Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jason Marquis is slated to throw five innings today.
Anyways, the Nationals and Mets are preparing to meet once again, with a matchup of projected No. 2 starters: Jason Marquis and Mike Pelfrey. Marquis' place in the Nats' rotation is secure, though it sure would be nice to see him put together a solid outing and lower that 21.94 spring ERA.
The entire Nats' rotation is definitely taking shape. As we've been saying for a while, Marquis, John Lannan and Garrett Mock are in. This morning, Jim Riggleman said four guys remain in the mix for the other two spots: Scott Olsen, Livan Hernandez, Craig Stammen and J.D. Martin.
Let's be honest, though. Hernandez is a pretty safe bet to make it. And Martin isn't under serious consideration -- he hasn't appeared in a big-league game since March 10 and isn't scheduled to pitch in one over the next three days. So really, this boils down to Olsen vs. Stammen, and by tomorrow night, we might have a much better grasp on that competition. Stammen is slated to follow Marquis today and throw four innings. Olsen is slated to start tomorrow against the Tigers and pitch five innings. If his velocity is still in the mid-80s, it's hard to believe he's going to get the nod come April. Stammen could also help his cause with a strong performance today.
Be sure to check back for updates throughout the afternoon, and check the homepage for any non-game news...
METS AT NATIONALS
Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Fla.
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: No TV/WFED-1500 AM
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 66 degrees, Wind 16 mph RF to LF
SS Cristian Guzman
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
CF Justin Maxwell
RF Mike Morse
C Wil Nieves
P Jason Marquis
CF Angel Pagan
SS Ruben Tejada
1B Chris Carter
RF Jeff Francoeur
LF Frank Catalanotto
3B Fernando Tatis
2B Russ Adams
C Henry Blanco
P Mike Pelfrey
1:05 p.m. -- We are underway with a ball from Jason Marquis to Angel Pagan. The wind is gusting over 20 mph from right field to left field, could affect pitchers' control.
1:09 p.m. -- Nice, clean first inning from Marquis, who got a pair of flyouts, a groundball single past Adam Dunn at first base and a popout to end the inning. Encouraging sign from the right-hander, who needs a good effort today.
1:14 p.m. -- Ryan Zimmerman continues his torrid spring, blasting a solo homer over the left-field fence, perhaps aided by the wind. That's Zimmerman's fourth homer of the spring, and he's now 15-for-33 in the Grapefruit League. Nats lead 1-0 after one.
1:21 p.m. -- Another nice inning from Marquis, who gets Frank Catalanotto to hit a weak liner to first and Fernando Tatis to fly out, then strikes out Russ Adams. He's retired six of seven batters so far.
1:29 p.m. -- Josh Willingham takes a cue from Zimmerman and lofts a fly ball to left, takes advantage of the wind and coasts around the bases with a solo homer. Justin Maxwell flies out to right, dropping his average to .108, and Pelfrey rebounds to retire Mike Morse and Wil Nieves to end the second. Nats now lead, though, 2-0.
1:42 p.m. -- The Mets get to Marquis in the third, with Henry Blanco and Ruben (not Miguel) Tejada each doubling to left. Tejada might have scored later on Chris Carter's base hit up the middle, but Adam Kennedy made a nice play to get to the ball and then throw to the plate to prevent the runner from even considering it. Nats lead 2-1 in the third. No chances at shortstop yet for Cristian Guzman, by the way.
2:03 p.m. -- Marquis falters in the fourth, allowing two runs in the process. Fernando Tatis walked. Mike Adams singled to right and Henry Blanco lofted an RBI double off the left-field wall, just past Josh Willingham's reach. Adams then scored on Mike Pelfrey's chopper to short -- Cristian Guzman fielded it well and made a routine throw to first with no trouble -- and Marquis got out of things without any more damage. But the Mets now lead, 3-2, and Marquis has allowed six hits in four innings of work.
2:15 p.m. -- Stop! Hammer time! Again! Josh Willingham sends his second homer of the day over the left-field fence, this one a two-run shot in the fourth off Pelfrey. Justin Maxwell, meanwhile, grounded out weakly to third and is now 4-for-38 for the spring. Mike Morse, meanwhile, is a major slump at the plate and is now batting .229. So much for that red-hot start to the month.
2:22 p.m. -- Marquis can't quite make it through his requisite five innings. He's pulled after allowing a two-out double to Jeff Francoeur. Tyler Walker is on to finish out the inning. Craig Stammen should be on for the sixth and perhaps go the rest of the way.
2:27 p.m. -- Walker gets out of the jam. Final pitching line for Marquis: 4.2 ip, 7 h, 3 er, 1 bb, 3 k, 90 pitches, 59 strikes. Nats lead 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth.
2:32 p.m. -- Stop! Zimmer time! Again! (Doesn't quite sound right.) Ryan Zimmerman duplicates Josh Willingham's feat, blasting his second homer of the day to left. Mike Pelfrey getting shelled this afternoon. Nats now lead 6-3 in the fifth.
3:01 p.m. -- Craig Stammen looking good so far. He allowed a deep drive to left in the sixth but Willy Taveras made a great catch at the fence to rob a potential home run. Thanks to that play, Stammen has retired all six batters faced so far, striking out two. Nats still up 6-3 in the bottom of the seventh.
3:19 p.m. -- Washington adding to its lead, thanks to a double by Adam Kennedy and an RBI single by Taveras. But with a chance to break things open with the bases loaded and one out, Mike Morse (hitting himself right out of the starting lineup?) grounds into a 5-4-3 double play.
3:27 p.m. -- Stammen finally allows a runner to reach base when Chris Carter leads off the eighth with a double to right-center. But he responds with a pair of strikeouts sandwiched around a lineout to short. Three scoreless innings for Stammen, four strikeouts in the process. Can you say No. 5 starter?
3:35 p.m. -- And we go to the ninth. Nats hold a 7-3 lead. Craig Stammen looking for the four-inning save.
3:44 -- The wheels are coming off. The Mets have scored two unearned runs in the ninth thanks to errors on Ian Desmond at short and Willy Taveras in center (who just dropped a routine line drive right at him that would have ended the game). It's now 7-5 with two outs and the tying run at the plate in Chris Carter.
3:47 p.m. -- Never fear. That's your ballgame. Nats win, 7-5. Marquis gets the win. Stammen gets the save with four strong innings (despite the two unearned runs in the ninth). Zimmerman and Willingham are the offensive heroes with two homers a piece. Don't look now, but after a wretched 0-11 start to the Grapefruit League, Washington has now won five of seven.