonzalez, who struck out a pair. Ross Detwiler’s move to the bullpen would seem to leave Gonzalez on the outside looking in, but that’s not necessarily a fact. The Nats could ultimately keep three left-handers if they think that best helps the club.
3:50 p.m. — And that’ll do it. Nats win, 8-1.
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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