Game One of Two: Nats 6, Mets 5.
5. Chad Gaudin = New Rubber Arm?: Signed as a free agent this winter and told he'd be given an opportunity to compete for a spot in the Nats' starting rotation by Skipper Jim Riggleman, 27-year-old right-hander Chad Gaudin is trying to make the most of the innings he's being given, including the four scoreless he pitched this afternoon against the New York Mets...but Gaudin actually came back out for the fifth and it looked for a moment like it might have been a bad idea when he put the first two runners on, giving up a leadoff walk to Kirk Neuwenhuis and a single by Mike Nickeas. Gaudin got the next three batters, however, striking out Chin-lung Hu and inducing grounders out of Luis Castillo and Daniel Murphy to end his 5th scoreless frame.
4. Top of the Order OBP = Runs: Nyjer Morgan must be feeling the heat, or at least warming up, as he once again started the game by getting on base this afternoon. After Morgan's leadoff single, Ian Desmond lined a second-straight single to right and Jayson Werth walked to load the bases for Adam LaRoche, whose ground-rule double got the Nats out to another early lead at 2-0 over New York in the first. An RBI groundout by Pudge Rodriguez scored Werth to make it 3-0. Morgan popped up in his second at bat, and was hit with a pitch in the third before a failed bunt attempt in the seventh, in spite of which the Nationals scored what would end up being the winning run on a Jayson Werth double. Morgan ends the day 1 for 3 with a run scored and a HBP. On the Spring, Morgan's 4 for 22 with a double, two walks, two K's and two stolen bases.
3. Storen Warning?: Nats' closer Drew Storen has struggled this Spring. The 23-year-old right-hander's allowed nine hits and seven runs, six earned in just 3.0 IP. Brought on with runners on first and third with two down in what was then a 4-1 game, the '09 1st Rounder managed to pop up pinch hitter Ruben Gotay, ending the threat by the Mets. Storen told reporters earlier this Spring that he was working on fastball after relying too heavily on his slider and curve last season, but according to reports from Florida he rediscovered his breaking pitches when he got in trouble today.
Storen popped Ruben Gotay up for the final out of the seventh after Sean Burnett had given up a run in the course of recording the first two. Storen walked Lucas Duda, the first batter he faced in the eighth, though ball four was a questionable call according to those in attendance. After a single by Darrell Ceciliani in the next AB it appeared that the former Stanford Cardinal closer was in for another rough outing, but he recovered and rediscovered his breaking balls as he struck out the next three batters and left both runners standing where they were.
2. Bryce Harper's Day: Bryce Harper is on Twitter. Apparently @BHarp34 on Twitter is really Bryce Harper, the Washington Nationals' 2010 No.1 overall pick and future outfielder. This is how the 18-year-old wunderkind begins his day:
"Gonna be a long day today! Playing in both games today! Lovin the baseball life! :) #lehgo #nats #MLB #winning #SpringTraining"
Harper got just one at bat this afternoon. Fly ball to left. His day wasn't over...
1. Game One Notes: A leadoff single, one out single, a sac fly that was misplayed by Nats' outfielder Destin Hood in left and a three-run HR by Lucas Duda almost got the Mets back into the game as Tyler Clippard was hit hard by New York in the ninth, but they wouldn't need the home half of the ninth. Clippard recovered to record the final two outs of the game. The right-hander's given up four hits, four runs and two walks in 4.0 innings this Spring. Before we forget. Jayson Werth's RBI's today were his first of the Spring. The Nats' right fielder walked to force the first RBI in and doubled in the second for what ended up the winning run.
Game Two: Astros 6, Nats 5.
1. Gorzelanny's First Real Start: Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny, acquired this winter in a 3-for-1 deal with Chicago that sent pitchers A.J. Morris, Graham Hicks and outfielder Michael Burgess to the Cubs, had battled the flu at the start of Spring Training, so tonight was his first official start of the season though he threw against Minor Leaguers late last week. The one-time Pirates' prospect and Cubs' starter/reliever surrendered a single, stolen base and a walk before recording the first out when Hunter Pence went down swinging. A one-out walk to El Caballo Carlos Lee loaded the bases, but Gorzelanny got a double play from Bill Hall to complete his first scoreless frame. A one-out single and walk in the second, however, led to the Astros' first run when Jeff Frazier misplayed a line drive to right that got under his glove allowing Jason Michaels, who had singled, to score the tying run. 1-1 after two.
2. Goat Saved By Shark: Garrett Mock entered tonight's game against Houston with two Astros on after Tom Gorzelanny had given up a one-out single to Carlos Lee and a one-out double to Bill Hall that put runners on first and third. One pitch later it was a 3-1 game with the Astros up as a result of Chris Johnson's two-run single to left field. Both those runs were Gorzelanny's. Jason Michaels doubled Johnson in several pitches later, to make it 4-1 Houston and it took a strong throw in from left by Roger Bernadina that nailed Michaels at the plate to end it there. Don't run on the Shark. They'll learn. A throwing error on Jerry Hairston in the fifth prolonged Mock's evening, and he surrendered a run-scoring double in the next at bat to make it 5-1 Houston. Mock's Line: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. On the Spring: 9 hits, 11 R, 5 ER, 1 HR, 6 BB, 1 K in 4.2 IP.
3. Shark Bites: Astros' left-hander Wesley Wright had a rough seventh. Chris Marrero walked and scored on a Jeff Frazier triple to make it a 5-3 game. One-out later, after a groundout from Ankiel moved Frazier to third, Wright walked Brian Bixler and then threw a wild pitch that put both runners in scoring position for Roger Bernadina, who tripled to deep center to score both runners and make it a 5-4 game. Danny Espinosa followed with a single and it was a 5-5 tie before Wright could get out of the frame.
4. Bryce Harper's Night: Bryce Harper made his way back to the right field wall to make an inning-ending catch in the seventh. The 18-year-old phenom's first at bat came two outs later in the top of the Nats' eighth against 28-year-old Houston right-hander Ross Wolf. Harper lined to left for what looked like a harmless single, but the Nats' 2010 no.1 overall pick was hustling out of the box around first headed for second when it fell in the grass, beating the throw in for a two-out hustle-double in a tie game. Rick Ankiel K'd swinging in the next AB after Harper's oppo-boppo double, but getting stranded won't harm his growing legend. Harper's night wasn't over though.
With the game tied after eight and a half, Astros' infielder Tommy Manzella got a leadoff walk from Atahualpa Severino and a bunt moved Manzella into scoring position for Brian Dopirak, who doubled to right to score pinch runner Jimmy Paredes from second when Harper's throw in from the corner soared over the cutoff man and up the third base line. Here's the play described by those who saw it:
MASN's Ben Goessling (@MASNBen): "Double to right, and Bryce Harper throws home with no regard for a cutoff man. Ball lands halfway up the third-base line, and Astros win."
Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP): "Bryce Harper's misfire on a double to right allows a runner to score the game-winner. Walk-off E9. Bad end to a good night for Harper."
NatsNewsNetwork's Dave Nichols (@NatsNewsNetwork): "Harper misses the cut-off man after a hard double to the RF corner and the winning run scores from first. #Nats fall 6-5 to #Astros."
6 for 16, .375/.412/.563. Three runs, three doubles, four RBI's in 11 games. If Harper's big league Spring Training ends tonight he's left quite an impression...
• Early Morning Note from MLB.com's Bill Ladson (@washingnats): "The #Nats are making roster cuts today. Bryce Harper is not one of the players being cut today. I'll have more later today."