Gio Gonzalez started the game, but it was all about Washington Nationals' prospects tonight in Grapefruit League action on the road in Port St. Lucie, Florida's Tradition Field. Anthony Rendon, Nathan Karns, Chris Marrero, Eury Perez... it's a prospect lover's dream.
Eury Perez has the plus-plus speed that could one day make him a leadoff man. David Wright tried to barehand a rolling bunt off the Washington Nationals' 22-year-old outfield prospect's bat, but the Gold Glove winning third baseman bobbled it and let Perez on in the top of the first of tonight's Grapefruit League game in Port St. Lucie, Florida's Tradition Field. The Nats didn't score on 25-year-old New York Mets' right-hander Collin McHugh in the opening frame. Gio Gonzalez took the mound for the first time this Spring in the home half of the inning. An error on Nationals' shortstop Zach Walters and a walk by Mets' shortstop Brandon Hicks put two runners on in front of Wright, but Gonzalez popped the Mets' slugger up and though some shoddy defense allowed both runners to advance into scoring position on the fly, the Nats' left-handed starter struck Ike Davis out with a 2-2 bender and popped Marlon Byrd up to strand the two Mets' runners and complete a 24-pitch bottom of the first. 0-0.
Chris Marrero and Matt Skole both ripped into balls in the top of the second. Marrero, the Nats' '06 1st Round pick, singled through short on a hard hit ground ball to start the inning, but he was doubled up on a grounder to third by Carlos Rivero. Skole, the Nationals' 2012 Minor League Player of the Year, crushed a fastball from McHugh, doubling to the right-center gap with two down in the inning, but Skole was stranded at second when catcher Chris Snyder flew out to the top of the wall in left field where Mets' outfielder Jamie Hoffman made the catch.
Gio Gonzalez threw a 93 mph heater by Hoffman to start the Mets' half of the second with a swinging K. The Nationals' starter got help from Corey Brown, who made a diving catch on a pop down the right field line then Gonzalez fired up the heater again and threw one by a frozen Mets' catcher John Buck to complete his second scoreless frame on 11 pitches. Gio's Line: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 35 P, 19 S.
• WATCH: Corey Brown's diving catch:
Eury Perez beat out a high hopper to second in spite of a nice effort by Mets' second baseman Wilmer Flores. 2 for 2 for Perez tonight. The Nats' outfielder was running with Steve Lombardozzi trying to make contact at the plate. When Lombo tucked a double inside the left field line that bounced into the home team's "bullpen" Perez scored easily from first for a 1-0 lead. A single to left by Corey Brown chased Collin McHugh in favor of right-hander Brandon Lyon. Tyler Moore got jammed by Lyon, but the Nats' outfielder powered a pop-up to center for an RBI hit that scored Lombardozzi for a 2-0 Nats' lead. Carlos Rivero drove Brown in with an RBI double by third and into left and the Nats led 3-0 after two and a half in Tradition Field.
Ross Ohlendorf threw a quick, impressive, 9-pitch, 1-2-3 inning vs the Mets in the third, touching 94 on the SNY radar gun with his fastball while retiring Wilmer Flores, Collin Cowgill and Brandon Hicks in order. A swinging bunt in the top of the fourth left Eury Perez 3 for 3 with three infield singles. Mets' right-hander Elvin Ramirez (a Rule 5 pick by the Nationals in 2010 who was returned to New York) didn't even bother throwing to first when he fielded Perez's dribbler. The Nats' OF stole second on John Buck with Steve Lombardozzi at the plate, then Perez scored to make it 4-0 on Lombo's RBI single to right.
Ike Davis crushed a fastball from Ross Ohlendorff and hit a 400ft plus home run to deeeep center fielder to get the Mets on the board. 4-1 Nationals after four in Port St. Lucie. Ohlendorf threw a scoreless fifth in his third inning of work, finishing the night after 3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB and 3 Ks.
2012 Nats' Minor League Pitcher of the Year Nathan Karns came out throwing heat in his Spring debut in the 6th, hitting 93, 94 and 95 with fastballs to Brandon Hicks, who flew out to center. Karns went to a full count with David Wright, throwing 95-6 mph heaters the Mets' third baseman fouled off. Wright singled on a 97 mph fastball from Karns, however, before leaving the game for a pinch runner. [Acknowledges ST guns are often "hot".] Ike Davis K'd looking for the Nats' right-hander's first strikeout. Karns got a grounder to third from Marlon Byrd and a force at second to end an impressive 20-pitch inning against New York.
Anthony Rendon had HR no.2 of the Spring pulled back over the center field wall by Mets' outfielder Matt Den Dekker. The Nats' 2012 1st Round pick flat crushed a pitch from 25-year-old right-hander Gonzalez Germen, who pitched at Triple-A Binghamton in 2012, but the Mets' outfielder leapt at the wall with his glove just above the fence and made a spectacular catch. Destin Hood hit an opposite field RBI double to bring Zach Walters in from second and make it 5-1 Nationals in the 7th. Nathan Karns came back out for another inning of work and collected his second K with a 93 mph fastball up high to Mets' OF Andrew Brown then dropped down to 84 to get Travis D'Arnaud swinging for out and K no.3 in his second scoreless innings of work.
Nats' lefty Patrick McCoy gave up a run in the eighth, surrendering a single by Den Dekker and hitting Brian Bixler before Zach Lutz hit an RBI double. 5-2. Mets' outfielder Juan Nagares hit a two-out, two-run single to right off McCoy to get the Mets within one at 5-4 before the Nationals' left-hander retired Kirk Nieuwenhuis on a check-swing strike three with an 0-2 bender. 5-4 Washington after eight. Nats' OF prospect Michael Taylor singled in the top of the ninth and moved into scoring position on a bunt by Will Rhymes. Rhymes reached safely when the bunt stayed fair and a hard-hit single to right by Anthony Rendon loaded the bases against Mets' lefty Rob Carson. A swinging bunt by a jammed Adrian Sanchez brought Taylor in from third to make it 6-4 Nats.
Ryan Mattheus came out to end it in the ninth, giving up a single by Travis D'Arnaud before getting Matt Den Dekker looking to end the game. 6-4 Nationals final.