JUPITER, Fla. - Given his druthers, Jayson Werth would probably prefer to have remained back at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, done his work early and called it a day. Instead, he’s here at Roger Dean Stadium, plugging along with the rest of what’s expected to be the Nationals’ regular season lineup.
For a guy who didn’t relish the 90-minute or so bus trek down Interstate 95 - which manager Davey Johnson is well aware of, but really doesn’t care about - Werth is making the most of the trip. He singled in his first at-bat in the first inning, then delivered a sacrifice fly that staked the Nationals to a 1-0 lead in the third.
The Nationals loaded the bases in the third on singles by Kurt Suzuki, Chris Young and Denard Span. Young’s hit came on a bunt attempt that was popped up in front of the plate. Marlins pitcher Wade LeBlanc dived to try and glove it, but wound up trapping the ball while Young chugged safely to first.
Werth then plated Suzuki with a fly ball to right before Bryce Harper slammed a two-run double to the gap in left-center.
Young has allowed a hit and a walk in two innings. He made a nice defensive play in the second, covering first base to finish a 3-6-1 double play that erased Chris Valaika, who led off with an infield single to third.
Ryan Zimmerman backhanded Valaika’s grounder behind the bag at third, but his throw wasn’t strong enough to get him at first. Instead, Zimmerman uncorked a long lob across the diamond. First baseman Adam LaRoche tried to stretch into foul territory to grab the floater for an out, but it fell beyond his wingspan.
Young is through the third, and it’s 3-0 Nationals heading to the fourth.
Update: Harper’s two-run single in the fifth has increased the lead to 5-0. LeBlanc loaded the bases on walks to Young and Span and a single by Werth before Harper’s frozen rope to right moved everyone up two bases.
Zimmerman then hit a sac fly to right to score Werth, who came in standing up just ahead of catcher Rob Brantly’s turnaround swipe tag.
Update II: Young is out after five scoreless innings. He allowed two hits, walked one and fanned two. Young threw 64 pitches, 42 for strikes. Zach Duke is on to work the sixth.
The Marlins scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s RBI single and a run-scoring single by Greg Dobbs off Duke in the sixth. Rob Brantley later doubled home two runs, making it 6-4.
Update III: Make that 7-4. Suzuki just homered to straightaway center field in the eighth, his first homer of the spring.
Update IV: Henry Rodriguez walked the first two batters of the ninth and allowed a run, but finished off the Marlins for a 7-5 Nationals win.