Mar 24, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
JUPITER, Fla. — Tanner Roark made his final case to win the No. 5 starter’s job yesterday. Today, it’s Taylor Jordan who gets his chance to make one last positive impression on the Nationals before they decide who will open the season as the final member of their starting rotation.
Jordan has had an up-and-down spring, allowing 18 hits in only 13 innings but also posting a staggering 16-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. We certainly saw glimpses of what he could be last summer as a rookie; the question now is whether the Nationals believe he’s ready to do it consistently at the big-league level.
There aren’t a whole lot of regulars on today’s trip, but Denard Span and Wilson Ramos are in the lineup. Danny Espinosa gets another start at shortstop (his ninth of the spring) and the three guys still in the mix for the final spot on the bench (Tyler Moore, Jamey Carroll, Jeff Kobernus) all are here trying to make a final push.
It has been raining off and on all morning, and there’s a chance of more precipitation this afternoon, so we’ll see if the game begins on-time … or at all. Check back for updates…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. MIAMI MARLINS
Where: Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: MLB.com (Marlins’ feed)
Weather: Chance of storms, 78 degrees, Wind 9 mph in from CF
CF Denard Span
2B Jeff Kobernus
RF Nate McLouth
C Wilson Ramos
SS Danny Espinosa
LF Scott Hairston
1B Tyler Moore
3B Jamey Carroll
RHP Taylor Jordan
LF Jake Marisnick
CF Christian Yelich
RF Giancarlo Stanton
1B Garrett Jones
C Jarrod Saltamacchia
2B Jeff Baker
3B Casey McGehee
SS Adeiny Hechavarria
RHP Tom Koehler
12:38 p.m. — Your weather update: The tarp is off the field, the grounds crew is preparing the infield and Taylor Jordan is beginning to loosen up. Looks like the game will start on-time.
1:07 p.m. — And we are underway, on-time, with a light drizzle falling. Tom Koehler starts off Denard Span with a fastball for strike one.
1:21 p.m. — The good news: The Nationals’ first four batters all reached safely in the top of the first (Span and Jeff Kobernus singled, Nate McLouth doubled down the right-field line and Wilson Ramos drew a walk). The bad news: They only scored one run out of all that, because Span was picked off first base by Koehler. McLouth’s double, though, was an impressive hit, and Kobernus sped around the bases and scored without even drawing a throw, flashing his speed. So it’s 1-0 Nats as Jordan takes the mound.
1:31 p.m. — Giancarlo Stanton, you may have noticed over the years, absolutely owns the Nationals. But not Taylor Jordan today. The fearsome Marlins slugger stepped to the plate with one out and a man on third just now, only to whiff mightily at a pitch from Jordan. Impressive. Despite allowing a leadoff double to Jake Marisnick, the right-hander made it through the inning unscathed, so it remains 1-0 Nats heading to the second.
1:46 p.m. — A 1-2-3 bottom of the second for Jordan, who needed only seven pitches to retire Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jeff Baker on groundballs and Casey McGehee on a flyout to right. 1-0 Nats going to the third.
2:02 p.m. — Jordan allowed a leadoff single to open the third, but then he buckled down and stranded Adeiny Hechavarria in scoring position by striking out Christian Yelich. Three scoreless so far for the young right-hander, who has looked good.
2:21 p.m. — Pitchers’ duel here at Roger Dean Stadium. Jordan has gone four scoreless, allowing only two hits without issuing a walk. Koehler, meanwhile, has settled down since the first inning and has tossed four scoreless since then. Still 1-0 Nats.
2:32 p.m. — Big day for Nate McLouth so far. He doubled in a run in the first, drew a walk in the third and just crushed a homer to right to lead off the sixth. The veteran outfielder has single-handedly given the Nats a 2-0 lead.
2:56 p.m. — Jordan finally started to a hit a wall in the sixth, allowing a single to Yelich and then an RBI double to Stanton. He was pulled after going 5 2/3 innings, allowing only the one run on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts. He finishes the spring with a 3.92 ERA. Honestly, there wasn’t all that much difference between Jordan and Roark this spring. I think the decision comes down to whether the Nats would rather have Roark in the bullpen over the other guys in the mix for that final spot. If so, he goes to the pen and Jordan is the No. 5 starter. If not, Roark is the No. 5 starter, Jordan goes to Syracuse and Aaron Barrett/Xavier Cedeno/Michael Gonzalez is the last man in the bullpen. 2-1 Nats after six.
3:13 p.m. — Make it 3-1 Nats after Tyler Moore ropes a double down the left-field line and later scores on Denard Span’s fielder’s choice. Craig Stammen, meanwhile, is back out to the mound after replacing Jordan in the sixth. Ooh, and guess who has entered the game for the Nats in left field: Will Piwnica-Worms!
3:40 p.m. — A scoreless inning of relief from Ross Detwiler, who is still getting used to the whole bullpen thing. He looked good there in the bottom of the eighth, protecting the Nats’ 4-1 lead.
3:52 p.m. — Nats win. 4-1 final as Aaron Barrett closes it out.
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