Tonight's second half of the day/night split-squad Spring Training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers finds Washington Nationals' right-hander Jason Bergmann on the hill against veteran Japanese righty Hiroki Kuroda.
The first half of the twin-bill saw the Dodgers win 5-3, with Matt Chico lasting 4 IP, and giving up 4 hits, 3 runs and 2 walks with a K and a HR allowed, followed by Collin Balester's 3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 K's and 1 HR allowed, before the Nationals brought on the Big League bullpen of Luis Ayala, Jon Rauch and the Flat-Brimmed Closer Chad Cordero who combined for three scoreless to end the day game. Lastings Milledge (2 for 3, 2 RBI's, .438 AVG) and Cristian Guzman (3 for 4, 2B, .462 AVG) provided the bulk of the offense for the Nationals in the loss.
Back to the night game...Andy La Roche hits a 400ft+ BLAST off Bergmann in the bottom of the second that has the entire crowd at LA's Spring home, Dodgertown's Holman Stadium, on it's feet and cheering as LA takes an early 1-0 lead over the Nationals. Bergmann challenged him and hung a fastball according to the Dodgers' announce team, a real "Spring Training-fastball" it would seem. George Lombard, who spent the last two seasons in the Nationals' system, matches La Roche with an equally awe-inspiring blast out of the park and long gone for a 2-0 Dodgers lead.
Dodgers' starter Hiroki Kuroda, a Japanese League free agent signed to a 3-year, $35.3 million dollar deal this December, completes 2.0 scoreless innings, allowing 1 hit, walking 2 and striking out 1.
Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers' 1st Round pick in 2006, (who is 10-7 with a 2.72 ERA in 2 seasons and 159.0 IP in the Dodgers' system over which he's struck out 217 batters in 33 starts), starts this outing off by giving up a long FLY BALL to Luis Jimenez (...a former A's, O's, Dodgers and Twins' prospect), that doesn't come down until it's far over the center field wall. 2-1 Dodgers. Felipe Lopez is frozen on strike three by Kershaw's curve. How bout this matchup...
Clayton Kershaw vs Elijah Dukes (w/ Ronnie Belliard on 1st)...
...A smoked line drive from Dukes bullies Andy LaRoche and gets by third and into left for a double moving Ronnie Belliard from first to third. Kershaw hits Alex Escobar. Bases loaded...Kory Casto swings through a fastball. Kershaw drops the same devastating curve on Nationals' catcher Humberto Cota for strike two and then dazzles Cota with another dramatic bender to end the top of the third.
Bergmann completes 3.0 IP, gives up 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk and 2HR, with 1 K and 6.00 ERA to end the day. Nationals' lefty Charlie Manning takes over on the hill for the Nationals and lays the Dodgers down easy to end the fourth...
...Felipe Lopez ties the game on the first pitch of the fifth with a home run to center off the Dodgers' veteran reliever Scott Proctor. 2-2 after four and a half. Charlie Manning's back on the hill against Dodgers' shortstop Chin-lung Hu, who doubles to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Juan Pierre's sac bunt moves Hu to third. Justin Maxwell tracks a Russell Martin fly ball all the way to the wall in center which allows Hu to walk home for a 3-2 Dodgers lead.
Luis Jimenez? Luis Jimenez DOES IT AGAIN!! This time it's off Dodgers' veteran lefty Joe Beimel and it's...GONE, again to center but for a two-run blast this time and a 4-3 DC lead after the top of the fifth. Former Padres' current Nationals' reliever Dennis Tankersley gets the first two outs with two pitches and finishes a scoreless frame.
Yhency Brazoban retires the Nationals in order in the top of the sixth. Stand up and stretch...Tankersley comes back to close out the sixth. No scoring in the seventh.
"Hollywood" Mike Bacsik lets two on in the eigth before Nationals' Manager Manny Acta replaces him with former Phillies' hurler Brian Sanches...who gets an inning ending DP to hold the Nationals' 4-3 lead through eight.
Justin Maxwell starts the top of the ninth with a double off Dodgers' reliever Fernando De La Cruz, but gets nailed at home an out later on an infield grounder from Felipe Lopez and De La Cruz holds the Dodgers close after eight and a half...
Brian Sanches is back for the ninth. Repko pops out to the infield. Lombard flies out to the outfield. Hu up next...and Charley Steiner gets genuinely cracked up by a "Hu's your daddy" cry from a fan...Hu grounds through first. John-Ford Griffin flies out to center. Nationals win. 4-3 final.