VIERA, Fla. - Here in Viera, the Nationals beat the Braves 8-2. Over in Jupiter, where the Nats had the other split-squad contest today, a game with the Cardinals ended in a 4-4 tie after 10 innings.
In the road split-squad game, Jamey Carroll had an RBI single and Destin Hood hit a three-run homer. Chris Young allowed a run over three innings, A.J. Cole struck out three in 2 2/3 scoreless, Aaron Barrett had two Ks in 1 1/3 innings, and Clay Hensley struck out two Cardinals in a scoreless ninth.
Here, Danny Espinosa and Taylor Jordan both had strong games.
Espinosa went 1-for-2 with a double, a walk, a stolen base, two runs scored and a smart baserunning play that allowed him to score from second base on a comebacker to the mound.
Jordan struck out six over three innings of one-run ball, and Tyler Cliparrd, Xavier Cedeno, Josh Roenicke and Manny Delcarmen combined for four scoreless frames, allowing just one hit between them and striking out five.
Here are manager Matt Williams’ postgame thoughts:
On Espinosa and Jordan: “Danny’s got his stroke, man. It’s good. He was really aggressive on the basepaths, which is good. Taylor was good, too. First inning he was a little bit up with his pitches but then he settled in and threw his breaking ball for strikes. Really good.”
On what’s impressed him about Jordan: “Just from what I’ve seen before carries to today. The ability to throw breaking balls behind in the count, use his changeup effectively, and his fastball sinks hard. So it’s impressive. But today he was really good after the first inning. Settled right in, so I’m impressed.”
On what led to Jordan’s six strikeouts today: “For me, it’s his breaking ball command and his changeup command. He knows that if he gets behind in the count, he can throw his sinker and guys beat the ball into the ground. But what he did today was throw his breaking ball for strikes, his changeup for strikes. That’s where he gets his strikeouts. But he’s always got his sinker to rely on if he needs a grounder. It was good.”
On whether he’s heard from those with the team last year that Jordan is progressing: “I think that they’ve seen continued growth. All things considered, he’s quick to the plate, holds baserunners well. Uses his sinker when he needs to use his sinker in a situation that dictates it. If he needs a punchout, he’s got a couple of pitches to go to that he can get that. So all of those things combined allow him to progress naturally and get better. Again, it’s my first experience seeing him, but from what everybody’s told me, he’s growing. And that’s good.”
On if Espinosa’s baserunning can be a factor that can help the Nats: “Sure. Again, it’s a little bit of our DNA: what we want to do is apply pressure. We’ve said it time and time again, but it’s true. There’s many ways to do that. You can apply pressure offensively; you get a guy on first base and (Ryan Zimmerman) at the plate, there’s a little pressure. Or (Bryce Harper) or (Jayson) Werth at the plate. There’s a little bit of pressure when we’re able to steal a base or when we’re able to advance a base. That creates pressure, too. So we want to create that atmosphere and play that way. It’s gonna help us along our way if we can take advantage of those things.
“So the ball (Espinosa) scored on, he just never stopped. Understanding that that play is going to go to first base, one, it takes a good secondary (lead); two, it takes not watching the baseball from second to third; and three, it takes an aggressive, good turn at third base to be able to score. That’s part of our DNA, the way we want to play. So that epitomizes it today.”
On Ross Detwiler’s outing: “We allowed him to stretch out a little bit today and go after Freddie (Freeman) in his last inning. Again, he threw curveballs for strikes, threw them down and out of the zone. It’s rough when you’re facing that guy and you’re trying to get him to bite on a curveball because he just doesn’t do it. But the fact that he was able to throw it for strikes when he wanted to and out of the zone when he wanted to, was good. Used his changeup, and his velocity was good. So, I think, all in all, he threw well.”