Stephen Strasburg's first start of the spring lasted all of two innings and 15 pitches. He did, however, get to work on the slider he's been fooling around with this spring, striking Atlanta Braves' outfielder B.J. Upton out with the pitch as he tries to add another note to opposing teams' scouting reports. Washington's '09 no.1 overall pick took the mound for the second time in Grapefruit League action this afternoon at home in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium, where the 25-year-old right-hander and the Nats took on the visiting St. Louis Cardinals.
Strasburg dropped a cruel 1-1 curve on new Cards' outfielder Peter Bourjos in the first at bat of the game to get up 1-2, but went to a full count with the speedy now-former Los Angeles Angel before walking Bourjos on a 3-2 two-seam fastball that missed inside. Kolten Wong took a backdoor 1-2 curve that was called outside by home plate ump Andy Fletcher, and Wong too walked when Strasburg missed with a full-count fastball up and away. Allen Craig's RBI single gave the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead.
Strasburg was up to 21 pitches when he went to a full count with Cardinals' first baseman Scott Moore, but he got a double play grounder with his 22nd pitch, 4-6-3 for the first two outs and a groundout to short from Shane Robinson to end a 24-pitch opening frame.
Daniel Descalso got a bat on a 1-2 curve outside, but flew out to left on pitch no.29 from Strasburg in the top of the second. Keith Butler hit an 89 mph change to right for a one-out single, but Strasburg got a 6-4-3 double play with a 1-0 fastball in on the wrists to Cards' catcher Tony Cruz with his 36th pitch. 1-1 after one and a half.
The Nationals wasted a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the second.
A 76 mph 1-1 curve got Stephen Strasburg a weak roller to short from Pete Kozma. A 1-1 fastball inside got a flyout to right from Peter Bourjos. Kolten Wong took a high 92 mph 1-2 heater to get to a 2-2 count, took a fastball low to go full and grounded out to second base where Danny Espinosa made a range-y play and throw to the covering pitcher on the 48th offering of the afternoon from Strasburg.
Ian Desmond singled, stole his fourth base of the spring (4 for 4) and then scored on an RBI single to left by Wilson Ramos as the Nationals took a 2-1 lead over the Cardinals and Joe Kelly in the third inning. Brock Peterson reached on an infield single when Daniel Descalso couldn't make a tough backhand play behind third base. 3-1 Nats.
Joe Kelly fielded a swinging bunt off Scott Hairston's bat, but it was too slow for his toss to home to beat Wilson Ramos. 4-1. Nate McLouth's sac fly brought Danny Espinosa in from third for a 5-1 lead.
Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 9, 2014
Matt Purke gave up a leadoff double by Allen Craig on a 91 mph 1-2 fastball that followed a nice backdoor bender from the 2011 Nationals' 3rd Round pick. Craig took third on a passed ball one out later, but was doubled up on a liner back to the mound that started a 1-5 DP. 13-pitch inning for Purke.
Jayson Werth hit a chopper through the left side off Cards' righty Seth Maness to score Anthony Rendon from second after Rendon (single) collected his second hit of the day in three at bats. 6-1. Wilson Ramos doubled to right-center to drive two runs in, bouncing a double one hop and off the wall to make it an 8-1 game.
Matt Purke threw a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth to leave him at 29 pitches after two scoreless innings of work.
Drew Storen took over in the sixth and retired the Cardinals in order.
Steven Souza doubled off the base of the left field wall on a low fastball from Cards' right-hander Sam Gaviglio and scored on a two-out, two-run single by Koyie Hill as the Nats went up 10-1 after six.
Craig Stammen retired the Cardinals in order in the seventh.
Michael Taylor singled in the Nats' seventh, and probably would have scored on sac fly to center by Zach Walters, but the speedy Nationals' prospect didn't attempt to score. 10-1 Nationals after seven.
Christian Garcia struck out the side in a 17-pitch top of the eighth inning.
After the Nationals added a run in the bottom of the eighth, Luis Ayala came on in the ninth and retired the Cardinals in order.
11-1 Nationals final.