The Washington Nationals could only muster two hits today against a parade of Atlanta Braves pitchers, including young star Tommy Hanson, in a 5-0 loss before 6,250 at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, FL.
But the story for the Nats today centers around their own young starter, left-hander Ross Detwiler. Pitching on his 25th brithday, he went three solid innings, surrendering an unearned run on two hits and one walk, striking out five, including mowing down the side in his third inning of work.
Detwiler was sharp, offering a good fastball, and he was crisp on the few occsions he threw his breaking ball. Detwiler overhauled his machanics over the winter, and from first impression it seems the exaggerated, pronounced cross-body motion that has put so much stress on his front hip is gone, replaced with a natural step more driectly towards home plate.
Detwiler lost life on his fastball last year, but it wasn't because of his arm. All that stress on his surgically repaired front hip left the joint weak, and a weak lower body meant less life on his fastball. A change to a more natural delivery can only mean good things for the former No. 6 overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft, selected before such luminaries as San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner and the Braves Jason Heyward.
As for today's game, the Nats were just flat shut down. Hanson went three innings, giving up just one walk, though he struck out just one in the appearance. Reliever Cristhian Martinez came on after Hanson and was flat dealing, striking out five in his two innings.
Other than Detwiler, the highlight of the day for the Nats came in the second inning, when Danny Espinosa took a relay from Nyjer Morgan in short right center field and threw out Heyward trying to score on a double by shortstop Alex Gonzalez.
The Braves got their first run on the day on the next play, as Ian Desmond committed his first error of the spring, drawing first baseman Michael Aubrey off the bag on an in-between hop off the bat of Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman.
The Nats host the Houston Astros tomorrow at 1:05 pm. Yunesky Maya is expected to take the ball for Washington in his second appearance of the spring.