3:46, END 9: We were down getting updates on Morse (who is fine) and Gonzalez. The Nats won, 5-2. Bryce Harper played all nine innings. Gio Gonzalez looked awfully shapr. Mark DeRosa and Jayson Werth hit home runs. They’re now 2-2 this spring.
2:17, MID 5: The Nats are up 4-1 after Yunesky Maya pitched his first inning of the spring, one that featrued an avalanche of hard-hit balls by the middle of the Braves lineup. He got out with minimal damage because Ryan Zimmerman threw a guy out at the plate a nifty charging play. Zimmerman walked in the fifth, then left in favor of pinch-running Anthony Rendon. Harper is still in the game and should lead off next inning.
1:59, TOP 4: Against Venters, probably the toughest pitcher he’s ever faced, Harper dribbled a groundball to first base. He’s now for 5 for 9.
1:53, TOP 4: Gio Gonzalez is done for the day, having thrown 40 pitches, 23 strikes. Ian Desmond made his third error of the spring, bobbling a groundball by Andrelton Simmons when he tried to transfer it from his glove to his hand. Wilson Ramos bailed him out by gunning down Simmons trying to steal second. Gonzalez struck Bourn out swinging, then got a grounder from Martin Prado to end the inning. Gonzalez looked really sharp in throwing three scoreless innings.
And then Mark DeRosa led off the fourth with a homer to left, into the wind, off Jonny Venters. 4-0, Nationals.
1:46, MID 3: Sorry for the delay here, our web publishing crashed for a while there. It’s been an eventful first two innings, and the Nats lead, 3-0. Gio Gonzalez made his Nationals spring training debut, allowing a hit and a walk in the first inning but escaping unscathed. He hit 95 miles per hour on the Champions Stadium radar gun. In the second, he retired the Braves in order, getting his first strikeout when Matt Diaz watched strike three.
Jayson Werth led off the second with a solo, opposite-field home run, a scalded liner that rode the wind and skipped off the top of the fence. Bryce Harper still managed to steal the spotlight, and not in a good way. He ripped a single to right field, making him 5 for 8 in the Grapefruit League.
But with two outs, Wilson Ramos hit a dribbler to third. Martin Prado charged and made the play, just nabbing Ramos at first. Harper wheeled around second and bolted for third, but he got a little overaggressive. Freddie Freeman threw across the diamond, catching Harper in a rundown. He fell down and got tagged for the third out. Last night, he showed off aggressive, smart base running. He got a little too aggressive there.
In the third, Chad Tracy gave the Nats another two runs with a two-RBI double off the fence in right off Eric O’Flaherty. That’s an impressive hit against perhaps the nastiest left-handed reliever in the league.