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Suzuki’s clutch hit another example of his importance to Nationals’ success

The amazing emergence of catcher Kurt Suzuki has been another example of how general manager Mike Rizzo finds a way to make the right choice in a time of need for the Nationals. With a major injury to starter Wilson Ramos, Rizzo was looking for a veteran backstop who could handle a young pitching staff. He focused on Suzuki, who had hit well in his

Can Harper get to 25 in the final week?

Can he get to 25 home runs? Of course, it is possible. The amazing rookie season of Bryce Harper continues into its final week of the regular season. With six games remaining before the postseason, Harper needs three homers to tie Tony Conigliaro’s 1964 rookie home run record as a teenager. In that season, Conigliaro hit .290 in 111 games with 24 homers and 52

For one night, Morse’s power returns and Clippard shuts them down

The Nationals certainly showed they are the better team after taking two of three against the Phillies, winning the series finale, 7-3. Some of the headlines include Gio Gonzalez winning his career-high 21st game and Bryce Harper hitting his 21st homer. But how about the two home runs from Michael Morse and four RBIs? The second home run was a mammoth shot, travelling 451 feet

Could Lannan replace Gorzelanny on postseason roster?

With the postseason beginning next Friday(!), the Nationals will have to make a decision on their pitching roster for the second season. Starters Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler are set. But an interesting alteration that might occur is the possible addition of left-hander John Lannan and right-hander Christian Garcia to the postseason roster. Lannan improved to 4-0 with a 4.23 ERA

Getting starters ready for the postseason: Where to begin?

The playoff picture in the National League is close to being set with four teams already assured of spots in the postseason. The Nationals, Reds, Giants and Braves have clinched berths, while the Cardinals are the second-closest wild card team with eight regular season games remaining. Manager Davey Johnson has said he is not going to speculate as to who his starters will be for

Perry and Garcia candidates to start in 2013

Manager Davey Johnson said Monday he would consider Christian Garcia as a starter next season. Going up to Garcia and saying this, Johnson said the right-hander responded, “I’m good with being in the bullpen.” “Of course you are,” Johnson laughed. “You are in the major leagues”. But Double-A Harrisburg pitching coach Paul Menhart, who worked with Garcia before he was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse, said

Zimmermann hitting stride again at right time for Nationals

With nine games remaining in the regular season, the Nationals would like nothing better than their starting rotation to get into a groove right before the postseason begins. No. 1 starter Gio Gonzalez continues to roll, earning win No. 20 Saturday in a 10-4 gem over the Brewers. Two days later, the No. 2 starter Jordan Zimmermann dispatched Milwaukee 12-2. On cue, Zimmermann went 6

Johnson: Nationals’ Garcia could be a starter next season

The Nationals have been so impressed with reliever Christian Garcia and his power arm that manager Davey Johnson said today they would consider converting the right-hander to a starter next season. Garcia complained of right biceps fatigue following Saturday’s win over the Brewers, in which he allowed a two-run shot in the ninth to the Brewers’ Taylor Green. Johnson said Garcia was on “cruise control”

Blinded by the light, Nationals outfielders must figure out how to block out the sun

It was an uneven defensive performance for the Nationals Sunday, as they committed two errors and lost two fly balls in the sun in a 6-2 loss to Milwaukee. Outfielders Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth each lost fly balls in the sun. The fly balls dropped to the ground in front of them for base hits. Harper said it was tough to see the ball

Nationals high on outfielder Destin Hood’s athleticism (update)

Outfielder Destin Hood fought through injuries and sickness this season in the minors. Battling through an injured wrist, Hood managed to come back and get on track by the end of the season. The Alabama native is now playing in the instructional league. Hood, a second-round selection in 2008, hit .242 in the minors for Double-A Harrisburg and a few rehab games at short-season Single-A

Jackson leads by example with eight solid innings

Edwin Jackson did not join the other four Nationals starters in double-digit wins Friday night. In a heartbreaking 4-2 loss to Milwaukee, Jackson’s no decision might have been literally lost in the shuffle. It should not be. Instead, it might be his biggest and most important no-decision of the season for the Nationals. Jackson went eight strong innings, allowing a solo homer to Jonathan Lucroy

Knorr believes Nationals’ team chemistry key component to postseason drive

Team chemistry in baseball can be an undervalued commodity. Take the Los Angeles Dodgers. They can pretty much put an All-Star lineup on the field every night. Players like Shane Victorino, Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez. You look down that Dodgers lineup and gasp. It is filled with on-base guys, home run hitters, powerful pitchers and battle-tested postseason players. But the one thing

