Mar 23, 2014, 10:23 AM EST
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — It’s going to be a warm Sunday afternoon at Tradition Field, where the temperatures are supposed to climb into the upper 80s. So it’s only fitting that the battle for the final spot in the Nationals’ rotation begins to heat up today, with Tanner Roark getting perhaps his last chance to make a case to win the job.
Roark gets the start against nearly the entire Mets regular lineup, a good test for the young right-hander. Taylor Jordan starts tomorrow against the Marlins, so Roark would certainly like to put forth a strong outing today and perhaps put some pressure on Jordan before he takes the mound tomorrow.
Most of the Nationals’ regulars are here as well, with a little different look to the lineup today. Bryce Harper hits second, with Ian Desmond down in the 6-spot where he’s had so much success the last two seasons. They’ll be facing right-hander Jenrry Mejia first, then old pal John Lannan, who is battling for a spot on the Mets’ roster, either as their No. 5 starter or out of the bullpen.
Updates to come, so please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. NEW YORK METS (ss)
Where: Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MLB.tv (Mets’ feed)
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 82 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to RF
2B Jamey Carroll
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
C Jose Lobaton
CF Nate McLouth
RHP Tanner Roark
SS Ruben Tejada
2B Daniel Murphy
3B David Wright
RF Curtis Granderson
CF Chris Young
1B Lucas Duda
LF Andrew Brown
C Anthony Recker
RHP Jenrry Mejia
1:11 p.m. — And we’re underway with a strike from Jenrry Mejia to Jamey Carroll. 86 toasty degrees at gametime.
1:26 p.m. — High drama in the top of the first as Bryce Harper is thrown out trying to steal second, only to have Matt Williams challenge the call. After a review of approximately 1 minute, 30 seconds, the call indeed was overturned, making Harper safe. That paid off, because Harper took third on a wild pitch and then scored on Ryan Zimmerman’s infield single up the middle. Nice job by Williams to get his first-ever call overturned. It’s 1-0 as we go to the bottom of the first.
1:34 p.m. — A 1-2-3 bottom of the first for Tanner Roark, but it wasn’t exactly clean from a defensive perspective. Zimmerman and Desmond each had shaky throws to first base, with Zim pulling LaRoche off the bag (he still made the tag) and Desmond bouncing one in the dirt (LaRoche picked it). Not so good there by either guy.
1:48 p.m. — Remember Bryce Harper’s ill-advised, 320-foot throw yesterday? Well, he just made a much-more advised throw here and was rewarded for it. After failing to make a leaping catch at the wall in the left-field corner, Harper tracked down the ball in the Mets bullpen and then fired a strike to nail Chris Young (the outfielder, not the pitcher) trying to stretch the hit into a triple. Impressive. Or, as Matt Williams will probably say later: “Wow. Right move. And wow.” Also impressive: Roark, who notched a couple of strikeouts on curveballs in the bottom of the second. Still 1-0 Nats.
2:01 p.m. — Though he allowed that double to Young, Roark has faced the minimum through three innings now. He got three groundballs in the third, making a nifty play himself on a high chopper over the mound to complete the frame. The right-hander has looked sharp so far as we move to the fourth.
2:18 p.m. — He’s allowed a couple of hard-hit balls, but Roark has nonetheless faced the minimum through four innings. He’s mostly keeping the ball on the ground and has looked in complete control throughout. He’s certainly done all he can to merit a spot on the roster.
2:41 p.m. — The Mets have been starting to hit the ball harder with each passing inning against Roark. He gave up just one actual hit in the fifth, an RBI single by Andrew Brown, but Lucas Duda crushed a ball deep to left that looked like it would’ve gone out if not for the wind blowing in. Looks like Roark will return for the sixth, but he may not have much left in the tank. It’s 1-1 and look who’s entering from the Mets’ bullpen … John Lannan! Sounds like he’s going to make their Opening Day roster as a reliever.
2:48 p.m. — And Lannan retires the side on nine pitches, getting Carroll and Werth to fly out and Harper to rap a bunt toward second base, where Daniel Murphy made a nifty throw to get Bryce by a step. Still 1-1 as Roark returns for the bottom of the sixth.
2:56 p.m. — That’ll do it for Roark, who is pulled with two outs in the sixth and his pitch count at 73 (49 strikes). His final line: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. He has certainly made himself a case to make the Opening Day roster, whether as the No. 5 starter or out of the bullpen.
3:05 p.m. — Ian Desmond has absolutely smoked the ball a couple of times today. Doesn’t mean anything in the big picture, but there you go anyway. Still 1-1 at the stretch as Drew Storen enters.
3:17 p.m. — Not a good afternoon for Storen. He entered and immediately walked Wright on four pitches, then served up a towering home run to Granderson. Storen’s total spring pitching line: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 6 BB, 5 K, 1 HBP. That’s not good. Then again, he was awful in spring 2011 and wound up having a great season. As I’ve said before, relievers are the toughest guys to evaluate each spring. It’s 3-1 Mets now.
3:48 p.m. — That’s it. Nats lose 3-1.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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