Michael Morse stays hot, Livan Hernandez labors, Ross Detwiler relieves

If Michael Morse keeps hitting like he is, especially after the way he played last season, then the Nationals are either going to play him every day or have a very difficult time explaining why he isn’t.

Morse went 2 for 2 tonight with a monster two-run homer to center, a continuation of his absurd spring training. Morse is 12 for 25 with four home runs, two doubles and two walks, which looks like .480/.500/.1.040 as average, on-base and slugging.

There’s really not much new to this discussion of Morse playing well and stating his case for an everyday spot. Morse just keeps amplifying it.

“He’s really been like this from Day 1 of the spring,” Manager Jim Riggleman said. “He’s been outstanding. He just continues to do it. He’s really making a strong case for himself.”

>>> Livan Hernandez might be the only active pitcher who on March 11 would throw 77 pitches in three innings and then ask to go out for a fourth. But tonight, he said, that’s what he did. “My arm still felt good,” he said.

Hernandez’s results could not match his durability. He was hurt by a few shoddy defensive plays that were ruled hits, including a chopper that ate up Ryan Zimmerman and a couple misplays by Nyjer Morgan in center. But he also wasn’t his usual sharp self. Hernandez yielded three runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out.

The one thing Hernandez wants to work on in the bullpen, he said, was his inside fastball to left-handers, the one he throws at the hitter’s front hip that backs up over the corner. Tonight, it was dropping down, not darting back over the corner.

>>> Ross Detwiler had the first blemish of his still-strong spring, allowing six hits and two earned runs in four innings. Detwiler entered as a reliever to start the fifth inning, a function of the Nationals needing to find innings for all the pitchers in camp. The different warm-up was a challenge for Detwiler, who typically plays long toss before he pitches.

“It was just out of my routine, so it wasn’t something I was really used to doing,” Detwiler said. “But you never know what your role is going to be. That’s something I need to learn how to do.”

While admitting it was an obstacle, Detwiler did not the relief role as an excuse. He didn’t feel like he had the same stuff or command he had before tonight, when he pitched five scoreless innings of two starts.

“I fell into a lot of fastball counts, and threw a lot of fastballs that were turned around,” Detwiler said. “I didn’t have my offspeed. I threw a few good changeups in my fourth inning. If I had that earlier in the game, it would have been completely different.”

For the spring, Detwiler has still allowed two earned runs in nine innings while striking out 10 and walking one.

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.


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