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Posted at 1:18 PM ET, 03/ 7/2011

Live blog: Astros at Nationals, Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Fla.

By Dave Sheinin

End game, 4:26: Ryan Mattheus mops it up in the ninth, allowing one run, and the Nationals' 14-9 victory is in the books -- in only 3 hours, 30 minutes!

End 8, 4:10: The Nationals sent 13 batters to the plate and put up a nine-spot in the eighth to take a 14-8 lead, with Bryce Harper capping the scoring with a two-run double into the right field corner. If you're scoring at home, Harper, with two doubles in the inning, is now hitting .364 (4 for 11) .308 (4 for 13) with three RBI this spring. Brian Bixler (three-run double), Rick Ankiel (two-run homer), Alex Cora (RBI double) and Kevin Barker (RBI double) did the rest of the heavy lifting. (Ankiel probably won't see many lefties this season, but against Houston's Patrick Urckfitz he hit a bomb onto the roof of the storage shed in right.) Mercifully, we are heading to the ninth.

Bottom 8, 3:58: Bryce Harper just collected his first extra-base hit of the spring, bouncing a high chopper over the first baseman's head and down the right field line for a double off lefty Patrick Urckfitz. The Nationals have runners on second and third with nobody out in the eighth.

Mid 8, 3:50: A nightmare of a defensive game for the Nationals continued as Brian Bixler, in the game at shortstop, dropped a throw from Balester that might have started an inning-ending double play. Although the runner was ruled out at second, and no error was charged on the play, Balester promptly gave up a run-scoring double to J.B. Shuck to make it 8-5, Astros. The Nationals have made three errors and numerous other defensive mistakes today.

End 7, 3:40: The Nationals scored a run on Alberto Gonzalez's leadoff double and a pair of ground outs, to pull to within 7-5. But Jayson Werth struck out for the third time in the game to end the inning. Collin Balester now pitching for the Nationals, and Bryce Harper will bat second in the bottom of the eighth.

Mid 7, 3:19: Drew Storen's spring struggles continued with a messy seventh inning that saw the Astros score two runs, one of them unearned. Storen gave up a triple and a single to the first two batters of the inning, and the second run scored four batters later on an infield single. The error in the inning came when Danny Espinosa booted a grounder at second base. (Bryce Harper nearly got pegged with his first error of the spring when his throw home skipped past catcher Jesus Flores, but Storen was in position backing up the play.) Storen did, however, record a pair of strikeouts in the inning. It's 7-4, Astros.

End 6, 3:14: I pretty much missed the sixth inning while downstairs talking to Yunesky Maya. So let's just say some stuff happened that didn't change the score. It's still 5-4 Astros.

End 5, 3:00: Ryan Zimmerman just crushed a fastball to right-center field for a solo homer off Bud Norris, pulling the Nationals to within 5-4. Cole Kimball heads back to the mound for a second inning of work, and Bryce Harper goes to right field.

Mid 5, 2:52: Cole Kimball pitched well in relief of Mock, allowing an infield single on a high-chopper to second, but then retiring the next three batters. Second baseman Danny Espinosa made another fine play on a hit-and-run, diving to knock down a ball in the hole and throwing to first for the out. Still 5-3, Astros.

Top 5, 2:41: Garrett Mock is now out of the game in another dreaded mid-inning pitching change, after giving up a three-run homer to Chris Johnson with no outs in the fifth.

End 4, 2:30: A one-out walk by Jeff Frazier went for naught, as Roger Bernadina struck out against Henry Villar to end the fourth. Mock opened the inning by sailing ball four over the head of Hunter Pence, then walked Brett Wallace to bring Johnson to the plate. Cole Kimball now pitching for the Nationals, who trail, 5-3.

Mid 4, 2:23: Garrett Mock gave up an unearned run in the fourth, as Ivan Rodriguez committed catcher's interference to allow a batter to reach, and then Michael Morse made an error in right field on a shallow fly ball near the line. Mock also failed to help his own cause, deflecting a grounder up the middle by Carlos Corporan that probably would have been an easy 6-3, but instead kicked into left field for an RBI single. It's 3-2, Nationals.

End 3, 2:10: Astros pitcher Henry Villar got us back on a nice, brisk pace by retiring the Nationals in order in the bottom of the third, including a strikeout of Adam LaRoche.

Mid 3, 2:04: Mock retired Chris Johnson on a fly ball to medium-deep center to end the inning, and the Nationals still lead, 3-1.

