The Washington Nationals had eleven hits this afternoon, but went 1 for 11 with RISP in a 3-1 loss to Miami. Roger Bernadina's RBI single in the sixth provided the only run the Nats' scored in 6.1 innings against Marlins' right-hander Ricky Nolasco. Bernadina's now hit in 7 of his last 10 at bats after his 2 for 4 day, and he's 10 for 30 with a double and two home runs over his last 10 games, leaving the 27-year-old outfielder with a .298/.400/.447 line in Grapefruit League action. Former Nationals' starter J.D. Martin, Fish reliever Steve Cisek and closer Heath Bell then finished the Nats off, combining for 2.2 scoreless to make the three runs the Marlins scored off Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez in a 28-pitch first hold up.
Gonzalez gave up a walk (to Hanley Ramirez), two singles (by Jose Reyes and Gaby Sanchez) and a two-run double (by Austin Kearns?) in the 3-run first, then proceeded to throw four scoreless before handing the ball to Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard and Brad Lidge, who combined for 3.0 scoreless in relief. The loss leaves the Nationals 7-14 this Spring...
Nats' skipper Davey Johnson has taken a long look at some of the options the Nats have for their Opening Day roster as Michael Morse, Adam LaRoche, Chien-Ming Wang, Drew Storen and others (Rick Ankiel) have dealt with injuries this Spring. While acknowledging the potential for future success, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote this morning, in an article entitled, "Postseason prognostication is perilous", that he's, "... just not sure all of the pieces fit," for a playoff run this year, citing the injuries the Nats are dealing with and the questions some scouts have about the Nationals' middle infield combo of Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa as he recommends that D.C. GM Mike Rizzo start looking at candidates for Washington's next manager since Davey Johnson's said the Nats can fire him if the team doesn't make its first post season appearance this October.
SPOILER ALERT: In tonight's Washington Nationals-themed episode of the MLB Network's 30 Clubs and 30 Days, both of the network's analysts, Larry Bowa and Mitch Williams, predict that the Nationals are going to be a force in the NL East this season. "They’re going to take second place in the [NL] East," Williams says when asked for his prediction, "and they’re gonna be one of the Wild Card teams this year." That's bold. Larry Bowa predicts that the 2013 campaign is more likely to provide the nation's capital with its first post season action since 1933. "I think in another year, this team will definitely be a serious contender," Bowa says, "This year, they’re gonna go through some growing pains. I have them for third place."
The Nationals finished third last season, with an 80-81 record, and they added Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson and Brad Lidge to the roster this winter. The Nationals also have a healthy Stephen Strasburg this season, though Mitch Williams wonders aloud during tonight's episode about the 23-year-old right-hander's innings limit, explaining that, "... if they get to September and they’re in the race, it’s going to be hard for his teammates to swallow that this guy is done and not gonna be able to throw the rest of the year." Mike Rizzo, though, as he has all along, reiterated yesterday in an MLB Network Radio interview that that's just what they'll do.
"We're not going put a clear and concise number of innings," Rizzo explained when asked about Strasburg's innings-limit, "We're going to watch him, we're going to evaluate him, but where we're at in the standings in September is not going to dictate what we do with this guy. Hopefully we'll be playing some meaningful games at the end of the season, but if we feel that he's had enough he'll be shut down just like [Jordan Zimmermann] was last year when he got to his limits." As Davey Johnson adds in tonight's interview during the 30 Clubs in 30 Days episode, the manager and general manager are on the same page. "He’s gonna have a great career and we’re not gonna take any chances," Davey Johnson says, "I don’t care pennant race or whatever, he’s gonna be shut down."
Whether or not they make the playoffs in the next two seasons, Ryan Zimmerman tells the MLB Network's hosts tonight that the culture in Washington has changed and he's happy he'll be around when the franchise starts competing after signing an extension this winter. "I’ve been here for a while now and I’ve been here when by June, we were out of it. That’s not fun," Zimmerman says, "I think nobody likes losing. It’s been a big-time change of culture the last couple of years. Obviously, the young talent that we’ve drafted and the guys that we’ve gotten in free agency have helped. Just the organization, the culture, everything’s changed and really gotten geared towards winning and winning for a long time, not just a year or two."
See what else Zimmerman, Davey Johnson, Gio Gonzalez, Brad Lidge, Michael Morse, Jayson Werth and the MLB Network hosts Matt Yalloff, Bowa and t
he Wild Thing Williams have to say when the Nationals' 30 Clubs in 30 Days episode airs at 10:00 pm EDT tonight. The MLB Network's also re-running the episode Wednesday afternoon at noon and 3:00 pm if you can't watch tonight.