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Washington vs Atlanta...Spring Training Game Report and ?'s For DC Fans...

The Atlanta Braves welcome the Washington Nationals to their Spring home, THE BALLPARK AT DISNEY'S WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. John Patterson starts for the Nationals against the Braves' returning son Tom Glavine. Felipe Lopez works Glavine to a full count and then tags a fastball that would have gone over the wall if Braves' left fielder Matt Diaz hadn't made the catch at the wall. Bret Boone swings through a two-strike change inside. Ryan Zimmerman grounds out to the opposing third baseman Chipper Jones and Glavine's through his first scoreless frame.

Washington's starting lineup

Felipe Lopez SS
Bret Boone 2B
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Nick Johnson 1B
Wily Mo Pena LF
Elijah Dukes CF
Jesus Flores C
Ryan Langerhans RF

I'd almost forgotten how tall John Patterson looks on the hill, and he towers over batter Kelly Johnson who pops out to Wily Mo Pena in left. Braves' shortstop Yunel Escobar lines a 1-2 fastball through short. Chipper Jones works the count full, and then rips a hit and run single through second moving Escobar to third. Patterson breaks a full-count curve over the outside corner to get Mark Teixiera staring. Jeff Francouer grounds one up the middle that Bret Boone handles, flipping it to Felipe Lopez for an inning-ending force at second.

Nick Johnson reaches on an infield single that Yunel Escobar can't come up with. Wily Mo Pena stares at a 74 mph strike three on a curve outside. Elijah Dukes takes four straight for a walk. Escobar fields Jesus Flores' ground ball, steps on second, and throws to first for an inning-ending DP.

Elijah Dukes plays a line drive from Matt Diaz perfectly in center and then has it bounce off the top of his glove for an error. New Braves' outfielder Mark Kotsay gives Dukes a shot at redemption as he closes his glove on an easy fly ball. Javy Lopez takes a full count bender inside, walking away as it drops in for strike three. A low fastball gets to Tom Glavine gets by Jesus Flores allowing Matt Diaz to take third. Glavine grounds to third, Zimmerman fields and throws to end the second. 0-0.

Ryan Langerhans grounds out to start the third. John Patterson works a one-out walk. Felipe Lopez grounds into a force at second but is safe at first when the throw goes through Teixiera's glove. Bret Boone reaches the wall in center with a line drive double that Mark Kotsay can't catch up to, allowing Felipe Lopez to score from first. 1-0 Nationals. Zimmerman grounds out to end the top of the frame. Kelly Johnson grounds a single under Patterson's glove. Johnson steals second on strike three to Yunel Escobar. Chipper Jones grounds a high 3-0 pitch to second where Bret Boone handles it. Teixiera flies out to left for Patterson's third scoreless frame.

Nick Johnson breaks his bat on a groundout to first. Wily Mo Pena splits the gap in right center for a double that reaches the wall. Elijah Dukes takes a full-count fastball inside for strike three. Glavine gets Jesus Flores to chase strike three on the outside corner for the third out of the fourth. Joel Hanrahan replaces Patterson on the mound to start the home half of the fourth. Jeff Francouer flies out to Langerhans in right for the first out of the frame. Hanrahan gets Matt Diaz swinging. Mark Kotsay slaps a two-out single up the middle. Javy Lopez swings over a sinker for strike three to end the fourth.

Ryan Langerhans reaches on a weak infield single off lefty reliever Jeff Ridgway, who replaces Glavine to start the fifth. Hanrahan moves Langerhans up with a ground out. Felipe Lopez chops a grounder to third that Chipper Jones handles. Bret Boone grounds out to second to end the top of the frame. Joe Borchard chases a sinker into the dirt for the first out of the Braves' fifth. Kelly Johnson goes down swinging. Yunel Escobar does the same. Two scoreless for an impressive Hanrahan.

Righty Zach Schreiber takes over on the hill for Atlanta in the sixth. Ryan Zimmerman rips a single to right to start the frame. Nick Johnson works a walk. Wily Mo Pena pops out to center, failing to advance either runner. Elijah Dukes goes down looking. Jesus Flores lines a two-out single to center and Ryan Zimmerman just beats Mark Kotsay's throw home to make it 2-0 Nationals. Ryan Langerhans walks to load the bases. Felipe Lopez grounds into a force at second to end the top of the frame. Hanrahan's back and he gets Chipper Jones with a 94 mph strike three low on the outside corner. Teixiera swings over a 3-2 sinker. Francouer can't catch up to a slider as Hanrahan strikes out the side.

