Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Disney-fied spring training home of the Atlanta Braves.
Into this caldron of syrup come the Nationals, fresh off two unsightly losses in yesterday's Grapefruit League split-squad openers. Jim Riggleman will be fielding a slightly better lineup today, with more regulars. Veteran Miguel Batista, in the running for either a rotation or bullpen spot, gets the start.
Check back throughout the day for in-game updates, and check the home page for other non-game news...
NATIONALS AT BRAVES
Disney's Wide World of Sports, Lake Buena Vista
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: Braves radio (via MLB Gameday Audio)
Weather: Sunny, 60 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to CF
LF Roger Bernadina
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Chris Duncan
RF Elijah Dukes
C Ivan Rodriguez
CF Justin Maxwell
DH Mike Morse
SS Ian Desmond
(P Miguel Batista)
2B Edgar Prado
RF Jason Heyward
3B Chipper Jones
1B Troy Glaus
C Brian McCann
SS Yunel Escobar
CF Melky Cabrera
DH David Ross
LF Brent Clevlen
(P Derek Lowe)
12:13 p.m. -- For those wondering about Cristian Guzman ... no, he's not here today ... no, he's not dealing with any injury issues ... no, his wife has not gone into labor yet. Jim Riggleman said he'll be in the lineup tomorrow in Viera. He's been cleared 100 percent to play, no issues with his foot or his shoulder. He'll still head back to D.C. at some point once the baby is ready to arrive, but that hasn't happened yet.
1:07 p.m. -- We are underway, and Derek Lowe is already in midseason form. Three batters faced. Three groundouts. Roger Bernadina raps one to shortstop. Adam Kennedy struck one to first base. Ryan Zimmerman sent one to third base. 1-2-3, nothing across. Miguel Batista now taking the mound for the Nats.
1:14 p.m. -- Nice start for Batista, too. Three straight groundouts, with Martin Prado and Chipper Jones each going to shortstop, and Jason Heyward (the only man deemed a better prospect than Stephen Strasburg by Baseball America) grounding out to first. Twelve pitches, seven strikes.
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ivan Rodriguez fouls off a pitch in the second inning.
1:54 p.m. -- Ragged second inning for Batista, who labored throughout and wound up allowing two runs on three hits, with two walks thrown in for good measure. The damage would have been worse if not for a fabulous play by Ian Desmond, who dove to his left to snag Martin Prado's hot smash up the middle and then fired home just in time to get the final out of the inning and save Batista's hide. The Nats did respond, however, in the top of the third. Desmond laced a sharp groundball single up the middle off Billy Wagner, scoring both Justin Maxwell and Mike Morse to tie things up 2-2. That's where we now stand in the bottom of the third, with Craig Stammen now on the mound in relief of Batista.
2:17 p.m. -- Look out, cause here come the Nats! After plating two against Wagner in the third, they added two more in the fourth off Takashi Saito. Chris Duncan singled to right, Elijah Dukes roped a double to left-center and Mike Morse drilled another double to nearly the exact same spot, bringing home both runners. So it's 4-2 Nationals in the bottom of the fourth, Stammen still on the mound after escaping the third without allowing a run (thanks to Pudge Rodriguez gunning down Heyward trying to steal third).
2:39 p.m. -- And the wheels are coming off once again. Stammen struggles and can't get out of the fourth, allowing four runs on three hits. It didn't help that Ryan Zimmerman made an ill-advised throw to second when he should have taken the easy out at first, nor that Adam Kennedy booted a grounder for a run-scoring error (though that came after Jesse English entered to pitch). English has really gotten lit up, serving up a three-run homer to Freddie Freeman. And one day after allowing the Astros to put up a 9-spot in the fourth inning in Kissimmee, the Nats have allowed the Braves to put up an 8-spot in the fourth inning in Lake Buena Vista. Ugh.
2:43 p.m. -- Controversy here at Disney. They've taken a run off the board for the Braves. We believe Freeman passed a teammate (Joe Thurston) on the bases while in his home run trot, so he was sent back to the dugout and ruled out. Whatever the case, the score is only 9-4, not 10-4, and the homer was only a 2-run single.
3:12 p.m. -- While down in the clubhouse talking to Miguel Batista and Craig Stammen, we heard a reaction from the crowd outside. Turns out Ian Desmond clubbed a grand slam in the top of the sixth, drawing the Nats to within 10-8. That's six RBI and two nice plays in the field today for Desmond.
4:09 p.m. -- To paraphrase the one and only Charlie Slowes (who is in the house today along with Dave Jageler prepping for their radio debut Monday): "Another straight L is in the books." Final score: Braves 11, Nats 8. The pitching staff has now given up 36 runs in three Grapefruit League games. Plenty of postgame quotes and analysis in another post, which will magically appear shortly after I get back from the clubhouse.