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Washington Nationals vs Houston Astros: Livan Hernandez, A Rocket Launch And Ross Detwiler Impresses In Loss.

VIERA FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Livan Hernandez #61of the Washington Nationals poses for a portrait during Spring Training Photo Day at Space Coast Stadium on February 25 2011 in Viera Florida.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
VIERA FL - FEBRUARY 25: Livan Hernandez #61of the Washington Nationals poses for a portrait during Spring Training Photo Day at Space Coast Stadium on February 25 2011 in Viera Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Tonight's Top 5:

5. Mr. National Himself: In his one other competitive start this Spring, Livan Hernandez gave up three hits and one earned run in 3.0 IP in which he struck out three. Livan got in four innings of work last week in a start against Nats' minor leaguers. Nationals' prospect Derek Norris told's Byron Kerr in an article entitled, "Norris confident his defense will catch up to his offense", that the veteran pitcher, "was so on that I never had to move my mitt." Hernandez gave up a two-out single to Hunter Pence but struck out Chris Johnson for a scoreless first in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium Friday night. In the second, the Nats' right-hander gave up back-to-back hits, a double to Brett Wallace and a single by Drew Locke, but three weak grounders later he had two innings in the books. 

4. Houston, We Have Liftoff: During the second inning of tonight's game there was a launch at nearby Cape Canaveral that was visible over the left field wall. (ed. note - "Cheryl Nichols (@cnichols14) from the NatsNewsNetwork got a great pic.") Here's the info:

March 11, 2011 • Delta 4 • NROL-27 Launch Time: TBD Launch Site: SLC-37B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida The United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket will launch a classified sp--[redacted]...

The Astros' offense came to life an inning later. Three singles off Livan Hernandez by Jason Bourgeois and one out later Hunter Pence and Chris Johnson made it 1-0 Astros when Pence hit an RBI line drive to left-center on a full-count curve and Johnson snuck a bloop single into short center that a sliding Nyjer Morgan couldn't come up with. Brett Wallace then launched a fly ball to center that got over Morgan's head for a two-run double and a 3-0 Astros' lead. 

3. MORGAN!!!: Morgan missed a short liner to center from Chris Johnson in the third and had an RBI double by Brett Wallace go over his head later in the inning. In the top of the fourth, Clint Barmes sent a fly ball to center that Morgan misjudged and couldn't recover in time to get close to. Two runs score...In the seventh, after Drew Locke doubled in a run on a fly to center that scored Brett Wallace from first in spite of a nice throw in from Morgan to the cutoff man and on to home. Nats' catching prospect Derek Norris couldn't hold on to the throw, so the Astros got their sixth run and they almost got more. J.B. Shuck singled to center and was allowed to take second when Morgan threw home instead of hitting the cutoff man, allowing the runner on first to move up, but Detwiler recovered to retire the next two batters and limit the damage. 

At the plate, Morgan, who's reportedly working on a new approach with Hitting Coach Rick Eckstein, was 1 for 4 with a run scored, an RBI, a walk and a K. Morgan walked to get on base for the first time in the eighth, then stole second as Ian Desmond struck out swinging. Morgan was eventually stranded at third when Chris Marrero K'd with the bases loaded. The Nats' center fielder and leadoff man's final at bat came with two on and out one in the ninth. Morgan went the other way drove in a run with a sharp grounder through short and into center that scored one run. Eckstein = Geenyus, but can he turn Nyjer Morgan into a hitter?

2. Det's Delivering: A 1-2-3 5th from Ross Detwiler in which the left-hander retired three Astros' minor leaguers was enough for NatsTown to continue expressing excitement about what everyone's seeing this Spring from the Nats' '07 1st Round pick. Clint Barmes hit a two-out line drive single to left in the top of the sixth, but Detwiler got Hunter Pence to ground weakly to first and end Det's second scoreless frame of the evening. The just-turned-26-Detwiler gave up a run in the seventh on three straight one-out hits, and challenged Jason Bourgeois with a 3-2 fastball that ended up in left center for a leadoff triple in the eighth, which did eventually lead to an RBI single that scored the Astros' seventh run, which was eventually the winning one, but nonetheless Detwiler in 4.0 innings in which he struck out two while surrendering six hits and two earned runs did nothing to dispel the notion that he's going to make it difficult for the Nats to send him to Triple-A to start the season.

1. Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me? M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-R-S-E!! - souldrummer: The Astros brought left-hander Douglas Arguello out for the bottom of the fifth, but it doesn't matter who's on the mound this Spring, Michael Morse was leading off the inning and he was going deeep. The hulking outfielder/first baseman/potential future Nats' left fielder got a hold of the first pitch he saw and lifted it to straight center and GONE!! HR for Morse, his fourth of the Spring in 25 at bats. The 28-going-on-29-year-old bopper hit it to the right side of center. Straight center is 404 ft. Morse sent that one high off the wall. 415-420ft? 

-1. Jesus is teh clutch: Jesus Flores is in danger of being written off as a backup to the backup for Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez as he's struggled to get at the plate so far this Spring. But the Nats' 26-year-old catcher got a hold of a fastball from Astros' right-hander Arcenio Leon and drove it out to center field for a two-out, two-run HR that got the Nationals within three. 6-3 Astros after Flores' first HR of the Spring. Once again, it's 404 ft to center. 

-2. Bryce Harper Time: After Jayson Werth took a 3-2 fastball for ball four and his second walk of the night with two down in the sixth, Bryce Harper entered the game as a pinch runner. WIth the score 6-1 Houston at the time, it appeared that Ryan Zimmerman would keep the inning alive when he beat out a high chopper to short, but Harper tried to take advantage of the hangtime of the high hopper to try for third and got thrown out to end the inning on an ill-advised play. Harper's first at bat came in the eighth with one down and Nyjer Morgan on second. Right-hander Jose Valdez got a grounder to first that Koby Clemens handled, but Morgan moved up to third...where he was eventually stranded... 

With two on and two out in the ninth, Harper stepped in with a chance to tie it and chopped down on the first pitch he saw for an RBI single to the right side of second. 7-5 Astros on Harper's hit. And 7-6 when Astros' right-hander Cesar Castillo throws back-to-back wild pitches. Morgan scores from third and Harper moves to third on the second wild one and it's a one-run game. But Harper's stranded at third when Brian Bixler K's with the tying run 90 ft from home...

• Miss the Game? The DC Faithful were watching...