Twenty-four hours after putting up 10 runs against CC Sabathia, Joba Chamberlain and a host of lesser New York Yankees pitchers, the Nationals managed just two measly hits against Atlanta Braves hurlers Tommy Hanson, Cristhian Martinez, Jonny Venters, Jairo Asencio and Arodys Vizcaino in a 5-0 loss in front of 6,250 fans at Space Coast Stadium.
(True, it's not as if those pitchers are slouches. Hanson, 24, is the Braves' probable No. 4 starter. Venters, 25, is the top lefty in their bullpen, and may share some closer's duties. Martinez, 29, struck out five of the seven batters he faced. And Vizcaino, 20, is the seventh-rated prospect in the Braves' farm system, according to Baseball America.)
The Nationals' only hits were singles by a pair of players most likely ticketed for Class AAA Syracuse -- Laynce Nix and Brian Bixler. Bryce Harper was also robbed of a hit on a sinking liner to left by Braves left fielder Jordan Schafer.
Both teams also dealt with the generous strike zone, particularly on the outside corner, of home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. "There were a lot of called strikes, taken strikes," Riggleman said. "So [the pitchers] must have been on the edges pretty good. When you're taking that many fastball [for] strikes, they must have been hitting their spots real good."
Riggleman has gone to great lengths to express his confidence in leadoff man and center fielder Nyjer Morgan, but an 0 for 3 on Sunday left Morgan with an .062 batting average (1 for 16) for the spring.