• Today's Top 5:
5. Zim(n)'s Streak Ends: Nats' right-hander Jordan Zimmermann had a streak of eleven scoreless innings this Spring coming in to the Washington Nationals' Friday afternoon tilt with the St. Louis Cardinals. That lasted all of three batters as the Cards scored one on the 24-year-old right-hander in the first. Brian Bixler misplayed a grounder that took a high hop as it approached second. It was scored a leadoff single by Cards' outfielder Jon Jay. After a wild pitch that moved Jay to second, Ryan Theriot botched a sac bunt attempt that went right back to Zimmermann on the mound and failed to advance the runner, but Adam LaRoche had a hard shot glance off his glove for a one-out RBI double by Matt Carpenter that scored Jay and got the Cardinals out to a 1-0 lead.
The Nats quickly tied it in the bottom of the frame on back-to-back doubles by Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth. Adam LaRoche put the Nats ahead 2-1 with a run-scoring single that brought Werth in. Zimmermann gave up the lead in the second on a leadoff single by Allen Craig, a double by Skip Schumaker and an RBI groundout by the Cards' starter, Jaime Garcia. 2-2 after two.
Zimmermann let the leadoff hitter, Allen Craig, on with a single to start the fourth. The third leadoff batter to reach in four innings. A walk to Skip Schumaker set Yadier Molina up with two on and no one out. The Cards' catcher hit an RBI ground-rule double to left center to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead. Jaime Garcia hit an RBI single to left. 4-2. Jon Jay singled to right, 5-2. Zimmermann got a DP grounder for the first two outs of the fourth, but a wild pitch with the opposing pitcher on third resulted in the Cardinals' fourth run of the frame.
• Zimmermann's Line (pitch count via the Washington Post's @AdamKilgoreWP): 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 2 WP, 69 pitches, 44 strikes.
4. Morgan vs A Lefty?: It is Spring Training, I know. But if the plan is to use a platoon in center to avoid putting Nyjer Morgan and his .200/.292/.269 career slash line in the lineup against left-handers, then why not do so now as well? Cards' lefty Jaime Garcia got a weak grounder from Morgan in the first and a groundout to second in the third. Morgan worked a walk out of right-hander Blake King in his third AB, then lined out to short against former Nats' reliever Miguel Batista in the seventh. Morgan goes 0 for 3 with a walk and a run scored.
3. LaRoche's Big Day: With Jaime Garcia done for the day, the Nats rallied with one out in the fifth when Cardinals' right-hander Blake King loaded the bases with three straight walks to Nyjer Morgan, Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth. Adam LaRoche followed with a single to center to score two and make it 6-4 Cardinals. That two-run single left the Nats' new first baseman 3 for 3 with 3 RBI's through five. The Nats rally was short-lived however, as Michael Morse hit into his second DP of the day to end the fifth with the score 6-4 St. Louis. Morse: 0 for 4 with a K, two double plays and five LOB.
2. The Age Of Ramos Arrives: D.C. GM Mike Rizzo told Dave Jageler during last night's Nats broadcast on 106.7 the FAN in DC that whether it was Jesus Flores or more likely Wilson Ramos (my judgement not Mr. Rizzo's), "one of these guys is going to be our everyday catcher in the very near future." As SB Nation.com baseball writer Rob Neyer noted earlier today, citing a report by Yahoo!Sports.com's Steve Henson, Ramos, the backstop acquired last July from the Twins for closer Matt Capps, "...appears to have won a roster spot and will share time and gain knowledge from veteran Ivan Rodriguez in 2011, after which a full-time role is all his," as Mr. Henson writes. MLB.com's Bill Ladson told Casey Stern and Jim Bowden Thursday in an MLB Network Radio interview that he'd, "...be very surprised if Pudge is the starting catcher," explaining that the Nationals, "are seriously considering starting Wilson Ramos as the starting catcher on Opening Day." Jesus Flores will likely start the season in Triple-A as expected, and Wilson Ramos will learn at the foot of the Pudge until he takes over full-time. How long will the Nats go with veteran leadership behind the plate? Rob Neyer wonders whether Pudge is the best role model for at this point in each of their careers:
"Ivan Rodriguez has been a wonderful player and he's heading for the Hall of Fame. But his plate discipline has long been a weakness.
"Care to guess what Wilson Ramos -- yes, he is a fine prospect -- doesn't do well?
"Bingo. Last year in 113 professional games, Ramos drew 17 walks. This should be interesting."
Will Pudge accept a backup role? How badly does he want 3,000 hits? Bad enough to earn them as a backup for the Nationals?
1. Storen's Struggles Continue: A leadoff triple off the wall. A two-run no-doubter of a HR to right and another solo shot over right fielder Bernadina's head. Drew Storen is officially struggling. Storen doesn't get any help from his defense either as Alex Cora has a grounder by Matthew Adams bounce off his glove. Storen faces four batters, gives up four hits, and allows three runs before an out is recorded on another fly to right off Tony Cruz's bat. The Nats' 23-year-old '09 1st Round pick stormed through the Nats' system in '09 and early 2010 to debut before even Stephen Strasburg, the no.1 overall pick that year made it the majors. If his Spring struggles continue, will Storen move north to the nation's capital or continue traveling north to Syracuse to start the season? And while we're pondering the fate of struggling relievers, what do we make of Todd Coffey's recent outings? Tyler Clippard? The bullpen was supposed to be a strength wasn't it?
Storen's line: 1.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 HR allowed in a 32 pitch inning, unofficial count.
Cardinals win 10-4 final.