Everyone is a winner today at The Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, as the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals deadlocked 2–2 for the Nats’ second tie of the year. Their record in Grapefruit League play, which will be crucial in determining absolutely nothing this season, now stands at 7–7–2.
Erick Fedde got the start today for Washington despite Gio Gonzalez originally being penciled in on this day-after-an-off-day. Fedde was OK, striking out three but allowing a run on two hits and two walks over three innings pitched. He was in line for the loss until the ninth inning, as the Nats were kept off the scoreboard and coughed up one more run on an RBI single by Tim Federowicz off lefty reliever Tim Collins in the eighth.
But the Nats struck back, with Reid Brignac drawing a walk, advancing to third on a fielding error, and scoring on a wild pitch by Reymin Guduan, then being chased home by Andrew Stevenson on a two-out clutch knock by Jose Marmolejos. The ‘Stros nearly walked it off in the bottom of the ninth after Chris Smith walked a batter, but Rafael Bautista did a Wile E. Coyote leap practically through the center field wall to rob what would have surely been an RBI double or triple.
So, there’s usually no tying in baseball, but it’s spring training, so of course there is. And good news for both ballclubs is that no one got hurt, despite light rain rolling in by the late innings, and it’s on to the next one.
- Joaquin Benoit came on for his second spring inning and got much better results than he did in his first. Benoit worked a scoreless inning around a walk, also striking out Max Stassi.
- Maybe it’s just a fast radar gun, but the stadium scoreboard was showing Fedde in the 95-97 mph range with his fastball throughout his three innings. That’s very promising after Fedde’s velocity dropped late in the 2017 season. The Nats need their top pitching prospect to get back on track quickly, and it looks like his stuff is better than it was last we saw him.
- Marmolejos really came up clutch. It’s just an RBI single, and Guduan has yet to establish himself as a solid major league pitcher, but it was a left-on-left matchup that the Nats needed to win to avoid a loss, and the first baseman prospect came up big.
- Catcher Matt Wieters walked twice and went first-to-third on a groundball through the infield. He’s been looking very good this spring training.
- The offense was lackluster throughout the game. Both Trea Turner and Matt Adams struck out in two of their three at-bats while going hitless. Wilmer Difo couldn’t add to his pair of hits for the spring. Even Victor Robles and Anthony Rendon were hitless today.
- Collins will probably open the year at Triple-A, especially with the Nats already having to sort through a logjam of lefties, but he didn’t do himself any favors with an uneven outing today that saw him fall behind batters and give up a run on two hits and a walk, especially considering by that time, the Astros’ first team was out of the game. (He did strike out two, for what it’s worth.)
- Tommy Milone didn’t give up any runs, but he struggled to put batters away and recorded a few loud outs. It was a step backward for a pitcher who has looked pretty good so far this spring.
- Ties suck.
The Nats will send Tanner Roark to the hill tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. EDT (yes! set your clocks forward tonight!) in West Palm Beach. They’ll take on the St. Louis Cardinals and likely see young phenom Luke Weaver again. Last time out, the Nats could only get a single run off Weaver in three innings, a blast to left field by Stevenson.