The second competitive pitch 32-year-old right-hander Dan Haren threw as a member of the Washington Nationals' rotation ended up bouncing off the center field wall in Space Coast Stadium as 21-year-old Miami Marlins' 2010 1st Round pick Christian Yelich tripled to start today's Grapefruit League game at the Nats' Spring home. A sac fly by Nats' catcher Jhonatan Solano's brother Donovan made it a 1-0 game early in favor of the Fish.
Denard Span's a patient man. His OBP at the top of the lineup (and his ballhawkingly-good D) are two of the reasons he's been brought to the nation's capital to play center and lead off for the defending NL East Champs. Span took a leadoff walk to start the Nationals' first this afternoon, bringing Bryce Harper up with a runner on against former Dodgers and current Marlins' starter Nathan Eovaldi. Harper K'd swinging at an offspeed pitch. Bearded outfielder Jayson Werth K'd swinging in the next at bat too and 22-year-old Marlins' '08 1st Round pick Kyle Skipworth caught Span trying to swipe second for an inning-ending DP after Werth struck out, helping Eovaldi pitch around the leadoff walk and preserve the 1-0 lead.
Dan Haren needed 15 pitches to retire the Marlins in order in the top of the second, collecting two Ks along the way, one backwards, one a called strike three on a check swing. 35 pitches through two for the Nats' starter. Haren's line: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 Ks, 35 P, 24 S. After Nathan Eovladi made quick work of the Nats in the second, Craig Stammen took over on the hill for the Nationals and retired the first three Miami hitters he faced in order, ringing up Matt Downs on a wicked two-strike slider.
Steve Lombardozzi improved to 4 and 12 on the Spring with a one-out single off 27-year-old Marlins' right-hander Tom Koehler in the Nationals' third, but the Nats' second baseman's hit, which was the Nationals' first, was wasted when Kurt Suzuki flew out and Denard Span grounded into a force at second. Craig Stammen added two more Ks in a 1-2-3 4th vs the Fish, retiring five of the first six Marlins he faced. Bryce Harper battled in a 10-pitch at bat with Koehler, but flew out to start the Nationals' fourth, leaving him 0 for 2 today and 6 for 10 on the Spring. Werth K'd looking in the next at bat and Adam LaRoche swung at a pitch in the dirt and had to run it out. 1-0 Fish after four in Space Coast.
27-year-old lefty Fernando Abad was next up for the Nationals. The former Houston Astro struck left-handed hitting Fish catcher Kyle Skipworth out and got back-to-back groundouts to Lombardozzi at second in a quick 1-2-3 top of the 5th.
Tanner Roark, 26, a right-hander acquired along with RHP Ryan Tatusko from Texas for Christian Guzman in a July 2010 trade with the Rangers, was (6-17) for the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs last season with a 4.39 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 47 BB (2.86 BB/9) and 130 Ks (7.92 K/9) in 28 games, 26 starts and 147.2 IP. In the top of the sixth tonight, Roark gave up a run on a Chris Coghlan single which scored Donovan Solano from second after Solano had singled to start the frame and stolen a base. 2-0 Fish. A walk and two singles off Roark in the Marlins' sixth.
26-year-old Marlins' right-hander A.J. Ramos struck out the side in the Nationals' half of the sixth inning. Tanner Roark returned to the mound in the Marlins' seventh, but only recorded one out. A leadoff walk, single and one-out double by Derek Dietrich gave Miami a 3-0 lead. Nats' right-hander Erik Davis replaced Roark and gave up a two-run single that drove both runners he inherited in and made it 5-0 Marlins. Davis retired the next two Marlins he faced to avoid further damage and set the Fish down in order in a 1-2-3 eighth.
The Nationals threatened to rally in the bottom of the eighth with Matt Skole and Carlos Maldonado walking around a "Right Side" Danny Espinosa single. Nats' infielder Will Rhymes came up with the bases loaded against Marlins' left-hander Braulio Lara and popped out unproductively, but a line drive to right by Carlos Rivero allowed Skole to tag and score the Nationals' first run. 5-1 Fish after eight.
Drew Storen came out for the top of the ninth. The Nats' 25-year-old reliever blew a save in his first outing of the Spring and first appearance since last October's NLDS. The right-hander hit the first batter he faced, Jake Marisnick, but erased the HBP with a DP grounder. 23-year-old Marlins' infield prospect Derek Dietrich popped out to end the top of the ninth, after which John Maine came out to face the Nationals in the bottom of the ninth. Tyler Moore just missed a solo HR, bouncing one off the center field wall to start the bottom of the frame. Two outs later Moore was still at second when Matt Skole walked to put two on with two out for Danny Espinosa,