Anthony Rendon lined the 12th pitch by Philadelphia Phillies' right-hander Roy Halladay right to Phils' third baseman Michael Young for a hard-hit third out in the opening frame of today's Grapefruit League game in Clearwater, Florida's Bright House Field. Though it was called a ball earlier in the count, Stephen Strasburg caught the outside corner with a fastball for a called strike three at the knees that got an unhappy Michael Young looking for out no. 2 of what ended up being a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 first for the Nationals' right-handed ace. Rewind: Before it was over, Strasburg threw a backdoor 0-1 curve to Chase Utley that brought a smile to Phillies' infielder's face, then followed that up with a 1-2 change that got the veteran swinging for the third out of the first inning and the second K of Strasburg's day. 0-0 after one inning.
Roy Halladay set the Nationals down in order in the top of the second. Stephen Strasburg missed with a backdoor 2-2 bender to Ryan Howard, but got the Phillies' slugger swinging with a brutal full-count change for his 3rd K in 1.1 IP. A 1-2 change inside got former Nats' outfielder Laynce Nix looking for K no.4 after Phillies' outfielder Dom Brown singled to center with one down for the game's first hit. Brown took second on a mix-up/passed ball with John Mayberry at the plate, but the 19th pitch of Strasburg's second inning of work was another brutal change that got Mayberry swinging for out no.3 and K no.5 in 2.0 scoreless. 33 pitches, 20 strikes for Strasburg.
Matt Skole got a good look at Roy Hallday's change when the veteran starter caught the Nats' 2012 Minor League Player of the Year looking for the first out of the third after Carlos Rivero drew a leadoff walk. Rivero got caught stealing with Jhonatan Solano at the plate. 2 down. The Nats' catcher (aka Onion) doubled to the left-center gap for the first hit of the game off Halladay, but a groundout to short by Denard Span ended the Phillies' starter's third scoreless frame. 0-0 in Bright House Field.
Phillies' catcher Tommy Joseph, the 21-year-old, '09 Giants' 2nd Round pick acquired in the deal that sent Hunter Pence to San Francisco, lined the first pitch of the third to center for the second hit of the day off Stephen Strasburg. The Nats' right-hander's third pitch of the inning was sent through second by Yuniesky Betancourt for the second-straight single of the inning and two runners on with no one out. Philly outfielder Ben Revere bunted both runners over. A swinging bunt by Michael Young went toward Matt Skole at third, and the Nats' infielder made a barehand play, but a late throw to first. One run scores. 1-0 Phillies. Chase Utley took a fastball from Strasburg on the ankle to load the bases for Ryan Howard. A groundout to first by Howard brought Betancourt in to make it 2-0. When Domonic Brown popped out to end the inning, Strasburg was at 17 pitches in the inning and 50 pitches overall.
Anthony Rendon was 0 for 2 today and 7 for 19 this Spring after he popped up to Michael Young at third for the second out of the fourth. Halladay gave up a two-out double by Tyler Moore, who ripped a grounder by third, but then retired Corey Brown to end his fourth scoreless frame. 56 pitches for the Phillies' right-hander. 33 strikes.
Stephen Strasburg couldn't get Laynce Nix to chase an 0-2 change outside. But a diving 1-2 change low in the zone got Strasburg his 6th K in 3.1 IP. Matt Skole made a charging play and fielded a short-hop grounder off John Mayberry's bat for out no.2 of the Phillies' fourth. Tommy Joseph singled with two down in the inning to leave him 2 for 2 vs Strasburg. Yunesky Betancourt worked the count full and walked on pitch no. 67.
That was it for Strasburg. Fernando Abad came on to retire Ben Revere and end the Phillies' fourth:
Michael Stutes took over for Roy Halladay in the fifth. Carlos Rivero reached on a one-out "double" that started as a pop to right and kept on drifting until it hit the top of the outfield wall. One out later, Jhonatan Solano took a two-out walk from the Phillies' reliever, but a grounder up the middle off Denard Span's bat allowed Chase Utley to step on the second base bag and end the Nationals' fifth scoreless inning. 2-0 Phillies. Fernando Abad came back out in the bottom of the fifth. Abad got Chase Utley looking with a nice two-strike slider inside but gave up a two-out single to right by Ryan Howard. Domonic Brown sent the second hit of the inning into center for a line drive double that sent Howard around to third and Laynce Nix collected the third straight hit off Abad when he dumped a pop halfway down the left field line that fell in for a two-run single that made it 4-0 Phillies after five.
Anthony Rendon got some help from the wind, but he didn't need much as he launched a 1-2 fastball from the Phillies' Chad Durbin to right field for a one-out solo home run that got the Nationals on the board in the sixth. 1 for 3 today for Rendon. 8 for 20, three doubles, three home runs this Spring. 4-1 Phillies. Corey Brown hit a two-out, broken bat single to center off Durbin to keep the Nats' sixth alive. Pitcher-turned-hitter Micah Owings drove Brown in with an RBI double to left then scored himself when Carlos Rivero dropped a two-out single into center to make it a 4-3 game. Durbin escaped the inning with a one-run lead when Matt Skole flew to left to end the top of the sixth.
Yunesky Maya's afternoon started with Phillies' catcher Tommy Joseph doubling to left on a hard-hit liner. Philly shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt rolled a grounder out to Zach Walters at short in the next at bat, and the Nats' infielder booted it thinking of throwing to third for the lead runner before he had the ball in his glove. Maya pitched out of trouble, however, striking out the next two batters he faced and getting a ground ball out to Micah Owings at first to strand both runners. 4-3 Phillies after six.
Philies' lefty Antonio Bastardo put the Nats down in order in the top of the seventh. Cole Kimball gave up a wind-aided home run to right by Josh Fields in first at bat of the Phillies' half of the inning. 5-3 Philadelphia. A one-out walk to outfielder Jermaine Mitchell followed. Mitchell stole second as Philly pinch hitter Zach Collier K'd swinging for out no.1, but an RBI single by Joe Mather followed, giving the Phillies a 6-3 lead. Kimball retired the next two batters to get out of the frame. Justin De Fratus took over for Philadelphia in the eighth, giving up a leadoff single by Zach Walters, before retiring the next three Nationals in order. 6-3 Phillies after seven and a half.
Nats' right-hander Erik Davis gave up a one-out walk to Phillies' infielder Freddie Galvis in an 11-pitch, one-out AB in the bottom of the eighth, but he threw a 24-pitch scoreless frame to keep it 6-3 after eight.
Phillies' left-hander Jacob Diekman took over in the ninth. Nats' prospect Billy Burns K'd swinging. Cutter Dykstra singled with one down to bring Chris Snyder up, but a groundout by the catcher and a swinging K by Nats' outfielder Steven Souza ended the game. 6-3 Phillies final.