Today's Top 5:
5. Rotation/Bench Battles: Matt Williams told reporters before today's game that he was still thinking about which pitcher would end up winning the battle for the fifth spot in the Washington Nationals' rotation out of Spring Training. When Taylor Jordan took the mound this afternoon against the Miami Marlins for his final start in Grapefruit League action in Jupiter, Florida's Roger Dean Stadium, the 25-year-old right-hander had a 1-0 lead courtesy of Nats' bench bat and backup outfielder Nate McLouth, who doubled to right off Fish hurler Tom Koehler to bring utility possibility Jeff Kobernus around from first after Kobernus hit a one-out single to left.
1-0 Nationals early.
Matt Williams on No. 5 starter: "As of right now, my mind is not made up."— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) March 24, 2014
4. Sinkerballer: Taylor Jordan gave up a leadoff double to left by Marlins' left fielder Jake Marisnick in the first at bat of the home-half of the first inning. Miami's 22-year-old outfielder, acquired in the blockbuster, 12-player November 2012 deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, took third on a groundout to second by 22-year-old, 2010 1st Round pick Christian Yelich, but was stranded there after Giancarlo Stanton K'd swinging on a 95 mph fastball up and in from Jordan and Garrett Jones grounded out to second on a 1-2 sinker that ended the first.
Taylor Jordan got two groundouts to second from Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jeff Baker, respectively, and a fly ball out to right from Casey McGehee in a quick, 1-2-3 bottom of the second, retiring the fourth, fifth and sixth straight batters he faced this afternoon following Jake Marisnick's leadoff double.
Adeiny Hechavarria, another player acquired in the Marlins' deal with the Jays, improved to 15 for 47 (.319 AVG) so far this spring when he singled to left to start the Marlins' third. A sac bunt moved the Marlins' shortstop up, but Jake Marisnick flew out to center and Christian Yelich K'd swinging to end Taylor Jordan's third scoreless frame.
Three ground ball outs in the fourth gave Taylor Jordan eight groundouts total in 4.0 scoreless over which he allowed just the two leadoff hits in the first and third.
Jeff Baker singled to right to star the Marlins' fifth, but he was doubled up on a grounder to short by Casey McGehee that started a 6-4-3 DP. Taylor Jordan issued just the second walk in 20 IP this spring in his two-out at bat against 24--year-old outfield prospect Austin Nola, but ground ball out no.10 in 5.0 scoreless came off the opposing pitcher's bat ending the Marlins' half of the inning.
Groundout no.11 of the game came from Jake Marisnick, who rolled one out to Danny Espinosa at short to start the bottom of the sixth. Christian Yelich connected for the Marlins' fourth hit, sending a ground ball back up the middle with one down, and Giancarlo Stanton collected the fifth, doubling to right field to bring Miami's first run around, 2-1 Nats. Jordan got a fly to center from Garrett Jones for out no.2 in the sixth, at which point he was replaced on the mound by Craig Stammen, who got the final out of the frame.
Taylor Jordan's line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 11 GO, 86 pitches acc to Marlins' radio broadcast.
3. Random Nats Park Changes Update: Washington Post writer Dan Steinberg posted an interesting update on Nationals Park this morning, writing that the old team store (located to the right of the Center Field Gate) would be moving to the opposite side of the center field concourse. In its place, when it eventually opens later this season, will be a new restaurant, though no official announcement on what said restaurant will be has been made as of yet.
Nats Park news: the main clubhouse store will be moved and expanded, the old space will be turned into a restaurant http://t.co/lQZUMCAHv3— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) March 24, 2014
2. McLouth: Signed to a 2-year/$10.75M deal this winter, 32-year-old Nate McLouth has quietly gone about his business this spring, collecting six hits in 30 at bats so far this spring. McLouth was 2 for 2 with two RBIs this afternoon after doubling in a run in the first and taking Tom Koehler deep in the sixth for a solo blast and a 2-0 lead on the Marlins' right-hander, who went 17 innings without allowing one before before McLouth's home run.
1. Wrapping Up: Tyler Moore doubled, moved up on a Jose Lozada single and scored in the seventh when Denard Span grounded into a force at second with one down and beat the double play throw to first base. 3-1 Nationals. Danny Espinosa doubled, stole third and scored on a sac fly by Chris Snyder that made it 4-1 Nats. Craig Stammen threw 1 1/3 scoreless after Taylor Jordan. Ross Detwiler gave up a single in a scoreless inning of work in the eighth, and Aaron Barrett gave up a leadoff single by Garrett Jones, but got a double play grounder out of Austin Barnes and a groundout to short out of Donovan Solano to end it.
Ballgame. 4-1 Nationals win.