Mar 1, 2014; Melbourne, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) walks onto the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Braves at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals Fall to Braves in Stephen Strasburg’s Debut


The Washington Nationals lost to the Atlanta Braves 8-4 Tuesday afternoon, dropping their Grapefruit League record to 3-2 and giving Atlanta its first victory of the spring.

Obviously, the final score and the team’s record during spring training means absolutely nothing. What matters more is that Stephen Strasburg looked very good in his 2014 Grapefruit League debut. And even though his stats from today don’t matter, it’s always good when your ace gets off to a strong start during spring training.

Strasburg pitched two scoreless one-hit innings with one strikeout, no walks and only one hit allowed. The 25-year-old right-hander’s command appeared to be in mid-season form, throwing 11 of his 15 pitches for strikes.

Unfortunately for the Nationals, Braves’ starter Kris Medlen matched Strasburg nearly pitch for pitch, throwing three scoreless innings for Atlanta.

The Nationals took the lead in the top of the fourth on a bases-loaded RBI groundout by Adam LaRoche and an RBI single by Wilson Ramos. The lead didn’t last long however, as the Braves got both runs right back in the bottom of the frame on an RBI double by Evan Gattis off of Nationals’ right-hander Taylor Jordan.

Ian Desmond crushed a home run to center field in the top of the fifth inning, making it a 3-2 Nationals lead. They would add to that lead in the top of the seventh inning when Brian Goodwin scored on a throwing error by Braves’ second baseman Dan Uggla. It’s only been a few games, but Matt Williams‘ plan of aggressive base running seems to be working pretty well.

An RBI double in the bottom of the inning by Braves’ shortstop Andrelton Simmons would tie the game at 4-4, before a four-run eighth inning for Atlanta would put the game out of reach for the Nationals.

It was a rough day for Drew Storen, who gave up two runs and two walks in his Grapefruit League debut. Right-hander Luis Ayala also struggled with his command as he walked the first two batters he faced and allowed four runs to score in a third of an inning of work.

It wasn’t the best day for several Nationals players and the final score is certainly not something we want to see when the Braves come to town on April 4th. But it’s only spring training, and what happens in the games means absolutely nothing. As long as players get work in and everybody stays healthy, the Nationals should be in good shape.

The team will be back in Viera Wednesday afternoon to take on the New York Mets.

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