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Washington Nationals 4-2 over Houston Astros: Max Scherzer vs Doug Fister

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Washington Nationals' starter Max Scherzer fought his way through a 37-pitch first, giving up just one run and the Nats beat the Houston Astros 4-2 this afternoon in Osceola County Stadium. Doug Fister started for the Astros against his former team.

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Doug Fister found a new home this winter, following two seasons in the nation's capital, after the Washington Nationals declined to make a 1-year/$15.8M qualifying offer and the Houston Astros offered the 32-year-old, sinker-balling right-hander a 1-year/$7M free agent deal with incentives that could earn him another $5M.

He told reporters, including MLB.com's Brian McTaggert, that he was excited to be joining a talented young team that made a postseason run last October and was looking to take the next step.

"To have a young team that's energized and ready to play, that's where we want to take this," Fister said.

"The choice to come here was driven from top down. That's No. 1. We're trying to win a World Series here, and that's your ultimate goal."

Fister's velocity dropped last season and while dealing with injuries, he struggled to keep his sinker down in the zone.

After a DL stint and continued struggles, he was eventually bumped to the bullpen toward the end of the season, but said that he felt good at the end and he began to straighten things out.

Fister went (5-7) overall with a 4.19 ERA, a 4.55 FIP, 24 walks (2.10 BB/9) and 63 Ks (5.50 K/9) in 25 games, 15 starts and 103 innings pitched, finishing the year at 0.2 fWAR.

"My mechanics were a little off, and I didn't realize it until a little too late," Fister explained, but he said he got things straightened out late in the year when he talked to reporters at his introductory press conference with the Astros:

"I finished strong. I felt like my velocity got back. I felt like my delivery was back. I was getting life on the ball, getting that ground-ball contact. I think that was a huge factor for me in the confidence. I can still pitch. I can do my job whether it's a bullpen guy or starter."

In his second start of the Spring this afternoon, Fister was down in the zone early and worked around a one-out walk and bunt single for a scoreless, 17-pitch frame against his former team.

Nationals' starter Max Scherzer, in his second Grapefruit League outing of the season, gave up three singles, a walk and a run in a long, 37-pitch first.

Fister gave up a run on an RBI single by Jose Lobaton in a 20-pitch second inning that left him at 37 total after two.

Scherzer need just 14 pitches to retire the Astros in order in the second inning, but he was up to 51 and done for the day after his second inning of work.

Trea Turner took his second walk in two trips to the plate in the first at bat of the Nats' third, but he was stranded three outs later at the end of a 13-pitch third that left Fister at 50 pitches.

GAME NOTES:

• Astros' outfielder A.J. Reed and Max Scherzer went head-to-head in a 13-pitch at bat in the first that grounder to third and a fielder's choice out at home, but Houston's hitters scored a run and made the Nationals' starter throw 37 pitches in the first, loading the bases with two down before he finally struck Jon Singleton out for his second K of the frame.

Wilmer Difo doesn't walk much, in fact, he walked just 20 times total in 464 minor league plate appearances in 2015, but the Nats' infield prospect took a free pass from Doug Fister in the first at bat of the Nationals' second, moved up on a groundout and scored on a Jose Lobaton single to make it 1-1.

Trea Turner showed off his range in the second, getting to a grounder up the middle by Colin Moran and making a strong throw to first base. He walked in each of his first two trips to the plate this afternoon.

• Turner helped Yusmeiro Petit out in the third as well, catching a skipped throw to second from Jose Lobaton and getting a tag down on Carlos Correa for a caught stealing in a scoreless frame by the Nats' long reliever.

• Difo doubled, alertly took third on a ball four/wild pitch from 'Stros' closer Ken Giles and scored on a groundout by Jose Lobaton to put the Nationals up 2-1 in the 4th.

• Petit gave up one hit and struck out four in three scoreless innings of work.

First good look at Austin Voth: Was hitting spots with first few pitches, got George Springer looking with a nice 0-2 fastball inside. Challenged Carlos Correa with a high fastball inside and caught a liner back to the mound.

Nothing overpowering. Left one out over, for Colby Rasmus, who beat the shift with an opposite field single to left. Worked ahead in the in three of four at bats.. . another caught stealing.

Tony Campana hit a wind-aided triple to left in his seventh inning at bat and scored on a bloop single to right by Logan Schafer to put the Nationals up 3-1.

Shawn Kelley gave up a solo home run on the first pitch he threw to Derek Fisher, who sent a solo blast out to right field in Osceola County Stadium, but retired the next three batters in order to keep the Nats up, 3-2.

Scott Sizemore doubled to left to drive Matt Skole in for a 4-2 lead, but Chris Bostick got thrown out at home on the play.

Rafael Martin worked a scoreless eighth and Michael Brady took over in the ninth. Brady's quick to the plate with a lot going on in his delivery -- dramatic leg kick, herky-jerky motion, (lot of "arms and legs" coming at you as folks like to say - think Elaine on Seinfeld dancing... what? That's my scouting report). Gotta be some deception there. Threw a scoreless frame. 4-2 Nats final.