5:00 END 9: Braves win 9-5. Cole Kimball pitched a perfect eighth inning, touching 94 mph on his fastball. He massaged a pop-up, a ground out and a strike out on a biting slider. Anthony Rendon was again impressive, adding an RBI double in the eighth inning and finishing 2 for 4 in the game. He is 4 for 10 this spring.
4:34 END 7: The Nationals have been unable to muster any more offense against the Braves’ relievers. Ian Desmond (2 for 3, two RBI) and Bryce Harper (3 for 3, two doubles) are the brightest spots of the offense so far today. Lefty Bill Bray pitched the sixth inning and allowed two runs on two doubles. Righty Jeremy Accardo pitched the seventh and also allowed a run. Braves lead 9-3.
3:33 END 5: Ian Desmond put the Nationals up 3-2 with an RBI single in the top of the inning. The subs are came in for the bottom of the inning: Matt Skole, Steve Lombardozzi, Corey Brown, Zach Walters, Destin Brown and Michael Taylor. Ryan Perry, who has been working this spring to keep the ball down in the strike zone, struggled. He gave up three runs after facing eight batters in the innings but notching only one out. Davey Johnson yanked him for lefty Brandon Mann, who allowed two runs. Braves lead 7-3.
3:21 END 4: Ryan Perry allowed two singles in the fourth but induced a double play from Reed Johnson to end the inning. Anthony Rendon singled to left in the top of the inning. He continues to show his bat and swing are advanced.
3:03 MID 3: The Braves chased Ross Detwiler in the third inning and he neared his pitch count. After 41 pitches (28 of them strikes) and allowing two runs on four hits, Davey Johnson pulled Detwiler for Ryan Perry, who struck out Dan Uggla looking to end the inning. Each of the Upton brothers singled in runs. Detwiler’s final line: 2 2/3 innings, five hits, two runs, two strikeouts and no walks. Tie game, 2-2.
2:41 END 2: Mike Minor finished his outing in much calmer fashion with a scoreless second inning. Two base runners reached against Ross Detwiler: one on an error by Tyler Moore and a single by Dan Uggla to left. Detwiler got out of the two-on, one-out jam with a strikeout of Juan Francisco and groundout by Christian Bethancourt. The left-hander has looked strong and seems to be pacing himself. He hasn’t thrown harder than 91 mph and relied mainly on sinkers.
2:25 END 1: Ross Detwiler looks sharp already. He got a ground out from leadoff hitter Reed Johnson on the second pitch. He struck out Jason Heyward looking on a curveball and Justin Upton grounded out to third. He stayed between 88 and 92 mph on the radar gun and tossed 13 pitches, eight strikes.
2:18 MID 1: The Nationals have already jumped on Mike Minor, who seems to struggling with his command. Danny Espinosa, who reached on a walk, scored on a groundout by Tyler Moore. Bryce Harper reached on a strange double — the ball bounced hard on the wet ground, over Freddie Freeman’s head and into right field. Harper, who is now 4 for 6, scored on a single by Ian Desmond that was misplayed by Freeman. Anthony Rendon struck out to the end the inning with the bases loaded.
1:49: The announced start time is 2 p.m.
1:39: The tarp is off the field and the grounds crew is working on the field even tough the forecast calls for more rain soon. Braves’ starter Mike Minor is warming in the bullpen but no one for the Nationals yet.
1:02: The rain appears to be really light now or completely stopped. The tarp, though, is still on the field and this start will be delayed. The forecast calls for more rain soon and heavy thunderstorms around 3 p.m.
PREGAME: The Nationals are at Champion Stadium for their fourth spring training game and first look at the new Braves lineup with the Upton brothers. The weather, however, doesn’t look promising. Ross Detwiler is slated to make his first spring training start, which is important for him and the Nationals as he will leaving camp for the World Baseball Classic next week. Nationals Manager Davey Johnson wants Detwiler to get two starts before he leaves on March 4 and pitches again for Team USA on March 9. The tarp is on the field as of noon and there’s a high chance of thunderstorms, according to the forecast, around game time. Actually, it’s already falling again. Heavy, too. We’ll keep you updated.