Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats host the Marlins at Space Coast Stadium today.
Because of the need for extra players, the Nats have called up several top minor-leaguers for the day. Destin Hood and Michael Burgess are due to play in Jupiter. Here, we've got Danny Espinosa in the starting lineup and Chris Marrero on the bench, along with several others.
I talked to Espinosa this morning and will have a post on him at some point. After a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, he's enjoyed a good spring in minor-league camp and is slated to open the season as the starting shortstop at Class AA Harrisburg. If all goes according to plan, we could see him in the big leagues by September, setting up a potentially interesting question next spring, with both Espinosa and Ian Desmond in the mix for the starting job in D.C.
First things first. Craig Stammen starts today for the Nationals, hoping to make a solid impression and perhaps work his way into the Opening Day rotation. At the moment, Stammen seems more like a fall-back option in case Scott Olsen or Livan Hernandez don't make it. He's also in the mix for a long reliever's spot and can help his cause with a solid outing today.
Check back all day for updates, both from here and from Jupiter...
MARLINS (SS) AT NATIONALS (SS)
Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Fla.
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: None in Viera, Cardinals radio in Jupiter
Weather: Mostly sunny, 66 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to LF
CF Willy Taveras
RF Willie Harris
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Kevin Mench
2B Pete Orr
SS Danny Espinosa
C Wil Nieves
P Craig Stammen
CF Jai Miller
SS Brian Barden
2B Dan Uggla
1B Ligan Morrison
RF Cody Ross
LF Brett Carroll
3B Jorge Jimenez
C Brett Hayes
P Rick VandenHurk
12:56 p.m. -- Nyjer Morgan, by the way, is going to miss a couple of days with a minor hamstring strain. Morgan said it's nothing serious, more precaution than anything. He should be back in the lineup later this week.
1:01 p.m. -- The Nats' other lineup in Jupiter, for those wondering: RF Bernadina, SS Desmond, 2B Kennedy, LF Willingham, 1B Duncan, C Rodriguez, DH Whitesell, CF Maxwell, 3B Bruntlett. John Lannan is starting.
1:09 p.m. -- Quick top of the first for Stammen, who retires Miller on a comebacker, Barden on a flyout and then strikes out Dan Uggla.
1:15 p.m. -- Good and bad from Willie Harris in the bottom of the first. He tripled off the right-field wall to set the stage for an early run. But then he tried to tag up on Ryan Zimmerman's flyball to semi-shallow right field. Cody Ross' throw to the plate would have nailed him by about 40 feet, so Harris slammed on the brakes and tried to retreat back to third. D.O.A. Really poor baserunning by a guy who should know better. If you're going to take off for the plate, just go all the way. Never hit the brakes halfway down the line.
1:23 p.m. -- Meanwhile, in Jupiter, a couple of Nats errors (by Eric Bruntlett and Ian Desmond) have led to an unearned run against Lannan. Cardinals lead 1-0. Coupled with a fielding error by Adam Dunn here, the Nats have already committed three errors in three defensive innings today.
1:25 p.m. -- Not affected by the poor defense at all, Stammen is taking matters into his own hands. Just struck out two in the top of the second, giving him three punch-outs in two innings so far.
1:44 p.m. -- Continued nice work by Stammen, who has allowed one hit and one walk through three innings, striking out four in the process. Adam Dunn, meanwhile, has mysteriously disappeared from the game after only two innings. Chris Marrero took over at first base for the third. Will report whatever I find out about that.
1:48 p.m. -- Meanwhile, in Jupiter, Pudge Rodriguez (RBI single) and Ian Desmond (sac fly) have given the Nats a 2-1 lead in the third.
2:00 p.m. -- The Marlins finally get to Stammen, scoring two runs in the fourth. One of them, though, was unearned because of an error charged to Pete Orr on a broken bat chopper over the mound (Stammen almost had his head taken off by the bat). Cody Ross followed with a double, then Brett Carroll brought a run home with a sac fly and Brett Hayes brought home another one with a base hit to center. Heading to the bottom of the fourth, the Nats trail 2-0.
2:10 p.m. -- Break up the Nats! They've scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth without making an out! Double by Chris Marrero. Two-run homer by Kevin Mench. Double by Pete Orr. Bunt single by Danny Espinosa. RBI single by Wil Nieves. Three-run homer by Cristian Guzman in his first at-bat since returning from his daughter's birth in D.C. All of this off Rick VandenHurk. Nats now lead 6-2. And they're winning 4-1 in Jupiter. Could this be the day?
2:12 p.m. -- Update on Adam Dunn, who departed after only two innings today. He has lower back spasms. The club says he's day-to-day.
2:37 p.m. -- Marlins scored a run off Jason Bergmann in the fifth on three singles (one of them an infield hit). Bergmann's back on for the sixth now, trying to protect a 6-3 Nationals lead.
2:58 p.m. -- Ryan Zimmerman clubs a solo homer to right-center, his third of the spring. Thanks to a scoreless inning of relief from Tyler Clippard, the Nats now hold a 7-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh. Down in Jupiter, Washington's other club still leads St. Louis, 4-1.
3:07 p.m. -- Three outs from victory in Viera. Quick work from Sean Burnett in the eighth. Nats still lead 7-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth. Brian Bruney is slated to pitch the ninth.
3:23 p.m. -- And they're piling on here at Space Coast. Wil Nieves crushes a double to left off Taylor Tankersley, making it 8-3. And Willie Harris blasts a grand slam to make it 12-3.
3:27 p.m. -- The crowd of 2,163 at Space Coast Stadium is abuzz. Everyone on the edges of their seats as the Nationals attempt to win their first game of the spring. Can Brian Bruney record three outs before surrendering nine runs? Stay tuned.
3:34 p.m. -- Stop the presses! Call the neighbors! Wake the kids! The Nats win! Thuuuuuuuuu Nats win! Put a curly W in the books! Bang-zoom go the fireworks! Holy cow! We had 'em all the way! Ain't the beer cold! Break out the Crayolas and color me tickled pink! Final score: Nationals 12, Marlins 3. (And if the other guys can hold onto a 4-2 lead in the ninth, Washington will go from 0-11 to 2-11 in a span of minutes!)
3:52 p.m. -- Update on Adam Dunn: He said he felt a "cramp" in his lower back while reaching to his right to field a grounder in the second inning. He stayed in the game and batted in the bottom of the inning before departing and doesn't believe it's anything serious. He's still listed among the players scheduled to travel to Kissimmee tomorrow and he says he wants to play.
3:54 p.m. -- The other Nats win in Jupiter, 4-2 over the Cardinals. What a day.
3:59 p.m. -- Craig Stammen, on earning the Nats' first win of the spring: "You don't understand, it feels really good. Me and John [Lannan] were talking about it last night in the apartment, saying, 'Boy it would be nice if we could get two wins today.' It'll be pretty funny when we get back tonight and laugh about it a little bit. ... It got to the point where we needed a win just for a little bit of fun. It's fun to win. We're all competitors, and we want to win. Everybody played well. We can all be happy going home tonight."