Giolito thrives in first outing against Mets' starting lineup (Nats outslug Mets)


Score: Nationals 12, Mets 7

Recap: The Nationals pounced on Bartolo Colon from the get-go, with five of the game's first six batters not only recording clean hits but also coming around to score. Daniel Murphy and Stephen Drew notched back-to-back RBI doubles to get things started, then Danny Espinosa launched a three-run homer (batting left-handed) to complete the big rally. Michael A. Taylor added a solo homer of his own in the top of the second, making it 6-0. The Nats kept piling on later against the Mets bullpen, with Chris Heisey homering for the second straight day. That provided more than ample run support for the Nationals pitching staff, which saw top prospect Lucas Giolito toss two scoreless innings against New York's A lineup and a parade of relievers handle the rest. Erik Davis allowed a grand slam to Michael Conforto in the ninth.

Need to know: Taylor continues not only to swing a potent bat, but to hit for power to the opposite field. His second-inning homer tonight was his third to right field this spring. (Only four of his 14 homers last season went the other way.) Overall, the young outfielder is hitting a robust .448 (13-for-29) with six extra-base hits this spring, further cementing his favored place in Dusty Baker's heart. Baker insists Taylor will get ample playing time this year, most likely giving Jayson Werth and Ben Revere regular days off. If he can carry his March success into April, he may deserve more time in the Nationals lineup.

On deck: Saturday, vs. Mets in Viera, 1:05 p.m. (game on MASN)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Lucas Giolito may not get many more of these opportunities for a while, the chance to face a full major league lineup. So baseball's top pitching prospect decided to make the most of it tonight.

Giolito tossed two scoreless innings against a Mets lineup that closely resembled the one manager Terry Collins is likely to field come opening day. He threw only 26 pitches, facing only eight batters, but he did nothing to dispute his lofty standing within the organization.

With rotation regulars Max Scherzer and Tanner Roark staying back in Viera to pitch in minor league games, manager Dusty Baker brought Giolito with him to Tradition Field, giving the 21-year-old a look against a New York lineup boasting Curtis Granderson, David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes and Lucas Duda (among others).

Giolito couldn't help but appreciate the whole thing.

Giolito-wind-up-spring-sidebar.jpg"It was pretty cool," he said. "I was thinking about it earlier today: When I was 12 or 13 years old, I actually looked up to David Wright a little bit. That's when I was still a hitter and I played the field, before they took the bat away. But, yeah, I looked up to him a bit. And it was cool to have him step into the box against me. It's like what you dream about as a kid. It's slowly turning into reality."

Giolito, who has never looked particularly fazed by any fire the Nationals have thrown him into, hardly appeared star struck by the Mets' A lineup on a warm Friday evening. He allowed only one hit (an opposite-field single by Wright) and walked one batter (Duda, during the only laborious plate appearance of his start. He struck out Kevin Plawecki on a nasty curveball to cap an efficient, nine-pitch bottom of the second.

And then that was it for Giolito, who has yet to be sent back to the mound for more than two innings at a time this spring.

At some point, that will change, as the Nationals start to stretch him out for the start of his season, most likely at one of their minor league affiliates.

"I'm not too sure what the plan is, as far as innings and pitches and all of that, for spring training and for the regular season as well," Giolito said. "It's up to the organization. I've trusted them every step of the way. But, yeah, I'm looking forward to stretching out coming up here soon."

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