According to Google Maps, the trip from West Palm Beach to Lakeland, Florida is about a three-hour car ride, which probably explains the lineup the Washington Nationals put on the field this afternoon against the Detroit Tigers in Joker Marchant Stadium.
No offense to the Nationals who made the trip, but it was a mix of roster bubble guys (Michael A. Taylor, Brian Goodwin, Wilmer Difo), future Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs (Matt Skole, Spencer Kieboom) and bench bats (Adam Lind), though MASN’s Mark Zuckerman did note that the Nats brought top prospect Victor Robles along.
On the mound, however, it was a different story with Joe Ross starting for the visiting team.
Ross is expected to be part of the Nationals’ rotation in 2017 after he struggled with injury issues last season, but he still managed to put up impressive numbers: 3.43 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 29 BBs (2.49 BB/9) and 93 Ks (7.96 K/9) in 105 innings.
Ross tossed two scoreless this afternoon, and the B-Nats pounded the Tigers, scoring nine runs in what ended up a 9-1 win.
Manny Burriss steps in to face Mike Pelfrey and we are underway at Joker Marchant Stadium.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 1, 2017
Gameday: https://t.co/1HxikidKpJ pic.twitter.com/tsTZ5MXnM5
Here’s how it happened:
• Ross, 23, needed 21 pitches to retire the Tigers in order in the first, and he worked around a one-out single to complete his second scoreless frame.
• Michael A. Taylor, whose walk-off home run won it for the Nats on Tuesday, got the scoring started today with a two-out, two-run bases-loaded single in the top of the second inning that put the Nationals on top, 2-0, and knocked Mike Pelfrey out of the game after 50+ pitches in 1 2⁄3 IP.
• Brandon Snyder singled with the bases loaded in the third to drive in a run and a sac fly by Spencer Kieboom put the Nationals up 4-0 after three.
• Taylor hit a one-out bomb of a home run in the fourth as well, taking Shane Greene deep to left field for a solo blast that had the Tigers announce team expressing awe, 5-0.
Michael A. Taylor just hit a 700 foot home run.— Jorge Castillo (@jorgeccastillo) March 1, 2017
• The Nats’ kids/prospects got in on the action in a four-run sixth inning with Andrew Stevenson driving in a run with a ground-rule double and Raudy Read and Drew Ward hitting back-to-back solo home runs that put the Nationals up 9-0 after five and a half innings.
• Top prospect Victor Robles popped out in his first Grapefruit League at bat.
• After Joe Ross was done, Taylor Hill (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 K), Jacob Turner (2 H, 1 BB), Wander Suero (1.0 IP, 1 BB, 1 K) kept the Tigers off the board, but Braulio Lara (2 H, 1 ER) gave up a two-out single by Miguel Gonzalez and an RBI double by Brett Pill as Detroit finally got on the board, 9-1.
• That’s how it ended. Tomorrow’s game is on MLB.tv for anyone who is interested, though it isn’t a MASN broadcast.