• Today's Top 5:
5. LaRoche Has MRI: Nats' first baseman Adam LaRoche was originally in the lineup when it was announced this afternoon, but he was scratched before the game started. The Nationals announced that the 31-year-old left-handed bat who signed a 2-year/$16M dollar free agent deal with Washington this winter, would take two-to-three days off to rest the sore left shoulder that's been bothering him all Spring. LaRoche, as he did earlier this Spring when issues cropped up, said that if it was Opening Day he'd be able to play, but the southpaw did have an MRI on the shoulder just in case. No results as of reports this afternoon. During tonight's broadcast, LaRoche reported that he'd had a cortisone shot in his shoulder, but again expressed that he'd be ready for Opening Day.
4. The Nyjer Morgan: Tyler Greene made a diving play in the center field grass to rob Nyjer Morgan of a single in his first at bat tonight. Tom Gorzelanny bunted Alberto Gonzalez over to second in the third to bring Morgan up. The 30-year-old outfielder spent the day surrounded by rumors that he was being offered around the league by the Nats, who've decided to start the season with Rick Ankiel in center. Morgan could have been forgiven if he was distracted, but instead he lines a two-out RBI single to center to score Gonzalez from second and give the Nationals a 1-0 lead.
Morgan told MLB.com's Bill Ladson (@washingnats) before the game that he thought his days in D.C. were numbered, explaining that he's, "... a realist. I'm not going to sit here and be like, 'Oh, no. I want to finish my career here.’ I just think this place isn’t for me. I’m not saying there are bad people here. It’s just that, maybe, I’m not a fit here anymore. It’s time to move on."
3. No. 5: Tom Gorzelanny gave up two-out singles in each of the first two innings this evening. Albert Pujols singled to left field in the first in front of Matt Holliday who K'd swinging through a fastball outside and Yadier Molina took a first pitch fastball back up the middle in the second before Skip Schumaker's groundout ended the frame. In the third inning, Gorzelanny threw a two-strike fastball low and outside to get Tyler Greene chasing for the final out of another scoreless inning on the hill. Gorzelanny issued his first walk of the game to Matt Holliday in the fourth, then gave up a two-run blast in the next AB. David Freese went with a 1-1 fastball, pushing it out to right into the wind and over the wall to make it 2-1 Cardinals after four...
The Nationals quietly announced earlier this week that Gorzelanny, acquired in a 3-for-1 deal with Chicago this winter that sent prospects RHP A.J. Morris, LHP Graham Hicks and OF Michael Burgess to the Cubs, would be the fifth starter after Livan Hernandez, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan and Jason Marquis (Not necessarily in that order). One casualty of Gorzelanny earning the spot, however, was Yunesky Maya.
The Nationals announced Friday night that they'd optioned the 29-year-old right-hander to Triple-A Syracuse to start the season. D.C. GM Mike Rizzo said recently that he'd rushed Maya up last September, so it's not surprising that they'd take a cautious approach with the Cuban-born starter this year. Expect a similar announcement about Ross Detwiler in the next few days unless something changes. The move today cuts the Nats' roster down to 34.
...Gorzelanny gave up another two-out hit in the fifth but escaped with a scoreless IP. The Cards went down in order in the sixth and the left-hander was done. On the night, Gorzelanny goes 6.0 IP, gives up four hits, two runs, both earned and a walk. 77 pitches, 54 strikes acc. to MASN's Ben Goessling (@masnben).
2. THE SHARK!!: Former Minnesota Twins' prospect Wilson Ramos tore into a pitch from Kyle Lohse, driving a two-out double by third and into the left field corner. Roger Bernadina then went with a breaking ball, slicing a fly ball to left-center for an RBI hit that tied it at 2-2. After the Nats take the lead in the seventh (see no.1) Bernadina shows off the glove in the eighth, making a diving play on a two-out fly to left off Matt Carpenter's bat with the tying run rounding third. The Shark!!!
1. Bench Battles: Cora vs The General vs Brian Bixler: The loudest ovation of the night from the Space Coast Stadium crowd was for Nats' outfield prospect Boomer Whiting. The 27-year-old '07 28th Round pick got a perfect sac bunt down after a leadoff walk to Alex Cora and a single by Alberto Gonzalez started the Nats' seventh.
Cards' Skipper Tony LaRussa decided to walk Matt Stairs rather than let his right-hander Fernando Salas face the veteran bench bat. With the bases loaded Brian Bixler flew to short right and Alex Cora alertly tagged and scored when Nick Stavinoha misjudged it and caught it going back before making a weak throw home. 3-2 Nats.
0. STOREN WARMING: Drew Storen missed with a 1-2 slider outside to the Cards' Allen Craig, then came right back with another two-strike bender for a called strike three and the first out of the ninth. A 2-2 slider to Jon Jay gets a weak groundout to second. Shane Robinson's down 0-2 quickly when Storen gets a generous call on a high strike at 95. The Nats' closer then drops the hook on the young Cardinal and gets a called strike three. Backwards K to end it, Nats win 3-2.