Stevenson goes deep, Roark confounds Cardinals (Nats up 1-0)

JUPITER, Fla. - Andrew Stevenson, who wasn’t even in the starting lineup until Michael A. Taylor was scratched with mild tightness in his right side about a half-hour before first pitch, homered in the third to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead over the Cardinals.

The wind has been knocking balls down in the outfield early on, but Stevenson’s opposite-field poke off Luke Weaver had enough on it to carry over the wall in left. It was his first homer of the spring.

Andrew-Stevenson-run-red-sidebar.jpgTanner Roark, making his third Grapefruit League start, has been doing a nice job of keeping the Cards off-balance, getting a mix of weak contact and no contact. Through three innings, he’s yielded one hit, no walks and struck out a pair. Lots of lazy fly balls and popups.

The most well struck ball by a Cardinal came with none out in the third, when Brayvic Valera hit a two-hop smash that first baseman Matt Adams went to his right to grab. Adams briefly considered a footrace to the bag, then made the wise choice to lead Roark with an underhand feed, the pitcher beating the hitter by a step.

Roark is at his best when he gets weak contact, frequently because a hitter guessed wrong. He’s making a lot of Cardinals guess wrong this afternoon.

Update: Joaquin Benoit is on to pitch the fifth after four sterling innings from Roark, who allowed one hit, walked none and fanned three. Roark threw 30 of his 47 pitches for strikes.

Third base coach Bobby Henley’s aggressive send in the top of the fourth backfired. Adams ripped a one-out double into the right field corner and Henley windmilled Adrian Sanchez, who had led off with a single, around third base. Sanchez was nabbed at the plate.

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