The Washington Nationals are in Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida, the Detroit Tigers' Spring home with DC righty Tim Redding on the mound against Tigers' starter Jeremy Bonderman in a game broadcast live on ESPN. The game will be played under near-perfect conditions in midday March sunshine with a few clouds dotting the Florida sky...
The Washington Nationals' Starting Lineup...
Cristian Guzman SS
Lastings Milledge CF
Nick Johnson 1B
Dmitri Young DH
Austin Kearns RF
Felipe Lopez 2B
Justin Maxwell LF
Wil Nieves C
Willie Harris 3B
Huh?...Interesting...Maybe a move to the AL is all the Nationals need to solve the first base battle. The Senators were once an American League team...
Jeremy Bonderman gets a fly ball from Cristian Guzman, strikes out Lastings Milledge and then throws a change-up hip-high and outside that gets too much of the plate allowing Nick Johnson to smoke a line drive up the middle. DY does the same with a single Detroit second baseman Placido Polanco can't reach. Austin Kearns gets a hold of a 3-1 fastball but it ends up in the glove of Detroit left fielder Jacques Jones to end the top of the first. Nationals' righty Tim Redding gives up a leadoff double to Curtis Granderson. Redding gets a ground ball from Polanco which allows Granderson to take third. Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez floats one into left, Granderson's going....Justin Maxwell throws a lollipop home and high over the plate, Wil Nieves retrieves it and dives back for the tag and the inning ending DP.
The Nationals go down in order in the top of the second. Tim Redding walks leadoff hitter Gary Sheffield to start the bottom of the frame. Jacques Jones drops a single into center moving Sheffield to second. Marcus Thames takes a third strike with the bat on his shoulder. Edgar Renteria, the Tigers' new shortstop, grounds to second, Felipe Lopez flips to Guzman, to Johnson at first, another DP ends the second.
Willie Harris singles to start the third and then gets picked off first. Cristian Guzman is robbed of a blooper on an awkward head first dive by Jacques Jones. 1-1 pitch from Bonderman to Milledge...fastball high...CRACK...GONE!!! A no-doubter from Milledge puts the Nationals up 1-0. DY has to leap to avoid colliding with Tigers' first baseman Marcus Thames, who falls into the basepath after catching a weak throw from Polanco. Everyone's OK...1-0 Nationals after two and a half. Redding gives up a one-out single to Timo Perez in the bottom of the inning. Curtis Granderson blows a high chopper through second baseman Felipe Lopez. Polanco grounds into a force at second, Pudge flies out to right. Three in the book, 1-0 DC.
Justin Maxwell works a two-out walk in the top of the fourth, but Bonderman gets Wil Nieves to fly out to center ending the Nationals' half. Gary Sheffield explodes on a fastball for a line drive over short. Tim Redding retires the next three batters for his fourth scoreless frame. 1-0 DC.
Willie Harris works a leadoff walk to start the fifth, and wastes his second out of the game as he gets gunned down trying to steal second. Cristian Guzman rips a single to right. Lastings Milledge takes strike three...Jeremy Bonderman's done for the day...Left-handed reliever Tim Byrdak gives up an opposite field double to Nick Johnson that bounces off the left field wall allowing Guzman to score from first. 2-0 Nationals. DY from the right side goes down swinging to end the Nationals' fifth. Brandon Inge grounds out to short. Timo Perez flies out to Milledge. Granderson gives Justin Maxwell work with a high fly to left for Redding's fifth scoreless.
Tim Byrdak's back for the sixth and Austin Kearns lines to right for a leadoff single. Felipe Lopez rips a singles through the right side of the infield. Justin Maxwell takes a 2-1 Byrdak breaking ball inside and lifts it to left for a three-run blast into the outfield grass. 5-0 Nationals. Wil Nieves flies out. Willie Harris works a one-out walk. Ronnie Belliard blasts a 1-0 fastball to left for a two-run HR and a 6-0 lead. Lastings Milledge breaks his bat and sends the barrel and the ball towards third, where Brandon Inge calmly makes the play while avoiding the flying wood. Nick Johnson singles for his third hit of the game. Byrdak's out. Clay Rapada gives up a double to DY on the first pitch he throws, pinch runner Matt Whitney scores from first so Nick Johnson doesn't have to...8-0 Nationals. Austin Kearns singles on a grounder into left. DY to third. Kearns takes second on a throwing error. Felipe Lopez walks. Justin Maxwell takes a full-count slider for ball four and a 9-0 lead after five and a half.
Joel Hanrahan replaces Redding and throws two scoreless innings in relief for a total of 10.2 scoreless this Spring. Ray King's got 5 scoreless innings of his own, with only 2 hits allowed, one of them today. Jesus "Everyday" Colome gives up the only Tigers' run of the game on a two-out HR from Thames in the ninth, but that's all Detroit musters in a 9-1 DC win.
Cristian Guzman 1 for 3 with a run scored. Ronnie Belliard's 1 for 3 with a HR and 2 RBI's. Milledge 2 for 5 with a HR. Nick Johnson's 3 for 3 with a double an RBI and a walk. Dmitri Young's 2 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI. Justin Maxwell 1 for 3 with 4 RBI's.
Tim Redding improves to (2-0) in Grapefruit League action allowing 5 hits and 1 walk with 1 K and a 2.81 ERA, and the Nationals bullpen continues to impress. Joel Hanrahan, Ray King, "Everyday" Colome, Luis Ayala, Jon Rauch, Chad Cordero...and then some combination of Saul Rivera, Ryan Wagner and Chris Schroder should give the Nationals one of best bullpens in baseball.
The Nationals have tomorrow off...which might make for a good time to discuss Paul Lo Duca's recent rant against his former employer...The Mets...