Top 3, 2:01: Yunesky Maya's day just ended with a two-out walk to Brett Wallace, which followed a sharp single by Hunter Pence. Jim Riggleman just yanked Maya -- Garrett Mock is coming in. Maya gave up five hits and a walk in 2 2/3 innings, and is responsible for the two runners on base. Not a very good outing for a guy who seemed ready to thrust himself into the fifth-starter conversation.

End 2, 1:53: Roger Bernadina drew a bases-loaded walk and Danny Espinosa followed by lining a two-run singled to give the Nationals a 3-1 lead. Adam LaRoche walked with one out, Jeff Frazier singled off the glove of Astros third baseman Chris Johnson, and Alberto Gonzalez reached on an error by Johnson to load the bases. For Frazier, the hit was his fourth in nine at-bats this spring (.444), including the homer he hit off New York's CC Sabathia on Saturday.

Mid 2, 1:33: Maya gives up two more hits -- ground ball singles to Chris Johnson and Angel Sanchez -- but is helped by two nice, rangy plays by second baseman Danny Espinosa to escape the inning. But it took another 20 pitches to navigate the second, so Maya is already at 38.

End 1, 1:22: Roger Bernadina, batting leadoff and playing center field today, bunted for a single off Astros lefty J.A. Happ, stole second and moved to third with one out on a wild pitch. But he was stranded there when Jayson Werth struck out and Ryan Zimmerman grounded to short.

Mid 1, 1:14: Not a great first frame for Nationals starter Yunesky Maya, who gave up a homer and a sharp single to his first two hitters (Michael Bourn and Clint Barmes, respectively). Maya also needed 10 pitches to put away Hunter Pence for the inning's first out, but a 4-6-3 double play prevented further damage. Nineteen pitches in the inning, 13 for strikes. Astros lead, 1-0.

ORIGINAL POST: Since Stan Kasten already used up all the words, I'll make this brief. We're about to get underway here. Stick around for plenty of delicious updates.

By Dave Sheinin  | March 7, 2011; 1:18 PM ET
 
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Next: Wrapping up an unsightly win

Comments

Bernie has a walk and a bunt single in today's game. That equals Morgan's total ST production. Nyjer must be hating life right about now.

Posted by: gilbertbp | March 7, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who is watching with regularity: How many frames has Bernadina been in Center? How has looked there? I can't imagine that you're sacrificing too much in the way of range with Bernadina instead of Morgan. And the arm strength comparison is no comparison. If this keeps up for the entirety of Spring Training, there really is no justification for keeping Morgan as the starter.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | March 7, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Having Bernadina bunt once a game is a dead giveaway: they're pushing him as an alternative/replacement for Nyjer at leadoff and CF. And for now, it looks like Bernadina's grabbing the opportunity.

Posted by: baltova1 | March 7, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

For all this 'defense' talk, the Nationals continue their consistent and relevant streak of errors. I'm just really not sure what the cure is anymore.

Posted by: NatsandSkinsareclassclassclass | March 7, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Catcher's interference, E-9, kicked grounder by the pitcher, all in one inning. It's 2009 all over again. They need to play in "throwback" NATINALS jerseys, just to make it feel right.

Posted by: baltova1 | March 7, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Garrett Mock please leave your parking pass at the gate and better luck with your next team

Posted by: SCNatsFan | March 7, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Ugh

Posted by: Kev29 | March 7, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Hey Shiner how is Maya's velocity? Is he keeping anyone honest with his fastball? Or is he ala R.A. Dickey (who I was just watching on MLB Mets vs. Detroit). I think you should get some quotes from Mock too - there's gotta be an article in there about a million dollar arm and a ten cent approach. I just watched Mike O'Connor breeze through an inning for the Mets. Yeah that Mike O'Connor. And he can't even break a glass with his fastball.

Posted by: Brue | March 7, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Cavalier83 is on track with his comments. Don't know how Bernie's looked in CF this spring, but we all saw him play 26 times there last year. What glaring deficiencies were exposed? Rizzo has misdirected this discussion with his mantra, "Bernie's best position is LF." This may be true, and would be relevant if Willie Mays were your CFer, but how is this relevant to the 2011 Nats?

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | March 7, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Cap, what I remember about that "his best position is LF" comment is that Bernadina has never played LF regularly, not even in the minors, IIRC. Rizzo is a good baseball guy, but I'm not sure it's even worth interviewing him. He never reveals his true thoughts or plans.
BTW, Willie Mays might be a better option in CF for us. He's only 79...

Posted by: baltova1 | March 7, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Please, please, get rid of the M&M boys, Mock and Morgan, and let some real players replace them.

