Almost the Real Deal

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There was something about Wednesday’s contest against the Mets in Port St. Lucie that felt a little more real than the previous games leading up to it. Fans who have followed the team closely, through the end of last year and the offseason additions over the winter, understand this. The Nationals were guided in this contest by their great pitching, with Jordan Zimmermann starring in the lead role, tossing six innings of two-hit, scoreless ball. Runs were at a premium, with only Ryan Zimmerman’s sacrifice fly in the third and Jayson Werth’s solo home run in the fourth bringing anything other than goose eggs to the scoreboard through the first six frames.

We had some lively, bilingual company in the press box in St. Lucie on Wednesday.

When Lucas Duda’s chopper escaped the leaping reach of Chad Tracy at first and rattled down amongst the bullpen chairs, allowing Jason Bay to score all the way from first, it was obvious this would be one of those nail-biters. Even in Spring Training, the crowd was very much involved in the result. You could feel the sway of emotions as the Nationals scored in the top of the eighth to re-establish the two-run cushion, only to have the Mets close the gap to one again with a run in the bottom half.

Even without Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen in their familiar eighth and ninth inning roles, the bullpen acquitted itself nicely. Henry Rodriguez, locking up his second save in three days, got some help on a nice diving catch by Corey Brown in right,. It all incorporated the feel of a regular season, intra-division game, full of drama up until the final out was recorded. It was the type of game many of those who follow the organization expect to see the team play this year – well pitched, low scoring and close. All in all, it almost felt like the regular season.


After all, sitting to our right in the press box was a trio of Spanish broadcasters, announcing (live?) into their microphones about happenings around Mets camp. We picked out names like Ronny Cedeno and Johan Santana, and even a “los Nacionales de Washington.” With all the commotion in the box, we almost missed the fact that Ian Desmond’s four-hit game makes him 11-for-his-last-26.

We caught another impressive performance from Henry Rodriguez (and ensuing celebration) from the seats.

To clear our heads, we went down to field level to watch Rodriguez put the finishing touches on this one. The Venezuelan has quietly put together a very impressive spring campaign, holding the opposition scoreless in all nine of his outings, allowing just three hits and two walks while fanning seven over 9.0 innings of work. His success in smoothly converting both save opportunities presented to him this week can only help his chances of officially stepping into the closer role until Storen’s return.

We’ve officially hit the home stretch of Spring Training, with just six games left before the season officially begins a week from Thursday (!) at Wrigley Field. Here are the Nationals spring 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 – 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 – L, 11-7

@ New York (NL) – L, 2-0

vs. Atlanta – L, 3-2 (10)

@ St. Louis – L, 9-0

@ Houston – L, 5-1

@ Baltimore – L, 12-3

vs. New York (NL) – W, 12-0

vs. Houston – W, 7-4

@ Miami – L, 3-1

@ New York (NL) – W, 3-2

Split Squads Thursday: vs. Atlanta, 1:05pm, @ Detroit, 6:05pm

Overall Record: 8-14-3

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