WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Nationals could get nothing going offensively against Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel, who didn’t look anything like a pitcher who brought a 10.80 ERA into today’s Grapefruit League game.
What’s that old baseball adage about spring and September statistics being fool’s gold?
Bryce Harper, the last hitter Keuchel faced, roped a single to right field - the only hit allowed by the southpaw in his 3 2/3 innings. Keuchel didn’t walk a batter and struck out five.
Nationals starter Erick Fedde had trouble throwing strikes - only 29 of his 50 pitches over three innings found the zone - but he limited the damage. The right-hander allowed a run on two hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
Fedde also picked off a runner, getting leadoff man George Springer after he singled in the first. He flashed some serious heat, catching Carlos Correa looking at a 96 mph fastball in the first and getting Evan Gattis swinging at a 97 mph heater an inning later.
In the third, Max Stassi drew a leadoff walk from Fedde, moved to second on a Tony Kemp sacrifice and scored on a two-out single to center by Alex Bregman.
Threatening clouds are moving in as we head to the bottom of the fifth with the Astros up 1-0.
Update: The Nats threatened in the fifth, with Matt Wieters drawing a one-out walk and advancing to third on a Ryan Raburn’s two-out single to right. But Tony Sipp got Wilmer Difo swinging at a 3-2 pitch for the third out.
Update II: Tommy Milone got out of a jam in the seventh to keep the game at 1-0. After Tim Federowicz singled to lead off the inning, A.J. Reed doubled to put runners on second and third. Milone got Garrett Stubbs on a sharp grounder to second, with the runners holding, and Tony Kemp on a foul pop to left. Kyle Tucker walked to load the bases, but Jack Mayfield struck out looking.
Update III: The Astros added an insurance run in the eighth off Tim Collins and lead 2-0.
Update IV: The Nationals tied the game at 2-2 in the ninth. Reymin Guduan uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Reid Brignac to score, and José Marmolejos followed with an RBI single. It’s knotted heading to the bottom of hte ninth with a light rain falling.