Posted by: upperdeck4 | March 7, 2011 3:09 PM | Report abuse

An old Army joke popped into my head: "All of you pitchers on the team, step forward. Not so fast, Mock."

Posted by: baltova1 | March 7, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Mock must go. He sucks more now than he did 2 years ago. Give him his outright release and let's move on....Please.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 7, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Nevermind Mock and Nyjer - Drew Storen's performances are getting to the point of enormous concern.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 7, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Nevermind Mock and Nyjer - Drew Storen's performances are getting to the point of enormous concern.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 7, 2011 3:26 PM

Yep. That and the errors.

Posted by: baltova1 | March 7, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Yep. That and the errors.

Posted by: baltova1 | March 7, 2011 3:31 PM

And Werth hitting .077?

Posted by: Kev29 | March 7, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

And Werth hitting .077?

Posted by: Kev29 | March 7, 2011 3:42 PM


I think guys with a track record get a hall pass.

Posted by: baltova1 | March 7, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

True that. I can't help but over-analyze because I'm starving for baseball!

Man, Bixler can hit a little bit but he fields like *poop*

Posted by: Kev29 | March 7, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Here's the problem.., "double switch" and "jizzo" must have some down-right man-love for Mock, JD Martin, Aitelano and a few other left overs from times past. Please stop the insanity and move ahead.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | March 7, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Don't feed the troll. And don't analyze his fielding either.

Posted by: FeelWood | March 7, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't worry about what Werth hits in spring training because 1. it *is* spring training, and B. even if he keeps this up, what are they going to do? He is going to start in right.

Posted by: Section3mysofa | March 7, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

what are they going to do? He is going to start in right.

Posted by: Section3mysofa | March 7, 2011 3:58 PM

Of course - I'm just hoping that he starts the real games well. And we have a notoriously slow starter in LaRoche batting a couple slots behind him.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 7, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

What?!?!?!

Natinals are losing? Surely you jest. Say it ain't so Joe.

How long before sectino3707226 goes off the deep end again? He's gone off the deep end multiple times over on Terp Insider lately. Poor guy. Guess Obamacare ain't working for him.

Hahahhahahahaha

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 7, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Nice rally, lads. Nice to see Ankiel get in on the action.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 7, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

And I just love how Boswell's Oriole story is one of the feature items on the WaPo's Sports Page and how they keep using various Orioles pictures.

Sweet.

Hahahahhahahaha

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 7, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Patrick Urckfitz? Urckfitz? That's not a name, that's what you get when you pick out Scrabble tiles to start the game.

And what's up with Ankiel? What do you know that Sheinin doesn't, kev?

Posted by: baltova1 | March 7, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

>Bottom 8, 3:58: Bryce Harper just collected his first extra-base hit

Even Pants can't stop him. I don't see how they can limit him to one at-bat and say it's for the benefit of the team. The longer it goes, the more obvious it will be.

Posted by: Brue | March 7, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

hey poop? Whats the score?

Posted by: JDB1 | March 7, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I'll say it for him: 14-8 Nats!

Posted by: skidge | March 7, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Two doubles in one inning for Harper! I don't think Boz will be writing about the Baltimore team tomorrow.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 7, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Dave,

I think Harper is 4 for 13 not 11 for a .308 average, but I could be wrong.

Posted by: brothbart | March 7, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

What an inning! Good hitting from the NATS! Keep it up NATS!!! GO NATS!

Posted by: mink23 | March 7, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Poopy came over to see how the Nats were doing after his team lost to Boston. He was so excited to see the Nats losing too...

Come on Poopy -- even you can cheer for Harpers 2 doubles and a HR by Ankiel!

Posted by: nattydread1 | March 7, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I think Harper is 4 for 13 not 11 for a .308 average, but I could be wrong.

Posted by: brothbart | March 7, 2011 4:26 PM

That's what MLB says too. Still, I'll take it! Way to go kid.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 7, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Um, the radio guys seem to think that the game's still going on and it's now 14-9. What's up, Dave?

Posted by: skidge | March 7, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Also, the Astros just scored 14-9 and the game is still going on. Not sure what game Dave is watching.

Posted by: brothbart | March 7, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

It's not over at 4:33. The Astros just scored their 9th run.

Posted by: Cosmo06 | March 7, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

OK, NOW it's over, 14-9.

Posted by: skidge | March 7, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

game now over 14-9

Posted by: brothbart | March 7, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

What a game! Almost had a scare that NATS will be losing there for a while but good rally in the bottom of 8th! Go NATS!

