END 9: The game, mercifully, ends. The Nationals fall to the Cardinals, 16-10, in a three-hour-plus game. Jordan Zimmermann was shaky. Rafael Soriano was strong. Henry Rodriguez debuted and was superb. The Nationals score seven in the ninth inning: a Micah Owings homer, Zach Walters two-run homer and Matt Skole two-run single.
END 6: Henry Rodriguez made his spring debut and in eight pitches notched three outs. He threw first-pitch strikes. He got two flyouts and a groundout. He was in the strike zone. (There’s no radar gun here so we can’t pass along any velocity.) Davey Johnson said he would go batter by batter with Rodriguez, though the right-hander wanted a full inning. Johnson obviously liked what he saw.
END 5: Nathan Karns, the Nationals minor league pitcher of the year, had a painful fifth inning. Anthony Rendon’s error at third allowed the first runner to reach base. It was all downhill from there. With two outs and the bases loaded, Karns walked in a run. Then, he served up a grand slam to Shane Robinson, who is 5-9 and has three career major league home runs. Cole Kimball relieved Karns and the misery. Cardinals lead, 15-2.
MID 4: Rafael Soriano allows a leadoff double to pesky Matt Carpenter. But the veteran right-hander, making his second appearance, has as lethal collection of fastball, cutter and slider. He got two quick groundouts and then struck out Shane Robinson looking on a slider. Cardinals, 8-2.
END 3: Wilson Ramos singled to leadoff the inning. Shelby Miller uncorked a wild pitch to Danny Espinosa, and Ramos on second, took off for third. He slid safely into third base on his surgically-repaired knee. He was fine but another telling sign that he can run the bases without issue. He, however, is out after three innings despite Davey Johnson saying pre-game he would use him four innings.
Bryce Harper cleared the bases with a two-run triple. He chugged around the bases in mid-season form. Cardinals lead, 8-2.
MID 3: It was painful inning for Jordan Zimmermann. He faced the entire lineup plus a batter. He allowed six hits — four of them hit hard — and six runs. His command was clearly off but nothing in his mechanics looked immediately concerning. The most telling sign: Zimmermann has walked two batters in three innings — a rarity for him. He’s likely done. Cardinals lead, 8-0.
MID 2: Jordan Zimmermann walked the leadoff hitter, a rarity, and then allowed a single to Shane Robinson. Ronny Cedeno plated them with a two-run hard-hit single to right. He struck out left-handed Greg Garcia looking on a slider.
In the previous inning. Bryce Harper had a good at-bat against Cardinals starter Shelby Miller but struck out on an outside pitch. Miller in the bottom of the second sat down the Nationals with eight pitches and three groundouts. Cardinals lead, 2-0.
MID 1: Jordan Zimmermann dispatched the top of the Cardinals’ order quickly. He got a line drive out from Adron Chapman with two pitches. After allowing a single to Matt Carpenter, he induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play from Allen Craig, who agreed to a five-year extension with the Cardinals this morning. So, I’m guessing he’ll be fine. Zimmermann tossed only eight pitches that inning. Tie game, 0-0.
PREGAME: The Nationals and Cardinals face off for the second time this spring. It’ll be a near-complete Nationals contingent in the field, save for Ryan Zimmerman at DH and not third base and Denard Span, who has the day off. The lineups are here. The game is live on MASN at 1 p.m., so expect fewer updates from us here.