Pitchers still ahead of hitters this spring (Nats lose 4-2)


Score: Twins 4, Nationals 2

Recap: In his final tune-up before the World Baseball Classic, Tanner Roark looked as sharp as he could, tossing four scoreless innings on 57 pitches. The right-hander scattered two hits and struck out three, setting himself up well to next pitch for Team USA against the Dominican Republic on Saturday night at Marlins Park. Dusty Baker's lineup featured seven regulars, but those hitters couldn't manage much against Twins left-hander Hector Santiago. The Nationals reserves finally got them on the board in the bottom of the seventh, when Michael A. Taylor doubled home Rafael Bautista and then scored on Pedro Severino's single off third baseman Leonardo Reginatto's glove. The Twins got back at the Nats bullpen, though, with Matt Hague crushing a home run off Sammy Solis to highlight a three-run top of the eighth.

Need to know: In 10 Grapefruit League games to date, the only Nationals starter who has been scored upon is A.J. Cole (seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings). The quartet of Roark, Stephen Strasburg, Joe Ross and Gio González has collectively pitched 15 scoreless innings. ... Taylor is now batting .438 (7-for-16) with five RBIs this spring.

On deck: Off Monday, Tuesday vs. Red Sox in West Palm Beach, 1:05 p.m. on MASN


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - They say pitchers are always ahead of hitters early in spring training. We're now almost midway through spring training, and that appears still to be the case.

After scoring one run Friday and again Saturday against the Cardinals, the Nationals have been held scoreless by the Twins through five innings this afternoon.

The good news: A pitching staff that allowed only five total runs the last four days combined also has tossed scoreless ball through five innings today.

Roark-Throws-Red-Sidebar.jpgTanner Roark got things started by posting four straight zeroes on the scoreboard in his final tune-up before the World Baseball Classic. Roark allowed two hits - both by No. 3 hitter Eddie Rosario - but did not issue a walk and struck out three.

The right-hander threw 57 pitches (37 strikes) with a fastball that registered between 90-93 mph.

Roark is ahead of the rest of the Nationals rotation when it comes to workload. The club attempted to build him up as much as possible in advance of the WBC.

Roark, along with second baseman Daniel Murphy, is leaving camp after today's game to join Team USA, which opens play later this week. Roark is scheduled to pitch for the Americans on Saturday night against the Dominican Republic at Marlins Park.

Murphy is among the Nationals position players who are still trying to find their stroke at the plate. After going 0-for-2 with a strikeout in his first two at-bats today, the All-Star second baseman is batting .188 (3-for-16) for the spring.

Murphy was one of five strikeout victims of Twins left-hander Hector Santiago, who departed after 2 2/3 innings. The Nationals loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the second, but Santiago responded by striking out Derek Norris and Brian Goodwin to end the inning.

Roark, Murphy ready for intensity of World Basebal...
No closer? No problem, insist members of Nats bull...

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