Michael A. Taylor drove in four runs Thursday afternoon as the Washington Nationals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 8-2 to improve to a Grapefruit League-best 15-4. The Nats tallied 14 hits in a game that featured six of their eight projected Opening Day starters.
Max Scherzer (2-0, 1.38 ERA) got the start for the Washington Nationals against the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright (0-2, 4.80). Both pitchers are expected to start for their respective ball clubs on Opening Day, supposedly setting the stage for a Spring Training pitcher’s duel that in actuality, resulted in a very one-sided affair.
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St. Louis opened the game firing on all cylinders. Kolten Wong reached on an error by Trea Turner at short to lead off the game, and was followed by a walk by Stephen Piscotty and a single to shallow center field off the bat of Brandon Moss that loaded the bases. Max Scherzer was able to record back-to-back strikeouts and almost got out of the jam, but center fielder Tommy Pham smacked a double to left field that brought in the first runs of the game. 2-0 St. Louis.
Scherzer would then settle in, pitching four straight scoreless innings to finish his day. The Nats’ ace went five innings, gave up two unearned runs on three hits, struck out nine batters, and walked three. Between Scherzer and fellow starter Stephen Strasburg, Nats starters have combined to throw ten scoreless innings and 18 strikeouts in the past two games.
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The Washington offense was not able to get much going against Wainwright early. The 34-year old right-hander completed three scoreless innings to start the game, but the Nats were able to get to him in the fourth. Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon reached base on a single and hit-by-pitch, respectively, to lead off the bottom half of the frame. Michael Taylor then followed with a hard hit double to left field that tied up the game. 2-2 heading into the top of the fifth.
Taylor and the Nats would not stop there, however. After back-to-back singles by Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman forced Adam Wainwright out of the game with one out in the fifth, Werth and Rendon would hit consecutive doubles to opposite sides of the field that combined to score three runs. Taylor would then provide the highlight of the day with a two-run homer that scored Rendon and gave the Nats five runs in the inning. 7-2 Washington.
After Scherzer’s day was done, the Nats bullpen went to work. Rafael Martin set down the Cards in order for a clean sixth. In the seventh, Trevor Gott worked around a one out single to get Kolten Wong to ground out into an inning-ending double play for a scoreless frame. Nick Masset replaced Gott in the eighth and kept the trend going with a scoreless inning of his own.
The Nats tacked on another run in the bottom half of the inning, scoring Brendan Ryan off a single by Chris Heisey to make it 8-2 Washington. Shawn Kelley worked a scoreless ninth to give the Nats the win.
Notes: Trea Turner stole second in the seventh inning with Wainwright on the mound to increase his total to 7-for-7 so far this spring… Michael Taylor is ripping the cover off the ball, hitting .486 (18-37) with four doubles, four home runs, and 13 RBI in Grapefruit League play… Wilson Ramos went 2-for-3 on the day to bring his total to 8-for-21 since undergoing LASIK surgery earlier this spring.
Next Up: The Nationals will travel to Jupiter, Florida for a Friday night contest with the Miami Marlins scheduled for 7:05 PM ET. Tanner Roark (1-0, 1.00) is scheduled to make the start against the Marlins’ David Phelps (0-0, 1.80).