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.
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.