9:10, END 9: Ryan Mattheus comes on for the save. Forget to mention earlier: Anthony Rendon nearly had another homer, but Matt den Dekker robbed him in center field.
8:36, TOP 8: Nathan Karns did not disappoint. In two innings, he struck out Ike Davis, Mike Baxter and uber-prospect Travis D’Arnaud. His fastball settled between 93 and 96 miles per hour. He chucked one at 97 to David Wright, who won a long battle with a grounder through the right side. Karns’s velocity comes easy, and the ball seems to jump on the hitter. Baxter swung through a fastball, and D’Arnaud flailed at a curve in the dirt. Nice first impression.
It’s 5-1 after Destin Hood smoked an RBI double in the seventh.
7:53, BOT 5: Just back from the clubhouse, where Gio Gonzalez expressed relief about the reaction he got from the crowd, which he said was fully supportive. The Nats lead 4-1. Ross Ohlendorf has been solid, including a terrific play in which he scampered off the mound. The Mets have only one hit, a home run Ike Davis crushed over the grassy berm beyond the right field fence. Eury Perez has three hits, none of which left the infield. Nathan Karns is warming up, and it will be fun to watch how he performs.
6:55, TOP 3: Eury Perez generated the Nats’ first run with his speed. He reached with his single infield single of the night, a chopper to second baseman Wilmer Flores. Perez then scored from first on a bloop double to left from Steve Lombardozzi. Perez bolted with the pitch, slowed just a bit around second then jetted home, third base coach Trent Jewett windmilling him home.
6:49, END 2: Gonzalez found his fastball command in the second. He struck out two — Jamie Hoffman and John Buck — in a 1-2-3 inning that took just 11 pitches, seven of them strikes. He’s still humming his fastball between 92 and 94. So far, so good. It looks like Ross Ohlendorf will come in for him. Gonzalez’s line would be: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 34 pitches, 20 strikes.
6:40, MID 2: Jordan Zimmermann did not refer to Matt Skole as “a large animal” for nothing. The lefty crushed a line-drive double to the right-center gap with two outs. Chris Snyder just missed his second homer of the spring, pushing the left fielder’s heels to the left field fence.
6:31, END 1: Gio Gonzalez kept the Mets scoreless, pitching around some sloppy defense and some lack of command with his fastball. Gonzalez had trouble locating his heater, which sailed consistently between 92 and 94 miles per hour. Six of his first eight pitches, all fastballs, were balls. But Gonzalez worked in several curveballs, which he had working like it’s July. His curveball is a gift — for him to climb the mound on Feb. 25 and snap off that hammer is incredible. Gonzalez got Ike Davis to flail at one for strike three, and he buckled David Wright with another.
After an error by shortstop Zach Walters and a walk to Brandon Hicks, Gonzalez pitched out of the jam, even with an error by Lombardozzi that allowed the runners to move up a base on a fly out to left from Wright. Marlon Byrd popped up to end the inning with two in scoring position.
6:15, MID 1: Quiet first for the Nats. Eury Perez reached an infield single, only to be doubled off on a 4-6-3 roller by Steve Lombardozzi. McHugh hit Corey Brown with a pitch, and Tyler Moore flied to left.
PREGAME: With the Nationals back at Tradition Field for the second time in three days, Gio Gonzalez will face the Mets in his first start of the spring tonight. The Nationals have a bit of a motley lineup. Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore are probably the only two position players here who’ll make the lineup. Lombardozzi, in typical fashion, walked out to the batting cage beyond right field for some extra hacks after batting practice. He is Henry Skrimshander, the version from the first 200 pages of “The Art of Fielding.”
You can watch tonight’s game on MLB Network. You can also follow along and discuss here. The updates probably will become less frequent once Gonzalez leaves the game, but we’re also interested to see Nathan Karns, one of the Nationals’ top pitching prospects, who is down to pitch tonight.
Collin McHugh is on the mound for the Mets. David Wright, Ike Davis and John Buck highlight their lineup.