Posted by: mink23 | March 7, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

What a game! Almost had a scare that NATS will be losing there for a while but good rally in the bottom of 8th! Go NATS!

Posted by: mink23 | March 7, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Well, Dave edited his earlier "final" -- guess only a few of us will ever know what happened there! :)

Posted by: skidge | March 7, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

So, if Harper and Bernie keep this up come late June the outfield will be Werth in right, Bernie in center, and Harper in Left. As for Danny, if keeps his bat hot he looks like the #2 hitter. So the late June line-up, which has a good L/R mix, could look like this:

Bernie (L)
Danny (S)
Zimm (R)
Werth (R)
Harper (L)
Desi (R)
LaRoche (L)
Pudge (R)
pitcher

Posted by: hansenjo | March 7, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

There is no way harper makes the team. He could hit a home run in all his other at bats and he doesn't make the team.

I also like Desmond in the #2 spot. Might be able to put either Danny as the lead off or #8 guy. I kinda like

Bernadina/Espinosa
Desmond
Werth
Zimmerman
Laroche
Morse
Rodriguez
Espinosa/Bernadina

Posted by: brothbart | March 7, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Free Harper!!! Free Sheen!!!!!!

Posted by: Brue | March 7, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

>>I like the way you are thinking.

Bernie (L)
Danny (S)
Zimm (R)
Werth (R)
Harper (L)
Desi (R)
LaRoche (L)
Pudge (R)
pitcher

Posted by: hansenjo

Posted by: Brue | March 7, 2011 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, you guys see Pudge as the starting catcher in June?

He started out surprisingly hot last year, then fell off the cliff. It's obvious his age is catching up.

This year, he's a year older than last year. Really. I did the math.

Posted by: gilbertbp | March 7, 2011 5:03 PM | Report abuse

HahahahaahaHAHA Poopy 'Natinals' win. Bryce Harper continues to improve. Strasburg is on his way and the Ori'holes? Only a maroon moron would root for the O's dude? No make that a BROWN morone.

"I want all the Redskin fans who are also Raven fans to chime in on this argument. Since the same logic is being applied here."

"I'm sure the posts from Redskin-and-Raven fans will start flooding in any minute."

Hah, the Cleveland **Browns**, the St. Louis "Browns", and Poopy McPoop is always BROWN and stinky just like his loser teams and owners ... Poopy - the epitome of latrine, fly infested BROWN.

When the Nats start making the O's look as pathetic as they are before the O's get a ticked to Vegas ... I'll be over on RI beating into the ground just like you have here dude. Wait for it .. the bomb is on its waaaaay!

Posted by: periculum | March 7, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Nice job of not feeding the troll, peric...

Posted by: baltova1 | March 7, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Actually, brue, Charlie Sheen is now free. He just got fired from his show. He now has a better chance of making the Nats' opening day roster than Harper.

Posted by: baltova1 | March 7, 2011 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Nothing personal Adam but why the hell is Vlad's picture on the Nat's Journal? i mean i like Vlad but if i want to read about the O's i'll pull up Balt/Sun.com and trust me i won't be doing that.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 7, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

>>Charlie Sheen is now free. He just got fired from his show. He now has a better chance of making the Nats' opening day roster than Harper.

Posted by: baltova1

But Harper IS Sheen. You know what happened to the Astros today? The same thing that happened to the Yanks - they was SHEEENED jack

Posted by: Brue | March 7, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Gotta love the Natinals fans moistening up their panties after the Natinals win a Spring Training game, against the Astros.

I'm sure these same fans would get all giddy if the Natinals beat some High School Varsity baseball team. Oh wait, since they beat the Astros, that's pretty much what they did.

But rack up those Spring Training wins Natinals fans. When the games actually count it'll be a different, and more depressing story.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 7, 2011 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Funny too that Natinal fans get all excited seeing the O's lose to the Red Sox. Nevermind the lack of importance of winning in Spring Training (though Natinal fans need all the winning they can get) but what these Natinal fans seem to not realize is that the O's sent their JV team to play Boston today, since the Varsity team is playing the Yankees tonight.

Oh snap. Don't let facts get in the way of your bitter, blind, and delusional hatred.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 7, 2011 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Oh and the game is on MASN tonight so you Natinal fans can tune in and see what a real team, the team from Baltimore, looks like.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 7, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

And if someone can send me updates of the game, I'd appreciate it. Mom wont let me watch the game tonight since she walked in on me, my dog in a Cal Ripken jesrey, and lots of 'peanut butter on balls' action...

Posted by: P00PY__MCP00P | March 7, 2011 6:29 PM | Report abuse

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