Nationals win first Grapefruit game of 2018
It was all fun and excitement today at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, where the Washington Nationals won their first Grapefruit League game to improve to 1–2 for the spring.
Dansby Swanson got the fireworks started early, as the Atlanta Braves shortstop demolished an offering from Max Scherzer deep to left field to put the division-rival Braves on top in the first inning. But the Nats struck back on an RBI single from Chris Dominguez that scored two runs, then a two-run no-doubt bomb off the bat of a much more svelte Matt Wieters (he reportedly dropped 10-15 pounds in the off-season) that gave the Nats the edge.
Non-roster reliever David Goforth made things a little interesting in the top of the ninth, getting himself into a bases-loaded mess on a single and two walks, but he got the next two outs on pop-ups to finish it. The Nats ultimately won 9–3.
Among the highlights of the game:
- Catcher Spencer Kieboom went first-to-third not once, but twice, on singles to right field. This is something that manager Davey Martinez has said he wants to see from the Nats in 2018. Kieboom also went 2-for-2.
- Max Scherzer, getting his first start of the year, gave up the long home run to Swanson but displayed great command and break on his secondary pitches, striking out three in two innings of work.
- Nats relief pitching was very strong. Shawn Kelley and Austin L. Adams worked perfect innings, while Austin Voth and Cesar Vargas worked around a base hit apiece with no further damage. Jimmy Cordero gave up an unearned run on a wild throw by Kieboom, who was trying to catch a baserunner at third, while Sammy Solis gave up a solo home run but struck out three in an inning of work.
- Matt Wieters looked great, stronger and quicker. He scored from second on Dominguez’ second-inning single that gave the Nats the lead, then he hit a towering flyball into the bullpen out in left field in the fourth inning.
- New guy Matt Reynolds became the first of the Nats’ new Matts to get off the spring schneid, hitting a crisp single in the seventh. Matt Adams is still hitless, although he walked and scored a run.
Announced attendance at the game was 3,675.
The Nats plan to send right-hander Erick Fedde to the mound to battle the Braves on the road tomorrow.