Daniel Murphy lined a stand-up double to the left of center field for the first hit in the history of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, which opened this afternoon in time for a matchup between the two teams who share the facility, the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.
Murphy scored the first run in the new park’s history on an opposite field double to left field by Bryce Harper, 1-0, and the Nats ended up winning the first game in the new park when Michael A. Taylor hit a two-out, walk-off bomb to left to end it in the bottom of the ninth.
Here’s how it happened:
• The Nationals are on record saying they are not concerned with Trea Turner’s arm at short in spite of what you may have read in scouting reports over the years, and the 23-year-old infielder got to show his arm off in the second inning today, ranging to his left to field a sharp grounder and making a spinning throw from the edge of the outfield grass to get Astros’ outfielder Teoscar Hernandez for out No. 3 of Houston’s half of the second.
• Jeremy Guthrie, who is competing for a role on the Opening Day roster, tossed two scoreless inning on 25 pitches, 10 of them in the game-opening at bat against Astros’ first baseman Marwin Gonzalez. Guthrie held Houston hitless while he was on the hill.
• Trevor Gott gave up a bloop single to left-center by Jake Marisnick but stranded the only runner to reach in a 20-pitch third inning, getting Marwin Gonzalez looking at a breaking ball to end a scoreless frame of work.
• Oliver Perez weirded his way to two quick outs, but issued a two-out walk to Carlos Correa in the fourth and compounded the mistake when he gave up a two-run home run by Carlos Beltran in the next at bat as the Astros took a 2-1 lead.
Beltran crushed a 1-0 slider, knee-high inside and lined it out to left.
• Derek Norris demolished a 2-0 fastball from Astros’ righty Ken Giles and hit a no-doubter of a home run onto the concourse in left field, prompting humorous quips from the writers in attendance and tying things up at 2-2.
Derek Norris with a long HR for the #Nationals. Boost that trade value.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) February 28, 2017
• Koda Glover made his 2017 Grapefruit League debut in the fifth (fastball 94-95, slider 88-90 mph), getting Jake Marisnick looking with a biting 1-2 slider and retiring the side in order on 12 pitches to keep it tied at 2-2.
• Joe Nathan got a check-swing strike three from Marwin Gonzalez, but third base ump C.B. Bucknor blew the call (he went) and Gonzalez ended up lining a single to left field.
Gonzalez’s pinch runner took third on a hit-and-run single by Alex Bregman in the next at bat.
Nathan’s fastball sat around 87-88, with his breaking ball in the mid-80s.
He issued a base-loading walk to Jose Altuve on a 3-2 fastball he thought was a strike and he let home plate ump John Libka know he didn’t like the call.
Nathan got a double play ground ball out of Carlos Correa, but the go-ahead run scored on the play, 3-2 Astros.
• Enny Romero was in the high-90s with his heater, sitting 97 as he retired the Astros in order in the seventh, striking out two (both swinging at fastballs) in a 16-pitch frame.
• Kyle McGowin, 25, one of the two pitches the Nationals acquired from the Angels in the Danny Espinosa deal, tossed a quick, scoreless eighth, working around a one-out single and a two-out walk in a 17-pitch frame.
• Neftali Soto doubled and scored the tying run on an RBI single by Jose Lobaton in the bottom of the eighth, knotting things up at 3-3.
• Matt Albers put two on in the top of the ninth, but a nice play at the plate by catcher Jhonatan Solano on a throw in from Michael A. Taylor in right got the Nationals out of the Astros’ ninth with the score still tied at 3-3.
• Taylor made a strong throw from right, then hit a walk-off home run to left in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Nationals a 4-3 win.