Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Garrett Mock allowed three runs and six hits in five innings.
Garrett Mock makes his fourth start of the spring, hoping to further solidify his standing within the rotation. As we've been saying for a while now, Mock is currently lined up to start the season's fourth game, and club officials continue to speak highly of him. It would be nice, though, to see a complete performance from the right-hander today in his first five-inning start of the month.
Meanwhile, we'll get another look at Cristian Guzman at shortstop and a look at Mike Morse in right field this afternoon. Both players are worth watching closely. Well, at least for those of us sportswriters who actually understand how to cover sports.
An explanation for that last line: The Washington Times, a newspaper that less than three months ago decided to eliminate its entire sports department (including yours truly), sent a "sports" reporter to Viera to "cover" last night's game. This reporter watched four innings of the game from the press box. He never appeared in the clubhouse or on the field. As best as I can tell, he never spoke to anyone in uniform (or to any other reporters, for that matter). Yet he wrote a full account of the game, with a Viera dateline and with quotes from Strasburg obviously lifted from other reporters' articles. Nice to see the newspaper is upholding some fine journalistic standards and spending its money wisely.
OK, back to today's game. Be sure to check back for updates throughout the afternoon...
MARLINS AT NATIONALS
Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Fla.
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: No TV/WFED-1500 AM
Weather: Sunny, 71 degrees, Wind 7 mph LF to RF
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Mike Morse
2B Alberto Gonzalez
C Wil Nieves
P Garrett Mock
LF Chris Coghlan
CF Cameron Maybin
SS Hanley Ramirez
3B Jorge Cantu
C John Baker
1B Gaby Sanchez
RF Brett Carroll
2B Donnie Murphy
P Chris Volstad
1:10 p.m. -- Quick top of the first for Garrett Mock. Sticking with his "attack hitters" mantra, he retires the side on 10 pitches. Lineout to left. Groundout to third (with Zimmerman making a nifty grab). Groundout to short. Ten pitches, six strikes.
1:24 p.m. -- Zimmerman, in midseason form, ropes a double off the wall in right-center, scoring Roger Bernadina with the game's first run. The Nats load the bases with one out against Volstad, with a chance to break things open, but Mike Morse grounds into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Nats lead, 1-0, after one.
1:33 p.m. -- Not such a great second inning from Mock. He issued a one-out walk to John Baker, then on his next pitch to Gaby Sanchez served up a two-run shot to left. On the bright side, he struck out two batters. ... Cristian Guzman update: He just finally had a ball hit to his right. Went into the hole to get Murphy's bouncer. His throw didn't have much on it and sailed high and wide for an error.
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Roger Bernadina pops out in the bottom of the third.
2:25 p.m. -- Mock's day is complete, ending on a somewhat down note. Cameron Maybin took him deep for a solo homer on a 2-2 pitch in the fifth. Hanley Ramirez followed with a double, but Mock responded by getting Jorge Cantu to fly out. Final line: 5 ip, 6 h, 3 er, 1 bb, 4 k, 2 hr, 80 pitches, 48 strikes. Not Mock's best, not his worst. Kind of like the entire spring. In this camp, that appears to be good enough to ensure a spot in the Opening Day rotation. (Oh, Marlins now lead, 3-1, in the bottom of the fifth.)
2:41 p.m. -- Shairon Martis (remember him?) on in relief for Mock and immediately gives up a pair of doubles -- to Baker and Carroll -- making it 4-1 as we head to the bottom of the sixth.
2:54 p.m. -- Another homer for Cameron Maybin, this one a solo shot off Martis in the seventh. I picked this guy to win Rookie of the Year in 2009. Can I pick him again in 2010?
3:28 p.m. -- Nats scored twice in the bottom of the seventh, thanks to a sac fly by Wil Nieves and an RBI single by Willie Harris. That made it 5-3, which is where it still stands in the top of the ninth. Drew Storen, the newest member of the Harrisburg Senators, actually pitching this inning for Washington before he heads over to minor-league camp.
3:31 p.m. -- Garrett Mock, on his performance today, which included a pair of home runs: "I feel like today went OK. A couple of pitches cost me the runs. I'm not happy about giving up runs with two outs. It's something that [pitching coach Steve McCatty] has been talking to us about. I feel like the situations I gave up those runs, I had one pitch to execute and I didn't execute them. That's the way it goes."
3:37 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. The Nats can't produce a late rally and fall to the Marlins, 5-3. On the bright side, Drew Storen threw a 1-2-3 ninth. For whatever that's worth.