Journeyman non-roster invitee Chris Dominguez hit a bases-loaded, two-run single up the middle, and veteran catcher Matt Wieters hit a towering two-run home run to left field to lead the Washington Nationals to a 9-3 win over the Atlanta Braves this afternoon in West Palm Beach, Florida’s FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Spencer Kieboom (two-run single), Osvaldo Abreu (RBI single) and Andrew Stevenson (RBI single) drove in runs as well as the Nationals ran away with this one.
Max Scherzer looked sharp in a 23-pitch, two-inning outing, his first of the Spring, and the Nationals’ bullpen held the Braves in check as Atlanta connected for just five hits total.
MAD MAX: Max Scherzer tossed a 60-pitch bullpen the first time he took the mound in Spring Training earlier this month. Scherzer was setting up and playing out scenarios and counts, as he imagined he was facing different MLB hitters.
New Nats’ manager Dave Martinez was asked what he thought about what he saw from the three-time Cy Young award winner in that session. Was it... unusual?
“Max himself is unusual,” Martinez joked.
Scherzer told reporters that there was actually nothing unusual at all about the way he was approaching his work this Spring.
“That was in my normal routine for how I get ready for the season,” Scherzer said, as quoted on MLB.com.
“Sometimes, right now, this is the toughest throwing you experience as you continue to ramp up through the first bullpens, the first live BPs, the first games. There’s a lot of throwing here. So for me, I always like to get on the mound, feel some fatigue and kind of work through it. I see benefits of that by the end of Spring Training.”
Scherzer gave up a run early in his first start of the Spring when Dansby Swanson hit a 1-0 fastball up high inside out to left field for a no-doubter of a solo homer that put the Braves up, 1-0, at the end of a 12-pitch opening frame.
The Nationals’ ace picked up two Ks in an 11-pitch second that ended his outing after 23 pitches total.
Goody Got It: Brian Goodwin, coming off something of a breakout 2017 campaign, started the Nationals’ half of the first with a solid at bat and a walk in his first trip to the plate this afternoon.
Goodwin stole second base with Trea Turner at the plate, but two outs later, however, the Nationals’ outfielder got caught off third base and was tagged out for the final out of the frame on a botched attempted double steal. Anthony Rendon broke for second base too early, and Braves’ starter Scott Kazmir watched him go, turned, and calmly threw home with Goodwin in no-man’s land, allowing catcher Tyler Marlette to throw to third in time to get the runner.
Goodwin battled Max Fried in a 10-pitch at bat in the fourth that ended with a two-out line drive single to right field (1 for 2).
NRI BIG AB: Nationals’ non-roster invitee Chris Dominguez, who spent the 2017 campaign in the Chicago Cubs’ system, putting up a .284/.323/.443 line with 22 doubles and 11 HRs in 102 games and 381 ABs at Triple-A Iowa, stepped in with the bases loaded in the home-half of the second and sent a two-run single back up the middle, driving Matt Adams (BB) and Matt Wieters (line drive single to right) in to put the Nationals ahead, 2-1.
Horse Head Kelley: It was too brief an outing to get a real feel for what Shawn Kelley had on the mound, but was nice to see the right-hander get off to a positive start this Spring with a quick, seven-pitch, 1-2-3 third inning.
Voth (like both, not Hoth): Austin Voth was on the radar as a potential call-up for the Nats at some point in 2017 last Spring, but the righty struggled in a tough season at Double-A and Triple-A in the Nationals’ system which saw him post a combined (4-12) record in 24 starts and 122 2⁄3 IP, over which he had a 6.38 ERA, 48 walks and 88 Ks.
Voth worked around a one-out double in a 20-pitch fourth. He sat 92-93 with his fastball, worked in a slider (87-ish), and stranded the one runner to reach base while he was on the mound.
Weight Wieters: Nationals’ catcher Matt Wieters hit a high 1-2 fastball inside from Braves’ lefty Max Fried into the stratosphere (or at least the second deck in left field) for a two-run home run from the right side of the plate. It was the second hit of the game for Wieters (2 for 2), who lined a single to right field (from the left side of the plate) in his first at bat. 4-1 Nationals.
Nationals’ Bullpen: Jimmy Cordero had a walk come around to score after a groundout moved the runner up and a throwing error by Nats’ catcher Spencer Kieboom allowed Christian Colon to come around, making it a 4-2 game after four and a half innings.
Cesar Vargas, 26, who spent the 2017 campaign in the San Diego Padres’ system, posting a 3.61 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 3.92 BB/9, and 10.36 K/9 in 57 1⁄3 IP at Double-A and a 15.09 ERA, 6.72 FIP, 10.32 BB/9, and 9.53 K/9 in 11 1⁄3 IP at Triple-A, worked around a two-out double in a 15-pitch sixth.
BOOM!, Kie-BOOM!: Spencer Kieboom connected for the second bases-loaded single of the game for the Nationals, driving two runs in with a grounder up the middle off Braves’ right-hander Luke Jackson to make it a 6-2 game in the sixth. Osvaldo Abreu snuck a hit through the infield to drive in one more, 7-2, and Andrew Stevenson kept the line moving with an RBI single to right field to put the Nationals up by seven, 9-2.
Back to the Bullpen: Austin Adams had his slider working, dropping it off the outside edge to get back-to-back Ks from the first two batters he faced today,, and a grounder out to second base ended a quick, 10-pitch frame.
Sammy Solis gave up an opposite field homer to left field by Braves’ first baseman Carlos Franco in what ended up a 16-pitch frame, 9-3 Nats.
In the ninth, Nats’ right-hander David Goforth loaded the bases with one out (walk, single, walk), but stranded all three runners. Final Score: 9-3 Nationals.