Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Tom Gorzelanny faces the Cardinals' "A" lineup tonight at Space Coast Stadium.
Tony LaRussa brought his "A" team with him to Viera, including Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Jim Riggleman counters with Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, but a lot of backups as well.
Nyjer Morgan leads off for the second straight night and is in center field. There's every reason to believe at this point that Rick Ankiel will be out there on Opening Day, but until something is officially done, Morgan will continue to get opportunities to state his case.
MASN has the broadcast with Bob and F.P., and Charlie and Dave also have the call on the radio. So settle in for a Friday night of some spring training baseball...
CARDINALS at NATIONALS
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 6:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM)
Weather: Sunny, 77 degrees, Wind 7 mph LF to RF
STARTING LINEUPS5:26 p.m. -- Couple of pregame news items: Yunesky Maya has been optioned to Class AAA Syracuse. No real surprise there, and I suspect Ross Detwiler sill be joining him there soon. Also, Bryce Harper took batting practice today, and according to assistant GM Bob Boone should be ready to return from his sprained ankle for Hagerstown's opener on April 7.
CF Nyjer Morgan
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
C Wilson Ramos
LF Roger Bernadina
SS Jerry Hairston
1B Alex Cora
2B Alberto Gonzalez
(P Tom Gorzelanny)
SS Ryan Theriot
CF Tyler Greene
1B Albert Pujols
LF Matt Holliday
3B David Freese
RF Lance Berkman
C Yadier Molina
2B Skip Schumaker
(P Kyle Lohse)
6:11 p.m. -- Very nice first inning from Tom Gorzelanny, who struck out Ryan Theriot looking and Matt Holliday swinging. Albert Pujols did send a two-out single up the middle, but that was it for St. Louis in the first.
6:22 p.m. -- The Nats went down quietly in the bottom of the first, though Tyler Greene needed to make a fantastic, sliding catch of Nyjer Morgan's sinking liner to center to keep the bases clear. Gorzelanny made it through the second unscathed, too, aside from another two-out single. So it remains scoreless heading to the bottom of the second.
6:32 p.m. -- Another clean inning from Gorzelanny. Retired the side in the third, striking out Greene. So he's now retired nine of 11 batters faced, with only three balls leaving the infield (two singles and a flyout).
6:40 p.m. -- Morgan puts the Nats on top, 1-0. With two outs and Alberto Gonzalez on second, Nyjer sends a sharp single up the middle.
6:50 p.m. -- That lead didn't last long. David Freese sent a two-run homer over the right-field fence in the top of the fourth. The wind is blowing out that way, but I wouldn't call it a wind-aided home run. Cardinals now lead 2-1.
7:17 p.m. -- Still 2-1 in the top of the sixth. Just spent the last inning and a half shooting photos, though there wasn't a whole lot of action to shoot. Gorzelanny has pitched quite well, his only mistake the Freese homer in the fourth. Otherwise, the lefty has been really solid, as has Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse.
7:26 p.m. -- And the Nats tie it up. Wilson Ramos drills a double to left-center with two outs in the sixth, then scores on Roger Bernadina's single to center. Game tied 2-2, and it would appear Gorzelanny's impressive night is over. His final line: 6 ip, 4 h, 2 r, 1 bb, 5 k, 77 pitches, 54 strikes. Chad Gaudin coming on to pitch.
7:45 p.m. -- When Tony La Russa and Jim Riggleman get together, you just know there's gonna be some serious managin' goin' on. Sure enough, Riggleman had Matt Stairs in the on-deck circle in the bottom of the seventh, then pulled him back to send up Boomer Whiting (wearing No. 90). Whiting then dropped a nice sac bunt, drawing a standing ovation from the crowd and putting runners on second and third with one out. Stairs now came up to bat, and La Russa countered by calling for an intentional walk. In the seventh inning of a spring training game. So now the bases were loaded for Brian Bixler, who lofted a high fly to shallow right field, probably not deep enough to score the runner. Except that Nick Stavinoha came in too far and had to backstep to make the catch. That allowed Alex Cora to break from third and beat a wide throw to the plate. Nats lead 3-2, and Riggleman leads La Russa, 1-0.
7:57 p.m. -- Wow, what a catch by Roger Bernadina to save the tying run from scoring in the top of the eighth. Compete full-extension, all-out dive to snag a sinking liner and preserve the Nats' 3-2 lead. Is this guy really not going to make the team? I know he's got options, but there's a lot of stuff he can do to help the Nats on a nightly basis, even if he's coming off the bench.
8:05 p.m. -- And we go to the ninth, the Nats leading 3-2 and Drew Storen entering from the bullpen to close it. Storen was really good last time out. Can he do it again?
8:13 p.m. -- Another fantastic ninth inning from Storen. Retired the side, striking out two on wicked sliders. 13 pitches, 9 strikes. Nats win 3-2 and improve to 7-0 with me in attendance this spring.