Detwiler takes a step in the right direction (Nats lose 7-5)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP

Score: Mets 7, Nationals 5

Recap: Ross Detwiler was solid in his third start of spring, allowing a run over 3 2/3 innings. The Nats took a 2-1 lead into the eighth, but allowed six total runs in the last two frames. Brock Peterson's three-run homer in the eighth wasn't enough to overcome the damage.

Need to know: Christian Garcia, Rafael Soriano and Tyler Clippard combined to allow just one baserunner and strike out four over their 3 1/3 collective innings. Impressive work by the Nats' first three relievers to enter today's game.

On deck: Friday, at Lakeland vs. Tigers, 1:05 p.m.


VIERA, Fla. - We'll have to check with Ross Detwiler in a bit and see how he felt about today's outing, but from my vantage point, it was a step in the right direction for the Nationals left-hander.

That's not to say that Detwiler's first two spring starts were disasters. Not by any stretch.

But Detwiler was seemingly able to locate his pitches a little better today than he had in those two prior outings, and he limited the number of baserunners he had to deal with.

Detwiler allowed one run on three hits and a walk in his 3 2/3 innings of work, striking out two.

He threw 68 pitches, 40 for strikes.

In the first inning, Detwiler struck out David Wright looking on a fastball perfectly placed on the inside corner, and in the second, he got Curtis Granderson swinging through a fastball up in the zone.

He got a 5-4-3 double play (smoothly turned by Zach Walters and Jeff Kobernus) to end the third inning, and after allowing a Josh Satin RBI double in the fourth, Matt Williams came out to get Detwiler.

Satin's ball was well struck towards Walters at third base, and while it made for a tough play, I'd bet Walters would say that he should have snagged the ankle-high liner, or at least knocked it down.

Christian Garcia came on to relieve Detwiler, and after allowing a walk to Travis d'Arnaud, Garcia got Andrew Brown to line out to center, ending the inning.

The Nats briefly took a 1-0 lead in the first after Denard Span doubled to right, stole third (his third stolen base in four tries this spring) and then came in on a Bryce Harper RBI groundout.

An inning later, we saw more Williams aggression, when Adam LaRoche stole second. He did so with relative ease, as well.

LaRoche has just 10 career stolen bases, but it seems that Williams' go-at-'em style on the basepaths doesn't just apply to speedsters.

It's 1-1 here in the fifth.

Update: Rafael Soriano looked really shaky his first two times out this spring, allowing seven runs on eight hits over those two innings of work. His third outing was much, much better.

Soriano set down the heart of the Mets lineup in dominating fashion in the sixth inning. He got Daniel Murphy to ground out to second, struck out Wright, then got Granderson to pop out to third.

The slider looked really good from Soriano today, and his fastball clearly had life.

Williams had said that he wasn't concerned about Soriano following his second rough spring appearance, but it still has to be a bit of a relief for Williams and pitching coach Steve McCatty to see Soriano get things on track. Spring stats mean nothing, but it's still nice to see your key guys look sharp.

Update II: The Nats took a 2-1 lead into the top of the eighth after a run scored on an error by second baseman Anthony Seratelli, and Manny Delcarmen immediately gave the lead up, allowing four runs in just a third of an inning.

No worry. Brock Peterson evened the score just a half-inning later.

Peterson mashed a three-run homer to left-center, making this a 5-5 game entering the ninth. It's Peterson's first longball of spring, and it was struck well.

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