Washington’s Nationals took both games today in split squad action, beating the Detroit Tigers, 6-2, at home in West Palm Beach, and beating the New York Mets, 7-3, in Port St. Lucie, FL. Gio Gonzalez gave up six hits in three innings against the Tigers, but the Nats supported their starter with Howie Kendrick (2 for 3, 2 R), Bryce Harper (2 for 3, HR), and Matt Adams (3 for 3, 3B) pacing the offense in the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Edwin Jackson started for the Nationals against the Mets in First Data Field, where the visiting team jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first, knocking Steven Matz out early and holding on for the win.
Gio vs DET: Runners reached base on Gio Gonzalez in 2017, (though his 1.18 WHIP was the lowest he’s posted since 2012), but the left-hander had a habit of stranding them when they did, with a career-high 81.6% LOB% (the NL’s third-highest LOB% amongst qualified starters) and an impressive .175/.267/.252 line against with runners in scoring position on the year in 2017.
As he prepares for the 2018 campaign, new Nationals’ skipper Dave Martinez said he’d like to see the Nats’ lefty continue to try to avoid the big innings that can sink a start.
“He knows for him it’s [important] to avoid that big inning and just work on strikes,” Martinez said after Gonzalez’s first start of the Spring, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“The way to do that is just limit damage. If a guy gets on, just don’t worry about it. Just limit the damage. Know you’ve got seven guys behind you that can catch the ball.”
Gonzalez gave up back-to-back, one-out singles and a two-out hit in the opening frame of the Nationals’ game with the Detroit Tigers today in West Palm Beach, FL, and the lefty surrendered a bases-loaded, two-out single, giving up a run, but getting an out at home plate on a strong throw in from left field by Andrew Stevenson that allowed Matt Wieters to tag the runner and limit the damage, 1-0 Tigers after one.
After a 1-2-3 second inning, Gonzalez was up to 31 pitches, and he came back out for the third with the score tied at 1-1, and gave up a leadoff single and two-out RBI triple to right that put the Tigers back up, 2-1.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 3.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 53 P, 33 S.
E-Jax vs NYM: Edwin Jackson, 34, who returned to the Nationals on a Minor League deal this winter, after making 13 starts for the NL East champs in 2017, took the mound today with a 5-0 lead after Washington loaded the bases with one out in the opening frame of their game against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, FL’s First Data Field and scored early and often.
The Nationals got an RBI single by Chris Dominguez, a sac fly by Kelvin Gutierrez, a two-out, two-run hit by catcher Pedro Severino, who dropped a blooper into short right field, and an RBI single by Rafael Bautista in the opening frame.
Jackson recorded back-to-back Ks to start the Mets’ half of the first, but gave up a two-out shot to right by Jay Bruce, who crushed a high 3-2 fastball and sent a solo blast sailing out and over the outfield fence, 5-1.
After an 18-pitch first inning, Jackson retired the Mets in order in a nine-pitch second, and came back out for the third, working around a two-out single by Brandon Nimmo in an 11-pitch frame that left him at 38 pitches total on the day.
Dominguez, Chris Dominguez: Nationals’ infielder Chris Dominguez, 31, spent the 2017 campaign with the Chicago Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate, putting up a .284/.323/.443 line, 22 doubles, and 11 home runs over 102 games and 359 plate appearances.
Dominguez was 2 for 2 on the day in Port St. Lucie after he launched a solo home run to left field in the top of the third inning. First home run of the Spring for Dominguez... and speaking of home runs...
Harper Homer: With a runner on and two out in the Nats’ half of the third, Bryce Harper hit a high fastball out to right field for a two-run shot, his first home run of the Spring, putting the Nats up 3-2 on the Tigers in West Palm Beach. Harper was 2 for 3 on the day after he hit a two-out, two-run single to left in the fourth to put the Nationals up 5-2. He scored to make it 6-2 on a bloop single by Matt Adams (3 for 3 on the day at that point).
What a Drag-mire: Nats’ reliever Brady Dragmire gave up a bomb of a home run by Todd Frazier in the Mets’ half of the fourth, as the home team pulled within four runs, 6-2. He (Dragmire) ended up going three innings against the Mets, giving up just the one hit and run.
MAT: Michael A. Taylor doubled for the first time this Spring to lead off the Nationals’ half of the fifth, stole third base, and scored on an RBI single by Kelvin Gutierrez that put the visiting team up 7-2 on the Mets in Port St. Lucie.
Soto K: Juan Soto’s Grapefruit League debut had Nationals Twitter excited. He took over in right field in the top of the sixth against the Tigers, and went down swinging in his first AB of the Spring.
Cordero, not Chief: Jimmy Cordero gave up a run on two hits in the bottom of the seventh inning, with Ty Kelly doubling with one down after a leadoff single by Todd Frazier (2 for 3, HR, single).
Jefry and Wander: Jefry Rodriguez tossed a 1-2-3 eighth against the Mets in Port St. Lucie while Wander Suero retired the Tigers in order in the eighth in West Palm Beach.
BOOM: Carter Kieboom doubled off Tigers’ righty Joe Jimenez to start the bottom of the eighth inning, connecting for his first Grapefruit League hit.
Harper, Not Bryce: Bryan Harper tossed a scoreless ninth in what ended up a 7-3 win over the Mets, and the Nationals finished off the Tigers with a scoreless ninth inning by Jaron Long. Final Scores: Nationals 7-3 over Mets; Nats 6-2 over Tigers.