Our long national nightmare is over: Baseball is back, even if it is just exhibition games.
Stephen Strasburg saw his first game action of the spring, allowing two runs in two innings as the Nationals fell to the Mets, 5-3.
Strasburg had an uncharacteristic first start: he allowed two runs on a first-inning home run to Ruben Tejada and finished his day with three hits allowed and just one strikeout. Spring Training is, of course, the time and place to work these kinks out of the system, so there is little to be concerned about in Strasburg’s performance. The next two innings were handled by reliever Craig Stammen, who also allowed three hits but escaped with only one run allowed and had a strikeout. Fernando Abad, the former Astro reliever signed to a minor-league contract, posted a clean fifth inning, albeit not an easy one: he walked two batters. Lefty Bill Bray was up next, the former Nats draft pick who has battled injuries through his career as a reliever with both the Nats and Cincinnati Reds. Bray (0-1) took the loss, allowing two runs, one earned, in his inning of work, to go along with three hits, a walk, and a strikeout. Erik Davis, who had a 2.71 ERA across AA and AAA last year and was one of the two prospects the Nats added to their 40-man roster to protect from the Rule 5 Draft, posted what may have been the best inning of the day in the seventh. He struck out two while only walking one, and allowed no hits or runs. The eighth and final inning of the day pitched by the Nats was taken care of by the finally healthy Cole Kimball, who allowed no runs and walked one.
On the offensive side of things, quite a few players got to participate. Catcher Chris Snyder, who hit a home run off Strasburg last spring, was 2-2 with a two-run homer, helping the Nationals take a 3-2 lead in the second inning. In that same inning, former top prospect 1B Chris Marrero hit an RBI double that scored Ian Desmond, who went 1-2. Beyond those three hits off Mets starter Shaun Marcum, the Nationals’ bats were relatively quiet. In his Nationals debut, centerfielder Denard Span went hitless in two at bats. Bryce Harper was 1-3 to go along with a humorous semi-bungled catch in left field, during which the ball bounced off his glove and then his opposite forearm before he was able to secure it. None of the other major league regulars played, and the team’s other three hits came from pitcher-turned-1B Micah Owings and prospects CF Eury Perez and SS Zach Walters. As for other prospects, 3B Matt Skole went 0-0 with a walk, Anthony Rendon went 0-1 as a pinch hitter, and C Jhonatan Solano went 0-2.
Next Game: Today in Viera, FL vs. Miami.