Nationals fans have long been frustrated by the Marlins — of the Florida or Miami variety — being Washington’s bogey team, handling the Nats with much more regularity than the team’s records would predict. The trend continued on Wednesday, although Miami’s 5-1 spring training win over Washington at Space Coast Stadium isn’t one that will send anyone home wringing their hands.
In fact, manager Davey Johnson had a decidedly un-baseball-like adjective he used to describe the contest.
“It’s a boring game when we get only three hits,” Johnson said to Bill Ladson of MLB.com. “That’s a boring game to me.”
A pre-game glance at the lineups would not have had many fans predicting boring, as the Nationals had more than half its starters in the game from the outset. Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche made their spring debuts, and Werth joined Denard Span and Bryce Harper in the first unveiling of Washington’s new outfield. But that quartet went 0-for-8 with five strikeouts, an indicative sample of Washington’s struggles with Miami pitching on the day.
Werth struck out looking twice in his first spring game, apparently choosing to spend his plate appearances working on his batting eye. “Werth was tracking,” Johnson told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Harper, meanwhile, saw his spring batting average drop down to a worrisome .600 after his 0-for-2 day, making his chances of coming north with the team even slimmer. (Sarcasm alert!)
Dan Haren made his first appearance with a Curly W on his hat, throwing two innings and giving up one run while striking out three. His velocity seemed to be a little up from last season, when everyone was concerned, averaging between 89-91 MPH on the radar gun. The Marlins got him right out of the gate, with leadoff batter Christian Yelich tripling and scoring on a sacrifice fly by Donovan Solano. A single and an error by Haren made things even more hairy, but the veteran worked out of the jam and spun a perfect second inning to end his day on a high note.
The Marlins scored four more runs in the sixth and seventh innings off Tanner Roark, who went 6-17 as a starter at AAA Syracuse last season.
Washington’s lone run of the day came in the eighth. Danny Espinosa‘s first spring hit, sandwiched between a pair of walks, gave Washington a bases-loaded, no-out situation against Miami’s Braulio Lara. But Will Rhymes fouled out to third for the first out, and even though Carlos Rivero was able to get one home with a sacrifice fly, the possibility of a big inning was gone.
Craig Stammen and Drew Storen combined for three scoreless innings out of Washington’s bullpen, which also got a perfect inning from left-hander Fernando Abad, formerly of the Houston Astros, who continued his strong spring.
Stephen Strasburg will take to the hill Thursday at 6:05 pm as the Nationals welcome the New York Mets to Viera, a game that can be seen on MASN and the MLB Network.