Jordan Zimmermann reportedly dealt with a bit of a dead arm in his third Grapefruit League start, giving up nine hits, two walks and eight runs to the St. Louis Cardinals. Six of the hits and six of the runs the Cards scored came in Zimmermann's final inning of work in the third inning, however, though he was in trouble and pitched his way out of it, allowing two runs in the St. Louis' second. Davey Johnson told reporters after that outing that he wasn't concerned. "'About this time of spring, the pitchers are going through a little dead arm. I think [Zimmermann] had a little dead arm,'" Johnson told MLB.com's Bill Ladson, "'He got some treatment. There is nothing to be worried about.'"
Zimmermann got himself in a bit of a pickle in the first this afternoon, too, giving up back-to-back two-out singles by the New York Mets' Ike Davis and Marlon Byrd, then loading the bases with a walk to Lucas Duda, but the Nats' 26-year-old, '07 2nd Round pick would have been out of the jam if Mets' backstop prospect Travis D'Arnaud's grounder to first hadn't gone through Adam LaRoche's legs. The Washington Nationals' sure-handed first baseman Buckner'd one and allowed two runs to score before Zimmermann was able to end a 30-pitch first. 2-0 NY.
It wasn't 2-0 for long.
Denard Span was just 3 for 22 coming into today's game, the 29-year-old outfielder's 11th, but the Nats' new leadoff man had walked 5 times so far this Spring. His sixth base on balls started the Nationals' first against the Mets' 23-year-old right-hander Matt Harvey. Jayson Werth reached on an error in his first at bat, putting two on with no outs and Bryce Harper stepped in and launched a no-doubter to right-center that cleared the bases and gave the Nats the lead. 3-2 D.C. 15 for 33 for Harper, who's hit two doubles, a triple and now three home runs one at bat into his 13th Spring Training game.
• Meanwhile: While what will be the Nats' Opening Day lineup, barring, injuries, hiccups, setbacks, etc., was in Viera, Florida playing the Mets, a split-squad lineup was in Kissimmee, Florida's Osceola County Stadium to take on the Houston Astros. Ross Ohlendorf got the start for the Nationals there, giving up four runs in the first, but the Nats' prospect-filled lineup fought back with 2012 Nats' Minor League Player of the Year Matt Skole hitting a two-out RBI single to make it 4-1 Houston in the second.
Jordan Zimmermann K'd two in a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 second. Denard Span collected his fourth hit of the Spring in the Nationals' second, but he was stranded on base when Werth grounded out to end the frame. Zimmermann retired the first two batters in the Mets' third, getting a fly to right and a groundout to second from Justin Turner and Ike Davis, respectively, before Marlon Byrd K'd looking to end the inning. Seven-straight set down. 4 Ks in 3.0 IP. Matt Harvey struck Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche out in a 1-2-3 bottom of the third. 3-2 Nationals after three.
Lucas Duda watched a 2-2 curve drop in for a called strike three, out no.1 of the fourth and Jordan Zimmermann's 5th K and eighth-straight batter set down. Travis D'Arnaud's line drive to Chad Tracy at third made it nine in-a-row, but a two-out single by Omar Quintanilla got through the right side of the infield, by Danny Espinosa for a hit, the Mets' first since the first inning. One pitch later, Brian Bixler flew out to end the top of the fourth. 3-2 Nationals. 64 pitches through four for Jordan Zimmermann.
• Meanwhile: Will Rhymes, Zach Walters and Anthony Rendon hit three-straight one-out singles in the Nationals' third in Osceola County Stadium, with Rendon's driving Rhymes in to cut the Houston Astros' lead to 4-2. One out later, Corey Brown singled to score Walters and cut the 'Stros' lead to one run. 4-3 after 3.0 in Kissimmee. 1 for 2 for Rendon today, 9 for 29 this Spring for the 22-year-old infielder.
Jordan Zimmermann gave up a leadoff single by Wilmer Flores in the top of the fifth, then got outfielder Collin Cowgill looking for his 6th K of the day. Justin Turner flew to Denard Span in center for out no.2, but a two-out walk to Ike Davis ended Zimmermann's fourth outing of the Spring. Craig Stammen took over against Marlon Byrd with runners on first and second and two down in the 5th and gave up an RBI single to left that tied the game at 3-3 and put the first unearned run of the day on Jordan Zimmermann...
Zimmermann's Line: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 82 P, 54 strikes.
24-year-old Mets' '07 14th round pick Robert Carson took over for Matt Harvey in the fifth, retiring the Nationals in order to end the bottom of the frame. Still tied at 3-3 after five.
• Meanwhile: Over in Kissimmee, Florida, pitcher-turned-full-time-hitter Micah Owings doubled in a run to tie the Nats' game with the Astros at 4-4 after 4.0. Matt Skole walked to start the inning then scored one out later on Owings' hit. Anthony Rendon doubled for the fourth time this Spring in the Nationals' fifth, leaving him 2 for 3 today and 10 for 30 so far this Spring. The Astros reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the fifth when Jose Altuve and Carlos Pena hit back-to-back one-out doubles off the Nats' Ryan Perry. 5-4 Houston.
Craig Stammen threw a quick, 1-2-3 sixth against the Mets, retiring Travis D'Arnaud, Omar Quintanilla and Brian Bixler in order to keep it tied at 3-3 after 5 and a 1/2 in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium. Ryan Zimmerman singled with one down in the Nationals' sixth, leaving the 28-year-old infielder 1 for 3 today and 8 for 18 so far this Spring as he works his way back from shoulder surgery.
Drew Storen took over for the Nationals in the top of the seventh, retiring the first batter he faced, Wilmer Flores, but the next Met up, Collin Cowgill, took the Nats' reliever deep to left-center in Space Coast Stadium for a solo home run that gave New York a 4-3 lead. [Wind-aided home run according to Charlie and Dave on 1580 AM.] Danny Espinosa singled off Mets' right-hander Bobby Parnell to start the Nats' seventh, leaving the Nationals' second baseman 1 for 3 today and 11 for 35 in Spring Training. Two outs later, Denard Span walked for the second time today and the 7th time this Spring to put two on for Tyler Moore, whose RBI single brought Espinosa around to tie it up at 4-4. Bryce Harper singled to left in the next AB, driving in Span and an E on Lucas Duda in left allowed Moore to score, 6-4 Nationals and Ryan Zimmerman's RBI single off Parnell drove Harper in as well. 7-4 Nats after seven. Harper and Zim both 2 for 4 today.
Ryan Mattheus threw a scoreless inning in relief in the top of the eighth, after which the Nationals added to their lead with Danny Espinosa doubling with one down and scoring on an RBI single by Kurt Suzuki. 8-4 Nationals. After the double, Espinosa's 2 for 4 today and 12 for 36 so far in Spring Training. 8-4 Nationals after eight... The Mets picked up a run on right-hander Jeremy Accardo in the top of the ninth with Brian Bixler tripling and scoring to make it 8-5, but that's as close as New York would get.
Nationals beat the Mets 8-5 final.
• Meanwhile: Over in Kissimmee, Sandy Leon singled to start the Nats' eighth. 5-4 Astros. Micah Owings doubled off Houston lefty Dallas Keuchel in the next at bat and an RBI single by 24-year-old, 2010 3rd Round pick Rick Hague brought Leon in to tie the game at 5-5. One out later Hague scored on Anthony Rendon's fourth home run of the Spring and his fourth hit in five at bats today. 12 for 32, three doubles, four home runs in 13 Grapefruit League games...
7-5 Nats over the Astros after eight in Osceola County Stadium...