Zach Walters delivered a walk-off single with one out in the ninth inning, but he was overshadowed by the way the rally started. In his second at-bat and first game since May 12, Wilson Ramos ended a seven-pitch at-bat against Eduardo Sanchez with a double off the right-center field fence, just missing a walk-off homer. Walters’ single through the drawn-in infield scored pinch-runner Sandy Leon and gave the Nats 15 hits on the day to the Cardinals’ 14.
Well, Ryan Mattheus is set up for another multiple-inning appearance. Chad Tracy doubled in the eighth and eventually scored on Carlos Rivero’s two-out single. Corey Brown got caught up on the basepaths, possibly in an attempt to ensure Tracy scored without a throw home, and so Wilson Ramos was left standing in the on-deck circle. It’s 6-6 after eight, with Mattheus entering.
After Brandon Mann allowed three runs in the seventh to tie it, Pat McCoy yielded one in the eighth to give the Cardinals a 6-5 lead. It’s basically minor leaguers vs. minor leaguers at this point.
Wilson Ramos is back. On a competitive baseball for the first time since May 12 last year, the day he tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee, Ramos took one ball then chopped a groundout to the shortstop against Cardinals lefty Kevin Siegrest. Ramos received a nice hand from the Space Coast Stadium crowd. One of the most meaningful at-bats you could find in the seventh inning of a 5-5 Grapefruit League game.
While we were down in the clubhouse chatting with Ross Detwiler, Chad Tracy launched a two-run homer over the right field fence. The Nats lead, 5-3, after the Cards got to Brandon Mann for a run in the seventh. St. Louis is still batting. We’ve reached the portion of the game that includes players wearing jerseys without a name across the back.
Bryce Harper just can’t miss this spring. He checked his swing against Lyons, a tall lefty, and the ball rolled down the third base line for an infield single. Harper, now 9 for 16 this spring, exited for a pinch runner. Ryan Zimmerman followed that with a double play, ending his debut 1 for 3 with an RBI single. Wilson Ramos is scheduled to get the next at-bat at DH today.
With Adam LaRoche batting, the Cardinals employed a significant shift, playing the shortstop on the right side of second base. LaRoche in fact did ground out to the right side. Will Ohman replaces Stammen to make his first appearance of spring. It’s 3-2, Nats, after five.
It is March 3, and Craig Stammen is going three innings in a spring game. After that Robinson homer, Stammen recorded nine outs. He pitched 88 1/3 innings last season, second in the majors. It looks like Davey Johnson is preparing him for another heavy workload.
With one out in the fourth, Kurt Suzuki smoked a double down the third base line and into the left field corner. Steve Lombardozzi scored him by chopping a single that bounded over the third baseman’s head. Third base coach Trent Jewett waved Suzuki home with an aggressive send, and Chambers’s throw sailed wide. The Nats have seven hits today in conditions that favor hitters over pitchers. They’re up, 3-2.
Also: Denard Span drew his second walk of the afternoon and then left the game for pinch-runner Corey Brown. Looks like the regulars will be getting done after three at-bats.
The Nationals quickly answered the Cardinals’ second run. Jayson Werth started a rally with a bloop single to center field. Bryce Harper shot another single the other way, making him 8 for 15 on the spring. Ryan Zimmerman knocked in a run by fighting off a 3-2 pitch from Garcia and dropping it down the right field line. It’s 2-2 after three.
Robinson greeted Stammen with a rocket to left field. On another day, it likely would have been a double, but this afternoon the wind carried it over the fence for an opposite-field homer. Stammen retired the Cardinals in order from there, striking out Matt Carpenter. It’s 2-1, St. Louis, after 2 1/2 innings.
Batting right-handed, Danny Espinosa roped a sharp single to right-center off Garcia, but the Nationals couldn’t take advantage. Ian Desmond struck out — just his second K in a strong offensive start to the spring. Kurt Suzuki struck out swinging at an eye-fastball, and Steve Lombardozzi lined out to right.
Detwiler, indeed, is done for the day. His line: 2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 51 pitches, 31 strikes
Craig Stammen will relieve.
After a laborious two innings for Detwiler, it’s tied 1-1. Tony Cruz led off with a pop to right field, which Jayson Werth couldn’t quite corral. (Now I guess we know what would have happened if Davey Johnson had walked Pete Kozma in Game 5 — Cruz was the lone remaining position play left to pinch hit for the Cards.) Pete Kozma rolled a weak grounder through the right side. (You know, it seems like the Nats just can’t get that out.)
Detwiler again escaped trouble after two singles. Justin Christian hit a chopper to third, which Steve Lombardozzi and Danny Espinosa turned into a nifty 5-4-3 double play. Detwiler whiffed Ronny Cedeno, his fourth strikeouts.
The Cards didn’t hit Detwiler hard, but he allowed four hits on 51 pitches. With a 60-pitch limit, it’s likely he’s on to the WBC.
The Nationals, using what will effectively be their opening day lineup, struck quickly against Jaime Garcia. Denard Span drew a leadoff walk. Jayson Werth grounded a single up the middle. Span went first to third with ease, and when center fielder Shane Robinson bobbled the ball, Span darted home. Werth took second on the threw, then moved to third when Bryce Harper grounded to second base.
In his first at-bat of the spring, Ryan Zimmerman struck out on three pitches, swinging at the third. Adam LaRoche struck out to strand Werth.
After one, the Nationals lead, 1-0.
The conditions, for a pitcher, are pretty terrible. The wind is blowing hard, the kind of gusts that would be annoying for a hurler even if it was not blowing straight out to left field, which it is. Shane Robinson led off the game with a single to left, and Aldron Chambers followed with an infield single that Ian Desmond couldn’t do anything with after a backhanded, diving stop. Detwiler squirmed out of the of the jam with three consecutive strikeouts of Matt Carpenter, Ty Wigginton and Matt Adams, all swinging. He needed 31 pitches, but he kept the Cards off the board. Here come the Nats and their opening-day ready lineup.
PREGAME: Ryan Zimmerman makes his first spring appearance and will get three at-bats as a DH. Wilson Ramos will follow him and get one at-bat himself. Ross Detwiler makes his final start before he leaves camp to join Team USA’s World Baseball Classic team. The lineups:
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jayson Werth, RF
3. Bryce Harper, LF
4. Ryan Zimmerman, DH
5. Adam LaRoche, 1B
6. Ian Desmond, SS
7. Danny Espinosa, 2B
8. Kurt Suzuki, C
9. Steve Lombardozzi, 3B
1. Shane Robinson, CF
2. Adron Chambers, LF
3. Matt Carpenter, 2B
4. Ty Wigginton, DH
5. Matt Adams, 1B
6. Tony Cruz, C
7. Pete Kozman, SS
8. Justin Christian, RF
9. Ronny Cedeno, 3B