Haren hit around in the first (Nats lose)

JUPITER, Fla. - Five batters into the bottom of the first inning here at Roger Dean Stadium, it was already 4-0 Cardinals.

Dan Haren gave up a solo home run to Jon Jay on a 3-2 pitch to open the game, marking the second straight day a Nationals starter surrendered a leadoff homer. Chris Young did the same yesterday.

Haren then gave up back-to-back singles to Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter, and after getting Ty Wigginton to pop out to second, Haren served up a three-run shot to Matt Adams.

Just like that, the Nats trailed by four.

All four batters that reached base in that first inning watched first-pitch balls from Haren.

There’s a lesson in this, kids - fall behind in the count to good hitters and bad things tend to happen.

The results mean nothing in spring training, but you can bet that Haren won’t be pleased with his inability to get ahead in counts, at least early on today.

Update: Haren’s now through four innings at 67 pitches, and the Nationals trail 5-0 going to the fifth.

After a few strong outings to open his spring, Haren hasn’t looked all that great today. The ball doesn’t seem to have the same zip coming out of his hand as it did in his earlier starts, and he’s sitting in the 87-88 mph range on the stadium gun.

Through his four frames, Haren has allowed five hits and two walks and has struck out three. It’s possible that he’s going through the same dead-arm phase that many pitchers experience around this point in spring. It’s also possible that he just doesn’t have his good stuff today, or that he just got ambushed in the first inning.

We’ll see what Haren has to say after his start is done. As I type this, he’s trotting back out to the mound to work the fifth inning.

Update II: Haren gave up a double to left-center leading off the fifth, then retired the next three hitters to end his outing.

The final line on Haren: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 BBs, 3 Ks, 81 pitches, 50 strikes.

Micah Owings, meanwhile, went 2-for-2 today, boosting his spring average to .429. You can read Davey Johnson’s thoughts on Owings’ hot spring here, and Owings’ thoughts on how he’s been playing here.

Update III: That’s it. The Nats lose to the Cardinals, 5-1.

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