With just under two weeks left until the best day of the year, the Washington Nationals’ meeting with the Houston Astros had a stronger feeling of significance to it. The starting pitcher, Taylor Jordan, went a full five innings. A lineup that looked very much like the projected Opening Day card took three at-bats. Shadows crept across the field as the evening start of the game made its way toward night.
Though Jordan certainly won’t be the Opening Day starter, he made his case to join the rotation with a strong performance. After a wacky first inning that featured two errors (one by Ryan Zimmerman that was later reversed), a stolen base and an RBI-groundout, Jordan settled in and prevented the Astros from scoring for the remainder of his outing.
Jordan threw a total of 69 pitches over five innings. He allowed only three hits, gave up his first walk of the spring and struck out five. As the competition heats up between Jordan, Tanner Roark and Chris Young for the fifth spot in the rotation, every appearance counts a little more, and Jordan surely did his part to say, “Pick me” on Wednesday night.
Ross Detwiler, who became the odd man out of the fifth starter competition this week, pitched a clean inning of relief in his first appearance since being selected to the bullpen. He walked one, struck out one and induced two groundouts.
The Nats bats were silenced to start the game, as Houston’s starter Jarred Cosart pitched a perfect five innings, striking out nine of the 15 batters he faced.
The fact that the regular starters didn’t record a hit until the sixth inning – on an Anthony Rendon single to right after Cosart left the game– wasn’t cause for worry because Cosart was superb and simply beat them. The more concerning item was the RISP conversation that started buzzing during the game. Though the Nationals do still have the “it’s only Spring Training” excuse, going 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and leaving the bases loaded still isn’t good. But I digress. It’s only Spring Training.
- Jesus Guzman hit a home run on the first pitch Tyler Clippard threw him in the eighth inning, scoring the second Astros run, leaving the final score 2-0 in favor of the Astros.
- I’m a fan of the batting lineup Matt Williams put together on Wednesday (listed below), though I also like the rendition proposed by Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post on Sunday, which shuffles around the two, six and eight spots. Luckily, with this roster there aren’t really any bad options. Fans just have to hope Williams finds the best way to use it to it’s potential and distance the club from the days of picking the lineup out of a hat.
1. Denard Span
2. Ian Desmond
3. Ryan Zimmerman
4. Jayson Werth
5. Bryce Harper
6. Wilson Ramos
7. Adam LaRoche
8. Anthony Rendon
9. Taylor Jordan
- Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless seventh inning proving that he can in fact put up a zero in a non-save situation. I’m kidding, of course, but it was good to see a dominant outing from Soriano.
- MASN writer Dan Kolko made his debut as the Nationals’ new sideline reporter, taking the place of Julie Alexandria. Although Kolko’s hair isn’t quite as pretty as Julie’s, I have a feeling the players will have even fewer qualms with pouring Gatorade on it. Go buy a good rain coat, Kolko.