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Bullpen Busts in Loss to Mets

Thursday afternoon in Viera, the Washington Nationals (9-11) turned in their second straight uninspiring effort, falling 8-3 to the New York Mets (14-10) after the Nats shut New York out for the first five innings and allowed them to score in each of the remaining four. This unfortunate outcome dropped my career spring training record to 0-2. Fortunately, like most spring numbers, I don’t expect this one to translate to the regular season.

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Scherzer Deals, But Cards Top Nats

Wednesday’s game was my first spring training game since 2005, when Brian Schneider’s wife sold me a Nationals hat. It was as hot and humid as I remembered. I don’t remember who won that game when I was 10, but it was the St. Louis Cardinals (10-7) who emerged triumphant today, scoring in the bottom of the eighth to claim a 1-0 victory over the Washington Nationals (9-10).

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Escobar Makes Spring Debut In Win Over Yankees

The Washington Nationals (9-9) took down the New York Yankees (12-9) 7-6 with an abbreviated squad, after being hit by the injury bug early in the week. The squad got back to .500 behind a solid outing from Doug Fister as well as offensive help from a few unlikely sources. The biggest news of the day however, was not what happened on field, but rather the decisions made off of it.

Scherzer Gets the Nod

After much deliberation Matt Williams was finally ready to announce that he had picked which one of his aces would start Opening Day. He announced today that Max Scherzer, the newest addition to the staff, would have the opportunity to take the mound when Nationals Park reopens for the year. The decision on William’s part was not a slight to his returning staff as some have implied, but rather a chance for his biggest offseason addition to prove himself in front of a sold-out crowd.

The rationale is solid and I applaud his decision, but to be fair there were few bad decisions he could have made in this situation.

Doug Fister Continues To Roll

Though he could have had a better day, Fister did what he needed to do to help his team win. The first at-bat of the game was a strikeout and he contributed with a two-run single on offense. His ERA was 4.97 for the spring, which is not stellar. But sometimes for pitchers it’s not about the individual stats, but rather helping your team to win.

Fister has always been good at playing that role, and that’s what makes him such a good commodity on a team full of star pitchers. His ability to hang in when the going gets tough was exhibited again on Monday. Since spring training is nearing completion, it is safe to start making extrapolations to some extent about what performances will look like in the regular season, and as long as Fister can get wins he will fit right into this squad.

Escobar Shines in Debut

Yunel Escobar made his debut for the Nats on Monday after coming back from an oblique strain, and proved he was none the worse for wear. He went 1-for-2 with a single, but the play that really stood out was a great diving play he made defensively.

If the Nats continue to struggle with injuries, they will need strong backups to play an extended amount of time. Escobar was essentially a question mark up until Monday, but if he continues to put in strong performances he will be a great addition to the team.

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Taylor Shows His Power In Nats’ Tie With Tigers

For the second time in a week, the Washington Nationals (7-8-3) and the hosting Detroit Tigers (7-14-2) played to a tie, as Sunday’s contest resulted in a 7-7 draw. Michael Taylor’s performance was the highlight of a big day for the Nationals’ lineup, but a late-inning rally by the Tigers prevented them from walking away with a victory. Continue reading…

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Scherzer’s Sterling Start Spurs Nats

The tale of Rumpelstiltskin is an exceedingly odd one that lacks any sort of moral. A king threatens to kill a girl if she cannot spin straw into gold, and an imp helps her do it in exchange for her firstborn child. She then marries the king and pleads with the imp to keep her child. He agrees, but only if she can guess his name. She follows him into the woods and he sings about how his name is Rumpelstiltskin. She tells him as much, and he gets so mad about not keeping her kid that he stomps a hole in the ground and falls in and is never heard from again.

It was Max Scherzer who spun baseballs into gold Friday, allowing one run in five innings and sending the Houston Astros (7-6) tumbling into the chasm as he led the Washington Nationals (7-8) to a 7-5 win.

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Federal Reserve: The Implications Of Releasing Kobernus

As spring training approaches its stretch run, the Washington Nationals are making some crucial decisions with their roster, including the release of a former top prospect. Infielder/outfielder Jeff Kobernus—who has logged major league time in each of the last two seasons—was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse on March 14, only to be released just three days later. Continue reading…

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Nats Fall Twice In Split Squad Saturday

The Washington Nationals (4-4) split their squad on Saturday to accommodate a two-game schedule, but in the end both were losing efforts. Half the team lost 13-4 to the New York Mets (5-6), who continued to hit well against the Nats, and the other half played the Miami Marlins (6-3) in a 4-0 loss.

Sun 2, Robinson 0

Clint Robinson started in left field for the Nats in their game against the Mets Saturday. Robinson is a player who’s had a lot of success as a hitter in the minor leagues and has done stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City Royals. He generally plays first base, but Matt Williams decided to change it up and put him in left field. The gamble did not pay off.

Not once, but twice Robinson (who was wearing sunglasses) lost the ball in the sun on what should have been easy outs. The first time it lead to a double and the second was a single. Both were eventually plated. Once is a mistake, twice is a pattern and while Robinson wasn’t charged with an error you can be sure the coaches saw what was going on. In spring training, every inning is critical to guys without roster spots, and Robinson didn’t do himself any favors.

Bats Struggle

In the past it has often been frustrating for Nationals fans to watch their team fall in close games. In the 2014 NLDS the offense couldn’t get itself going at the right times to close out low-scoring affairs. If Saturday’s games are any indication, the club could be headed for the same old struggles.

In two games the split-squad managed to score a grand total of four runs, two of which came off a homer in the ninth inning of the Mets game. The team as a whole collected five hits against the Marlins and eight against the Mets. If the Nats are to be successful this season they will have to figure out how to generate offense even in the toughest situations.

Bright Spot: Gwynn Jr.

On a day when there wasn’t much positive to talk about, Tony Gwynn Jr. collected two more hits, making his average for spring training .444 to this point. Gwynn Jr. has been quietly putting together quite a resume this spring, and is part of a solid crop of outfielders the Nats brought with them to Florida this year.

If Jayson Werth is unable to suit up to start the season in left field, Gwynn Jr. may be a suitable option for the team and could even add a new dynamic to the team’s offense.