The Nationals played the Mets at Space Coast Stadium with Stephen Strasburg starting his second spring training game of the year. The Nats also started Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche, and Nats fans got to see Denard Span in action. The lead in the game changed hands several times, and at the end of nine innings the score was tied 4-4. The teams played one more inning with no change in the score. The Mets at that point were out of pitchers and the game was called.
Strasburg was a bit more effective in his second start, giving up one run, walking one and striking out six in three innings of work. The Mets scored their only run off Strasburg in the first inning, when he gave up singles to the first two Mets batters, Jordany Valdespin and Collin Cowgill, and Mike Baxter hit a sacrifice fly to score Valdespin, who had gone to third on Cowgill’s single.
Rafael Montero, the Mets starter, pitched in A ball last year. He looked good during his two innings of work. The Nats first batter of the game, Span, doubled to the right field corner. He was stranded on the base paths as Kurt Suzuki and Werth flew out and LaRoche grounded out. In the Nats second time at bat, they tied the score. Danny Espinosa doubled and moved to third on Tyler Moore’s sacrifice fly. Anthony Rendon, who started the game playing third base, cracked an RBI double to score Espinosa.
The Mets changed pitchers for the bottom of the third inning, bringing in Brandon Lyon to pitch to the top of the Nats order. Span drew a walk, and stole second. After Kurt Suzuki struck out, Span stole third. Werth brought Span home on a chopped ball groundout. The Nats lead 2-1.
Zach Duke took over the Nats pitching duties in the top of the fourth. Duke struck out Kirk Nieuwenhuis, but got unlucky throwing to Travis d’Arnaud, who hit a ball off Ian Desmond’s glove that went out into left field, leaving d’Arnaud standing at second. Duke got Brandon Hicks to flyout to right, but Omar Quintanilla hit a ball out to deep left field that went over Tyler Moore’s head and bounced over the wall for a ground rule double, scoring d’Arnaud.
The Nats took the lead back in the bottom of the 4th inning. Against Josh Edgin, Desmond singled and Moore singled with Desmond going to third on a throwing error by Brian Bixler. Rendon came through again, hitting a grounder that scored Desmond with Moore out at second on a fielder’s choice. Zach Duke and Josh Edgin both pitched a scoreless fifth. The Nats started making wholesale changes in the lineup in the fifth, and most of the starters were out of the game.
The Nats called on Yunesky Maya to pitch the 6th and 7th, and Maya demonstrated the flashes of greatness and inconsistency to which he is prone. Nieuwenhuis flew out and d’Arnaud singled to left. Maya then struck out Hicks and walked Quintanilla. D’Arnaud scored on an RBI single by Bixler. Maya put Valdespin on by hitting him by a pitch, loading the bases. He then got out of the inning with a groundout by Cowgill.
With the score tied 3-3, the Nats went ahead in the bottom of the 6th hitting against Mets pitcher Elvin Ramirez. Chris Marrero lead off with a double. After Zach Walters struck out, Danny Espinosa drew a walk, and Tyler Moore singled. With the bases loaded, Matt Skole drew a walk and the Nats took the lead. The Nats missed an opportunity to score more runs as Steve Lombardozzi’s shallow flyout was not deep enough to score the runner at third, and Eury Perez flew out to end the inning.
The Nats lead did not last. Maya gave up another run in the top of the 7th. Matt Den Decker started the inning with a single and stole second. Den Decker went to third on a groundout by Jamie Hoffman. Landon Powell drew a walk. Maya then threw a wild pitch to Hicks, which scored Den Decker and tied the score 4-4.
The Nats half of the 7th inning looked an awful lot like the bottom of the sixth, except this time the Nats didn’t manage to score a run. The Nats loaded the bases on singles by Chris Snyder, Corey Brown and Zach Walters. Scott Rice, pitching for the Mets, got Will Rhymes to fly out to shallow left and Carlos Rivero to flyout to end the Nats threat.
Patrick McCoy pitched a scoreless eighth for the Nats, and Ryan Mattheus handled the pitching chores in the ninth and tenth innings. Mattheus looked great, inducing three groundouts and striking out three. Mattheus’ heavy sinker pitch was really working, shattering at least one Mets bat. His velocity may not yet be where he wants it by opening day, but the action on his sinker is ready to go.
Next Game: The Nationals play the Braves at 6:05 p.m. on Friday, March 1st at the Braves spring training facility, at Walt Disney World Resort at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (which is the worst name for a spring training facility–ever). Radio broadcast and MLB.TV subscription is the only way to follow this game.