After missing almost three weeks of exhibition games with right elbow tightness, Doug Fister made his return to the mound at Space Coast Stadium Saturday afternoon as the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins, 6-5. Despite his lengthy layoff, Fister showed very little rust and appears to be ready to go for the regular season — which starts in just nine days.
The left-hander threw three and two-thirds scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and striking out four batters. Fister looked even stronger than he did in his first start of the spring three weeks ago and lowered his WHIP to 0.88 over five and two-thirds innings this spring.
The Nationals’ offense did its part too, giving Fister an early lead on a sacrifice fly by Jayson Werth in the bottom of the third inning. The Nationals would add to their lead an inning later on a sacrifice fly by Wilson Ramos, making it a 2-0 game.
The Marlins made it a one run game in the top of the seventh on a home run by Marcell Ozuna, but the Nationals answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame on solo home runs by Adam LaRoche and Danny Espinosa, making it a 4-1 Nationals lead.
The Marlins would not go down quietly, however, as they scored three-runs in the top of the eighth on a two-run double by Donovan Solano and a sacrifice fly by Marcell Ozuma, tying the game at four. The Nationals retook the lead in the bottom of the frame on an RBI double by Wilson Ramos, making it a 5-4 game.
But the Marlins would tie the game again in the top of the ninth on an RBI single by Danny Black.
Fortunately for the Nationals, Danny Espinosa was feeling pretty comfortable with the bat today. After swinging through the first pitch against Marlins’ right-hander Chaz Roe in the bottom of the ninth, Espinosa crushed a walk-off home run to left field, sealing a 6-5 win for the Nationals and a great game for Espinosa, who finished 2-4 with two home runs.
The Nationals will be back at it tomorrow afternoon when they’ll take on the New York Mets at 1:10 p.m. EST.