Feb 23, 2014; Viera, FL, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Taylor Jordan (38) poses for a picture during photo day at Space Coast Stadium . Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Nats Lose Pitcher’s Duel To Houston, 2-0

The Washington Nationals played the Houston Astros at Space Coast Stadium on Wednesday in a game that started at a weird time for a spring training game–6 p.m.  The sunlight blazing over most of the field at an odd angle and washing out the ball and the player being thrown to caused some sloppy moments in the field early on.

Taylor Jordan started for the Nats, in a game that was important to his chances to take the fifth starter job.  He did not hurt his chances, going five innings and allowing just one run.  Jordan allowed three hits and most of his outs were on ground balls.

Ground ball pitchers are usually served well by the Nats infield defense, but this evening it was not stellar.  The Nats had a day and a half off, and it looked like they forgot to suck down their
5 Hr Energy before they hit the field.

Ryan Zimmerman made one of his spectacular pick plays at third base, but then threw the ball wide of Adam LaRoche, pulling him off the bag.  Zimmerman was originally charged with an error, but by the next inning it was changed to a hit.  Jordan committed a throwing error, and LaRoche a fielding error.

The end result of that first inning mess was one Houston run.  Turned out, that run would be enough.  Jarred Cosart was the starting pitcher for the Astros and he looked fabulous.  He pitched five innings, gave up no hits, no walks and struck out nine.  That’s a pretty good day at the office.

Taylor settled down after the first inning and allowed no more runs.  He pitched very effectively and in the end did not hurt his chances at the fifth starter job.  It was a good thing Jordan pitched well during his last four innings of work.  Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond nearly collided going after a shallow fly ball which it was apparent from the line on the ball Bryce took he couldn’t really see it (that odd angle sun again). Desmond got a glove on the ball but didn’t make a catch we have seen him make many times before.  Span luckily was backing up the play and picked up the ball to limit the damage.

LaRoche hit a ball that came down the first base line with the back of his glove instead of making his usual smooth pick.  He got hold of the ball and pitched it to Jordan, barely getting the out.  Harper lost a fly ball in the sun which luckily went foul.  Overall it was not pretty.

The game clipped along at a good pace because both starters were working quickly on the mound.  Both of them were in that get the ball and throw it mode.

The Nats bats were quiet for the rest of the game after Cosart was finished for the day.  The Astros sent Raul Valdes to the mound for an inning, Michael Foltynewicz for two and Josh Zeid for the ninth and the save.  Anthony Rendon singled off Valdes to get the Nats their first hit in the sixth.  The Astros pitchers looked like world beaters and the Nats hitters could do nothing with them.

Ross Detwiler made his first appearance as a reliever in the sixth inning, and pitched his inning well.  Rafael Soriano threw a scoreless seventh. The Astros tacked on another run in the eighth inning when Tyler Clippard gave up a solo home run to Jesus Guzman.

Ross Ohlendorf pitched the ninth inning for the Nats, and it was good to see old “maximum windup” on the mound, pitching well.  Ohlendorf gave up a two out single to Adron Chambers, who is hitting .375 this spring training.  With Guzman at the plate, Chambers attempted to steal second and was thrown out by Sandy Leon.  Game over.

On a side note, it was good to see shots of Bo Porter in the Astros dugout managing his team.  I still wish Porter the best of luck.  With the first pick in this year’s draft, I don’t know how much longer they will need luck.

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