The Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals met today in Grapefruit League action for the first time since last October's NLDS when the Cards made an improbable late-game comeback to beat the Nats and stun the nation's capital. Today's starters, Gio Gonzalez and Adam Wainwright, were the starters last Fall in Game 5 of the Division Series. The Nats knocked the 31-year-old Wainwright out after just 2.1 IP that night, scoring six runs on seven hits. Gonzalez went 5.0 innings, allowing five hits, four walks and three runs. Drew Storen blew the save in the ninth, giving up four runs to turn a 7-5 lead into a 9-7 deficit.
That's all in the past now. The 2013 season's underway. Spring Training at least. The regular season starts next month. Wainwright lasted 3.0 innings this afternoon, but the Nats got to him again, scoring five runs, four earned on eight hits. Gonzalez went 3.0 innings as well, giving up five hits, two runs and a walk. The Nats beat the Cards 6-2 this afternoon. Drew Storen gave up back-to-back two-out single after collecting two backwards Ks, and walked a batter load the bases... before escaping the bottom of the eighth...
Here's what happened...
Danny Espinosa hit a leadoff single in the Opening frame. Ian Desmond singled with one down. Tyler Moore rolled one out to third though, and David Freese started an inning-ending 5-4-3 DP. 0-0 in Jupiter. In the Cards' half of the first, Gio Gonzalez gave up a one-out walk to 20-year-old Cardinals' outfielder Oscar Taveras, and the young St. Louis' prospect scored from third after a Matt Holliday single moved him up and an Allen Craig double brought him home. 1-0 Cardinals early, but Holliday's gunned down at home trying to score on the play. Moore to Desmond to Suzuki. 7-6-2 put out. Two down, and a Yadier Molina pop to short ends the first. 17-pitch frame by Gio Gonzalez.
Kurt Suzuki was 1 for 5 in three games this Spring before doubling to start the Nats' second. 2 for 6 with a double afterwards. Suzuki scored from second to tie it when Chris Marrero singled to center in the next at bat. One out later Marrero scored too when Anthony Rendon hit one four hundred feet+ over the batter's eye in center for a two-run blast off Wainwright that left the 22-year-old, 2011 1st Round pick 6 for 14 with two doubles and two home runs in six games and one at bat this Spring. Eury Perez and Danny Espinosa singled in the next two at bats, and Perez tried to go first-to-third™ on Espinosa's hit. Oscar Tavares' throw to third gunning for Perez was cut off by Ronny Cedeno at short, but Cedeno's throw to first trying to get Espinosa got by Ty Wiggington and allowed Eury Perez to score. 4-1 Nationals.
Gio Gonzalez was at 30 pitches in 2.0 IP after a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of second vs the Cards. He had a four-run lead when he took the mound in the fourth, courtesy of Chris Marrero's two-out solo HR. The home run in the Nats' third left Nats' '06 1st Round pick 2 for 2 today and 7 for 20 with two doubles and a HR this Spring as the 24-year-old first baseman tries to battle back from a lost year caused by torn hamstring just when he had made it to the majors at the end of the 2011 campaign. Nice Spring for Marrero so far...
Gio Gonzalez retired five-straight Cards before Jon Jay's one-out single in the bottom of the third. Oscar Taveras followed with the second straight single off the Nats' lefty. A fly to center by Matt Holliday allowed both runners to tag and move into scoring position, and a hard-hit single off Ian Desmond at short by Allen Craig scored Jay to get the Cards within three. 5-2 after three innings in Jupiter, FL. A 22-pitch frame has Gio Gonzalez at 52 pitches total after 3.0 IP.
22-year-old Cards' right-hander Shelby Miller, an '09 1st Round pick who pitched at Triple-A Memphis and debuted with St. Louis last year, struck out the side in the Nationals' fourth, retiring Anthony Rendon, Eury Perez and Danny Espinosa in order. Gio Gonzalez was replaced by 2012 Nats' Minor League Pitcher of the Year Nathan Karns in the bottom of the frame:
Final line for Gonzalez: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB. 52 pitches, 31 strikes. Nathan Karns in to pitch. #Nationals lead 5-2.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) March 2, 2013
Nathan Karns gave up a one-out single by Daniel Descalso and walked two batters to load the bases with two down and Oscar Taveras due up, but a fly to center by the Cards' young outfielder ended the bottom of the fourth. Still 5-2 Nationals.
Shelby Miller took the mound again in the fifth and retired the first batter he faced before Ian Desmond took him deep to right for an opposite field blast and a 6-2 Nats' lead. Desmond's first HR of the Spring left the Nats' 26-year-old shortstop 1 for 2 today and 5 for 10 so far this Spring. 6-2 Nationals after four and a half. Ryan Perry replaced Karns in the fifth and threw a quick, 1-2-3 bottom of the inning against the Cards, getting three straight groundball outs to new Nats' shortstop Zach Walters.
After homering earlier in the game, Anthony Rendon doubled off the center field wall in the sixth, taking Cards' right-hander Mitchell Boggs deep, but not deep enough for another homer. 2 for 3 for Rendon today, 7 for 16, three doubles, two home runs for Rendon this Spring and he's lifted for a pinch runner like a veteran... or a starter... ok, we all know he's not making the Opening Day roster. Davey Johnson said so yesterday, but still... Mitchell Boggs completed the sixth without further damage.
Cards' right-hander Michael Blazek threw a scoreless top of the seventh vs the Nats, giving up a leadoff single by Will Rhymes before getting a double play grounder from Zach Walters and a groundout to short from Carlos Rivero. Ryan Perry came back out for the bottom of the seventh, giving up another hit, a single by the Cards' Oscar Tavares, before retiring the next two Cardinals' batters to complete his third scoreless inning of work.
After recording back-to-back backwards Ks in the Cardinals' eighth, Nats' reliever Drew Storen gave up back-to-back, two-out singles by Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams and a walk to Greg Garcia to bring first baseman Matt Adams. A walk to Cards' shortstop Greg Garcia loaded the bases with two down, and earned Storen a visit from Pitching Coach Steve McCatty, but Justin Christian helped Storen out, swinging at the first pitch and popping out on the first pitch he got to end the eighth. Still 6-2 Nationals. Phew. The Nationals failed to add to their lead in the top of the ninth, so they turned to Erik Davis to end it. The 26-year-old right-hander got a called strike three on Cards' prospect Stephen Piscotty, a groundout to short from Adron Chambers and a fly ball out from Kolten Wong to end it.
6-2 Nationals final.