8:29, BOT 8: The Braves took the lead back against Ryan Matthues. Jordan Parraz drilled a leadoff homer. After an infield dribbler led to a hit, Luis Durango ripped an RBI single to left center with one ou. It’s 6-5, Atlanta.
8:16, TOP 8: The Nats took a 5-4 lead and the bench competition cranked up. Brett Carroll, Chad Tracy and Jason Michaels consecutively smacked hits. Carlos Maldonado, who’s strictly Class AAA depth, smoked an opposite-field, ground-rule double. Mark Teahen walked to load the bases, but Perez struck out looking.
8:04, END 7: Tom Gorzelanny, once again, wriggled out of a jam, this time with help from a great play from Eury Perez. The first two Braves batters reached, and then Gorzelanny induced a fly ball to right field. Perez settled under the ball, lining behind it so he could create momentum toward third base. He made a quickly release and a strong, one-hop to third, gunning down Drew Sutton. With two outs, Gorzelanny whiffed Freeman, getting two swing-and-misses. Gorzelanny has allowed five baserunners in three innings, but he’s also got five strikeouts and hasn’t allowed a run.
7:57, MID 7: Harper led off with a walk off Randall Delgado. He moved to second on Jesus Flores’s infield single. When Mark Teahen flied to center, Harper aggressively tagged up and bolted to third without even drawing a throw. But two pop-ups stranded him on third. Still 4-3, Braves. Harper now out of the game in favor of Brett Carroll.
7:47, END 6: Another good job by Gorzelanny after an early rough patch. Hewyard led off by slamming a double off the right field wall. He struck out David Ross, got a comeback from Luis Durango and struck out Simmons swinging to end the inning. Good performance by him so far. Bryce Harper to lead off the seventh.
7:36, END 5: Nice recovery by Tom Gorzelanny. He put the first two men with a walk and a single, and Uggla drilled a deep fly ball to center. After an initial stumble while turning around, Harper tracked it down on the warning track. With runners on the corners and one out, Gorzelanny struck out Freddie Freeman and Eric Hinske, both with pitches that painted the outside corner. If he can shutdown lefties, it would really help his value out of the bullpen.
7:16, END 4: Stephen Strasburg is surely done, having thrown 73 pitches in four innings. He seemed to lose the strike zone in the last two innings he pitched, throwing 21 balls in 44 pitches. Overall, Strasburg threw 44 strikes in his 73 pitches. He only had one strikeout. Not a typical Strasburgian start. His line: 4 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 1 K
7:01, TOP 4: Chad Tracy put the Nats on the board, and maybe bolstered his chances at the final bench spot, by blasting a two-run homer to right off Teheran. The wind may helped, but he barreled it. Bryce Harper followed with a hard groundout to Chipper Jones, who made the play and threw him. No word if Harper talked to Chipper before the game. And then Jesus Flores roped a homer over the right field fence that certainly got a little help from the wind. 3-3.
6:55, END 3: The Nationals went down 1-2-3 against Teheran, with Ian Desmond striking out. Strasburg got into a jam. Strasburg to Chipper Jones to swing and miss on a nice changeup, and he eventually grounded out to first. Strasburg then walked McCann to load the bases. Uggla mashed a 1-0 changeup to the warning track in left field, a home run if the wind had not been blowing in. The deep sac fly scored a run. Strasburg got out of the inning with the score still 3-0. Strasburg needed 22 pitches in the third, only 12 strikes. He’s thrown 50 pitches, 32 strikes.
6:37, END 2: Strasburg plowed through a 1-2-3 inning, which ended with Harper first chance in center field. He called off Eury Perez in right-center – you could him yell “I got it!” from the press box – and made the play while nudging into Perez. Strasburg needed only 11 pitches, but did go to his first three-ball count of the night against David Ross, who proceeded to hit the 3-1 pitch to Harper. Strasburg has thrown 28 pitches, 20 strikes.
6:30, MID 2: Prospect hound’s dream in the second: Bryce Harper faced Julio Teheran. This round went to Teheran via knockout. Harper dribbled two pitches foul, and then whiffed on a chest-high, 95-mph fastball. Adam LaRoche walked and Jesus Flores singled, but nothing doing otherwise.
6:20, END 1: Stephen Strasburg allowed a two-run homer to second baseman Dan Uggla when he left a 1-2, 98-mph fastball up in the strike zone. Strasburg also gave up a two-out, opposite-field to Brian McCann. Strasburg threw two curveballs and one changeup among his 17 pitches, 13 of which were strikes. He hit mostly between 97 and 99 on the stadium gun, which could be a mile or two hot.
6:13, MID 1: The Nats managed to send three men to the plate despite two hits in the first inning. Ian Desmond scalded a single to left off Julio Teheran to lead off, but David Ross immediately threw him out stealing. Steve Lombardozzi reached a bouncer up the middle for an infield hit, but Mark DeRosa promptly grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Stephen Strasburg’s first registered at 97 mph.
PREGAME: Stephen Strasburg is about to make his third start of this spring, and the Nationals have him set to throw between 70 and 75 pitches. He’s facing a pretty good Braves lineup that includes Chipper Jones, Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward. You can watch on MLB Network if you own a television. By the way, here’s the Nats’ lineup:
1. Ian Desmond, SS
2, Steve Lombardozzi, 2B
3. Mark DeRosa, 3B
4. Adam LaRoche, 1B
5. Chad Tracy, DH
6. Bryce Harper, CF
7. Jesus Flores, C
8. Mark Teahen, LF
9. Eury Perez, RF