TAMPA, Fla. - We're in the third inning here at Steinbrenner Field, and whatever concern the Nationals had about CC Sabathia has been rendered moot. They didn't start Bryce Harper because they didn't want to put him in against the tough left-hander, but it might not have mattered. Sabathia couldn't locate his fastball, and the Nationals hammered him.
They scored five runs on six hits against the former Cy Young Award winner in 2 2/3 innings, with the first five hitters of the third inning reaching safely. After three mound meetings - two with catcher Jesus Montero and one with pitching coach Larry Rothschild - Sabathia was taken out of the game. Heading into the bottom of the third, it's 5-0 Nationals.
The offensive outburst was more about Sabathia missing his spots than the Nationals doing anything exceptional, but give them credit for punishing his mistakes. In particular, the Nationals' right-handed hitters did a nice job of pushing balls to right field when Sabathia let them run over the plate. But Ryan Zimmerman and Jerry Hairston Jr. also ripped doubles to left, and Jeff Frazier homered to lead off the third.
Chad Gaudin has been solid in his first two innings, getting a nice defensive play from Chris Marrero in the first inning to turn a double play and atone for Marrero's earlier mistake. He couldn't scoop a lot throw from Zimmerman after the third baseman made an impressive diving stop. But on the next play, Marrero fielded a hard, chest-high hopper, stepped on first and started a 3-6-3 double play.
So we're in the third inning, and the Nationals will get a look at Joba Chamberlain from here.