If the Washington Nationals are going to pick up wins over their final record in 2010, it's going to come from the progression of the starting pitching, which was near the bottom of all statistical categories in a campaign where they won 69 games.

So far this spring, the starters are getting the job done, and today in Jupiter, FL Jason Marquis added to the list of impressive outings by the perspective rotation.  The veteran went four innings, allowing no runs and just two hits and one walk in his appearance.  He struck out three, and what should be a huge confidence boost for the pitcher and his manager, induced eight ground ball outs versus one fly ball out.

Marquis is best when getting hitters to hit the top half of his sinker, and it was really working today.  The Nats really have to hope that Marquis, 32, pitches this season up to his career stats, making him a potentially valuable trade chip in July.

Jason Marquis delivers in Nats 8-4 win over Florida Marlins (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)

The other star of the day was Danny Espinosa, who went 3-for-3 with his second home run of the spring and four RBIs.  The rookie second baseman is hitting .455 this spring.

Michael Morse had two more doubles today in three at bats, and the slugger is hitting .435 so far.

Michael Morse legged out a double against the Marlins. (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)
Obviously, spring training statistics come with a grain of salt, but it's a lot easier to feel hopeful about the upcoming season when the Nats are performing well as opposed to last spring, when they lost their first 12 games.  Washington is 7-3 through ten games.

NATS NOTES:  Todd Coffey struck out the side in his one inning of work.

Craig Stammen threw two perfect innings, striking out one, on his 27th birthday.

Adam LaRoche, Matt Stairs, and Ivan Rodriguez all went 0-for-3.

Bryce Harper drove in the Nats final run with a single through the hole on the right side of the infield.  It was his only at bat, pinch-hitting for Stairs at DH.


Espinosa was hit in his second at bat.  He stayed in the game. (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)
Roger Bernadina slides home with a run in 8-4 win. (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)
Bryce Harper drove in Nats final run in 8-4 victory. (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)
Pudge getting ready to warm-up Marquis before the game. (D.Nichols/Nats News Network)
Craig Stammen threw two scoreless in win. (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)
Espi hustles home with another run in 8-4 winover Marlins. (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)