Washington’s Nationals opened the 2021 Grapefruit League schedule with a 4-4 tie with the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, FL’s Roger Dean Stadium where Erick Fedde started for Davey Martinez’s club. We followed along as well as we could while logging onto a Zoom interview or two during the game to keep you up-to-date on the first competitive affair of the year for the Nats...
Run(s) Scored?: Andrew Stevenson, batting second and playing right field today, took a walk from Cards’ starter Jack Flaherty with one down in the first, hesitated a moment on the basepaths, and took third when Trea Turner doubled to the left-center gap in the next at bat, but was stranded when Josh Bell walked and Turner got thrown out at second on his first stolen base attempt of the year, or maybe none of that happened, and the Cards just ended the inning to protect Flaherty in this new age of on the fly rules, apparently. The end of the inning was just weird ...
Fedde vs the Cards: Erick Fedde was set to throw around 30 pitches this afternoon, and he was up to 14 in the first without recording an out, after giving up a leadoff single, and back-to-back walks to the first three batters he faced. A wild pitch to Nolan Arenado allowed the first run against of the spring to score, 1-0 Cardinals.
A check-swing strike three from Arenado got Fedde the first out (on his 19th pitch), and a grounder back to the mound from Paul DeJong (on pitch No. 24) got him out No. 2, and a long fly to center from Yadier Molina got the Nationals’ starter out No. 3 on pitch No. 28.
Erick Fedde’s Line: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 28 P, 12 S, 1/1 GO/FO.
“Definitely had some excitement going into today,” Fedde said after the outing.
“Just getting to the ballpark and getting back out on the field, it’s a fun feeling.
“I know I was really pumped up for it. It’s good to be back and even see some faces in the stands.”
Now Run(s)!: Three straight singles for Kyle Schwarber, Starlin Castro, and then (after a wild pitch), Hernán Pérez, got the Nationals on the board in the second, with Schwarber scoring on Pérez’s first hit with his new club after signing a minor league deal this winter, 1-1, and the visiting club in Roger Dean Stadium added two more with Castro scoring on a wild pitch to Blake Swihart, and Pérez coming around on a single by Victor Robles, 3-1.
Swihart Start: Blake Swihart, a 28-year-old, 2011 1st Round pick by the Boston Red Sox, who has had injuries (and suspect defense) sidetrack his career, took a walk with runners on first and third in the top of the second inning, allowing the Nationals’ second run of the game to score, 2-1. That was it for Flaherty.
Before today’s game, Davey Martinez talked about what he wants to see from Swihart, who signed a minor league deal with the Nats after playing in the Rangers’ organization in 2020, but not ever appearing in the majors.
“I want to get him at bats,” Martinez said.
“I want to see him in a game. I want to see how he handles pitchers. Obviously, he can do a lot of different things. He’s played multiple positions. But we want to get him out there and see him catch and see how he handles pitchers. But he’s an interesting guy, switch-hitter, so he’s a guy that right now we view, if something happened with Yan or Alex, he could be in the mix.”
Swihart went 0 for 1 with a walk in his Nationals debut.
BULLPEN ACTION: T.J. McFarland gave up a run in a 20-pitch bottom of the second, 3-2 Nats.
Ryne Harper got the third for the Nationals, with a one-run lead intact, and retired the Cards in order in a 14-pitch frame, with his big looping curve getting DeJong swinging for the final out of the inning.
Ben Braymer took the mound in the fourth and gave up two hits in a scoreless frame.
Kyle McGowin had the slider working as he struck out two (one swinging, one looking) in a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth. Still 3-2 Nationals.
Joan Adon’s fastballs (two and four-seamers) sat in the mid-90s and he mixed in a slider and changeup as he retired the the side in order in the sixth, striking out the final batter on a 2-2 94 MPH heater after getting groundouts from the first two Cardinals.
More Runs: Drew Mendoza’s RBI double to center in the seventh put the Nationals up 4-2 on the Cards.
More Relievers: Sam Clay, who got a big league deal this winter, after six seasons in the minors in the Twins’ organization, took the mound in the seventh and the left-hander set two batters down before giving up a single and stranding the only runner to reach base.
Tyler Eppler worked around back-to-back, one-out walks for a scoreless bottom of the eighth. Still 4-2 Nationals.
Gabe Klobosits worked the ninth for the Nationals, and the 6’7’’ right-hander (who looks positively huge on the hill) got some help from Drew Mendoza at first base (on a barehand play on a ball that shot off the first base bag) for the first out of the inning, but a one-out single, two-out double, and a grounder to short that got under Jackson Cluff’s glove let the Cardinals tie it up. That’s how it ended.
Final Score: 4-4 tie...