Today's game was only available via MLB.com's GameDay audio, and it was the Atlanta Braves' feed even though it was the Washington Nationals' Grapefruit League home opener in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium.
It was the defending NL East Champions' third game of the spring and they brought a mix of veterans and new names to take on the Nats and 27-year-old right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who threw two quick, scoreless innings, allowing only one hit and inducing five ground ball outs before exiting his first start of the spring.
Space Coast Stadium is ready to host the first #Nats home game of the spring! pic.twitter.com/29Mvevhd5J— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 1, 2014
Nationals' prospect Matt Purke, 23, took over on the mound in the third inning. The 23-year-old, 2011 Nats' 3rd Round pick out of TCU was greeted by a booming double off the bat of 25-year-old Braves' DH (and minor league infielder) Tommy LaStella, who scored the game's first run one out later when Jose Constanza singled to center off Purke.
A walk to Braves' outfielder Jordan Schafer in the at bat after Constanza's single ended up costing Purke. A fly to right by Andrelton Simmons allowed Constanza to tag and take third and that brought up 24-year-old Braves' slugger Freddie Freeman, who put up a fairly ridiculous .443/.541/.695 with runners in scoring position in 2013. Freeman came through this afternoon too, doubling in a run to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead early.
The Nationals tied things up with RBI sac flies from Anthony Rendon and Tyler Moore in the bottom of the third, but the Braves knocked Purke out of the game in the fourth after a walk to Dan Uggla and a one-out single by LaStella. Blake Treinen, 25, took over for Purke, but both runners he inherited scored on a single by 21-year-old Braves' 2010 1st Round pick Matt Lipka. 4-2 Braves. An RBI double by Jordan Schafer made it 5-2 before the Nationals could get out of the top of the fourth.
Braves' right-hander Anthony Varvaro paid for a one-out walk to Zach Walters in the bottom of the fourth. Steven Souza followed with a hard-hit RBI double by a diving Chris Johnson at third that brought Walters around to make it 5-3 Braves.
Souza stole the Nationals' fourth base of the game in the next at bat, then scored when former Cardinals' first base prospect Brock Peterson connected for his second hit in two ABs today, driving Souza in with an RBI single to left, 5-4. Tyler Moore stepped in with the bases loaded after a Denard Span single and Bryce Harper walk and Moore's broken bat single to center drove in two runs to give the Nats a 6-5 lead after four. 1 for 2, 3 RBIs for Moore.
• Freddie Freeman reached on an error and scored on an RBI double by Chris Johnson in the top of the fifth, 6-6. Dan Uggla's RBI single brought Johnson's pinch runner in and some ugly defense on the Nationals' part allowed three runs to score on a liner to right by Matt Lipka. 10-6 Braves after four and a half...
It got worse...
The #Braves' 9-run top of the 5th: E-4, K, 2B, 1B, 1B, 1B (plus two E-9s), 4-3, 2B, 1B, 1B, 1B. And the half-inning isn't even over yet.— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) March 1, 2014
The Braves sent 14 men to the plate and scored nine runs on 10 hits before the top of the fifth ended.... 14-6 Atlanta.
Nats' catcher Chris Snyder hit a bases-loaded double in the bottom of the fifth, driving in two runs. 14-8 Braves.
The Nationals sent 22-year-old lefty Felipe Rivero to the mound in the sixth with the score 14-11 Atlanta, after the Nats rallied for five runs (on one hit) in the bottom of the fifth. Rivero surrendered a one-out single by Jose Constanza, a ground-rule double by Joey Terdaslovich and an RBI double by Elmer Reyes before escaping the inning. 15-11 Braves.
Brian Goodwin took a bases loaded walk from Braves' RHP Wirfin Obispo to get the Nationals within three at 15-12 in the sixth. Mike Fontenot got a bases-loaded opportunity as well, and he drove in three runs with a double to center field that tied the game up at 15-15 and Matt Skole drove in a run with a grounder off Braves' second baseman Ramiro Pena. 16-15 Nationals...
Luis Ayala got a double play grounder with one pitch after replacing Clay Hensley in the eighth and inheriting a bases-loaded jam.
Ayala came back out for another inning of work in the ninth, gave up one hit (the 37th of the game), but got out of the inning (stranding the tying run at third). 16-15 Nationals win.