The Big Machine

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Stephen Strasburg was pitching, Ryan Zimmerman was playing third base, and all of the Nationals regulars were in the starting lineup for the first time truly in Spring Training Saturday night. Sure, the ballpark was about 40,000 people shy of what it will be when the 2013 regular season launches in Washington, but the exhibition season finally was beginning to feel like a reality.

Most of all, it meant that the Nationals are now just three turns of the rotation away from Opening Day in Washington, just 15 days from now.

The Nationals featured their full projected Opening Day lineup for the first time Saturday night.

The Nationals featured their full projected Opening Day lineup for the first time Saturday night.

Strasburg will start that game, just as he did Saturday night against the Astros. He delivered his second consecutive strong outing, just a taste of what he might unleash on the league in his first full season. In 5.1 innings of work, he fanned eight Houston batters – including four in a row at one point – allowing just a single run. Manager Davey Johnson extended him out to 93 pitches, easily the most thrown by a Washington starter this spring.

Afterwards, Johnson called Strasburg “The Big Machine,” helping support Strasburg’s own desires expressed earlier this spring to be thought of as a workhorse for this squad. He won’t be the only one extending his work over the next week, though, as Johnson made clear after the game that starters would all be expected to play the full nine innings beginning next week.

“It’s my time, boys,” he joked. “The party’s over.”

The game itself was, thankfully, still a Spring Training affair. From the wind-blown balls that escaped Bryce Harper and former National Rick Ankiel, to the drops by both Washington and Houston players, it was not the most cleanly played of contests. But when Ryan Zimmerman charged Carlos Corporan’s slow chopper up the third base line in the second inning – his first defensive attempt of the spring – picked it cleanly, and fired a bullet across the diamond to Adam LaRoche at first base, the crowd at Space Coast Stadium began to see flashes of the hopes of what this team will become.

“I can’t remember the last bad day,” said Zimmerman in reference to throwing, after slowly rebuilding his arm strength this offseason.

Those words should be music to every Nationals fan’s ears. The party may be over, but the fun is just beginning.

Check out the Nationals lineup as they head to Lakeland to take on Detroit, and see a complete list of Spring Training results to date:

Nationals Lineup:

1. Espinosa 2B

2. Lombardozzi 3B

3. Harper CF

4. Moore RF

5. Desmond SS

6. Suzuki C

7. Tracy DH

8. Marrero 1B

9. Owings LF

P. Detwiler LHP

Results:

2/23 @ New York (NL) – L, 5-3

2/24 vs. Miami – T, 2-2

2/25 @ New York (NL) – W, 6-4

2/26 @ Atlanta – L, 9-5

2/27 vs. Miami – L, 5-1

2/28 vs. New York (NL) – T, 4-4

3/1 @ Atlanta – W, 6-5

3/2 @ St. Louis – W, 6-2

3/3 vs. St. Louis – W, 7-6

3/5 vs. Houston – W, 7-1

3/6 @ Philadelphia – L, 6-3

3/7 @ Houston – L, 4-2

3/8 vs. Cardinals – L, 16-10

3/9 vs. Marlins – W, 8-7

3/10 @ Detroit – L, 2-1

3/11 vs. Atlanta – L, 7-2

3/13 SS vs. New York (NL) – W, 8-5

3/13 SS @ Houston – W, 9-7

3/14 vs. Houston – W, 6-3

3/15 @ St. Louis – L, 5-1

3/16 vs. Houston – L, 4-2

Overall Record: 9-10-2

1 Comment

I am so excited for the Nationals coming season. They will rise to the top, just as DJ predicted. He was right last year and the team will go to the W.S. just as DJ predicts. With the strong line up and the pitching staff, they are a shoe -in. Can’t wait for opening day when Stephen takes the mound. Go Nats’!

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