The Washington Nationals defeated David Price and the Detroit Tigers 9-2 today in Viera. The game featured two of the premier pitches in all of baseball in David Price and Jordan Zimmermann. Many of the potential Nationals opening day starters were in the lineup as well including Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, and Wilson Ramos.
The top of the lineup showed positive signs early and helped the Nats put up four runs on the former Cy Young winner in the first two innings.
Second base prospect Wilmer Difo continued his hot start to the spring from the leadoff spot this afternoon. He led things off in the first with double to left and quickly advanced to third on a wild pitch. After an Ian Desmond strikeout and a Bryce Harper walk, Ryan Zimmerman brought Difo home with a double to left. Wilson Ramos followed with a groundout to short that brought home Harper for an early 2-0 lead.
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In the second, the Nats kept up the pressure on Price. Outfielder Derrick Robinson reached on a fielder’s choice, and proceeded to steal second. Difo then ripped a clutch two-out triple to center to score Robinson. Ian Desmond then brought home Difo with a double to left to make it 4-0 Nats.
Difo has continued to impress the team so far in spring. He finished the day 2-for-3, with two runs scored and an RBI. His average on the spring is now at .500. While still young, Nationals fans can expect to see Difo at the top of the lineup in a couple of years at Nats Park if he can continue this offensive production to go with his speed.
Jordan Zimmermann started his second game of the spring and allowed just two hits and a single earned run in his 2.2 innings of work. He looked strong and confident on the mound and struck out four without surrendering a walk. His only run came in the third after allowing a double to Anthony Gose, who then stole third and scored on a sac-fly from Rajai Davis.
The Nationals bullpen (Craig Stammen, Blake Treinen, Rich Hill, Felipe River, and Manny Delcarmen) would shut the door from that point on though as they did not allow a single run the rest of the game. Matt Thornton did retire one batter to end the third inning.
The Nationals hitters kept on coming and tacked on two more runs in the fifth. Desmond led things off with a walk and Harper followed with a single to right. Zimmerman then picked up his second RBI on the day with a double to right field. After a Wilson Ramos strikeout, Tyler Moore scored Harper with a sacrifice fly to right.
In the seventh, outfield prospect Drew Vettleson made it 7-2 on a home-run to right. It was Vettleson’s first at-bat of the spring with the team and he took advantage of it.
Matt Skole would add on two more runs for good measure in the 8th, with a two-run homer to right, scoring Nate McLouth, who made his first start of the spring. This was Skole’s first home run of the spring and he has impressed many with his play so far this spring
Coming off of a three-game losing streak (granted it is spring training), the team rebounded with a dominant outing. The big bats at the top of the lineup all contributed, and the bullpen, with the exception of Storen, all added scoreless innings in relief in the victory.
Anthony Rendon was originally slated to start this game at third, but was a late scratch due to swelling in his knee from a spectacular diving play he made the day before, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. Matt Williams told reporters that him sitting was simply precautionary and was not an area of concern.
The team also announced (via Twitter) that Stephen Strasburg will miss his scheduled start tomorrow due to an ingrown toe nail. Prospect A.J. Cole will start in his place against the New York Mets and Jacob deGrom at 1:10 PM ET at Port St. Lucie, a game you can see on MLB.TV.