VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals dropped tonight’s game to the Astros 7-4, with Gio Gonzalez allowing two runs over two innings, Rafael Soriano surrendering five runs and Steven Souza Jr. homering for the Nats.
Here are manager Matt Williams’ thoughts on tonight’s ballgame:
On what went wrong for Gonzalez after striking out the first five hitters he faced tonight: “Nothing. He was just pounding the zone. I thought he threw really well. Fastballs in to the right-handers. He just left one out over. That happens. But threw his curveball for strikes. Fastballs on both sides. I thought he was really good.”
On if Gonzalez was just rusty when it comes to working out of the stretch: “I didn’t think he was rusty. I think he was aggressive. That’s good. That’s where we like him.”
On whether he’s at all concerned about Soriano after he allowed five runs today, boosting his ERA to 37.80 for the spring: “Right now, I’m concerned about how he feels, not necessarily the results. He’s gonna get a few outings this spring and I want him to progress arm strength-wise every time. So I asked him when I went out there, how did he feel. And he said he felt good other than the results. That’s all I’m concerned about right now.”
On how Soriano looked to him: “He looks fine. He looks fine. Threw a couple good breaking balls down, out of the zone. But I’m not concerned with his results right now, but that his arm strength is improving and that he’s upping his pitch counts and he’s ready to go when it matters.”
On if Soriano looked like he was down on himself on the mound: “When I asked him how he felt today, he said that’s the only good part of today. He’s fine. He was good out there.”
On how Zach Walters looked at second base in his first spring start there: “Not bad, huh? Turned a double play and got out the way. He was a little nervous about it before the game. We talked about it a little bit. He’s gonna get another chance in a couple days, too. It was a slow hit and a slow-developing double play and the guy was on him and he caught the ball, stepped back away from the base, and turned it. It’s fine. He’s an athlete so he’ll be able to handle it. It’s OK.
“Generally, he’s used to being able to see that guy (when turning a double play coming from shortstop). At second base, he can’t necessarily see it if it’s a slow developer like that, he gets on you pretty quick. But he did fine. He used the bag to shield himself and stepped away. Certainly his arm strength will allow him to turn that ball because he’s got really good arm strength. It was good. Did fine.”
On Tyler Clippard, who struck out two and allowed two hits in a scoreless inning: “He’s right on schedule. He threw his change-up tonight pretty well. A couple of curveballs but tonight he was mostly fastball/change-up. He’s spotting his fastball so I think he’s good.”
On what he’s seen from Souza, who homered tonight: “He’s a man. He understands the game. He’s aggressive. And of course he’s been getting a lot of at-bats and playing a lot of defense. He wants to play every day, which is good. I’ve been impressed with his make-up first and foremost and the way he’s played this spring he’s been great.”
On how Souza looks in the outfield: “Good. He has the ability to play first base but he’s suited for the outfield. He runs really well for a large guy. And we’ve seen. He’s got some power and throws that ball really good. So, for me, right now, pretty suited for right field. He’ll continue to progress but so far he’s playing really well.”