Detwiler continues to build on his starts with playoffs ahead

Left-hander Ross Detwiler became the fourth Nationals pitcher to win at least 10 games this season, twirling six innings and allowing just one run in a 4-1 playoff-clinching win at Nationals Park. Detwiler did not allow a hit through three innings, allowed a solo homer to Mark Ellis in the fourth, but then only two other singles to improve to 10-6. At one point, he

Cole Kimball added to Arizona Fall League roster

The Nationals have confirmed that right-handed power reliever Cole Kimball has been added to their Arizona Fall League affiliate, the Salt River Rafters, which begins play October 9. Kimball appears on the active roster of the Rafters here. Kimball has fully recovered from right rotator cuff surgery, which ended his season in July 2011. This will be Kimball’s second tour in the Arizona Fall League,

This and that as Nationals pile up club records during magical season

When the Nationals defeated the Dodgers, 3-1, in Game 1 of their doubleheader, they reached a club record of 90 wins on the season with 14 games left in the regular season. The Nationals now have 45 wins at home and on the road this season. The 45 wins at home are a new club record, as they won 44 games at home in 2011.

Chien-Ming Wang settles in after wild pitch to go 2 1/3 innings

In his first appearance with the Nationals since June 30, right-hander Chien-Ming Wang fought back from a first offering wild pitch to go 2 1/3 innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday night in Game 2 of a doubleheader. The Nationals eventually lost the game 7-6. He had been active since September 4, when he returned from a lengthy rehab assignment at Double-A Harrisburg. Wang had

Johnson wants right-hander for Sunday; believes Zimmermann still throwing “very good”

Right-handers Craig Stammen and Chien-Ming Wang are the likely candidates to get a spot start on Sunday, according to manager Davey Johnson. Johnson does not want any of his regular starting rotation to have to come back on three days rest and prefers a right-hander against the Brewers’ power-hitting lineup. He has not made his selection yet, wanting to wait to see how his bullpen

Souza excels in full season, ready to make noise at instructional league

Right-hand hitting outfielder Steven Souza, Jr., took a big step forward in 2012, putting together a full season that displayed his power and skill on the baseball diamond. With a .290 average, 17 homers and 72 RBIs in 70 games at low Single-A Hagerstown, Souza earned a promotion back to high Single-A Potomac and kept on going. He finished the year with a combined .297

With rainout Tuesday, Johnson could turn to bullpen for spot start Sunday

With Tuesday’s opener against the Dodgers postponed until Wednesday, manager Davey Johnson will have to make an adjustment in his starting rotation later on in the week. According to Johnson, Wednesday’s starters will be Jordan Zimmermann for the 4:05 p.m. start and John Lannan for the second game. With no days off the rest of the regular season, that leaves an opening down the line

Daubach: Nationals’ Karns was the “best pitcher in our league”

Only two months into this minor league season, I heard rave reviews from a couple of well placed sources about the progress of right-hander Nathan Karns. Finally healthy, after recovering from shoulder surgery that forced him to miss the 2010 season, Karns rolled through the 2012 season and earned Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors. He made a quick jump from low Single-A Hagerstown

Daubach: Instructional league focused on fundamentals during first workouts

Instructional league workouts have begun for close to four dozen prospects in the Nationals organization. Low Single-A Hagerstown manager Brian Daubach is one of the 20 or so coaches that are working to get the players ready for their first game September 22. Daubach said instructional league workouts in Viera, Fla., are organized very similar to the way spring training is set up, with a

Second wild card team makes rush for playoffs intriguing for Nationals

Based on last year’s playoff format, the Atlanta Braves would be the only wild card team and the Nationals would know what to expect once October rolls around. Of course, the Nationals still need to maintain first place for that scenario to play out. The Nats will have 10 of their remaining 16 games at home after Sunday. Sunday is a big game, even if

Prospects Miller, Keyes and others work on new positions as instructional workouts commence

Instructional workouts begin today in Viera, Fla., with dozens of the Nationals prospects on hand to work on several aspects of their games. Players will work on refining their skills, glove work, plate organization and fielding techniques. Also, just like first baseman Tyler Moore getting his first chance to work in the outfield last season, some players will work out at different positions to add

Congrats, top seed - now hit the road

With the Nationals maintaining first place in the National League East and beginning a big division match-up tonight in Atlanta, the Nats have to feel good about having an 8 1/2-game lead over the Braves. Even if the Braves sweep the Nationals this weekend, the Nats will still have a 5 1/2-game lead. The wild card race has become very exciting with St. Louis and

