The Washington Nationals have stormed back into relevance in the all-important Grapefruit League standings, winning both their split-squad games today to improve to 6–4–1. They capped off a 6–2 win at home versus the Detroit Tigers minutes after defeating the division-rival New York Mets 7–3 in Port St. Lucie.
The fireworks started early for the Nats’ road squad, as they drove Mets southpaw Steven Matz from the game with a five-run attack before he could record the third out of the ballgame. From there, the Nats cruised, giving up three runs (on solo shots by Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier and an RBI double by Ty Kelly) but never sweating much. Edwin Jackson gave up a run on two hits (the Bruce home run into the teeth of the wind) over three innings and earned the win.
At home, the Nats got off to a rockier start as starter Gio Gonzalez was knocked around for two runs on six hits in three innings of work. But Washington battled back to score two runs in the bottom of the third, on Bryce Harper‘s first home run of the season, and from there on, they didn’t relinquish the lead. Gio got the win despite not pitching too well. Nats relievers gave up four hits but no more runs.
Matt Adams showed us his scarred-over blister on the back of his heel. It is real, and it is massive, and I don’t know how he beat out a triple.
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) March 4, 2018
- First baseman Matt Adams was one of the big offensive stars in West Palm Beach today, legging out a triple as part of a 3-for-3 day despite still recuperating from a massive blister on his foot. The other was Bryce Harper, who went 2-for-3 with three runs batted in and an absolute bomb to put the Nats on top in the third inning.
- In Port St. Lucie, shortstop Trea Turner went 2-for-4, although his last two at-bats of the game ended in strikeouts. First baseman Chris Dominguez supplied some sock, going 2-for-3 with a no-doubt laser beam of a home run. Catcher Pedro Severino knew luck, good and bad: Two runs scored on a dying quail that dropped in between three Mets fielders in shallow right field, but later, he was called out trying to stretch a single at second base despite replay clearly showing the tag was applied late.
- A bunch of guys came over from minor league camp for the split squad games, and some of them even did well! In West Palm Beach, top infield prospect Carter Kieboom lashed a line-drive double off Detroit pitching prospect Joe Jimenez, who actually has some major league experience to his name. Over in Port St. Lucie, second baseman Luis Garcia went 1-for-1 with a single and made a couple of strong defensive plays, including a very tricky 4-3 groundout on a hard line drive that kicked off the first-base bag. Outfield prospect Daniel Johnson worked a walk in his only plate appearance of the day, also in Port St. Lucie. Highly touted outfielder Juan Soto went 0-for-2 in his Nationals spring debut, but that’s OK.
- Relief prospect Wander Suero struck out three Tigers around a base hit by Sergio Alcantara. In other impressive pitching performances, Brady Dragmire allowed a solo shot to slugger Todd Frazier but otherwise shut down the Mets over three relief innings, and Matt Grace went two scoreless innings with just one hit allowed in West Palm Beach.
- Left fielder Andrew Stevenson had a great first inning on defense, making a diving catch to rob Jeimer Candelario of extra bases and then throwing out Miguel Cabrera at the plate.
Tomorrow, the Nats travel to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter to take on the St. Louis Cardinals. Tanner Roark is scheduled to make his third start of the spring.
The at-bat that so many wanted to see — Juan Soto!