VIERA, Fla. – Ryan Zimmerman doubled twice, drove in two runs while Wilson Ramos had two hits including a two run double as the Nationals banged out 12 hits in a 8-2 victory over the Mets at Space Coast Stadium.
The Nats got to Mets starter and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey for five runs and eight hits in three innings.
With two outs in the first, Zimmerman doubled to right centerfield and Adam LaRoche, who was making his first official plate appearance of the spring, touched up Dickey for an RBI single to left scoring Zimmerman. After a Jayson Werth single, Ramos went the opposite way with a double scoring LaRoche and Werth to give the Nats a 3-0 lead.
The Nats scored two more in the second. With Runners at first and second, Zimmerman doubled to left scoring Sandy Leon and Mark DeRosa. Blake Kelso and Tyler Moore had RBI hits.
Nats right-hander Chien-Ming Wang started for the Nationals and after a 1-2-3 first inning in which he threw 14 pitches, Wang struggled in the second.
He gave up two runs and three hits in the inning but he labored, throwing 28 pitches. He gave up an RBI groundout to Chris Johnson and an RBI single by Omar Quintanilla, but manager Davey Johnson was happy with the outing.
“I was really impressed with what I saw out of Chien-Ming,” Johnson said. “The ball was really coming out of his hand free and easy.”
In fact, Johnson hinted very strongly that Wang would be in the back end of the rotation.
“It was just how it was coming out of his hand and the movement he was getting — it was fun to watch,” he said. “When you think of it as, in the back end of the rotation having a Chien-Ming Wang with what he’s throwing now.”
For his part, Wang said the “outing was okay.”
“Sometimes the ball was too low and was out of the strike zone, so I worked in the bullpen more,” he said. “In the second inning, the sinker was too thick and too low so I just need to work on the timing.”
Red Hot Zim
Ryan Zimmerman went 2 for 3 with a two-run double and is now hitting .556 going 5-for-9 in four games with four RBI.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of pitches, which is good,” Zimmerman said. “That’s kind of the goal of all of it. Getting hits is obviously a bonus — no one wants to get outs — but I think it’s more of just seeing pitches and getting back into the flow of it.”
Zimmerman’s is at his best when he is driving the ball to the opposite field and that is exactly where his first double went off Dickey.
“That’s the plan I have and that’s the plan I’ve always had,” he said. “If they come in, you have to adjust. It’s nice to get hits but like I said more importantly, I’m just trying to see pitches and get into that rhythm and get into game speed and game shape.”
LaRoche back in the swing
After spending the last week and a half nursing an ailing foot, Nats first baseman Adam LaRoche finally made his spring debut and promptly greeted Dickey with an RBI single to left field.
“What I really need to do is run a little bit, round the bases, stop, go, you know, do some of that and see how it felt and it felt pretty good,” LaRoche said. “Not great but good enough now that I hope it progresses every day for the next four or five days and hopefully, we get rid of it.”
LaRoche says his surgically repaired shoulder is fine although he hasn’t had the chance yet to cut loose with a throw that would tell him more.
“We haven’t had any testers yet where I’ve had to turn and fire it yet somewhere but I’ve done that enough I think, in practice and with groundballs and everything else to know that it’s going to be fine.”
LaRoche went 1-for-2 and left after the third inning. He is scheduled to play Sunday in Jupiter against the Cardinals.
Nats and Tigers tie
The Nationals and Tigers played to a 10th inning and 5-5 tie in Lakeland as part of their split squad afternoon.
John Lannan started for the Nats and lasted two innings giving up two runs on four hits, walking one and striking out four. Lannan surrendered a home run to Brandon Inge.
Brennan Boesch also homered for the Tigers in the fourth inning off Austin Bibens-Dirkx.
Justin Verlander started for the Tigers and threw shutout ball over four innings. The American League Cy Young winner and MVP from last season allowed three hits and struck out four.
The Nats battled back from a 4-0 deficit to take a 5-4 lead with three runs in the sixth and single runs in the seventh and eighth. Corey Brown and Andres Blanco hit home runs. The Tigers then got a run in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at 5-5.
Back to Jupiter
The Nats will take on the Cardinals Sunday at 1:05 p.m. from Roger Dean Stadium. Gio Gonzalez will make his second start of the spring and will be opposed by Jake Westbrook. Gonzalez made his first start against the Braves in Disney and went three innings, allowing one hit, a walk and he struck out two.