Last night, I had the chance to finally attend my second P-Nats game of the year. The Potomac Nationals were tied 1-1 in their best of five Mills Cup Championship with the Winston-Salem Dash, and I wanted to see how they responded in the swing game of the series. Initially, I was nervous based on a rain delayed 7:30 start that threatened to cancel the game or make for an extremely uncomfortable loss. I was extremely interested to see how top prospects Derek Norris and Tyler Moore fared. Unfortunately, Sean Rooney caught the game and Norris DHed so I couldn't see how Norris' defense has improved. Norris did show his trademark patience and power, going 1-4 with a double and a walk. Tyler Moore's main contribution was a willingness to take one for the team. He was hit by two pitches and leaned into the second one to leadoff an inning and eventually score during his 0-3 night. All three of his outs stranded men on base, but I did get to see a flash of his power with a long pulled foul ball that landed deep in the trees beyond left field. I was also glad to see AJ Morris pitch a 1-2-3 scoreless inning in relief. The fourth round 2009 pick has struggled with durability as a starter and inconsistency as a relievee, but on this night he was effective in a low leverage ninth inning appearance.
Gamer on the P-Nats 10-2 win, links, and key performances after the jump. The P-Nats will try to clinch their second Mills Cup championship since Nats moved to DC in tonight's game four at 7:05. Game 5 (if necessary) will be in Potomac Saturday at 6:35.
Things started well. Familiar power hitter Bill Rhinehart and less likely power hitter Jose Lozada hit solo home runs in the first and second respectively. Starter Jimmy Barthmaier pitched through his first two innings without incident, yielding only a walk. But leadoff hitter Kenny "my dad's the GM!" Williams hit an RBI single in the top of the third, and after another single and a walk the bases were loaded for cleanup hitter, Seth Lowman. A frozen rope scheduled for a single found its way into Barthmaier's glove for a lineout and a soft toss to Tyler Moore at first doubled off John Gilmore for a fortunate end to the threat.
Barthmaier had two more jams to fight through. With the P-Nats up 2-1, an RBI single tied the score at 2-2, but the P-Nats caught a baserunner on a rundown trying to advance from second to third to end the threat. Making the third out at first base is a cardinal sin, not the best way to impress in the minors. Up 3-2 in the top of the sixth after an RBI triple from catcher Sean Rooney in the bottom of the fourth, Barthmaier faced his worst jam yet. Utlity man and third baseman Robby Jacobsen airmailed a throw to Moore to start the inning. The Dash then singled and loaded the bases on a sacrifice bunt atttempt that died in the wet grass in front of Jacobsen for a bunt single. With Carlos Martinez warming, many in the crowd called for a pitching change, but Barthmaier stood tall. He induced a pop up to short, a strikeout looking, and a pop up to short to exit unscathed and to a huge ovation from the P-Nats fans.
Woken up by the Dash threat, the P-Nats then proceeded to blow the game open. In the bottom of the sixth, the P-Nats broke out for three runs on a single, a sacrifice bunt, another single, a walk, a Dash error at second base, and a sacrifice fly. With a 6-2 lead entering the bottom of the 8th, the P-Nats scored four times with a Bill Rhinehart two out, two RBI double as the decisive blow to extend the lead to 10-2. Two innings of scoreless relief from Carlos Martinez and a 1-2-3 ninth inning from AJ Morris held down the Dash after Barthmaier departed to give the P-Nats a 10-2 victory over the Dash.
- Today's a good day to check out Nationalsprospects.com. Huzzard linked to last night's gamer in Daily Evolutions. Sue Dinem also has features on the pitchers and position players in the instructional league, Bryce Harper's next step on his journey to The Show.
- Some wanted the Senators to move to Richmond to start digging into the Braves fanbase. The Nats reupped with Harrisburg, but the Braves are moving their High A team to Lynchburg after the Rangers ownership change leaves them without a home in Myrtle Beach.
- Insidenova.com has a gamer for the P-Nats vic as well with quotes from starter Jimmy Barthmaier and manager Gary Cathcart.
Potomac key performances:
- Jimmy Barthmaier, RSP: 6IP, 8H, 2ER, 3BB, 3K
- Carlos Martinez, RRP: 2IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 3K
- AJ Morris, RRP: 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
Francisco Soriano, 2B: 1-4, R, 3RBI, 2B, sac fly
- Derek Norris, DH: 1-4, 2B, BB, 3K
- Bill Rhinehart, RF: 2-4, R, 3RBI, 2B, HR, BB, CS on strike 'em out, throw 'em out hit and run
- Tyler Moore, 1B: 0-3, R, K, 2HBP
- Sean Rooney, C: 2-3, R, RBI, 3B, sac bunt
- Robert Jacobsen, 3B: 1-3, 2R, RBI, BB, K, SB, throwing error
- Jose Lozada, SS: 2-2, 3R, RBI, HR, 2BB