The Nats fell to the Mets today, 7-5, in a game that was 2-1 entering the eighth inning. Truly, it was a shining example of the excitement we’ve all come to expect from Spring Training baseball.
The Nats’ box score is highlighted by two great performances from players who are among the most criticized Nats, thanks to their inconsistent performances in the face of high expectations last season: Adam LaRoche and Rafael Soriano.
LaRoche was feeling it today, going 3-for-3 with a run scored. He also stole a base, albeit off of Daisuke Matsuzaka, calling to mind his nickname from last season, Wheels. He hit just .237/.332/.403 last year after a career season in 2012, but his .348 spring training average brings hope that he might return to form in 2014.
Soriano also let his haters be his motivators after a disastrous first two spring outings left him with a 37.80 ERA after recording just five outs. He was stellar today, recording a perfect inning including a strikeout of David Wright that Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post said made the perennial MVP candidate “look silly.” In spring as in the season, Soriano can fluctuate between being untouchable and frustratingly mortal. Clearly, things haven’t changed.
The rest of the big league pitchers looked strong as well. Ross Detwiler stated his case to lock down the fifth starter job, allowing one run on three hits in 3.2 IP while striking out two, and Tyler Clippard continued his scoreless spring with a perfect inning. In contrast, non-roster invitee Manny Delcarmen struggled mightily, allowing four runs on two hits and three walks and getting just one out.
Though the Nats scored five runs, the bats looked weaker than usual apart from LaRoche. Denard Span was the only starter to get a hit, while Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos combined to go 0-5. Steven Souza and Will Rhymes both walked, but the main offensive force was Brock Peterson, who cranked a three-run home run off of prized Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard. Peterson has looked strong all spring, and with a .389 average, he has made a strong case to stick around, although almost certainly not on the 25-man roster.
- Christian Garcia looked strong in 1.1 innings, allowing no hits and striking out two. There has never been a doubt that he has the stuff to be a dominant reliever, and the only question has been about his health. He was injured during last Spring Training when the Nats tried to stretch him out to become a starter. If he can make it through this spring, he should be see time in the majors soon.
- Not that spring results matter, but Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom is starting to look like he may join the long procession of mediocre New York pitchers to inexplicably dominate the Nats. Today was the first spring outing against the Nats in which he allowed a run. He now has a line of 5.1 innings, three hits, one run, and seven strikeouts against the Nationals. I, for one, hope he doesn’t appear against the Nats in the regular season any time soon.
- Doug Fister may have had a setback with his pitching elbow today, feeling some tightness after throwing the past three days. If he is not ready for the season opener, then Taylor Jordan will likely take the fifth starter’s spot, given that his 3.86 ERA in seven innings this spring outpaces Tanner Roark’s 4.50, and assuming Detwiler wins the fourth spot on his own.