Lost in yesterday’s fracas – or maybe just overlooked by this writer – was the actual, you know, game. The Nationals, in a 7-2 victory over the Cardinals, played their best baseball in more than a week, snapping a seven-game losing streak as Livan Hernandez pitched five strong innings, the bullpen fired four scoreless and the Nationals’ offense beat up on Chris Carpenter, tagging him for four runs in the fourth inning on a walk and four hits.
Hernandez, who could be looking at disciplinary action from the league after he admitted to hitting Colby Rasmus, pitched in his first major league spring game in a while, having made his last start in a minor league ‘B’ game. Hernandez allowed two runs on six hits and three walks, firing 50 strikes in his 83 pitches while striking out one. He’s got one more start before he pitches opening day.
The best indication Hernandez appears ready for the season came in his confrontations with Albert Pujols. The best hitter in the game went 1 for 3, the lone hit a single that he had to reach for down and away and dump in center field. When Hernandez is making hitters go get the ball on the outside corner, he’s doing what he does best.
The Nationals’ offense gave a strong showing against the Cardinals’ ace. Adam LaRoche went 2 for 3 with a walk and also made an absurdly good diving play and throw from his knees in the field. Spring training stats may not mean much, but LaRoche’s .368/.455/.474 slash line carries more significance for him than it would another player.
LaRoche is an infamously slow starter – he’s hit .211/.304/.396 in 582 regular-season plate appearances in March and April during his career. If he can carry his spring success into the season and replace his worst month with a decent one, it would drastically affect his numbers by the end of the season.
Brian Broderick, Doug Slaten and Sean Burnett combined for four perfect innings in relief. Burnett has still yet to allow an earned run or a walk this spring this 7 1/3 innings. Broderick has allowed one earned run in 12 2/3 innings – that’s a 0.71 ERA – on six hits and two walks. “He can’t do anything more to this point than what he’s done,” Manager Jim Riggleman said.
FROM THE POST
Barry Svrluga writes the devastating, beautiful story of former Nationals closer Chad Cordero, trying to make it back to the minors after he lost his baby girl to SIDS.
The Nats and Cardinals got testy during a spring training game yesterday.
Cody Ross and the Giants want people to doubt them, Sheinin writes.
Boz chatted yesterday.