Photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Garrett Mock allowed two runs in the first, then retired nine straight batters.
Garrett Mock becomes the first member of the rotation to make his third start and he should become the first to go four innings. The right-hander has been stating his case from the first day of camp to make the Opening Day rotation. Tonight would be a good opportunity to really distinguish himself with a solid performance, perhaps even to lock a spot up.
Mock will be battling a similar crosswind that Stephen Strasburg and Livan Hernandez had to deal with last night. Right now (2:30 p.m.) it's blowing from right to left at a vicious 29 mph, with gusts up to 35 mph. Supposed to diminish somewhat this evening, but it's still going to be a factor.
Check back all afternoon and evening for game-related updates. I'll have other news and thoughts in other posts, so make sure to check for those as well...
BRAVES AT NATIONALS
Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Fla.
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: MASN/no radio
Weather: Mostly sunny, 64 degrees, Wind 15 mph RF to LF
CF Justin Maxwell
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
RF Elijah Dukes
2B Adam Kennedy
C Ivan Rodriguez
LF Roger Bernadina
P Garrett Mock
CF Nate McLouth
2B Martin Prado
RF Jason Heyward
C Brian McCann
SS Yunel Escobar
CF Melky Cabrera
1B Eric Hinske
3B Omar Infante
P Derek Lowe
5:26 p.m. -- Slight lineup change. Turns out Garrett Mock will hit for himself. This is the first time this spring the Nationals won't be using a DH.
5:29 p.m. -- Also, if you haven't seen it already, be sure to check the other post that I put up this afternoon about roster cuts: Ron Villone released, five others optioned to the minors. I've already updated that one with some thoughts from Jim Riggleman, and I'm about to update it again with input from Mike Rizzo.
5:32 p.m. -- Other Nationals pitchers scheduled to appear tonight: Shairon Martis, Tyler Walker, Drew Storen and Matt Capps. As for tomorrow's split-squad games, John Lannan will start against the Cardinals in Jupiter. Craig Stammen will start against the Marlins here in Viera.
6:29 p.m. -- Some injury updates: Jesus Flores remains at Dr. James Andrews' facility in Birmingham getting treatment on his right shoulder. Rizzo had no timetable for Flores' recovery, but said Flores is benefiting from the personal attention he's getting there. "He's got a good mindset," the GM said. "He's working extremely hard down there. It's a really good atmosphere for him." ... Meanwhile, Chien-Ming Wang threw his first bullpen session this afternoon, a key step in his recovery from shoulder surgery. Reports are that it went well and he was throwing free and easy.
7:06 p.m. -- And we are underway with a ball from Garrett Mock.
7:09 p.m. -- And the Nats are already trailing, 1-0. Edgar Prado crushes a line-drive homer down the left-field line on a 1-0 fastball from Mock.
7:17 p.m. -- Not an especially impressive first inning from Mock. Following the homer, he allowed an infield, broken-bat single to Jason Heyward (who, by the way, appears to be taller than Adam Dunn), then a deep flyout to center and then back-to-back singles, the latter of them scoring Heyward. Only a heads-up play by Pudge Rodriguez to gun down Melky Cabrera trying to advance to second saves the inning for Mock. Still, two runs and four hits in the first is not a strong start for the right-hander.
7:22 p.m. -- The top of the Nats order goes down quickly against Derek Lowe, who induces groundballs from Justin Maxwell and Ian Desmond and then strikes out Ryan Zimmerman. Made it look easy. That's what a veteran big-league pitcher is supposed to do in the first inning of a spring training game.
7:28 p.m. -- Much better stuff from Mock in his second inning. Got Eric Hinske to pop out. Struck out Omar Infante on a nice breaking ball. And gets Lowe to bounce out to end the frame.
8:00 p.m. -- Boy, that turned out to be a nice outing from Mock. Set down the Braves in order in the third and fourth, ending his night with nine batters retired in a row. Final line: 4 ip, 4 h, 2 er, 0 bb, 2 k, 65 pitches, 37 strikes. Braves still lead 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth.
8:05 p.m. -- And an even better outing from Derek Lowe, who did not allow a hit and struck out six in his four innings. Only guy to reach safely was Roger Bernadina, who got on when Eric Hinske inexplicably dropped a routine throw to first. Lowe's pitch count for four innings: 45. Talk about efficiency. That's Maddux-esque.
8:16 p.m. -- Looks like Drew Storen is human after all. In his fourth appearance of the spring, the rookie right-hander has finally been scored upon. Three singles produces two runs in the fifth. Braves now lead 4-0.
8:28 p.m. -- And the Nationals have a hit at last. Adam Kennedy laces a double to the base of the left-field wall off lefty Jo-Jo Reyes (love that name) with one out in the bottom of the fifth.
9:00 p.m. -- Just got back from talking to Garrett Mock. I'll have a more in-depth post of his situation later this evening. In the meantime, Shairon Martis (remember him?) tossed two scoreless innings. Tyler Walker now in to pitch the eighth, the Nats still trailing 4-1 and six outs from falling to 0-11.
9:26 p.m. -- After the Nats score one in the bottom of the eighth to draw to within 4-2, Matt Capps serves up a monstrous homer to Joe Thurston to lead off the ninth and increase the lead back to 5-2. That's six runs now allowed by Capps in four outings this spring. This is your closer, NatsTown.
9:37 p.m. -- The streak continues. Final score: Braves 5, Nats 2. Washington's record: 0-11. The horror. The horror.