In a Washington Nationals B-team matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals' A-team, the Nats fell 2-0, and made everyone that much more anxious for real baseball to start.
Gio Gonzalez started for the Nationals, and was good, not great. He gave up four hits and three walks with no strikeouts. His command was off, and he threw 82 pitches with 57 strikes.
Gonzalez’s outing was nothing to fret over, but was put to shame by Cardinals’ starter Adam Wainwright. Watching Wainwright pitch, you might have forgotten it was March, not September. He cut through the Nationals’ lineup for eight complete innings, allowed just three hits, no walks and no runs, and struck out seven. He threw 81 pitches and 58 strikes, one pitch less than Gonzalez threw in less than five innings.
Wainwright’s dominance limited the Nationals’ highlights, but the surprising standout was Caleb Ramsey, a 25 year old who was Washington’s 11th round pick in the 2011 draft.
Ramsey, who spent the 2013 season with Washington's High-A affiliate in Potomac, recorded the first Nats hit of the day, and executed a terrific 9-5 double play. He caught a Pete Kozma fly ball in foul territory, then gunned it over to third base to throw out Kolten Wong for the first two outs of the fourth inning.
Another player of note was Jeff Kobernus, who played centerfield instead of his usual position at second base.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post postulated that playing Kobernus in center could have been a possible showcase of his abilities if the Nationals need to trade him to make room on the 40-man roster. Roster shuffling would only be warranted if Jamey Carroll or Blake Treinen, long-shot big league candidates, made the club.
Kobernus missed a fly ball in a pretty embarrassing-looking non-catch, putting the leadoff hitter, Shane Robinson, on second base to start the game. The mistake hurt the Nationals, as Robinson went on to steal third base and score on an RBI-groundout by Yadier Molina.
Kobernus quickly redeemed himself by making a good catch to take away a hit from Matt Holliday in the same inning. But, with the construction of the bench still undecided, Kobernus didn’t do a great job of showing his versatility as a utility man. Putting a second baseman in centerfield isn’t really fair, but that is a position he could be asked to play as a member of the Nationals’ bench.
- Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard, Blake Treinen and Xavier Cedeno combined for three and one-third scoreless, hitless innings with one strikeout by Treinen.
- Nine days until the Nationals play the Mets in New York’s home opener.