Friday marked the final Grapefruit League game for the Washington Nationals before heading back to D.C. for an exhibition with the Yankees. Coming off an off day, the Nationals went into Friday’s game hoping to pick up a little momentum for the regular season after a string of performances that had featured mediocre pitching and poor offense. The Nationals sent Stephen Strasburg to the mound to face off against C.C. Sabathia, whose 2014 was cut short due to knee surgery.
Washington got off to a fast start. Yunel Escobar, the second hitter of the game, drew a walk. Bryce Harper then drilled a 2-2 slider to right field. When the ball kicked off the wall awkwardly, it allowed Escobar to score and Harper to go to third. For the next hitter, the Yankees played the infield in, and Ryan Zimmerman made them pay, pounding a ball straight up the middle for a single to make the score 2-0.
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A ground ball back to the mound allowed Zimmerman to advance to second. He would come around to score when Ian Desmond poked a ball into right field that bounced over the low fence along the third base line for a ground rule double. By the time Sabathia managed to get the third out, the Nationals already held a 3-0 advantage.
The score would remain 3-0 until the bottom of the fourth. Mark Teixeira doubled to left center with one out. After Strasburg recorded the second out via strikeout, Chase Headley doubled to bring in the Yankees first run of the day.
Washington would add another run in the top of the seventh. Matt den Dekker drew a four pitch walk from Andrew Bailey and then stole second. When Josh Johnson singled to right, the throw home drifted up the line and allowed den Dekker to score easily. Nick Goody would come on to replace Bailey after a walk put two on, and Mike Carp would take advantage, blasting a three-run homer over the center field wall to stretch the Nationals lead to 7-1.
After threatening to add to their lead, but failing in the top of the eighth, the Nationals would break through for another run in the top of the ninth to stretch the lead to seven. In the bottom of the ninth, Xavier Cedeno recorded the first two outs before allowing a double and giving way to Aaron Barrett. Barrett would give up a double and allow a run to score, but he managed to get the next hitter to ground to third, locking up an 8-2 win for the Nationals.
It was a nice outing overall for Washington. They got the pitching performances they were looking for out of Strasburg and their bullpen. Plus, their offense looked to be hitting on all cylinders once again. Tomorrow, the Nationals and Yankees will face off again at Nationals Park in an exhibition game, with Doug Fister facing Nathan Eovaldi. You can catch the game on MASN at 1:05 PM ET.
- It’s pretty cool to see the scouting report on Stephen Strasburg from an outsider’s view. Friday’s game was broadcast via YES, the Yankees network, and their points on Strasburg mentioned him as a perennial Cy Young candidate, which seems a far cry from his image around D.C. In fact, the broadcast team was very complimentary of the entire Nationals rotation.
- Speaking of Strasburg, the Nats pitcher looked to be in midseason form. He had good velocity on his fastball, and his breaking pitches showed good movement. He ended his day after 5.1 innings with one run on six hits and two walks to go with six strikeouts.
- Tanner Roark pitched 1.2 scoreless innings Friday, and Matt Thornton added a scoreless eighth. While there was a late hiccup from Cedeno and Barrett, it was still a solid performance from a bullpen that needed to pick itself up. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the regular season.