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The Nationals fell to the Cards, 5-1, to even their Grapefruit League record at 9-9-2. More to come on Dan Haren’s start.
Ryan Mattheus got a groundout and a strikeout, which he capped with a fist pump, to work a scoreless seventh inning. I’m going down to talk to Dan Haren now.
The Nationals finally got to Wainwright. Pitcher-turned-hitter Micah Owings ripped his second single of the day, making him 2 for 2 and raising his spring average to .429. Zach Walters followed with another single, and Steve Lombardozzi brought home Owings with an RBI groundout. It’s 5-1. Yunesky Maya is on for the Nats, and the diamond is populated mainly by minor leaguers at this point.
Dan Haren is the more compelling storyline today from a Nationals perspective, but Adam Wainwright has mowed down the Nationals. He’s faced the minimum through five innings, allowing only one hit and pitching as if he has late-afternoon lunch plans.
Haren, meanwhile, got out of the fifth with no further damage. He has thrown 81 pitches, 50 of them strikes, and so he is surely done for the day. Haren allowed five runs on six hits and two walks, striking out three. So, after the brutal first inning, he wasn’t all that bad — one run on two hits and two walks with three strikeouts in four innings.
Well, Dan Haren had a rough start to the fourth inning, starting 0-2 against Pete Kozma and then walking him on the next four pitches. Kozma went first to third on a groundout to third base, running with the pitch and not stopping until he slid in safe.Kozma then scored on a sac fly to right fielder Tyler Moore. It’s 5-0, Cardinals.
That said, a couple scouts had takes that are more promising than his current results.
“Fastball life and command is fine,” one scout said. “Just looks like he has it on cruise control today.”
Another scout’s radar gun had Haren at 87-90 with his fastball and said he simply elevated his fastball in the first inning, but improved in the next two.
Dan Haren had a much better third inning, retiring Adams, Robinson and Chambers in only nine pitches. We’ll know more after we talk with him, but Haren has talked lately about wanting to work on his splitter. It’s possible some of struggles have to do with trying to get a feel for that pitch.
Dan Haren improved a bit in the second inning, but he still lacked the crispness from his first three outings. Haren struck out Jon Jay swinging, but he also allowed a four-pitch walk to Carpenter and a single to Descalso.
Haren has thrown his fastball mostly between 88 and 91 miles per hour this spring. Today, that’s down. He’s sitting mostly at 84-87, one scout said, and topping out at 89. Seems like a potential dead-arm situation. “Soft stuff today,” said one scout. That stands in contrast to his earlier starts.
Meanwhile, Micah Owings singled through the left side for the Nationals’ first hit, but he was promptly doubled off on a liner. Cards still up 4-0 after 2 1/2.
After Wainwright retired the Nationals 1-2-3, Dan Haren had what may been the roughest inning by a Nationals starter all spring. Within the first five batters, Haren had allowed four hits, including home runs to leadoff man Jon Jay and No. 5 hitter Matt Adams, and four runs. Haren fell behind in counts, throwing first-pitch balls to all four batters who knocked hits — Jay, Daniel Descalso, Matt Carpenter and Adams.
There was some good news: Haren retired Pete Kozma on a pop-up to center field. He is new here, after all.
The Nats trail, 4-0.
Joe Namath threw out the first pitch at Roger Dean Stadium, which is something you don’t see everyday. The Nationals’ lineup is here, and the Cardinals will throw a pretty decent, left-handed heavy lineup at Dan Haren:
Jon Jay, CF
Daniel Descalsco, 2B
Matt Carpenter, 3B
Ty Wigginton, DH
Matt Adams, 1B
Shane Robinson, RF
Adron Chambers, LF
Pete Kozma, SS
Rob Johnson, C