• Today's Top 5:
5. Mr. National Livan Hernandez, Your Opening Day Starter: In what will be his final Spring Training start before next Thursday's Season Opener, Nats' right-hander Livan Hernandez gave up a leadoff single in the first before retiring the next three batters on a grounder, foul pop and line drive to second. A leadoff walk in the second is erased when Brett Wallace is thrown out at second on a blown hit and run and two flyouts later the Nats' 35-year-old starter is through two scoreless. Hernandez had three scoreless after a 1-2-3 third. A grounder back to the mound, a called strike three a few pitches after Livan unsettled Hunter Pence with a 60mph curve at his head and a pop to short by El Caballo, Carlos Lee and Hernandez is done after 4.0 scoreless in which he allows one walk and one hit while throwing just 51 pitches. Livan will see you on Thursday, NatsTown.
4. Morse, Michael Morse: In 139 games and 392 plate appearances before Michael Morse's breakthrough 2010 campaign, the one-time White Sox and Mariners' prospect had a total of six HR's as a major leaguer. After today's two-run blast in the top of the second, the Nats' Opening Day left fielder now has eight HR's in 19 games and 59 at bats this Spring. Will Morse's hot streak carry over into the 2011 season? He's show no signs of slowing down. While Justin Maxwell last year and Roger Bernadina to some extent this year have struggled to claim starting spots when the opportunity has been there for them, Michael Morse and his bat have crushed any lingering doubts about giving the 29-year-old outfielder a full season at the plate to finally show what he can do.
3. Leadoff Man: Ian Desmond will apparently start the season at the top of the Nats' order. Desmond worked the count full before lining out in his first at bat this afternoon. The second time up, Desmond hit the first of back-to-back doubles that put Washington up 3-0 over Houston in the third. Laynce Nix's followed Desmond's, scoring the Nats' shortstop from second. Nix took third on an error by Brett Wallace on a Ryan Zimmerman grounder, and scored on a sac fly by Matt Stairs. 4-0 Nationals. The run-producing Nats were all over Astros' reliever Brandon Lyon. After a groundout in the fifth, Desmond worked a walk out of yet another Astros' reliever before scoring on Ryan Zimmerman's two-run single in the sixth.
2. Zim Fine With Missing Spring Games: Ryan Zimmerman's offiicially back with his first hit since returning from a groin injury this week. A two-run single off Astros' right-hander Mark Melancon makes it 7-0 Nats.. After battling with rib and groin issues, neither of which were considered all too serious. Zimmerman, in an interview Friday afternoon on MLB Network Radio Zimmerman said that so far this Spring, "Well, I haven't played much...which is perfect, because you save all the hits for the real season. But I'm playing for the first time tonight in about ten, twelve days I think, but you know, we have a week left and that's plenty of time to get ready to go." The Nats' Face of the Franchise said that in the regular season he's not sure he'd even miss one game with the injury, but everyone's extra cautious in the Spring. Zimmerman finished his second game back this afternoon 1 for 4 with the two-RBI double.
1. P-Nats' Star Gets Time With Big Nats: After a bases-loaded error by the Astros on a Rick Ankiel grounder in the fifth put the Nats up 5-0, and Zim's two-run hit made it 7-0, Nats' first base prospect Tyler Moore crushes a double to deep center, Brian Bixler works a four-pitch walk and Jonathan Van Every hits a three-run blast and the Washington Nationals take a 10-0 lead over the Astros' relief corps. Houston went with the starter-by-committee Saturday, rolling out one reliever after another and by the end of the game with the Nats' throwing minor leaguers in and the Astros moving prospects in and out of the lineup it was a scorekeeper's nightmare.
Tyler Moore, is, of course, the Nats' Minor League player of the year, a 23-year-old '08 16th Round pick who managed to hit 43 doubles and 31 HR's while driving in 111 RBI's in 129 games at Class-A Potomac in 2010. Jonathan Van Every, 31, is a 29th Round pick by the Cleveland Indians with 39 games on his resume in the Majors with the Boston Red Sox who was signed as a Minor League free agent this winter. Van Every's first HR of the Spring makes it 10-0 Nationals in the eighth. Todd Coffey pitches a scoreless inning and Sean Burnett comes on to end it, final score, 10-0 Nats over Astros. Livan Hernandez, Collin Balester, Tyler Clippard, Coffey and Burnett combine for a two-hit shutout of the Astros, and the Nats improve to 14-12 in Grapefruit League action.