The Red Hot Corner

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The Nationals continued to score runs and play well in a win over the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals yesterday. They scored single runs in each of the first three innings, then added two in the fourth and three in the fifth on the way to an 8-4 victory. While there were contributions from all over the lineup, one player continues to stand out in the early going: Ryan Zimmerman.

Zimmerman is absolutely dialed in right now. After doubling in his first two plate appearances on Saturday, the Nats third baseman hit two more balls hard to the opposite field, the first for a double and the second for his second home run of the spring. After Monday, he led all MLB players in batting average in Spring Training, sitting at a scorching .583 clip (7-for-12) with five extra-base hits.

The Nationals knocked off the defending champs on Monday.

The question is asked every year of whoever starts the spring hot if they are worried that they are hitting their stride too soon. Zimmerman dismissed that notion and said he was just happy to be seeing the ball well. Needless to say, if this is a precursor of things to come in the regular season, it may be a special year for the Washington third baseman.

Corey Brown also played a solid game Monday. After coming up just short on a diving attempt for a shallow fly down the line in left field in the first inning, Brown made up for it in style in the third frame. Yadier Molina led off with a single to bring up Matt Holliday, who stung a ball towards the gap in left-center. Molina was running all the way on the play, but Brown raced over and made a diving catch, then sprung to his feet and gunned Molina down at first base for the double play. Brown also singled home runs in both the fourth and fifth innings.

However, he was one of the casualties of the first round of cuts as he was sent to Minor League camp, along with fellow outfielder Xavier Paul, infielder Jarrett Hoffpauir, catcher Sandy Leon and pitchers Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Rafael Martin. The Nationals also optioned pitcher Matt Purke and infielder Anthony Rendon to High-A Potomac and infielder Carlos Rivero to Triple-A Syracuse.

Such is life in the world of Spring Training, where a 54-man camp must be trimmed to 25 players by Opening Day. The good news for those players is that they will all get more action on the field, as Minor League games begin this week. We’ll have more on those as they happen, but here are the Nationals results to date:

vs. Georgetown (exhibition) – W, 3-0

@ Houston – L, 3-1

vs. Houston – L, 10-2

@ New York (NL) – W, 3-1

@ Atlanta – W, 5-2

vs. St. Louis – T, 3-3

vs. Houston – W, 8-0

@ Miami – L, 3-0

vs. New York (NL) – W, 8-2

@ Detroit – T, 5-5

@ St. Louis – Canceled (rain)

vs. St. Louis – W, 8-4

vs. Detroit – Tuesday, 6:05pm

Overall Record: 5-3-2

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