VIERA, Fla. - Chris Young wasn’t awful in his first Grapefruit League start this spring. He wasn’t great, either.
Great analysis, I know.
Young worked three innings this afternoon, allowing three runs on three hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Threes were wild.
At times, the 35-year-old right-hander lost complete command of the strike zone. He issued a four-pitch walk to open the game and then another one to begin the third inning.
Other times, Young looked pretty darn sharp. He struck out the first two hitters he saw in the second inning, getting both Kyle Jensen and Chris Coghlan looking at strike three. Young also got two straight ground balls to get out of a jam in the first inning, inducing a 5-4-3 double play ball off the bat of Matt Downs (turned nicely by Steve Lombardozzi, Danny Espinosa and Adam LaRoche) and a tapper back to the mound by Joe Mahoney.
Mahoney got better wood on the ball his second time up, launching a two-run homer to right in the third inning. Young then nearly gave up a longball to the very next batter he saw, but Denard Span made a leaping grab of a Jensen fly ball at the wall in center to end the inning.
Young threw 52 pitches, 26 strikes. It’s clear that the 6-foot-10 righty lives up in the zone, which sometimes works out in his favor but sometimes results in hard-hit balls that travel a long ways.
The Nationals have put up four runs through three innings despite not having an extra-base hit.
Lombardozzi drove in two with a single to right in the second inning, and LaRoche and Espinosa both picked up RBIs in the third.
Craig Stammen came in to work the fourth for the Nats and was greeted rudely by the Marlins, who reached on four straight singles and a walk to open the frame. Stammen allowed three runs and retired just two batters before getting hooked by manager Davey Johnson.
Not a great afternoon for a guy who turns 29 today.
It’s 6-4 Marlins as we go to the bottom of the fourth.
Update: Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman launched back-to-back home runs in the fifth, and both came down in pretty much the exact same spot - over the advertisements above the right-center field wall, a long ways from home plate.
Harper’s shot was his second of spring. He’s now batting a robust .461 (12-for-26) this spring, with five extra-base hits. This home run came off a left-hander - Brad Hand - and was an absolute no-doubter. I’m not even sure why the Marlins’ outfielders turned around, to be honest.
Zimmerman then followed that with a blast of his own, his first of spring. Zimmerman is now batting .500 this spring (6-for-12) after a 3-for-3 effort this afternoon.
The two solo homers have tied the game at 6-6 going to the sixth.