Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
A near-sellout is expected today at Space Coast Stadium.
Stephen Strasburg makes his second start this afternoon, facing a Cardinals lineup that won't include Albert Pujols or Matt Holliday but will feature Yadier Molina, Colby Rasmus, Skip Schumaker and everyone's favorite ex-Nat Felipe Lopez. Adam Wainwright on the hill for St. Louis, providing a good test for a Nationals club trying desperately to get into the win column for the first time this spring.
Strasburg will throw three innings, but you don't need to abandon the park immediately after he's done, because Livan Hernandez is due to follow the rookie. Livo is making his first appearance in an actual game this spring and will throw at least three innings. Manager Jim Riggleman said the veteran righty will most likely get to start his next time out, further indication Hernandez is a strong candidate to wind up in the Opening Day rotation.
Check back all day for updates...
CARDINALS AT NATIONALS
Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Fla.
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: KTRS-AM (Cardinals radio via XM and MLB Gameday Audio)
Weather: Partly cloudy, 67 degrees, Wind 20 mph out to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Elijah Dukes
DH Mike Morse
C Wil Nieves
SS Alberto Gonzalez
(P Stephen Strasburg)
2B Skip Schumaker
DH Felipe Lopez
1B Allen Craig
CF Colby Rasmus
3B David Freese
RF Nick Stavinoha
C Yadier Molina
LF Joe Mather
SS Tyler Greene
(P Adam Wainwright)
12:53 p.m. -- Not many empty seats to be found at Space Coast Stadium. As Strasburg warms up in the right-field bullpen, there's again a crowd of fans standing along the railing to watch, though not nearly as many as on Tuesday for his debut.
1:06 p.m. -- A 96 mph fastball (called strike) from Strasburg to Skip Schumaker and we are underway.
1:16 p.m. -- Great start for Strasburg, who retired Schumaker and Felipe Lopez on comebackers with ease. Got into some trouble after that, though, allowing a line drive single to center to Allen Craig and then walking Colby Rasmus. Came back strong to strike out David Freese on a 2-2 breaking ball. Total of 24 pitches, 13 strikes in the top of the first. Fastball ranged between 94 mph and 97 mph. Seven breaking balls between 78 mph and 81 mph. One change-up at 88 mph.
1:21 p.m. -- Oh yeah, Adam Wainwright (an actual, 19-game winner in the big leagues) is pitching today as well. Mowed right through the Nats lineup, getting Nyjer Morgan and Adam Kennedy to ground out and Ryan Zimmerman to fly out.
1:22 p.m. -- Game is officially a sellout. They're turning away fans at the gates.
1:28 p.m. -- Much smoother second inning for Strasburg. He allowed a leadoff single to Nick Stavinoha (hard grounder up the middle) but struck out a dumbfounded Yadier Molina with a 2-2 breaking ball on the inside corner and then got Joe Mather to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. Twelve pitches, seven strikes. Total of 36 pitches, 20 strikes in two innings. Velocity is a tick down today (mid 90s instead of high 90s) perhaps because he's sort of pitching into the wind.
Photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg tossed three shutout innings in his second outing of the spring.
2:00 p.m. -- The Nationals take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third, getting an RBI triple from Adam Kennedy and an RBI single from Ryan Zimmerman. If they somehow manage to hold these lead the entire day, Strasburg would get the win. What are the chances of that happening?
2:03 p.m. -- Livan Hernandez breaks out his first "Bugs Bunny" curveball of the season, a 61 mph floater that totally fools David Freese. So let's see: 97 mph from Strasburg, 61 mph from Livo. Slight difference there.
2:13 p.m. -- One nice pitch from Livo does not make the inning. The Cards get to the wily veteran for two runs on two hits and two walks (including one with the bases loaded). A throwing error on Zimmerman didn't help, though. Livo's fastball checking in around 80-81 mph. In other words, about 10 mph slower than Strasburg's change-up.
2:31 p.m. -- Much cleaner second frame from Hernandez, who walked Rasmus but otherwise was untouched. In the bottom of the fifth now, game tied 2-2.
Photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez allowed two runs in three innings of relief.
2:46 p.m. -- Paid attendance: 6,290. The place allegedly holds 8,100, and there aren't more than a handful of empty seats, so there must have been plenty of comps today.
3:12 p.m. -- Down in the clubhouse talking to Livo and Wil Nieves, and wouldn't you know it: The Cards take a 4-2 lead. Tyler Clippard was pitching (first runs he's allowed this spring). Still working on details, but the inning apparently included a double by Allen Craig and a sac fly by David Freese.
3:25 p.m. -- Ron Villone (in relief of Clippard) just walked in a run, putting the Cardinals on top 5-2 in the eighth. Barring a rally, the Nats are staring 0-10 right in the face.
3:47 p.m. -- Two more runs allowed by Villone in the eighth make it 7-2. The Nats go down quietly in the bottom of the eighth, so they've got three outs left to make up a 5-run deficit. Doesn't seem likely.
4:05 p.m. -- Hang 10, folks. The Nats have lost again. Offense produces two runs in the third off Adam Wainwright, then nothing else the rest of the afternoon against St. Louis' pitching staff (aside from a garbage run in the ninth). Stephen Strasburg and Livan Hernandez look fine through six innings, but the bullpen implodes and allows five runs to score in the seventh and eighth. Final score: Cardinals 7, Nationals 3. Nats' spring record: 0-10. Every other major-league club has won at least twice this month.