Still A Little Green
The Nationals celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at the ballpark on Saturday. The home side donned green hats against their alternate red tops and, well, let’s just say we’re glad that particular uniform combination won’t travel north to D.C. when camp officially breaks.
The Nationals also nearly got the chance to celebrate a walk-off win over the Miami Marlins. Washington got runners to the corners with nobody out in a 1-1 game in the bottom of the ninth inning, but could not push across the winning run, leaving the team with its third tie of the spring. It’s good to see those situational hitting circumstances present themselves throughout Spring Training so players can get used to them before April.
Miami Manager Ozzie Guillen elected to let his pitchers hit, something you don’t see a lot of in Spring Training. The Nationals stuck with the DH, in the person of Mark DeRosa, and it paid off. DeRosa’s walk in the first inning moved Danny Espinosa to third base in front of Chad Tracy’s RBI groundout for the team’s lone run. DeRosa also added a double in his second at-bat, as he continues his productive spring.
Meanwhile, Marlins starting pitcher Tom Koehler came up with two on and one out in the second inning, a promising run-scoring situation. After failing to get a bunt down and running the count to two strikes, he broke his bat on a Jordan Zimmermann offering, grounding to Tracy at first, who started the 1-6-3, inning-ending double play.
The starting pitching was good again on Saturday, as Zimmermann scattered six hits over 4.0 scoreless innings, striking out three without a walk. The Nats held the Marlins scoreless until John Buck’s solo shot leading off the sixth, which tied the game at one run apiece.
With the game still tied, 1-1, in the top of the ninth, the Marlins got runners to first and second with one out for Jeff Dominguez. The infielder hit a humpback line drive toward left-center field, but shortstop Andres Blanco made a great leaping catch, transferring the ball to his open hand and flipping it to Steve Lombardozzi at second, all before hitting the ground, to double off the runner and end the inning.
Obscure stat of the day: Koehler won 22 games in a span of 24 decisions between September 4, 2009 and May 21, 2011. He then lost his next six decisions before winning seven of eight to finish last season.
On a somewhat related note, good luck saying Miami relief pitcher Steve Cishek (pronounced SEE-sheck) five times fast.
With another tie in the books, here are the Nationals results to date as they take on the Tigers Sunday at Space Coast Stadium:
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 – L, 6-3
@ Atlanta – L, 6-5
vs. New York (AL) – L, 8-5
@ New York (AL) – L, 4-3 (10)
vs. Miami – T, 1-1
vs. Detroit – Sunday, 1:05pm
Overall Record: 5-7-3