Washington Nationals Recap: Doug Fister Struggles, But Nats Come Away With Win

brandonconner
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The Washington Nationals entered Sunday’s contest against the division rival Miami Marlins hoping to bounce back from a poor performance from Stephen Strasburg and a 10-2 loss to the Mets. They sent Doug Fister to the mound to square off against Tom Koehler. While the Nationals didn’t get the pitching performance they might have been hoping for, they did manage to come away with the victory.

Unfortunately for the pitchers, the balls were carrying out of Space Coast Stadium Sunday. The Nationals got off to a great start when, after a one-two-three inning by Fister, Michael Taylor hit his fourth home run of the spring to lead off the bottom of the first. Yunel Escobar followed with a single, and Bryce Harper‘s monster shot over the wall in right center field gave the Nationals a quick 3-0 lead.

That lead wouldn’t last for long as Fister quickly got himself into trouble in the following inning. Marcell Ozuna hit a two-run shot. The next batter, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, hit a solo shot to left field, and the game was tied at three.

In the third inning, the Nats and the Marlins would trade two-run frames. The Marlins got theirs on a Giancarlo Stanton two-run homer. The Nationals answered in the bottom of the inning with a Wilson Ramos solo home run and a string of singles from Ian Desmond, Tyler Moore, and Mike Carp.

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Miami would gain a one-run advantage in the top of the fourth. Pitcher Tom Koehler singled with one out. He would advance to second on a fielder’s choice and then come home to score when Christian Yelich doubled to left field.

The 6-5 advantage would not last long for the Marlins, though, as the Nationals quickly responded with a run of their own. Dan Uggla, running for Yunel Escobar who had singled, moved to second on a walk by Bryce Harper. When Wilson Ramos singled to center field, Uggla scored, and once again the game was knotted up, this time at 6-6.

Aaron Barrett would come on in the top of the fifth to replace Doug Fister, who left with six earned runs over four innings on eight hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Barrett did not fare much better than the man he replaced, though. Ichiro Suzuki, pinch running for Marcell Ozuna after a single and a stolen base, would score on an RBI single to right by Saltalamacchia.

The Nationals would answer back in the sixth inning. After a single by Michael Taylor, Bryce Harper would drive in his third run of the game with a double to right. Once again, the game was tied, this time at seven apiece.

It would remain that way until the bottom of the eighth, when the Nationals managed a two-out rally. Tony Gwynn Jr. and Dan Uggla got it started with back-to-back walks. Drew Vettleson drove in Gwynn with a single to make it 8-7. The next batter, Jose Lobaton, cleared the bases with a three run shot to center, and the Nationals turned a game that had been neck-and-neck the whole way through into a four run game.

Matt Grace and Craig Stammen would combine to close out the top of the ninth, and the Nationals walked away with an emphatic 11-7 victory over a team that will likely give them plenty of fight during the regular season.

Washington will be back in action on Monday afternoon at 1:05 PM ET when they head to Jupiter to take on the St. Louis Cardinals. Taylor Jordan is scheduled to get the start for the Nats against Michael Wacha for St. Louis. Wacha dominated the Nats in his last start on Wednesday when he gave up no runs on four hits in 5.2 innings.

Notes:

  • After a rather sluggish start to the spring, Michael Taylor is crushing the ball at the plate lately. On Sunday, he went 3-for-3 with a walk and hit his fourth home run of the spring. The Nationals have to like what they see out of the player who will replace Denard Span to start the season (and will likely replace him after 2015).
  • The pitching performance from Doug Fister was not what the Nationals were looking for after Strasburg struggled. Fister, who has been one of the Nats better pitchers, has an ERA over 7 for the spring.
  • Matt Thornton (1 IP, 1 hit, 1 K) and Rich Hill (1 IP, 0 hits, 1 K) both contributed to a solid outing from the bullpen today. Apart from the one run allowed by Barrett, the relievers managed to combine for a shutout.
  • The Nationals got more bad injury news on Sunday. Per Chris Johnson of MASN, reliever Casey Janssen will have an MRI on his right shoulder tomorrow. He began feeling discomfort while warming up before his last appearance.

"Casey Janssen will have a MRI on his right shoulder tomorrow. #Nats"

Chris Johnson (@masnCJ) March 29, 2015

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