March 16, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Mark DeRosa (7) at bat against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
• Team USA: Washington Nationals' left fielder Mark DeRosa singled to start the Nationals' second, collecting his 13th hit in 29 Grapefruit League at bats. DeRosa entered today's game with a .429/.590/.607 Spring line, two doubles, a home run, 11 walks and just one K in 13 games. Nats' skipper Davey Johnson courted DeRosa this winter, calling the utility man repeatedly and finally convincing the 37-year-old veteran of 14 MLB seasons to sign on with the nation's capital's up-and-coming Nats.
"Mark DeRosa is a guy that's had a wrist injury the last couple years," Johnson explained in a recent MLB Network Radio interview, "But he's looked unbelievably good in camp. I had him in the World Baseball Classic. I know what kind of player he is, and he's been healthy, getting in time over there [at first] while Adam [LaRoche] is coming back. It fits for me. I know [DeRosa] can play second and I know he can play third and the corners in the outfield. So, I mean, he's probably the biggest addition [to the Nats' roster], as far as, I mean, you can talk about Gio [Gonzalez] and [Edwin] Jackson, and Brad Lidge is throwing the heck out of the ball too, but Mark DeRosa, with the loss of Chris Marrero [to injury] last year, [DeRosa's] a wonderful addition to this ballclub."
DeRosa finished the day 2 for 4 (with his 2nd and 3rd K's of the Spring), and he came through big in the top of the ninth inning...
• Gio Gonzalez was up 0-2 against each batter he faced in a quick 1-2-3 bottom of the first this afternoon in which he recorded two K's. The Nats' 26-year-old left-hander returned to the mound for the second, after Cardinals' lefty Jaime Garcia worked around DeRosa's leadoff single for a second scoreless top of the frame, and Gio set the next three St. Louis' batters down in order too. 6 up 6 down for Gonzalez in his final Grapefruit League outing. Back-to-back groundouts and K no. 4 of the day end a quick 1-2-3 third for the Nats' new left-hander, who sets down the first nine Cards he faces. Cardinals' shortstop Tyler Greene and left fielder Matt Holliday hit back-to-back doubles to start the home-half of the fifth, however, with Holliday's two-bagger driving in the game's first run. 1-0 Cardinals. Gonzalez bounced back to retire next three batters in order and record K's no. 5 and 6 of the afternoon.
One thing Gonzalez hadn't done all afternoon was issue a walk. The Nats' lefty gave Cards' infielder Matt Carpenter a free pass to start the fifth, but a sharp line drive to third off Shane Robinson's bat found Ryan Zimmerman's glove and strong throw to first by the Nats' Gold Glove-winning third baseman doubled-up Carpenter and erased the leadoff runner. Gonzalez then struck opposing pitcher Jaime Garcia out for K no. 7 in 5.0 IP over which the Nationals' left-hander threw 60 pitches, allowed 3 hits, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB and got three groundouts and three fly ball outs.
• Right Side Danny: Batting from the right side (and away from Space Coast Stadium's batter's eye) Danny Espinosa hit an opposite field two-out solo shot into the wind and out to right field off Cards' lefty Jaime Garcia in the Nats' sixth, tying the game up at 1-1. Espinosa's had a rough Spring Training (.224/.288/.254 before today), striking out in 24 of 67 at bats in Grapefruit League action before this afternoon's game. After grounding out in his first two at bats before the home run, the second-year second baseman was 0 for 14 over the previous five games. 1-1 after six.
• Henry Rodriguez's Perfect Spring: Tom Gorzelanny threw two scoreless in relief of Gio Gonzalez. Chad Tracy, who replaced Ryan Zimmerman at third, did his best Zim impression, but the veteran infielder couldn't make the throw to first in time after barehanding a weak grounder off Cards' outfielder Shane Robinson's bat, so the leadoff runner was on in a 1-1 game with Nationals' right-hander Henry Rodriguez on the hill in the 8th. Any concerns about using the flame-throwing right-hander in close games have been erased this Spring by the 24-year-old Rodriguez's dominant Grapefruit League performance. In 10.0 scoreless innings pitched, Rodriguez has allowed just four hits and two walks while recording nine K's and three saves. After the leadoff hit and a sac bunt this afternoon, the Nats' closer option struck out Daniel Descalso (K no.10) and Tyler Greene (K no.11) to strand Shane Robinson on second and complete his 11th scorless inning of the Spring. Dominant. [Rizzo points to head]
• Winner: Danny Espinosa started the Nats' ninth with his second hit of the game, singling to left field for an opposite field hit off Cards' right-hander Jason Motte (after his opposite field HR from the right side earlier in the game). Steve Lombardozzi failed to get a sac bunt down and K'd looking in the next at bat, but the Shark, Roger Bernadina, came through with a one-out single to right that moved Espinosa up to second. Mark DeRosa followed with the third single of the inning, shooting a grounder into right that scored Espinosa from second when was called safe at home on a close play at the plate. 2-1 game. Ryan Mattheus took over in the ninth and gave up a leadoff walk and a two-out single before a backwards K stranded both runners and ended the game. 2-1 final. Nats win. BOX SCORE.