VIERA, Fla. - How often does a team go 11-for-23 with runners in scoring position, put up 25 hits, score 15 runs, benefit from five errors by the opposing team and lose a ballgame?
Yeah, yesterday’s game was a funky one regardless of whether the outcome actually meant anything or not.
The Nationals were outhit 25-12 yesterday and allowed nine runs in a single inning, but still came away with their second victory of spring.
The merry-go-round on the bases left a handful of pitchers with some pretty crooked numbers in the ERA column.
Braves right-hander Wirfin Obispo, who has one of the best names you’ll see all spring, was left with a 40.50 ERA. Nats lefty Matt Purke and Braves righty Anthony Varvaro have ERAs of 27.00, Nats righty Blake Treinen has a 36.00 ERA, and the guy who followed Treinen to the mound, Josh Roenicke, has a 54.00 ERA after yesterday’s outing.
Can’t read much into those, obviously. One outing does not a spring make, and with the windy conditions yesterday, there were a number of balls that gave outfielders trouble.
Not all of the pitching lines were ugly yesterday. Veteran reliever Luis Ayala did a fine job in his first appearance for the Nats this spring, getting out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth by getting a double play ball on his very first pitch, and then throwing a scoreless ninth.
Ayala comes into camp as an intriguing option for one of the final spots in the Nats’ bullpen because of his experience and propensity to get groundball outs, and we got a glimpse of that yesterday when he was able to stop the bleeding in the late innings and lock down the Nationals’ win.
“He’s the perfect guy for that situation, regardless of what time of year it is,” manager Matt Williams said. “Because the ball gets on the ground when he pitches. We want to give ourselves a chance there. ... If you have that situation, he’s the perfect guy to go to.
“He’s a guy that can have really quick innings. An aggressive opposition. Ball sinking in. A lot of ground balls. That’s why we’re considering him and that’s why he’s here. It was a perfect situation for him today.”
Right-hander Clay Hensley, batting for a spot in the bullpen, allowed four hits over 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Two of the hits allowed by Hensley stayed on the infield and he surrendered a bloop single, as well, making his line a bit deceiving.
“We stretched Clay a little bit,” Williams said. “He had a really good first inning of work and then we stretched him out a little bit.”
On the position player side of things, Brock Peterson impressed in his first game in a Nats uniform, going 2-for-2 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. Peterson is one non-roster invitee I’ve got my eye on this camp, as the 30-year-old power-hitting first baseman slugged 25 homers in 122 games at Triple-A last season and could add some organizational depth behind Adam LaRoche and Tyler Moore at first base.
Speaking of power-hitting first basemen, Matt Skole ripped an RBI single yesterday and is now 2-for-3 on the spring. Zach Walters added a single yesterday and is 3-for-3 in two games.
Walters only played the first four innings of yesterday’s four-hour game, but he stayed afterward to sign for a group of fans down the right field line, a smile on his face the whole time. Most of his teammates had long gone home or were showering and ready to bolt Space Coast Stadium, but Walters took the time to chat with fans and sign autographs for kids.
We’ll get our first look at Doug Fister in game action today, as the Nats’ newest starter is going to get the start against the Marlins this afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. and you can catch the game live on MASN.
Also set to make their spring debuts today are Craig Stammen, Sammy Solis, Chris Young and Jerry Blevins.
Tyler Robertson worked a very brief ninth inning on Friday night, notching the save in the Nats’ win over the Mets, so Williams wanted to get him back out there again today, if possible, to help stretch his arm out and get him the work he needs. The big left-hander could end up seeing late-inning action again today, as could righty Aaron Barrett, who also threw Friday against the Mets.
Here’s today’s quote of the day, written atop the morning schedule sheet: “Word of the day: FUNGO.”