Today, we at Serious Jammage were faced with a difficult decision. Do we listen to a meaningless Nationals game out of obligation to chronicle the good, the bad, and the ugly of every single Spring Training contest? Or, do we do what everyone else is doing today — skip work to watch Day 1 of the NCAA Tournament? Well, luckily, we found a compromise; we put Charlie Slowes and Dave Jaegler on the radio, while watching the Battle for Ohio’s Soul™ on television.
For the second time in two days, the Nationals sent out a lineup that roughly resembled the one they will have on Opening Day, this time with newly anointed Opening Day starter Stephen Strasburg on the mound. They played host to the Detroit Tigers, who countered with reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. Strasburg looked superb, while the Nationals managed to get to Scherzer — here is the good, the bad, and the ugly from today’s 8-1 Nationals’ win.
– Coming off of offseason arm surgery, Stephen Strasburg has done everything in his power this spring to quiet questions about his health. In his longest outing thus far, Strasburg pitched five superb innings, making just 66 pitches. He allowed just three hits, walked one, induced two double plays, and faced just two over the minimum. He struck out five in the outing, with a strong curveball and a fastball that sat at 92-95, just a tick below his 2013 average. Strasburg likely has just one Spring Training start remaining before he toes the rubber at Citi Field on March 31st for Opening Day.
– After a hot start, Ian Desmond has struggled in the latter part of the spring, failing to get a hit in four of his last five starts. But today, he took an 0-2 hanging curveball from Scherzer and deposited it over the fence, onto the grassy berm in left-center field. The home run was Desmond’s third of the spring, and his fifth extra-base hit. He would go 1-3 on the day.
– Lots of strong offensive performances today. Jayson Werth went 2-3 with a first inning double, and now has 7 hits in 21 spring at-bats. Jose Lobaton broke an 0-18 skid by going 2 for 2 with a double and a team-high 3 RBIs. Ryan Zimmerman also added an RBI triple to right, his fourth RBI of the spring.
– Jerry Blevins closed the game with a 1-2-3 inning. But more importantly, his Dayton Flyers defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes, with Vee Sanford hitting a runner with 3 seconds remaining to give the team a 60-59 lead it would not relinquish. From Mark Zuckerman:
Perhaps most importantly, as of press time, your humble scribe’s bracket is still perfect, as he had Dayton pulling off the upset.
– Drew Storen’s spring will do little to silence those who say his disastrous 2013 was more than a fluke. He gave up another run today in an inning of work, allowing two hits and a walk. In 5 innings in Grapefruit League play, Storen has now allowed 7 hits and 4 runs, obviously not the performance he or the Nationals were looking for.
– Not that it matters a great deal, but Bryce Harper has not looked very good this spring. His 0-3, 2 strikeout performance today left him with a .167 spring batting average (5-30) with just one extra-base hit. So why is Harper stuggling? Matt Williams thinks he has the answer:
As long as the knee is healthy, this is likely no cause for concern.
The Nationals head to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida tomorrow to take on the St. Louis Cardinals. In a rematch of both games 1 and 5 of the 2012 NLDS, Adam Wainwright will face off against Gio Gonzalez. The 1:05 start will be televised on Fox Sports Midwest and MLB.tv.