For the most part, the spring games for the Washington Nationals have been entertaining affairs. There’s been plenty of comebacks and close games, and a decent amount of scoring. But on Thursday, when Gio Gonzalez and the Nationals squared off against Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers, the offenses were nowhere to be found. Instead, the teams took turns squandering opportunities.
The Nationals took the first turn at wasting baserunners. After Gio Gonzalez worked an easy 1-2-3 first, Ian Desmond singled with one out. But when Bryce Harper sent a ball into left field, Desmond, thinking the ball had been caught, was picked off on the basepaths.
From there, the game devolved into what could be termed either a brilliant display of pitching, or a dumpster fire of plate appearances. The Tigers managed a double in the third, a single in the sixth, a pair of singles in the seventh as well as one in the eighth and another in the tenth.
The Nationals, on the other hand, would not get another man on base until the seventh inning when Bryce Harper drew a walk, only to be quickly erased when Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a double play. Wilson Ramos singled in the eighth before pinch runner Cutter Dykstra was picked off of first.
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Perhaps the Nationals’ best chance to score came in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Tony Gwynn, Jr. sent a line drive into right field. He ended up on third with a triple, and Washington was a sacrifice fly away from walking off with a 1-0 victory. Instead, Michael Taylor, the team’s projected starter in center field, went down swinging, and Emmanuel Burriss flied out to left to send the game into the tenth.
In the extra frame, the Tigers burned their only baserunner when Steven Moya grounded into a double play, while the Nationals managed to get two runners on with one out before Tyler Moore and Mike Carp were responsible for the game’s final two outs.
The game ended with a total of 12 hits between the two teams and one error (on the Nationals). It’s likely that both sides will have their respective hitting coaches working long hours to fix the problems of today, but, on the flip side, the pitching coaches have to feel pretty good about what they saw.
- Gio Gonzalez looked incredibly sharp over his four innings of work, allowing only two hits and a walk with five strikeouts. That’s an encouraging sign from the guy who struggled with injuries in 2014 and was the most inconsistent starter for the Nats.
- Tanner Roark gave up three hits in his two innings of work while striking out three and walking none as he continues his transition into a relief role. With this outing, Roark lowered his ERA to 10.57.
- Matt Thornton, Aaron Barrett, Matt Grace, and Rafael Martin worked an inning each, combining to give up just two hits and a single walk.
- Michael Taylor had a rough day at the plate. His four strikeouts in four plate appearances earned him the dubious Golden Sombrero.