Braves' righty sidewinder Peter Moylan's on the mound for the seventh. Felipe Lopez finds the seam in left with a sliced line drive but gets nailed on a throw from Joe Borchard while trying for third. Bret Boone chops a groundout to third. Ryan Zimmerman reaches first safely when a swinging strike three gets under Javy Lopez's glove. Nick Johnson swings over a belt-high fastball to end the top of the seventh. Stand up and stretch...

"Half-a" Ray King takes the hill in the bottom of the seventh. Martin Prado grounds out to second. Mark Kotsay takes a full-count curve for strike three. Javy Lopez grounds out to short. The Braves go down in order in the seventh. Manny Acosta, the Braves' towering right-hander takes over in the eigth. Wily Mo Pena swings over a fastball. Elijah Dukes swings through a 93 mph fastball. Jesus Flores lines a one-hop shot to short to end the top of the frame. Arnie Munoz will pitch in the bottom of the eigth. Joe Borchard pops out to right. Munoz issues a one-out walk to Brent Lillibridge. Scott Thorman lines out to first. Josh Anderson takes the second walk of the inning from Munoz. Nationals' Manager Manny Acta goes the pen...

Luis "Set-up" Ayala  gets a ground ball Diory Hernandez for the third out of the bottom of the eigth. Braves' righty Vladimir Nunez takes over on the hill and walks Ryan Langerhans to start the ninth. Pete Orr flies out to Gregor Blanco, who makes a running catch in center and almost beats Langerhans with a throw back to first. Felipe Lopez singles up the middle. Bret Boone skies one to the infield. New Nationals' catcher Wil Nieves swings through strike three to end the top of the ninth. Luis Ayala issues a one-out walk to Martin Prado in the ninth. Gregor Blanco slices single to left. Two on, one out. Clint Sammons up next, grounds to first, and Ayala covers the bag for the second out. Joe Borchard goes to a full count...and rips a single through second to tie it up in the ninth...2-2 ballgame. Brent Lillibridge grounds out to third...Extra Spring Frames...

Jonathon Rowenhorst and his rocking horse delivery start the tenth for Atlanta. Nick Johnson lines out to short. Willie Harris strikes out swinging. Elijah Dukes pops out foul of first. Tristan Crawford is up next on the mound for the Nationals. Scott Thorman singles up the middle to start the Braves' tenth. Jordan Schaeffer, Baseball America's 25th Overall Prospect in baseball comes on to pinch run and moves to second on a sac bunt from Josh Anderson. Single to right from Diory Hernandez, Langerhans comes up throwing, Schaeffer slides into home, but GETS NAILED at the plate, "YOU'RRRE OUT!" yells the Ump. Brandon Jones grounds to short, Felipe Lopez takes it on his back heel and stabs at it unsuccessfully, everyone's safe. Bases juiced...Gregor Blanco grounds out to Bret Boone who spins and throws to first in time. 2-2 after ten...

Lefty reliever Damian "Peat" Moss up next on the rubber for Atlanta. Garrett Guzman gets an AB, and grounds weakly to first. Ryan Langerhans drills a single through second. Pete Orr up, Langerhans takes second on a ball in the dirt, Orr lines out to left. Felipe Lopez grounds out to end the top of the eleventh...Steve Shell gets some work for the Nationals. Clint Sammons lines the first pitch to left and a great play by Willie Harris holds him to a single. Joe Borchard swings through strike three, the throw to second from Wil Nieves catches the runner...Strike 'em out throw 'em out. Brent Lillibridge swings through a high fastball...and this one is over...

2-2 tie.

QUESTIONS for DC Fans...

Can the Nationals just keep Jesus Flores...Please?

Is Patterson really back and healthy? A couple of full-count curves have me thinking the answer is yes...

Joel Hanrahan? Untouchable? That could be interesting...Hanrahan or Redding? Who would you choose for the rotation?

Who's gonna make the Nationals' bench? Orr? W. Harris? Garrett Guzman? Matt Whitney?

Is Nick Johnson really coming back? Having now seen it for myself, the answer is YES!!!

Can Steve Shell stick?

Bret Boone? For reals?...