NATIONALS QUICK WRAP
Score: Nationals 11, Mets 5
Recap: Four Nationals smacked home runs - Ian Desmond, Brian Goodwin, Sandy Leon and Matt Skole - and the Nats scored nine unanswered runs in the late innings to come back from a 4-2 deficit.
Need to know: Gio Gonzalez was solid in his spring debut, throwing two scoreless innings. Tyler Clippard worked a scoreless fifth. Jerry Blevins was sharp in a scoreless seventh.
On deck: Thursday, at Braves in Lake Buena Vista, 6:05 p.m.
VIERA, Fla. - We’ve got a 4-4 tie here in the eighth, this after Brian Goodwin launched a two-run shot to right in the bottom of the seventh to knot the score.
It’s Goodwin’s first homer of spring and the Nationals’ second of the day. Ian Desmond went yard back in the third inning.
Craig Stammen surrendered a run and struck out one in the sixth in his inning of work, and his college teammate, Jerry Blevins, then pitched a scoreless seventh, striking out one.
Gonzalez allowed a hit in his two innings of work, and said he felt good in his first opportunity this spring to face real hitters. He twice threw to Nats hitters in live batting practice, but it’s a much different story when you’ve got guys in the batter’s box wearing different colors than you are.
“You actually wanna see some live hitting and you wanna go up there and see some guys instead of seeing some guys who are swinging instead of two bullpens before that,” Gonzalez said. “Other than that, felt great. My arm feels where I want it to be. I feel strong. I feel ready. This team looks great. Our guys look alive.”
Some pitchers experiment with a new pitch in spring training. Others hope to fine-tune their mechanics. What’s Gonzalez trying to work on this spring?
“Definitely first-pitch strikes,” Gonzalez said. “Lower my pitch count. I wanna go out there and go four innings, five innings with 30, 40 pitches. That would definitely help out a lot, but again it’s not up to me it’s up to the hitters. But after that, anything from getting over (to cover first base), pitching from the stretch, pick-offs, there’s a bunch of things I wanna work on in spring training this year and hopefully I have enough time to do it.”
When your goals are improving some of the finer aspects of the pitching position, having Matt Williams as your manager seems to be a good thing. The Nats have run countless pitchers’ fielding practice drills and worked on pickoffs during workouts, allowing Gonzalez plenty of chances to work on that stuff.
“Meeting every day kinda reinforces it,” Gonzalez said. “That puts it in the back of your head. That and we work on pitchers getting over, bunt plays, situational hitting. There’s a lot of things that are going on that Matt Williams has been going through with us and having patience. That’s his number one thing. Ours is trying to accomplish what he’s putting down. I think he’s doing a great job by doing it.”
Clippard allowed a leadoff double to Kirk Nieuwenhuis on a grounder over the first base bag, but worked a scoreless fifth inning today, striking out one.
“Just (working on) the normal spring training stuff, just work on the command of all my pitches,” Clippard said. “Fastball feels real good right now. Breaking ball, it’s kinda a feel pitch, so it takes a little bit longer to get that one going. Same with the changeup. Overall, felt good.
“This year, my arm has felt probably better than it has in a long time this time of year. Usually, it takes me a little while to get the joint moving again, I guess. But this year’s been really good. My arm’s felt really good. So just trying to kinda maintain and keep building up to the season.”
What does Clippard attribute that to?
“You know what? I never know,” he said. “Because every year you feel a little bit different. I think over the years I’ve learned my body a little bit better and have catered my offseason program to stay away from any type of stuff that could irritate my arm. Me and my trainer really worked hard on getting that out of there and making sure I’m 100 percent for spring training and for the season. I think we got a good formula going right now, because this year I feel really good.”