Teaching Nationals’ Tyler Moore left field last season paying huge dividends now

This and that as the Nationals earned their 89th win of the season in a 2-0 win at New York against the Mets: • Pretty amazing to think Tyler Moore had played first base his entire career and had two games in left field at Triple-A Syracuse before being promoted to the Nationals. Now with Michael Morse laboring with a sprained wrist, Moore’s play in

Dickey: Nats have “the best lineup I have faced”

The Nationals got back on track in New York, winning another series, and beating a pitcher who had been unbeatable most of the season. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, lost for just fifth time in his last 29 starts, allowing a game-changing two-run homer to pinch-hitter Tyler Moore, and the Nationals went on to win 5-3. Dickey, who allowed only three runs in seven innings, said he

Nationals set instructional league roster and schedule

The Nationals have set their roster for instructional league competition, which will originate from their Viera, Fla., training facility, and begins this weekend. The report date is Sept. 14 with the first workout set for Sept. 15. The first game on the 14-game schedule is Sept. 22 on the road against the Mets. The last game is Oct. 10 against the Astros. As we first

When is power too much of a good thing?

After Monday’s three-homer offensive attack in a 5-1 win over the Mets, the Nationals have now hit 33 homers in their last 13 games and an incredible 27 homers in the month of September. That is 11 more than Milwaukee for best in the National League. The Nationals have 168 homers on the season, second only to the Brewers (177) in the National League, and

Nationals sending Skole and Barrett to Arizona Fall League

The Nationals have added third baseman Matt Skole and right-handed pitcher Aaron Barrett to their Arizona Fall League team, the Salt River Rafters, per a club source with knowledge of the situation. Skole and Barrett will still attend instructional league workouts, which begin September 15, in Viera, Fla., before they travel to Scottsdale, Ariz., for the AFL season. Skole was named the Nationals’ minor league

Despite Sunday loss, Nationals’ homestand one for the ages

The Nationals lost 8-0 to the Miami Marlins on Sunday, but the 11-game homestand was a rousing success and will be an example of another major step in their most memorable season to date. The Nats went 8-3, sweeping Chicago Cubs, getting three of four against the Cardinals and one from the Marlins. Starting Monday, the Nationals have a 5 1/2-game lead over the Braves.

Karns preparing to repeat this season’s success in 2013

Right-hander Nathan Karns is most thankful to be able to complete a full season with the Nationals organization. Karns missed 2010 because of shoulder surgery and half of the 2011 season rehabbing from the surgery. Karns, who was honored Friday as the minor league Pitcher of the Year within the organization, said being healthy this season will really important to advancement of his career. “To

Harper’s defensive play continues to progress

The Marlins challenged the arm of Bryce Harper late in the game and came up short. In the ninth inning, on a short fly out to mid-center field, Harper fired home to catcher Kurt Suzuki. Greg Dobbs slid right into Suzuki’s tag. Suzuki held the ball with two hands, one inside the glove, and blocked the plate with his right foot. The ball beat the

After short outing, Nationals “might” consider delaying Strasburg’s shutdown

Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg lasted three innings in a no-decision Friday against the Marlins, giving up five runs on two doubles and two home runs, matching the shortest outing of his career. The Marlins eventually outlasted the Nationals 9-7 in 10 innings. It was the third time in his career he pitched only three innings, and the second time this season, equaling the three innings

Top 100 prospect list features three Nationals in Meyer, Goodwin and Rendon

Nationals prospects Anthony Rendon, Brian Goodwin and Alex Meyer all were promoted this season, and with good reason. All three have top-of-the-line talent and have excelled at each level they have played this season. MLB.com recognized the trio in its latest Top 100 list. Prospect expert Jonathan Mayo had Rendon at No. 37, Meyer at No. 57 and Goodwin No. 75. Mayo said of Rendon:

Minor leaguers Skole and Karns honored at Nationals Park

The Nationals’ Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year were honored and picked up their awards during a pregame ceremony at Nationals Park before Friday’s series opener against the Miami Marlins. Third baseman Matt Skole, a 2011 fifth-round selection out of Georgia Tech, was the Nationals’ Minor League Player of the Year. His power numbers were jaw-dropping - he had 27 homers and 92

Benches empty, Nationals’ resolve is strengthened

My thoughts from Thursday’s two benches-clearing incidents against the Chicago Cubs in a game the Nationals won 9-2: * Nationals third base coach Bo Porter is not one to be messed with. The dude calmly walked over to the Cubs dugout, where there were close to three dozen enemy personnel and told bench coach Jamie Quirk in no uncertain terms to (all my guesses, of

