Spring Game 2: Nats-Marlins

Welcome, fans, to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. On Tuesday, March 26, the “Triple A Miami Marlins” took on the Washington Nationals at the Marlins’ last spring training home game and the Nats’ last full-squad spring training away game.   It was Dan Haren vs. Henderson Alvarez.  The Nationals fell to the Marlins 8-5.

OK, here’s your recap!!!!

Jupiter is about 20 minutes north of West Palm Beach on the east coast of Florida.  The Montreal Expos once shared Roger Dean Stadium with the Nats’  current rivals, the “St. Loser Cardinals.” It was beautiful weather– no clouds and a high of about 69.

Before the game started, shortstop Ian Desmond was stretching on the field. When he was practicing, my dad asked him why he wasn’t wearing his socks up (“Rally Socks”).  Ryan Zimmerman, who always wears his socks up for day games, was warming up next to him and my dad shouted “Zim’s got it!”  Desi saw my dad was wearing a Matt’s Bats t-shirt with the logo “@FakeFP” designed for me and then he said “Nice shirt. Where’s Matt?” My dad pointed to me and Ian started to talk to me. He asked me, “What are you writing about today?” I was embarrassed because I didn’t write anything that day! I was too rushed and I was on vacation!  But I said I would write a post about the game,which is this post.

Ian game over to all the fans lined up on the sidelines and started signing autographs for everyone.  That is why he is so great– he loves the fans.  When he came over to our section, my dad asked if he wanted a Matt’s Bats shirt too. We are going to send one t-shirt to him soon. I got his autograph on a ball right on the sweet spot.  (Even though I am a journalist I still like meeting the players and getting their autographs.  It’s OK because I am a super-fan and just a kid).

We were watching Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa stretch.  I was hoping they would see the Matt’s Bats shirt and come over too, but they didn’t.  Jayson Werth was there, and so was Denard Span, Adam LaRoche, Kurt Suzuki, Steve Lombardozzi and others.  The game was about to begin and an usher said “OK, everyone go back to their seats!”  Jayson Werth yelled back “No!  Everyone stay there!”  It was so funny.  Everyone laughed and I tweeted it from my dad’s phone when we sat down for the game.

One of the best things about spring training is that the games are not formal, and the stadiums are small and the players interact with you.  During the game, I walked over to the Nationals bullpen. We were sitting right in the middle of the bullpen, 4 rows back, so it was cool seeing the pitchers warm up. I walked over to the bench next to the berm, and I said hi to bullpen pitcher Ryan Mattheus. Mattheus follows me on Twitter and I write to him sometimes.  I gave him a fist bump and took a picture with him.  He asked me if I was going out to Opening Day next week. I am, alright! (Too bad the tix aren’t in out season ticket plan. We got upper deck tickets for Opening Day because it was too expensive to get seats for my whole family). Mattheus also liked the shirt, but my dad didn’t ask him if he wanted one. (Ryan, if you are reading this and you do want one, let me know and I can give you one)

Here are some game highlights:

  • Da-nah! Danah Danah Danah!’ (that is the music from Jaws).  When OF Roger Bernadina stepped up into the batter’s box in the 5th, I told my mom I hoped that a Great White found his dinner in a school of Marlins. I was right. Bernadina swung at the 3-2 delivery from Michael Dunn and crushed it next to the Cassidy Cool Zone out of the park. The place, surrounded by Nats fans, cheered for the shark. And then, I started the shark chomp thing but it didn’t catch on around the park.

  • Bryce Harper’s on fire! Entering the game, he hit in 7 out of 7 plate appearances. At the end of the game, he got on base 10 times in 10 plate appearances. Bryce went 2 for 2, with a walk in the 5th and 2 singles. I love seeing Bryce play because he inspires me to run faster and take longer strides, but he is showing the country that you can be any age to do almost anything. 

  • Tyler Clippard continues to have an amazing spring.  This spring, he’s got a 0.00 earned run average. Tyler is almost always good in tight matches like this game.  (My dad took my little brother to try to meet Tyler Clippard and get his autograph near where I met Ryan Mattheus, but he said he would sign after the game.  But I think he just went into the clubhouse and onto the bus after the game)

  • Last year, Ryan Zimmerman‘s arm was acting up. But he looks good now.  He had the signature submarine style throws and the bare hand pickup throw combined. It was Zim-O-Mania!

  • When I think of Carlos Maldonado, I think of a catcher on AAA Syracuse, not 1st base. Malonaldo played the other hot corner in the game, taking over Adam LaRoche and Chad Tracy’s job.

  • Another weird thing that happened was that Zach Duke almost pinch hit in the top of the 9th. But he didn’t get the chance because the game ended.

The Marlins might look bad on paper, but they played well yesterday.  Giancarlo Stanton hit 2 huge home runs yesterday off Dan Haren, while Chris Coghlan and Chris Vailaika each hit one too.

It was a good day, and I am going back to the Nats vs. Cardinals split-squad game back in Jupiter today.

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