Top 7, 3:23: Turns out those tensions were not imagined.
Former Nationals reliever Miguel Batista plunked Ian Desmond with one out and the bases empty, and after Desmond turned to the catcher and the Cardinals dugout as if asking for an explanation, both benches emptied.
Nyjer Morgan – who may have instigated the whole thing last summer when he ran into catcher Bryan Anderson – was the first one hopping out of the dugout for the Nats. Coach Trent Jewett, who knows Morgan from their days together in the Pittsburgh minor league system, put his arm around Morgan and led him far, far from the scrum.
There were apparently no punches thrown. The most demonstrative person was Manager Jim Riggleman, who screamed at Tony La Russa with an index finger protruding. His point seemed to be that each team had hit one batter and that things should have been settled at that. Desmond tried to speak with La Russa, again as if he wanted an explanation.
After the dust settled, Batista was ejected. Knowing how La Russa operates, Batista may have made the team today. It’s 5-2, after a single by Nix and an RBI single by LaRoche.
End 6, 3:05: Brian Broderick had probably his shakiest inning yet, but he still didn’t allow the Cardinals a run. He gave up two singles, both bounders that got through the infields. He threw a wild pitch that knocked down Ryan Theriot and put runners on second and third, but Theriot chopped to Ian Desmond to end the inning. Nats up, 4-2. Broderick’s spring ERA is now 0.77.
Mid 6, 2:55: Nothing futher happened with any hit-by-pitches or anything. La Russa and Riggleman like and respect each other, so maybe we just chalk up the back-and-forth HBPs to spring wildness.
Livo is done, replaced by Brian Broderick. His line: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 1 K, 83 pitches , 50 strikes.
End 5, 2:47: There may be a little something brewing here. Following the Morgan-Pujols play (which, again, appeared to be nothing but clean and normal) and the Nix hit-by-pitch, Livan Hernandez drilled Colby Rasmus with one out, right smack in the midsection. Tony La Russa seemed to be glaring at the Nats’ dugout as Rasmus made his way to first.
Hitting leadoff for the Nats in the sixth: Danny Espinosa.
As for the action, Hernandez ended the inning by striking out Lance Berkman looking with two men on.
Mid 5, 2:40: The Nats chased Carpenter with two outs, after he plunked Laynce Nix and walked Adam LaRoche. Morse also walked to load the bases, but Pudge grounded to second to end the rally. Still 4-2.
To start the inning, Nyjer Morgan tried a bunt and was thrown out at first. As he sprinted to the bag, he had a minor collision with Albert Pujols. He seemed to clip Pujols’s arm on the way through the bag. Nothing could have been done, really, to avoid it. Pujols seemed fine after a trainer came out to check on him.
End 4, 2:28: The Cards beat around Livo a little bit in the fourth: single by Pujols, double by Holliday, walk by Schumaker, single by Laird. When the dust settled, Hernandez had stranded two and the Nats still lead, 4-2.
Mid 4, 2:14: The Nats added one more run on a single to right by Alex Cora. The inning ended when Hernandez’s sac bunt led to an inning-ending double play. 4-0, Nats.
Top 4, 2:02: The Nats took a 3-0 lead on a walk by Ian Desmond, a triple by Laynce Nix to left-center, a ground-rule double to the left field corner by Adam LaRoche and consecutive singles from Michael Morse and Ivan Rodriguez. Nix ran faster than his muscular, stocky build would suggest. No outs, two on, and four straight hits have the Nats up 3-0 over Carpenter.
End 3, 1:57: Livo pitched around a pair of singles to start the game and a walk to Ryan Theriot. He got help with a quick pick off Skip Schumaker at second base. Ian Desmond made a throwing error on a play he probably should not have tried to make. Carpenter laid down a sac bunt, and Hernandez pounced on it and made a quick throw to second to get the lead runner. The throw was at Desmond’s shins, and he tried to relay it on to firstt, anyway. It skipped past Adam LaRoche, and Carpenter would up on second. But still, no damage. We’re scoreless.
Mid 3, 1:44: The Nats went down in order. Alex Cora smoked a line drive rigt at the third baseman. Morgan chopped to second. Busted down the line to make a routine play pretty close.
End 2, 1:39: Livo still cruising in one of his final warm-ups before opening day. He gave up a single to Matt Holliday, but he faced the minimum because he induced a double play from Lance Berkman. Still scoreless through 2.
End 1, 1:23: It’s scoreless after a first inning in which Livan Hernandez cruised and Nyjer Morgan took a step forward before taking two back. Morgan led off by singling up the middle on Chris Carpenter. As Ian Desmond batted, Morgan bolted for second before Carpenter started his delivery. Carpenter stepped off and threw to second to pick him off. Desmond singled, but a double play ball by Laynce Nix ended the inning.
Livo, in in his first major league game in a while following a ‘B game’ start, retired the Cards 1-2-3. Albert Pujols flied to center to end the inning.