Zimmermann “stayed more on line” in dispatching reeling Cubs

Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann gave up three extra-base hits in the first two innings Thursday against the Chicago Cubs. After that, it was almost smooth sailing in a 9-2 Nationals sweep of the Cubs. The first big hit was the home run by Anthony Rizzo off a fastball in the first. But Zimmermann was able to settle in later, striking out three straight hitters following Darwin

Nats now have three starters with 10 + wins following J. Zimmermann

Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann is attempting to join teammates Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg with double figure wins if he can down the Chicago Cubs Thursday night. Gonzalez picked up his 18th win Wednesday with a 9-1 win over the Cubs. Strasburg takes his 15 wins into his final home start Friday against the Marlins, facing Jacob Turner, who comes in with a 6.55 ERA. Lefty

Gio on target again as talented southpaw reaches 18 wins

With left-hander Gio Gonzalez on the mound, it appeared it would be difficult for the light-hitting Chicago Cubs offense to generate much in the way of runs. Or even hits. Gonzalez was on target Wednesday, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and finishing with seven shutout innings, on three hits, no walks and striking out nine. The Nationals allowed only four hits in the

Davey excited to see both Nationals and Orioles play so well

It is the rarest of moments in the baseball lore for the D.C. and Maryland surrounding areas to have the Orioles and the Nationals both in first place at the same time. It is happening right now. Manager Davey Johnson, who used to be a player and manager for the Orioles, has noticed how well the team to the north has done this season and

Hitting catching up with pitching, helping Nationals win again

Starting pitching carried the Nationals for most of the first half of the season, but if this team is going to go far in the postseason, the offense will have to also carry a heavy load. On Tuesday, they looked like they could carry that burden with ease. The Nationals tied a team record with six homers in one game, two from Adam LaRoche, and

In his 15th baseball season, and first time with Nationals, Slowes calls a winner

He has been the voice of the Nationals since their inception. His calls of “Bang! Zoom!” and “another curly W is in the books!” have become catch phrases every Nationals fan yearns to hear when their favorite team is on the airwaves. But something happened this year that has never happened in the 19-plus years Charlie Slowes has called professional baseball. Following Monday’s win over

Johnson: Lannan will get relief “tuneup” before returning to rotation

The plan for the Nationals moving forward after September 12 is starting to take shape. On Sunday, manager Davey Johnson announced that Stephen Strasburg would have two more starts. During the season, many believed left-hander John Lannan would take Strasburg’s place in the rotation once Strasburg was shut down. Tuesday, Johnson talked about the schedule for Lannan and when his first start will be since

82 wins are nice, but there’s still work to do

The Nationals were certainly pleased to win 2-1 over the Chicago Cubs on Monday. And getting to 82 victories for the first time since arriving in D.C., and guaranteeing a winning season, is a nice milestone. But there are no banners waving or confetti falling from the ceiling. No balloons or noise makers. C’mon, 82 wins! Celebration time, right? Not quite. Veteran first baseman Adam

Garcia confident he can make an impact

Right-handed power arm Christian Garcia is the ultimate example of resiliency. The 6-foot-5, 215 lb. reliever has endured a pair of Tommy John surgeries and has fought all the way back to have an amazing season in the Nationals’ system. Garcia allowed only five earned runs in 45 games between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse. He allowed just two earned runs with the Chiefs. He

Davey Johnson confirms meeting with Strasburg on shutdown date

Manager Davey Johnson confirmed that he, general manager Mike Rizzo and pitching coach Steve McCatty met with Stephen Strasburg about shutting the right-hander down for the season. “We were able to have a nice little conversation,. He hates McCatty more than before the meeting, and me and Rizzo,” Johnson said with a laugh. “It is not secret that Stras is an intense competitor. He wants

Strasburg won’t get shut down without a “fight ... to the end”

It is not what Stephen Strasburg wanted to hear, but it appears the decision has been made. Fresh off an outstanding bounceback performance, where Strasburg subdued the world champion St. Louis Cardinals for six innings, manager Davey Johnson announced postgame how many games Strasburg would pitch the rest of the season. “I think two starts, unless I let him pitch 10 (innings) in the next

Bryce Harper leans on Werth to improve his outfield defense

A lot has been made of rookie center fielder Bryce Harper’s offense since the All-Star break, and how he had been struggling with off-speed pitches down in the zone. But recently, Harper has had four consecutive multi-hit games. In his last five games, he has nine hits, three homers and eight RBIs. His average has been raised to .256, after hitting .222 in July and

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