As the Washington Nationals are now one week away from opening the season against the New York Mets, one of the important things that needs to be fine tuned is the defense. Washington, coming into today’s game vs. the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Florida, has 27 errors this spring, which is fourth in the National League. Today, the Nats made three errors and had two wild pitches in their 6-2 loss to St. Louis.
There was some good news for Washington today as Ryan Zimmerman returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury. Zimmerman went 1-for-2 with a RBI and a walk on the afternoon.
The Nats got the scoring started in the top of the second inning against Michael Wacha, who was less than a week removed from facing Washington. After a Ian Stewart double and a Jose Lobaton walk, starting pitcher Taylor Jordan would drive in Stewart two batters later on an infield single to make it 1-0. In the top of the third, after Dan Uggla led off the inning with a double, Zimmerman would increase the lead to 2-0 when he hit a RBI single to center field.
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That lead wouldn’t last for long as St. Louis tied the game in the bottom of the inning with two runs of their own. Jordan would walk the first two batters of the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Wacha, Matt Carpenter scored St. Louis’ first run on a RBi groundout to third. After a Jason Heyward walk, Ian Stewart misplayed a ground ball off the bat by Matt Holliday that would score Kolten Wong and tie the game at two. With the exception of the three-walk third inning, Jordan pitched a solid game. He went four innings, gave up two runs (one earned) on one hit, but he did not strikeout a batter.
Xavier Cedeno would follow up Jordan in the bottom of the fifth inning as he tried to make a case to make the Opening Day roster. In that inning, he gave up two runs on two hits and struck out two while walking one batter. Cedeno had one of the two wild pitches on the inning, which allowed runners to move into scoring position. With runners on second and third with two outs, Holliday would add on two more RBI’s with a single to center that gave St. Louis the lead, 4-2.
Despite the bad outing, there was some good news for Cedeno’s chances at making the team. During the game, the team announced a trade with the New York Mets that sent lefty reliever Jerry Blevins to New York in exchange for outfielder Matt den Dekker. We will have more analysis on this trade later tonight:
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Drew Storen came into the game for the third time this spring. During his outing, Danny Espinosa made an error which allowed Jon Jay to reach bate. Later in the inning, a wild pitch and a throwing error by catcher Jose Lobaton allowed Jay’s pinch runner, Peter Bourjos, to reach third. Pete Kozma would drive in Bourjos on a RBI single off of Matt Grace to make it 5-2. The reason Grace was in the game was because Storen left the game early with a trainer due to a blister in his toe:
Bourjos would drive in a run of his own in the bottom of the seventh against Blake Treinen when he hit a base hit to center field that scored Scott Moore and made it 6-2. Treinen struck out two batters in his one inning of work. Rafael Martin would strike out two batters in a 1-2-3 eighth inning to end his outing.
As far as how the offense went, Ian Stewart was the only Nationals hitter to record two hits in this game. Stewart has a chance to make the roster with the injury to Anthony Rendon, which doesn’t look to be getting better. Chris Johnson of MASN tweeted during the game that Al Hrabosky, an analyst on Cardinals radio, heard that Rendon is seeking help from Dr. James Andrews for his injury. When the name Dr. Andrews comes up, it is rarely ever a good sign.