Nats and Cardinals play to a tie

Washington Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth stretches before the start of a spring training baseball game, Tuesday, March 6, 2012, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Craig Heist,

VIERA, Fla. – Jordan Zimmermann pitched three scoreless innings in his Spring Training debut as the Nationals and the Cardinals played to a 3-3, nine inning tie at Space Coast Stadium.

The Cardinals took at 3-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth when Nats catcher Carlos Maldonado hit a two-run homer over the wall in right field off Lance Lynn to tie the game. After the Nats failed to push across another run, the game was called.

“I went out probably about the sixth inning and talked to Gary (home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom) and I said I just got enough pitching for nine. Would you tell Mike (Cardinals manager Mike Matheny) and he went over to Mike and Mike said okay, fine.”

The Nats took a 1-0 lead in the first off Shelby Miller. Ian Desmond led off the inning with a double and came home to score on an RBI single off the bat of Jason Michaels.

The Cardinals tied the game at 1-1 in the fifth when Daniel Descalso homered off left-hander Matt Purke. The Cards then took the lead in the seventh with two runs off reliever Brad Lidge. One run scored on a Jarrett Hoffpauir throwing error and the third run scored on a Tyler Greene RBI single.

Zimmermann gave up three hits, walked one and struck out three during his three innings of work and deemed his first outing of the spring a success.

“It went okay,” said Zimmermann. “I had a rough time locating the fastball today but I threw some good ones when I needed to. The breaking pitches were pretty good but its tough to throw them in this wind but the ones I did throw I thought were pretty good.”

Zimmermann gave up a single to center to left-handed swinging Jon Jay with two out in the first and for as insignificant as it seemed at the time, it did prompt pitching Coach Steve McCatty to say something to Zimmermann between innings.

Davey Johnson said, “He gave up the first hit on a change-up and I think Cat went to him and said this is really not a good day to be experimenting with your change-up, eight left-handed hitters in the lineup and the wind blowing out to right, and then mostly he went back to the fastball.”

Zimmermann went 8-11 last year with an ERA of 3.18 and was held to an innings limit one year after coming off Tommy John surgery. He is looking for 2012 to be a big year for him now that he doesn’t have the restrictions he had placed on his last season.

“It’s going to be a good year knowing I’m not going to be shut down at 160 and I’ll be able to throw 200-plus innings, so it’s definitely a good feeling.”

First time through

With Zimmermann’s start today, the Nationals starters have all pitched one time, giving up three earned runs in 13 2/3 innings which works out to a 1.98 ERA. The starters walked five and struck out nine.

Johnson had said all along he wouldn’t feel whole until all five went through once. He liked what he saw.

“I know everybody came through it alright,” he said. “I think next time out they are going to be up to 60 pitches. It gets more in their comfort zone too, they can feel like they don’t have to come out there, sometimes when you throw just two innings, you have a tendency to overthrow.”

The Daily LaRoche

Nats first baseman Adam LaRoche took some swings in an intrasquad game at the minor league complex today and manager Davey Johnson is now hoping to get him in the lineup when the Nats face the Mets at Space Coast Stadium on Saturday.

The Nats take part in a split squad that day with another group heading to Lakeland to take on the Tigers.

“I will see how he comes out of that today,” Johnson said. “He is on the list. He’s been on the list as able but I’m probably a little more conservative than the trainer, he’s not able for me yet. But, it’s a long spring and there is plenty of time to get right.”

While LaRoche took six at-bats during the game, he did not run the bases but did do some jogging.

“I didn’t strikeout. I didn’t embarrass myself too bad in front of the kids,” LaRoche said smiling. “Man, it was good. I was looking forward to, preferably out here, but it didn’t work out so go down there and hit third every inning, go back and forth and just see some live pitching.”

The main issue right now for LaRoche is his sprained ankle and his ability to run the bases, or more specifically, his inability. The injury has lasted longer than he thought it would.

“I didn’t want this to drag out for a couple of weeks and miss that many at bats,” he said. “Cause a lot of times I need them all the way up to the last day. Sometimes not, sometimes I can come out and feel good after a couple of weeks. All in all, it was nice to get over there and see some live pitching finally.”

Third time is a charm

For the third time this spring, the Nationals will face the Houston Astros Thursday at 1:05. It will be ar-match of last Saturday when Edwin Jackson makes his second start of the spring and will oppose former Nationals, Livan Hernandez.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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