Washington and Detroit were tied at 1-1 after five, and Nationals’ lefty Enny Romero got two quick outs on three pitches in the Tigers’ half of the sixth before the home team in Lakeland, Florida’s Joker Marchant Stadium rallied for two runs, taking the lead, 3-1, but the Nationals rallied for three in the eighth, and went on to win, 5-4.
E-Jax vs DET: With A.J. Cole and Erick Fedde considered the frontrunners for the fifth spot in the Nationals’ rotation (and Cole the leader going into Spring Training since he’s out of options and further along in his development), Edwin Jackson, Tommy Milone, and others in camp competing for jobs this Spring will likely end up providing organizational depth.
Considering that even in what was a relatively healthy campaign for Nationals’ starters in 2017, the Nats still used eleven starters overall, there should be plenty of opportunities to contribute to the cause.
Jackson, 34, made 13 starts for the Nationals last season, after he signed a Minor League deal with Washington in mid-June.
E-Jax started strong, then struggled in his final outings, finishing up with a (5-6) record, a 5.07 ERA, 5.88 FIP, 25 walks, 58 Ks, and a .269/.326/.520 line against in 71 innings with the Nats. He re-signed on another Minor League deal this past January.
In his fourth appearances and second start in Grapefruit League action today, Jackson got off to a good start with two scoreless innings.
E-Jax issued a leadoff walk in the third inning, however, and gave up a hard-hit liner to left field that Andrew Stevenson couldn’t. quite. catch. in spite of a diving effort.
Brian Goodwin picked it up, though, and threw in to shortstop Reid Brignac, who relayed it to Pedro Severino at home in time for the Nats’ catcher to apply the tag and get Edwin Espinal, who took the leadoff walk, at the plate.
Another walk, and a line drive single to left, loaded the bases later in the Tigers’ third, and after a visit to the mound, Jackson got a potential double play grounder, but only one out, on a roller to short from Jeimer Candelario that brought in the first run of the game, 1-0.
Edwin Jackson’s Line: 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 52 P, 3/2 GO/FO.
Baserunning gaffes: The Nats have been running into a lot of outs early this Spring, and it’s something Dave Martinez has noticed, though he said he’s happy to see runners out there taking chances.
“I’d rather them be aggressive that way than not take any chances,” Martinez explained, as quoted by Washington Post writer Jorge Castillo late last month.
“We talked about that early in the spring. We want you in Spring Training taking chances to see what you can do. Because you’ll never know. In [actual] games, they’ll be a little smarter.”
Getting picked off first base by the opposing catcher, however, with two runners on and two out like Brian Goodwin did today after both he and Matt Reynolds took back-to-back free passes in the top of the third, is not a good look, no matter what time of year.
Andrew Stevenson got picked off first by the opposing pitcher, Ryan Carpenter, after he bunted for a single to start the fifth. There was also a caught stealing in there early at some point too...
Bullpen action: Trevor Gott worked around a leadoff single in an 11-pitch bottom of the fourth after he took over on the mound for Edwin Jackson.
1-1 tie: A one-out single (by Reid Brignac) and back-to-back HBPs (on Matt Reynolds and Brian Goodwin) loaded the bases in the Nationals’ half of the fifth, and a ground ball to short by Wilmer Difo, which was too slow for the Tigers to even get a force at second, led to the Nationals’ first run, 1-1.
Gott came back out in the bottom of the fifth, and made quick work of the Tigers in a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 frame that left him at 25 total after two scoreless.
Enny Romero retired the first two batters he faced in the sixth on three pitches, then gave up a long fly to the track by Victor Martinez, who settled for a hard-hit ground-rule double when the wind knocked down the potential solo blast.
John Hicks followed with a fly ball that got caught up in the wind in center field and sailed over Rafael Bautista’s head for an RBI triple that put the Tigers on top, 2-1. A wild pitch in the next at bat brought in another run, 3-1.
Grace under pressure: Matt Grace worked around a two-out walk and single in a scoreless seventh.
Rally/Rallies?: Spencer Kieboom walked and Jose Marmolejos singled with Enrique Burgos on the mound in the top of the eighth, before Burgos was lifted with an apparent injury. Juan Soto stepped in next, against Zac Reininger, and laced an RBI double to left-center field that brought in Kieboom, 3-2 Tigers, and a wild pitch with Chris Dominguez at the plate brought Marmolejos in, 3-3, before Dominguez sent a soft liner over short to bring Soto in, 4-3.
Austin Adams retired the Tigers in order in the eighth, and the Nationals added a run on a bases-loaded walk by Juan Soto in the ninth, 5-3, before Bryan Harper gave up a two-out home run, 5-4, but held the lead in the ninth.
Final Score: 5-4 Nationals.