END 9: The Nationals win their fourth straight game. But it’s spring, so that doesn’t matter as much. Dan Haren looked stronger than last outing. Wilson Ramos was agile in his first action behind the plate. And Rafael Soriano debuted. Nationals win, 7-1.
MID 8: The workhorse reliever pitched a perfect eighth inning, looking strong as he struck out two batters. Nationals pitchers haven’t allowed a run since Dan Haren did in the third inning.
MID 7: The Nationals’ new closer made his spring debut in the seventh inning. He got a flyout to center on two pitches for the first out. J.D. Martinez lined a single in the hole at short but was caught stealing by Kurt Suzuki a batter later. Soriano struck out Robbie Grossman on a slider inside, the sixth pitch of the at-bat. In all, he threw 12 pitches, seven of them strikes, and pounded the left-hander Grossman inside with his cutting pitches.
END 6: The Nationals took a six-run lead in the inning against Wesley Wright and former Nationals top pitching prospect Brad Peacock, who was shipped away to Oakland in the Gio Gonzalez deal last winter.
Danny Espinosa had a solidly-hit two run single up the middle, Kurt Suzuki was plunked in the back shoulder and appeared fine and Corey Brown drove in a run with a single to left. Nationals lead 7-1.
Rafael Soriano is on to make his spring debut.
END 5: Kurt Suzuki reached on a chop swing single and Chad Tracy drove him home with an opposite field double. With a runner in scoring position, Denard Span grounded out and Jayson Werth struck out — with no help from a generously large strike zone. Nationals lead, 2-1.
Zach Duke is on for the sixth inning and Rafael Soriano, apparently, will now pitch the seventh inning.
MID 5: The Nationals’ lefty long reliever tosses two scoreless innings in relief of Haren, allowing only one baserunner. Duke has looked sharp this spring and hasn’t allowed an earned run in five innings of work. He induced three groundouts in two innings and got an assist from catcher Kurt Suzuki, who threw out Marwin Gonzalez at second to end the inning. Tie game, 1-1.
END 3: The right fielder drove in Danny Espinosa with a sharp single at the shortstop. Espinosa reached on a single to center on a free and easy swing. He also stole second base and scored from there on a single by Werth. Denard Span also worked a walk.
Wilson Ramos is out after three innings of work and Kurt Suzuki is in. Dan Haren is out after allowing one run on two hits. He threw 50 pitches, 34 of them for strikes. Overall, he looked sharper this outing. Tie game, 1-1.
MID 3: Dan Haren allowed a single to the leadoff hitter in the third inning, walked Tyler Greene and allowed a single to Jose Altuve, who drove in the game’s lone run. Haren was mildly miffed at himself for walking Greene. Overall, he still had good command. Astros lead, 1-0.
Wilson Ramos made a quick dive to his right onto his surgically-repaired right knee to block a low breaking ball by Haren — a positive sign for the catcher making his first start behind the plate since his injury.
MID 2: Dan Haren is again making quick work of the Astros. Justin Maxwell fought him deeper into the count but Haren unleashed what looked like an inside cutter, which Maxwell missed. The Astros haven’t manage to hit a ball hard, nor out of the infield against him. Two strikeouts so far for Haren. Tie game, 0-0.
The Nationals had a quick inning, too, against right-handed starter Lucas Harrell: two groundouts and a flyout. Nothing hard hit.
MID 1: In four minutes, the right-hander sat down the first three Astros hitters. He got leadoff hitter Tyler Greene to pop up weakly to Ian Desmond. Then induced a comebacker ball out of Jose Altuve. And on three well-placed pitches, struck out Chris Carter. Haren was unbelievably sharp in that frame. Tie game, 0-0.
PREGAME: Wilson Ramos starts at catcher for the first time since injuring his right knee last May and will play three innings.
Rafael Soriano will make his spring debut — he doesn’t like facing division opponents — will likely throw in the sixth inning.
Bo Porter is in the opposing dugout. The lineup, which you can see here, is likely what it’ll look like on opening day, save for Ryan Zimmerman at DH and not at third base.