Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Space Coast Stadium will be packed again tonight for Stephen Strasburg's outing.
No Albert Pujols. No Matt Holliday. No Yadier Molina. No Colby Rasmus. No Chris Carpenter. Not even Felipe Lopez. All of those guys stayed back in Jupiter, with all but Holliday in the lineup against the Marlins.
Instead, we get to see the likes of David Freese, Allen Craig and Nick Stavinoha take their cuts against Stephen Strasburg. I have a hunch Strasburg will win that battle, but I suppose we'll see.
Check back here throughout the afternoon and evening for updates, and check back on the home page for non-game-related news...
CARDINALS (SS) AT NATIONALS
Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Fla.
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: No TV/WFED-1500 AM
Weather: Sunny, 64 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to CF
RF Willie Harris
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
C Ivan Rodriguez
SS Ian Desmond
CF Justin Maxwell
LF Willy Taveras
P Stephen Strasburg
SS Tyler Greene
CF Jon Jay
1B Allen Craig
RF Nick Stavinoha
3B David Freese
LF Tyler Henley
C Jason LaRue
2B Ruben Gotay
P Kyle McClellan
4:27 p.m. -- Check the homepage for a full post on several news items involving Stephen Strasburg, Livan Hernandez, Scott Olsen, Cristian Guzman, Ian Desmond, Nyjer Morgan, Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham. Whew, that was a mouthful.
6:23 p.m. -- Other Nats pitchers on the docket for tonight once Strasburg's four innings are in the books: Miguel Batista, Sean Burnett, Brian Bruney, Jesse English.
7:05 p.m. -- And we are underway with a bang. Tyler Greene crushes Strasburg's first pitch (94 mph fastball) deep to left-center field for a home run. Wow.
7:06 p.m. -- And Strasburg comes right back and strikes out Jon Jay with a 97 mph heater at the letters.
7:08 p.m. -- Another homer, this time from Allen Craig! Took a 2-1 fastball (97 mph) the other way and sent it just inside the right-field foul pole. Cards lead 2-0. The crowd is stunned.
7:12 p.m. -- A strange top of the first is in the books. Strasburg appeared to get out of it, inducing a two-out grounder to short by David Freese. But Ian Desmond made a poor, backhand stab at the ball for an error, keeping the inning alive. Strasburg came back to strike out Tyler Henley on three pitches. So to recap: Two solo homers. Two strikeouts. A groundout. An error. Twenty pitches, 13 strikes.
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Straburg allowed two homers in the first but rebounded quickly after that.
7:36 p.m. -- Who's that guy sitting next to Tony LaRussa on the field, wearing a Cardinals hat, jacket and khaki pants? Why, none other than Bobby Knight. Wouldn't you think he'd rather be watching college basketball tonight than this?
7:39 p.m. -- Stephen Strasburg's first career at-bat: smokes a hard grounder to short. If he had hustled down the line, he might have beat it out!
7:48 p.m. -- Strasburg's offspeed stuff is really working tonight. He struck out Craig on a change-up and had Stavinoha out in front of a slider/curve, resulting in a harmless grounder to short to end the third inning. Strasburg's line so far: 3 ip, 3 h, 2 er, 0 bb, 6 k. 49 pitches, 33 strikes. Cards still lead, 2-1.
7:56 p.m. -- Beautiful hit-and-run base hit for Zimmerman, who put it right through the hole vacated by the second baseman, advancing Kennedy to third. Bobby Knight appreciates those well-executed fundamentals.
8:04 p.m. -- With the bases loaded, Pudge raps a sharp grounder to shortstop. Shielded by Zimmerman, Tyler Greene boots the ball for a run-scoring error. Moments later, Desmond hit a bouncer to third that could have resulted in an inning-ending double play if not for a great takeout slide by Pudge to prevent the throw from ever being made. Nats take the lead, 3-2, after three.
8:17 p.m. -- That will do it for Strasburg, who got off to a rocky start tonight but came out with maybe his best overall outing of the spring. Final line: 4 ip, 4 h, 2 er, 0 bb, 8 k. 73 pitches, 53 strikes. Great strike-to-ball ratio. Tons of foul balls from Cardinals batters who couldn't make solid contact. All in all, a job well done by the rookie. Bobby looks impressed. (And by impressed, I mean, he hasn't thrown any chairs out onto the field so far tonight.)
8:29 p.m. -- In three starts this spring totaling nine innings of work, Stephen Strasburg has yet to record a flyout to an outfielder. 13 groundouts (one of them a double play). 1 popout to the first baseman. 12 strikeouts. Yes, he throws hard and he keeps the ball down in the zone.
8:36 p.m. -- And for those wondering about Strasburg's total pitching line for the spring: 9 ip, 8 h, 2 er, 1 bb, 12 k. 149 pitches, 97 strikes.
8:53 p.m. -- Pudge singles home Zimmerman to put the Nats up 4-2 in the fifth. Desmond ropes a line drive to right field that Stavinoha loses in the lights, loading the bases for Maxwell. And Maxwell delivers a two-run single to left, making it 6-2. Perhaps someone is motivated by his sudden opportunity to win a starting job? And just for good measure, Miguel Batista (batting for himself with the bases loaded and one out) hits a little dribbler to third that is slow enough to allow the fourth run of the inning to score. At the end of five, it's Nats 7, Cards 2.
9:18 p.m. -- Everybody's hitting tonight! Chris Duncan gets into the act with a two-run single, making it 9-3 in the sixth. Batista, by the way, had a shaky top of the inning in allowing a run. With another round of cuts coming up in the next few days, you've got to wonder whether the veteran right-hander could be running out of time. He's not in the mix for a rotation spot anymore. The question now becomes whether he's worth keeping as a long reliever.
10:30 p.m. -- I know this is old news at this point, but I was down in the clubhouse for the game's final two innings and just not got back to my computer. Nats win, 13-5. Full analysis of Strasburg coming up, so check the home page shortly for that.