Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals face the Marlins today at Roger Dean Stadium.
Chris Young will be on the mound, making what could be his final appearance in a Nationals uniform. The veteran right-hander, as surely you know by now, has an out-clause in his contract that he's allowed to enact on Sunday. A solid outing today might be enough to convince another club to offer Young a big-league job, and you'd have to think he'd take that opportunity. (You also have to wonder whether the Nats actually wouldn't mind a less-than-perfect start from him, perhaps making the possibility of keeping him at Syracuse more likely.)
No TV or radio today, but I'll have plenty of updates right here, so please check back often...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. MIAMI MARLINS
Where: Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 7 mph RF to LF
CF Denard Span
RF Jayson Werth
LF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Chris Young
LF Juan Pierre
3B Placido Polanco
RF Giancarlo Stanton
1B Greg Dobbs
2B Donovan Solano
C Rob Brantly
CF Chris Coghlan
SS Adeiny Hechevarria
LHP Wade LeBlanc
1:07 p.m. -- And we're underway with a ball outside from Wade LeBlanc to Denard Span.
1:12 p.m. -- Funny how baseball works sometimes. The two hardest-hit balls in the top of the first were by Span and Ryan Zimmerman, yet each resulted in outs (a grounder to short, a liner to center). Jayson Werth, meanwhile, lofted a dying quail into shallow center field for a base hit. Yet another reason why you have to be careful reading a lot into spring training stats.
1:23 p.m. -- The bad news: Chris Young's "fastball" never topped 83 mph during the bottom of the first inning. The good news: Other than a leadoff walk to Juan Pierre, he was untouched. He even induced two swings-and-misses out of Giancarlo Stanton. So, who knows what to make of all this? I will say that the scouts here today aren't going to be impressed by that lack of velocity. You've got to wonder if any of them are going to be willing to offer this guy a spot in a big-league rotation. Scoreless after one.
1:33 p.m. -- He may not be lighting up the radar gun, but give Young credit for this: He's through two scoreless innings on only 28 pitches (17 strikes).
1:46 p.m. -- Wow, turns out Young can hit, too! Well, sort of. He popped up a sac bunt attempt, which LeBlanc couldn't corral despite an ill-advised diving attempt. Even better, the 6-foot-11 Young then got a chance to run all the way around the bases on Bryce Harper's two-run double. The Nats open up a 3-0 lead as we move to the bottom of the third.
1:51 p.m. -- Make it three scoreless for Young, who cruised through an 8-pitch bottom of the third. Somehow the guy has been able to make it work today despite fastball velocity that makes Livan Hernandez look like Stephen Strasburg. Still 3-0 Nats moving to the fourth.
2:06 p.m. -- Eight in a row now retired by Young, who is through four innings on a scant 49 pitches. He even got Stanton to swing and miss again, the third time he's done that today. Pretty impressive, you have to admit.
2:20 p.m. -- Hmm, thinks it makes a difference when the Nats bring their full lineup on the road? I'd say so. They've opened up a 6-0 lead on LeBlanc and the Marlins after a three-run fifth. Harper again provided the biggest hit, a two-run scorched single to right field, giving him four RBI on the afternoon. Zimmerman also smoked a line drive to right field, only to have it caught (it still scored Werth from third). We move to the bottom of the fifth, and it's been all Nationals to this point.
2:30 p.m. -- Five scoreless innings in the books for Young, who still has thrown only 64 pitches (42 strikes). He also still hasn't topped 84 mph with his fastball. No action in the Nats pen at the moment, so it looks like we'll see him back out for the sixth. Still 6-0, by the way.
2:38 p.m. -- Er, maybe not. Young is done for the day. So is everyone else in the Nats lineup besides Suzuki. Mass changes as we reach the bottom of the sixth. Over/under on minutes until Werth, Zim and LaRoche are on I-95 heading back to Viera: 2.5. Zach Duke now pitching.
2:51 p.m. -- And Duke just let the Marlins get back in this game. Gave up four runs on five hits in the bottom of the sixth, all coming with two outs. It's now 6-4 as we go to the seventh.
3:11 p.m. -- Onto the bottom of the eighth, with the score still 6-4 and Tyler Clippard now taking the mound.
3:25 p.m. -- Kurt Suzuki makes the most of the fact he's playing the entire game today. Just blasted a solo homer to center in the top of the ninth. Nats lead 7-4.