9:10, MID 9: The Nats are about to put the finishing touches on a 3-1 win. Shorstop Zachary Walters made a jaw-dropping play, diving for a ball up the middle. Eury Perez got to show off his wheels again with a double down the left field line.
8:06, BOT 6: John Lannan just held court in the Nats’ clubhouse, saying he felt good about his start, that he found a rhythm after the first inning. In the meantime, Bryce Harper beat out a grounder to third for a single. He’s 4 for 7 with a walk in the Grapefruit League, all singles. He’s not killing the ball, but he’s getting his hits. He’s now out of the game in favor of Corey Brown, with Ryan Perry on the bump.
7:33, MID 5: Eury Perez, pinch-running after Roger Bernadina led off with a single, and Lombardozzi executed a perfect little hit and run. Perez, who might be the fastest guy in the organization, took off for second, and Lombardozzi rolled a ball right throught the vacated hole at shortstop. Perez wheeled around to third and just beat the throw, and Lombardozzi took second. Teahen followed with a sac fly to deep left, putting the Nats up, 2-1.
7:25, END 4: Craig Stammen pitched a scoreless, but erratic, fifth. He struck out Jason Bay, but drilled Lucas Duda in the back (almost the head) and yielded a warning-track fly ball to Pascucci, which Ankiel tracked down. Still 1-1, mainly because Xavier Paul ended last inning with a 4-6-3, bases loaded double play.
7:10, TOP 4: Nice prospect matchup: Afer Ankiel drew a walk, Bryce Harper faced off against Matt Harvey, the Mets’ top prospect. The count ran full as Harper laid off on two inside curves and swung over a sinker. He fouled off one pitch, then took ball four, a sinker low and in.
The Nats had only taken two walks against the Astros this weekend, but they have three tonight.
7:01, END 3: John Lannan made it through his three innings, the first Nationals starter to make it that far with 43 pitches. His line: IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 1K, 43 pitches, 27 strikes. In the third, he allowed hard sinlges to Ruben Tejada and Andres Torres with one out, but he got out of it. He started off the inning with a strikeout of Josh Thole, who chased a high, 87-mph fastball.
6:41, END 2: Lannan breezed through the second inning, two lazy flies and a grounder to first by Jason Bay, Lucas Duda and Val Pascucci, who was a teammate of Nats bench coach Randy Knorr in Montreal’s minor leagye system. Lannan has only thrown 23 pitches, so he should be good for one more inning before Craig Stammen takes over.
6:32, TOP 2: Rick Ankiel, a Port St. Lucie native, hit the Nats’ first homer of the spring, a solo shot to left field. He’d been working on hitting the ball the other way, so that’s a good sign. Bryce Harper followed with a chopper up the middle, a single that made him 3 for 6 in the Grapefruit League. Jesus Flores then hit a grounder between Justin Turner’s legs. Harper hustled all the way to third with smart, aggressive baserunning. 1-1.
6:24, BOT 1: John Lannan’s spring begins with a leadoff walk, a stolen base and an RBI single up the middle by Daniel Murphy. Justin Turner followed with a liner to right, which Bryce Harper caught after a little bit of a run. Lannan quickly escaped from there with a 4-6-3 double play, a nice play by second baseman Steve Lombardozzi on a trickly, slow-rolling ball up the middle. It’s 1-0, Mets
6:17, MID 1: The Nats made three quick outs against Dillon Gee. Mark Teahen swung and missed at three changeups. By the way, one note from pregame: Davey Johnson said before the game that the Nats’ first round of cuts would probably come shortly after the spilt-squad games on March 10.
PREGAME: John Lannan will make his first start of the spring tonight. He is in a difficult, fighting for a rotation spot with Chien-Ming Wang, a pitcher who A) can’t be traded until late May B) has no options remaining and C) can’t pitch out of the bullpen. Lannan does have an option remaining, and he can be traded.
“With our new additions, I’m kind of a situation where I’ve got six or seven starters that I really like,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “I’ll do just what I tell the general manager to do – keep an open mind.”
I’ll have updates here. The game, again, will be broadcast on MLB Network in the Washington-Baltimore market. Chat about the game below and follow along.