The Nationals took on the New York Yankees this afternoon at the Yankees’ Spring Training. home. In true New York fashion, the stars came out to see this one as Hall of Fame quarterback “Broadway” Joe Namath and Jets head coach Rex Ryan were looking on. The two liked what they saw as the Yankees never trailed.
For the Nats, an important aspect of this Spring Training matchup was the fight over the fifth and final spot in the rotation. The competition was in full swing on Monday with both Ross Detwiler and Tanner Roark in action. The Nats were able to see both pitchers against the same lineup in the hope of making a distinction between the two.
Ross Detwiler, the game's starter and favorite to win the final spot in the Nationals’ rotation in 2014, was making his spring training debut. Needless to say, it did not go as planed. Detwiler started strong by striking out two of the first three batters he faced, but the second inning was a different story. Detwiler gave up three straight hits to start the inning—all on fastballs left up in the zone. The fourth batter, Ichiro Suzuki, grounded to short, but Zach Walters threw it away allowing two runs to score. Zoilo Almonte followed with a ground rule double off yet another missed fastball spot by Detwiler, scoring two more and giving the Yankees a 4-0 lead. Detwiler struck out Brett Gardner for the first out of the inning, but Nationals skipper Matt Williams had seen enough and brought in Danny Rosenbaum out of the bullpen. Rosenbaum was able to get Derek Jeter to ground into a double play to get the Nats out of the inning.
Tanner Roark replaced Rosenbaum in the third and looked solid. Roark let up a single to Brian McCann to start, but got himself out of trouble by getting Brian Roberts to fly out and then forcing Francisco Cervelli to rollover a double play ball. The next inning, Roark mowed down the first two Yankees he faced, and Tyler Moore made a nice play on an Almonte potential double down the line by throwing out the Yankee at second base and sending the Nats back to the dugout. All in all, Roark looked calm and collected. If he continues to pitch like he did today, Roark will stay in the conversation for a starting role when the season begins.
Outside of the battle on the mound, the rest of the Nationals were unable to get much going. Denard Span was the only projected Nats starter to play in this game, and it showed as the Nats struck out eight times in the game, while only managing four hits and leaving fourteen runners on base.
Zach Walters injected some life into the offense in the fifth inning with a bomb off of Shawn Kelley that marked the Nats’ first hit and first run of the game making the score 4-1. The Nats kept the momentum going in the sixth. Eury Perez singled and Span followed that up with a single of his own sending Perez to third. Next, Danny Espinosa hit a would-be double play ball, but Derek Jeter bobbled it allowing Espinosa to reach safely and Perez to score from third making it 4-2 Yankees. The rally fizzled, however, when Tyler Moore hit into a double play.
With that the starters were done for the day and their exit marked the end of the Nationals’ offensive momentum. Xavier Cedeño, Christian Garcia, Aaron Barret, and Manny Delcarmen pitched four solid innings to keep the game within reach, but the Nats were unable to capitalize as The Yankees finished out the game 4-2.
-Jose Lobaton started his first game of the spring and looked comfortable behind the plate.
-Tyler Moore started in left field and not at first base. Though it is still early in the spring this could be a significant sign that Ryan Zimmerman, not Moore, will get playing time at first against tough lefties. This is surely something to watch as Spring Training progresses.
-Detwiler looked flustered under pressure and was missing spots badly. It is still early in the spring, but can he afford another bad start after the one today? Another story line to look after.
(Photo courtesy: District Sports Page)