The #Nats earn win number two at Disney World!

A.J. Cole got the start today, and while he didn’t earn the win, he pitched effectively across two scoreless innings.

The Washington Nationals looked flat early on today taking on the division-rival Atlanta Braves at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in their seventh game of Grapefruit League action. But Washington rallied with a four-run fifth inning and ended up running away 62, improving to 2–4–1 on the spring.

A.J. Cole got his first taste of competitive baseball this year with a clean two-inning start. He was OK, giving up a single on a flare by pesky Braves outfielder Nick Markakis and a double by first baseman Rio Ruiz that bounced in and out of the glove of Nats left fielder Brian Goodwin but was ruled a hit. He struck out three and walked one. But the Braves broke the scoreless tie in the third inning by getting to reliever Austin Voth for two runs on four base hits.

That would be all the Braves got today. Enny Romero worked around a one-out hit in the bottom of the fourth inning, and then the Nats gave him the lead on a two-run single by designated hitter Spencer Kieboom in the fifth inning, part of a four-run outburst. Right fielder Andrew Stevenson tacked on two more in the sixth inning with a clutch two-out double, and the Nats’ relief corps teamed up to keep Atlanta off the scoreboard the rest of the game.


  • Left-hander Bryan Harper bounced back from a rough first outing and posted a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts, in just his second appearance in a competitive game since he underwent “Tommy John” surgery in 2016. That surgery truncated what had been an outstanding season for Harper in the minor leagues. He’s fighting for a chance to make the major league debut that late-summer injury denied him two years ago, and he improved his case today with a turn on the mound that said, “I’m back.”
  • Right-hander Austin L. Adams matched Harper with his own perfect two-K inning. Adams became a bit of a punchline last year after spending a few weeks with an official major league earned run average of infinity, as he could not record an out in a brutal debut inning at Great American Ball Park in July. But Adams returned to the majors and showed fairly well in a September cup of coffee, and he’s trying to re-establish himself as a legitimate depth piece for the ballclub this spring.
  • Relievers Jimmy Cordero and David Goforth also didn’t allow a hit or a walk in their innings of work today. Both non-roster invitees are definite long-shots to make the team, but after slumping through disappointing 2017 seasons, they’re also trying to bounce back.
  • Infielder Jacob Wilson got to make his first major league appearance of the spring today, as well as his first appearance in a Nationals uniform after being scooped up in the minor league part of the Rule 5 draft from the St. Louis Cardinals back in December. He came on for third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez late in the game. Wilson singled to start the ninth inning in his only plate appearance of the day but was erased on an inning-ending double play.
  • Outfielder Moises Sierra’s hot spring continued with a 1-for-2 day after replacing Goodwin in left field. Sierra is now batting .455/1.227 after appearing in all seven spring training contests for the Nats to date. The non-roster invitee is angling for a bench spot that could be up for grabs, although he looks likely to begin the year as corner outfield depth in Triple-A.

The Nats expect to be World Series contenders this year! That means they’re hoping to parlay a successful spring training which does not necessarily mean “winning” the Grapefruit League, or even posting a winning record — into a championship season and a postseason run that new manager Dave Martinez says must end with them playing in and winning the last game of the World Series. Games like this, in which a number of unexpected contributors come through, give Martinez plenty to consider as the Nats eye Opening Day later this month(!).

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