Vance Worley, who’s battling for a bullpen spot with Washington this Spring, got a start for the Nationals this afternoon in their Grapefruit League matchup with the New York Yankees, but struggled, giving up seven hits, two walks and four runs, three earned in 3 1⁄3 innings pitched in what ended up a 9-3 loss.
Bryce Harper kept hitting, going 2 for 4 vs NY (.314 AVG on the Spring) and Nationals’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman collected a hit in his fifth straight game (8 for 12 over that stretch), but the Nationals came up short in West Palm Beach, Florida’s Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Here’s how it happened:
• Anthony Rendon scooped up a one-hop grounder to third off Matt Holliday’s bat and started an inning-ending 5-4-3 DP to help Vance Worley out of trouble in the first after the potential Nationals’ pen option gave up back-to-back, one-out singles that put runners on the corners. 11-pitch first.
• Back-to-back walks to the first two Yankees in the second put Worley in a no-out jam, but he got Austin Romine looking with a swing-back 0-2 fastball outside for out No. 1 before giving up an RBI double to left by Rob Refsnyder that put the Yankees up early, 1-0 in the second.
Ronald Torreyes followed with an RBI single to right and Brett Gardner drove in two more with a blooper to left-center field that made it 4-0 Yankees, pushing Worley up to 31 pitches with one out in the second. Worley was up to 42 pitches total when he got Greg Bird looking to end the second.
• Suddenly hot-hitting first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who started the Spring 0 for 17, entered play today 7 for 10 over the last four games. Zim worked his way back from down 0-2 to a full count in his first at bat against Michael Pineda in the bottom of the second and took the second straight walk after Anthony Rendon (who walked more than he K’d in college) took a free pass to start the frame.
Adam Eaton drove Rendon in with an RBI single to right, 4-1, and Adam Lind jumped on the first pitch from new Yankees’ pitcher J.R. Graham, lining a two-out, two-run double to left to make it a one-run game, 4-3.
• Worley worked around back-to-back, one-out singles in a 21-pitch third that left him at 63 pitches. He recorded one out in the fourth before he was lifted. 66 pitches total.
Worley’s Line: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 66 P, 4/1 GO/FO.
• Oliver Perez took over for Worley with one out in the fourth and retired both batters he faced in a quick, nine-pitch outing.
• Bryce Harper made an ill-advised-in-Spring-Training-but-impressive catch in the fourth as well, sliding over the outfield grass in a headfirst slide to make the grab:
• Jeremy Guthrie gave up a leadoff double by Greg Bird and a two-run home run to left by Matt Holliday, who made hit 6-3 NY with his third blast of the Spring.
• Guthrie came back out for another inning of work in the sixth and Joe Nathan took over on the mound in the seventh, working around a one-out single by Donovan Solano for a scoreless, 15-pitch frame.
• Bryce Harper was 2 for 3 today after he dumped a one-out single into the left field grass in the bottom of the seventh. That was it for Harper, who was replaced by a pinch runner.
• Left-handed reliever Neal Cotts gave up three straight singles after taking over on the mound for the Nationals in the eighth as the Yankees loaded the bases, and Gleyber Torres connected for the fourth straight hit, lining a two-run double to left-center field, 8-3 NY. A sac fly by Dustin Fowler brought in another run, 9-3.
• Koda Glover gave up a two-out, broken bat single by Billy McKinney but stranded the only runner to reach base in a 13-pitch frame.
• The Nationals came up empty in the bottom of the ninth...
Final Score: 9-3 Yankees.