The Nationals played a pair under overcast skies Thursday, both ending in 6-5 results. The Nationals took one from the Mets (despite a late innings rally from the Mets) and dropped one to the Astros (whose 9th inning heroics were the difference) but learned a good amount for their daylong adventure. Here’s the cliff’s notes:
Drew Storen still needs his breaking stuff
In the afternoon game, it first appeared that Drew Storen might just be able to command his fastball into outs. In relief in the seventh, Storen delivered a series of scorching fastballs that were sufficient to pitch the Nationals out of a jam. In the eighth, it wasn’t so easy. It wasn’t until Storen started to re-apply his breaking pitches that the outs came, and while the team isn’t concerned with his mix, they’d prefer to see him use the breaking pitches more sparingly and to devastating effect.
Bryce Harper can play the game of baseball
Bryce Harper tweeted this morning that he would be playing in both games of today’s split-squad event, and sure enough, he did. He also made his mark on both games. In the eighth inning of the first game, he laced a bullet from well down the right field line into the waiting mitt of Alberto Gonzalez, who just about nailed the runner. That’s not an easy throw, and though he might’ve done better to hit his cutoff man, making that play was the right choice.
In the nightcap, he made an over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track that prevented a run scoring, and looped a single into the outfield, which he promptly stretched into a double by the skin of his teeth.
It wasn’t all good moments, though, as Harper missed his cutoff man in the bottom of the 9th on a double to right. That miss cost the Nats the game, as the errant throw split the gap between 3rd and home, and the infield was out of position to pick up the throw and cover home plate. I wouldn’t put this too much on Harper’s shoulders, it was a tough call, and that’s something veterans do, not brand new rookies. Look for Harper to head to minor league camp this weekend late, but his enthusiasm and drive were well-received by pretty much everyone.
Rough night for Gorzelanny
While Ben Goessling says that Gorzo is the Nats’ number five starter, his first performance of the spring was eminently forgettable tonight. He went just 2 1/3 IP, with several labored counts, and a couple walks. Yes, it was just his first outing of the Spring thanks to a sinus infection, but there was a lot of rust around the edges tonight. Let’s hope this is just a one-off.
More Astros Tomorrow
The Nats take on the Astros tomorrow night in a 6:05pm start at Space Coast, and the game’s on TV, so be sure to tune in.