Denard Span went the entire season without making an error in center field in 2013, but he dropped the first ball hit his way this afternoon in the Washington Nationals' Grapefruit League game with the Detroit Tigers, committing his second error of the spring on a line drive off Ian Kinsler's bat. The runner on first gave Nats' starter Stephen Strasburg yet another opportunity to work on holding runners, something he's focused on the spring.
Kinsler, who stole 15 bases for the Texas Rangers last season before the blockbuster deal, didn't get a chance to swipe a bag, however, as Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa combined on a ricochet double play off Tyler Collins' bat that bounced off Desmond's glove to Espinosa, who leapt, barehanded the ball and started a 6-4-3 DP for the first two outs of what ended up being a quick opening frame for the Nationals' Opening Day starter.
Apparently it was an impressive play:
Espinosa follows with AMAZING DP. Bad-hop grounder bounces off Desmond, Esp leaps, bare-hands, lands on 2d, makes turn. Too bad not on TV.— Thomas Boswell (@ThomasBoswellWP) March 20, 2014
Danny Espinosa, ladies and gentlemen! Snags the high feed from Desmond and STILL zips off the throw for an early double play.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 20, 2014
Unreal. As weird a 6-4-3 as you'll see. Ball bounces off Desmond's arm right to Espinosa, who barehands it, tags 2nd and turns the DP. Wow.— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) March 20, 2014
Stephen Strasburg got back-to-back backwards Ks from the first two Tigers' batters he faced in the top of the second, freezing Don Kelly and Detroit backstop Alex Avila, and a weak grounder to short from Austin Jackson ended the Nats' starter's second scoreless frame.
Max Scherzer got swinging Ks from Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos in the first two at bats of the Nats' half of the second inning, and a groundout second base by Adam LaRoche ended the Tigers' starter's own scoreless inning.
Nick Castellanos gave Strasburg a second chance to work on holding runners when he singled to center in the top of the third. Trevor Crowe fouled strike three into Wilson Ramos' mitt for out no.1 and K no.3 for the Nationals' right-hander. Danny Worth flew to center for out no.2 and Castellanos was thrown out trying to steal second for the third out of the inning.
0-0 after two and a half in Space Coast.
"Left Side" Danny Espinosa lined a single to right off Scherzer to start the Nationals' third. Strasburg popped a bunt up, that Scherzer handled, taking the out at first. An infield single by Denard Span allowed Espinosa to score from second for a 1-0 lead on a close play at the plate, and Ian Desmond hit a line drive home run to left on an 0-2 pitch from Scherzer in the at bat that followed, making it 3-0 Nationals over the Tigers after three with the two-run blast.
Ian Kinsler singled to center to start the fourth, but was doubled up on another 6-4-3 DP off of Tyler Collins' bat. Victor Martinez's groundout to second ended Stephen Strasburg's fourth scoreless.
Max Scherzer retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the fourth and the Tigers threatened to get on the board in the top of the fifth inning. Don Kelly drew a leadoff walk and took third on a one-out double by Austin Jackson. Nick Castellanos K'd swinging in the next at bat, however, and Trevor Crowe's groundout to second ended Stephen Strasburg's fifth scoreless inning of work.
That was it for Strasburg:
Stephen Strasburg's line against Detroit: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 66 pitches, 46 strikes.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) March 20, 2014
Drew Storen took over on the mound in the top of the sixth, giving up a leadoff double by Danny Worth in the first at bat of the inning. A walk to Tyler Collins moved Worth into scoring position at second and Victor Martinez drove him in with an RBI single to center that made it 3-1 Nationals after five and a half.
Jayson Werth was 2 for 3 after vs Max Scherzer after singling to start the sixth, and his pinch runner, Jeff Kobernus, scored from first when Ryan Zimmerman tripled to right field in the next at bat. 4-1 Nationals. Jose Lobaton hit an RBI single to right to drive Zimmerman in and knock Scherzer out of the game, 5-1.
Ryan Mattheus threw a quick, six-pitch, 1-2-3 inning vs the Tigers in his Grapefruit League debut.
Michael Gonzalez took over in the top of the eighth inning and retired the side in order.
A single and a walk by Jamey Carroll and Jeff Kobernus, respectively, gave Anthony Rendon an RBI opportunity in his first at bat of the game, and the Nationals' 23-year-old infielder came through with a run-scoring single that gave the Nats a 6-1 lead. Jose Lobaton's second hit of the game (2 for 2) was a two-run double to double to left off Tigers' lefty Blaine Hardy that made it 8-1 Nationals after eight innings.
Jerry Blevins worked a quick, 1-2-3 ninth and the Nationals beat the Tigers, 8-1 final.