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Washington Nationals lose 3-2 to Miami Marlins: Ben Braymer solid in first Spring start; Juan Soto homers in loss...

Ben Braymer put together a solid outing in his first start of the Spring. Juan Soto homered. But the Nationals lost to the Marlins, 3-2 in Jupiter, FL.

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Braymer’s Turn: Washington Nationals’ prospect Ben Braymer was added to the club’s 40-Man roster this winter, to protect him from selection in the Rule 5 Draft coming off a 2019 campaign in which the 25-year-old lefty pitched at Double and Triple-A in the organization.

Braymer, a 2016 18th Round pick out of Auburn, ranked 14th overall on MLB Pipeline’s list of the top prospects in the organization, talked in an MiLB.com podcast interview this winter about what, if anything, changed for him once he was added to the 40-Man.

“It obviously puts me in a great position to, hopefully, contribute to the Nationals’ success sooner than later,” Braymer said.

“I obviously fully believe in myself and my ability to do that as a player on the field and as a guy in the clubhouse.

“Every day that I train here in the offseason, that’s something that I’m working towards.”

After finishing up the 2019 campaign with a 2.51 ERA, a 3.37 FIP, 21 walks (2.39 BB/9), and 69 Ks (7.86 K/9) in 13 starts and 79 innings pitched at Harrisburg, and a 7.20 ERA, 7.98 FIP, 35 walks (5.25 BB/9), and 47 Ks (7.05 K/9) in 13 starts and 60 IP at Fresno, the left-hander came to Spring Training with the big league club and made two appearances out of the bullpen before getting a chance to start today when the team decided against throwing Max Scherzer (who subsequently revealed he’s dealing with a side issue).

Braymer worked around three singles in the opening frame, with a pickoff erasing the first runner to reach base before back-to-back, two-out hits were stranded, and he struck two batters out in the second, working around a two-out single, before giving up one run in the bottom of the third, when Miami Marlins’ leadoff man Jonathan Villar singled (2 for 2) and stole second base (on a play on which he was picked off but took the bag when Nats’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s throw to second hit the runner) before scoring on a RBI double by Brian Anderson, 1-0 Fish, and 2-0 on a sac fly with Wander Suero on the mound.

Soto Goes Yard: Marlins’ lefty Caleb Smith tossed three scoreless to start this afternoon, and he took the mound in the fourth with a 2-0 lead and promptly gave it up, walking the Nationals’ second baseman, Starlin Castro, in front of Juan Soto, whose second home run this Spring was a game-tying two-run blast to right that was described as a “towering” HR on the Marlins’ broadcast of today’s game.

The hit, Soto’s first in two at bats early in today’s game, left him 7 for 19 (.368 AVG) with three doubles and two home runs in Grapefruit League action (to that point).

Bullpen Action: Javy Guerra retired the Marlins in order in the bottom of the fourth inning to keep things tied at 2-2.

Guerra got two outs in the fifth as well before James Bourque got the final out of the inning.

Bourque struck out two on the way to a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth, with the three batters the ninth, tenth, and eleventh straight Marlins’ hitters set down by Nationals’ pitchers.

Kyle Finnegan stretched the streak of retired batters to 14 with a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh inning.

Aaron Barrett took over and walked Monte Harrison in the first at bat of the Marlins’ half of the eighth, ending the streak of retired batters, and Harrison stole second in the next AB.

Harrison moved to third on a groundout and scores on an RBI single by Harold Ramirez to put the Fish up, 3-2.