Ryan Zimmerman joked earlier this Spring that with center fielder Denard Span and right fielder Jayson Werth 1-2 in the Washington Nationals' lineup, hitters behind them were often going to see 15 pitches before opposing starters got through the top two. Houston Astros' right-hander Alex White was up to nine pitches after issuing a leadoff walk to Span and missing inside with a 1-0 fastball to Werth. White's 10th pitch was a strike inside. Werth took the 2-1 pitch too. White's 12th pitch, however, got the pitcher a 4-6-3 DP when Werth hit a one-hopper to second baseman Marwin Gonzalez who tossed to Ronny Cedeno and on to Carlos Pena. Bryce Harper sent a sharp grounder bouncing off Pena at first for an infield single on White's 16th pitch in the first, bringing Zimmerman to the plate with a runner on and two out. White's 20th offering was lined toward left by Zim, but Astros' third baseman Brett Wallace leapt and brought it down. 3 outs.
Danny Espinosa tried to barehand a bunt by Houston's leadoff man, Marwin Gonzalez, but the Nats' second baseman came up empty on what was ruled an infield hit. Nationals' starter Chris Young threw a high 1-2 fastball by Brett Wallace for out no.1 of the Astros' first, but missed with a full-count pitch to Carlos Pena. Left fielder Chris Carter flew to center for out no.2 and Fernando Martinez flew to right to strand two and end a 22-pitch frame. 0-0 after one in Osceola County Stadium.
The Astros acquired Alex White last December 2012 in a trade that sent RHP Wilton Lopez to Colorado. The Rockies acquired the Cleveland Indians' '09 1st Round pick in the July 2011 trade that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to Ohio. The Houston right-hander struck the first two batters he faced in the second out and was at 33 pitches overall when Danny Espinosa grounded out to end the frame.
Chris Young's 24th pitch of the night hit former Nats' outfielder Justin Maxwell to put the leadoff runner on in the Astros' second. Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond both pulled back at the last moment and let a Jason Castro pop fall in fair right between them in the outfielder grass behind third, though they got the force at second for out no.1 and another former National, Rick Ankiel, stepped in next and grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3. Still no score.
Alex White gave up a one-out single by Chris Young, who went first-to-third on a two-out single by Jayson Werth and scored on an RBI hit by Bryce Harper. 1-0 Nationals on Harper's single to center. 27 for 60 this Spring for Harper after his second hit of the game. 1-0 Nats after two and half in Kissimmee, FL. Chris Young was up to 37 pitches after recording two quick outs in the Astros' third, 43 when Brett Wallace K'd looking at a two-strike bender for out no.3 and Young's second K.
Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond hit back-to-back singles to start the fourth, LaRoche to center, Desmond to left. Danny Espinosa popped out to Brett Wallace in foul territory off third, but Wilson Ramos came through with an opposite field single to right that scored LaRoche from second to make it 2-0 Nats. 9 for 27 for Ramos this Spring. A sac bunt by Chris Young moved both runners into scoring position, but Denard Span's groundout to first ended the Nats' fourth.
Chris Young gave up a two-out single by Astros' right fielder Fernando Martinez, who sent a soft pop to short left just over Ian Desmond at short. Justin Maxwell popped to left for what should have been out no.3, but Bryce Harper had it bounce off his glove after a long run and Martinez scored to cut the Nats' lead in half. 2-1. A fly to center by Jason Castro ended the fourth. 62 pitches for Young in 4.0 IP.
Bryce Harper left the game after his third hit in three at bats sent Jayson Werth's pinch runner Micah Owings around to second after Werth's leadoff walk in the fifth. Owings scored when Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a 5-4-3 DP vs White. 3-1 Nationals. 4-1 when Adam LaRoche took the Astros' starter deep to right-center for a two-out solo HR. Two home runs in two days for LaRoche, who's 2 for 3 today and 9 for 44 in his 16th game of the Spring. Henry Rodriguez started the bottom of the fifth facing Rick Ankiel and threw four straight balls to his former teammate. After starting down 2-0 to Ronny Cedeno, Rodriguez got the Astros' infielder looking with a full-count fastball for out and K no.1. Marwin Gonzalez popped out on a 3-1 pitch and Brett Wallace took a two-strike slider for a called strike three on the 20th pitch Rodriguez threw in a scoreless 5th.
Houston righty Josh Fields took a line drive off the glove that continued its way into center for a leadoff single by Danny Espinosa in the first at bat of the sixth. Two outs later Denard Span took a two-out walk to put two on for Micah Owings, who K'd swinging and tossed his bat into the stands for an exciting end to the top of the sixth. Chris Carter took a one-out walk from Craig Stammen in the Astros' sixth. Carter's pinch runner, Brandon Barnes, went first-to-third when Fernando Martinez singled to right in the next at bat and Justin Maxwell was hit by a pitch for the second time tonight, loading the bases with one down. Jason Castro K'd swinging through a high heater for out no.2 and Carlos Corporan popped to short to end a 29-pitch frame by Stammen.
Jose Veras threw a quick, 1-2-3 7th vs the Nats, retiring Roger Bernadina, Tyler Moore and Carlos Rivero in order. Astros' infielder Jose Martinez and Marwin Gonzalez hit back-to-back singles off Stammen to start the 'Stros' seventh. Brandon Laird's line drive to right loaded the bases with no one out. Jonathan Singleton, the no.2 prospect in the Astros' organization according to Baseball America, tripled to center in the next at bat, clearing the bases and tying the game at 4-4. One out later, Trevor Crowe singled to center to bring Singleton in and push Stammen up to 51 pitches. Drew Storen took over with the Nationals down 5-4 and gave up a leadoff double by Matt Dominguez that scored Crowe after he'd stolen second. 6-4 Astros after seven.
Astros' right-hander Hector Ambriz gave up a two-out single by Wilson Ramos in the top of the eighth. 2 for 3 tonight for Ramos. A single to right by Steve Lombardozzi sent Ramos around to third, but Denard Span's groundout to second end the Nats' eighth. J.C. Romero made his Nationals debut in the bottom of the eighth with a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 frame. Left-handed Astro Xavier Cedeno struck Micah Owings out to start the ninth. After Roger Bernadina K'd looking, Tyler Moore took a two-out walk, but Chad Tracy popped out to end the game.
Astros win, 6-4 final.