Washington Nationals Spring Training Report: 3/16-3/21

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Photo: @Nationals

By Michael Marzzacco

The Nationals continue to gear up for Opening Day. Here are highlights from their recent Spring Training games. Also, Team USA has punched their ticket to the semifinals with a big win on Saturday over the Dominican Republic.

3/16: vs. Mets W 3-1:

Bryce Harper smacked his major league leading sixth home run of the Spring and the Nats pitching staff carried a no hitter into the seventh inning.

Harper’s blast was a solo shot in the first inning off of Mets starter Zack Wheeler.

Five of those 7 1/3 no-hit innings were thrown by Gio Gonzalez. The lefty struck out two hitters and allowed only a walk.

Washington added a run in the second and another in the fourth. Stephen Drew belted a double into right field to score Adam Eaton, then in the fourth Ryan Zimmeran singled into right field to drive in Anthony Rendon.

3/17: at Marlins T 5-5

Trailing 5-0, the Nats rallied to force a tie with a run in the fifth inning with four runs in the seventh, capped by Isaac Balou‘s RBI double into right field that scored Caleb Ramsey to force a 5-5 tie.

In the fifth, Wilmer Difo tripled into center field to score Spencer Kieboom. In the seventh the Nats began the rally with Pedro Severino drawing a walk. Adrian Sanchez followed with a double into left field to bring Severino home. Sanchez would cross the plate shortly after with a single by Ramsey into center field that pulled the Nats within 5-4.

Nats’ number two prospect Erick Fedde had a rough start on the mound, lasting just one and 2/3 innings while giving up five runs.

3/18: vs. Astros L 5-4

The Nats fell at home 5-4 to the Astros. The game was highlighted by Trea Turner‘s inside the park homer. It came in the third inning after he singled and the Astros committed three errors. Turner hit the ball to right field, moving Chris Heisey to third base but Jake Marisnick overthrew third baseman Yulieski Gurriel, who made a bad throw to the plate. Pitcher Charlie Morton backed the catcher but he threw the ball away which allowed Turner to come home.

The Nats got their third run when Bryce Harper walked with the bases loaded and their fourth on a homer by Grant Green over the left centerfield wall.

3/19 @ Marlins W 10-4

Stephen Strasburg got the win for the Nationals. After giving up two runs in the first he settled down, retiring 11 of the last 12 batters he faced. Strasburg struck out three over 4 1/3 innings. The Nats got on the board in the first with a three run double by Clint Robinson into center field that scored Ryan Zimmerman, Brian Goodwin and Chris Heisey.

The Nats scored four runs in the third. Anthony Rendon hit an RBI single into center field that scored Zimmerman. With Brian Goodwin also on base ahead of Rendon, Rafael Bautista singled into center field to score Goodwin and Rendon. Emmanuel Burris followed with a single into left field that brought home Robinson. In the sixth, Zimmerman belted his first home run of the spring over the right-center field wall. The Nats added their final run in the ninth with a single by Joey Butler into center field that scored Neftali Soto.

3/20 vs. Yankees L 3-9

A packed house of 7,675 fans saw the Yankees beat the Nationals. It was the first sellout at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in it’s young history. Brett Gardner drove in two-runs in the second and Matt Holliday delivered a two-run homer in the fifth. After the bomb by Holliday, the Yankees never looked back.

The Yankees scored four runs in the top of the second and the Nats closed the gap to 4-3 in the bottom of the inning but that was as close as they’d get. Adam Eaton singled into right field to score Anthony Rendon for their first run. With Ryan Zimmerman also on second base, Adam Lind doubled home Zim and Eaton with a line drive to the left field wall.

Bryce Harper made a highlight-reel diving catch in the fourth.

3/21 vs. Braves W 3-1

Ryan Zimmerman and Emmanuel Burriss led the Nats with two hits and a run each. Washington got on the board in the second with a sacrifice fly by Wilmer Difo into right field that scored Zimmerman from third. The Nats added two more runs in the seventh. Pedro Severino doubled into left field to score Burriss. Clint Robinson followed with a single of his own into left field that brought home Severino.

Gio Gonzalez had another impressive Grapefruit League outing with a strong 4 1/3 innings with two strikeouts.

NATS IN THE WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC

Dominican Republic: Enny Romero

Romero didn’t pitch Thursday night but the Dominican Republic bounced back with a 3-0 victory over Venezuela. It was a crucial win as the defending champs still have a chance to advance to the semifinals. Gregory Polanco and Nelson Cruz each hit solo homers. The Dominican Republic’s run came to an end Saturday with a 6-3 loss to USA. Romero didn’t pitch in that game either. More on Saturday’s game below in the USA section.

USA: Tanner Roark and Daniel Murphy

Team USA fell on Friday night 6-5 to Puerto Rico. Murphy went 0-for-2. Saturday set up an epic battle with Dominican Republic with a trip to the semifinals on the line. With the game tied at 2, Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins launched a two-run bomb into the Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field of Petco Park.

In the top of the seventh, Adam Jones committed highway robbery taking a home run away from his O’s teammate Manny Machado.

Andrew McCutchen added a two run double in the ninth to put it away. On Tuesday night, USA will take on Japan with a trip to the championship on the line. We will include highlights from that game in a separate post. Roark will be pitching in the game. First pitch at 9 p.m. eastern.

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