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Early impressions of Harper sure are favorable

It's just been two games. Say it with me: It's just been two games. There's no reason to read too much into Bryce Harper's first eight major league plate appearances or his first 17 innings in the Nationals outfield. He'll have plenty more opportunities to show his stuff in the big leagues in the coming days/weeks/years and there are certainly no guarantees that he won't

Low run totals becoming a tired act

So apparently, Jayson Werth not playing in yesterday's game was less of a manager's decision and more of a migraine decision. Manager Davey Johnson told reporters in Los Angeles after yesterday's game that Werth was scratched from the Nationals' series finale against the Dodgers because he was suffering from a "severe migraine," which forced Johnson to insert Tyler Moore into the lineup just hours after

Gonzalez already setting Nationals records (Nats lose 2-0)

Gio Gonzalez has now made five starts in his Nationals career. In that brief time, he already has set a Nats team record. Including his three scoreless innings starting today's ballgame, Gonzalez has now thrown 23 straight scoreless frames, the most in team history. It breaks the previous record of 21 consecutive scoreless innings, shared by John Lannan (2008) and Drew Storen (2011). Over the

Werth a late scratch, Moore to make his major league debut (updated)

It turns out Tyler Moore will start today, after all. The Nationals have made a few late changes to their starting lineup: Jayson Werth has been scratched, and with the right fielder out, manager Davey Johnson has decided to move Xavier Nady from left field over to right and insert Moore into the starting lineup in left. Danny Espinosa, originally scheduled to hit sixth, will

Bryce Harper playing center field today

With the Nationals facing a left-hander today in the Dodgers' Chris Capuano, Rick Ankiel will get the day off and Bryce Harper will play center field. Harper played left field in his major league debut yesterday, and is likely to get the bulk of his playing time at the big league level (at least, for now) in left. Against lefties, however, manager Davey Johnson will

Tyler Moore coming to the majors, Mark DeRosa going to the DL (updated)

The Nationals will place first baseman/outfielder Mark DeRosa on the 15-day disabled list, and will recall first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore from Triple-A Syracuse. DeRosa's injury is not yet known. Moore will make his major league debut sometime in the near future after hitting .286 with a whopping seven home runs and 20 RBIs in 22 games this season for Syracuse. If you combine the 2010

Plenty to pull out of late-night thriller out west

I have a question, one raised by a buddy of mine late last night. How would have the sports world have reacted if Bryce Harper had hit a game-winning home run and responded as Matt Kemp did after his walk-off blast yesterday - extending his arm, tossing his bat, prancing towards home plate and chucking his helmet high in the air? I think Twitter and

Harper's in the hit column (Nats lose in 10 innings)

After starting his major league career by going 0-for-2, Bryce Harper found his way into the hit column. And he did it in style. Up with two outs in the seventh inning, Harper smoked a 3-2 belt-high fastball from Chad Billingsley to straight-away center field. The ball was hit so hard that, despite the fact it looked like it barely got more than 25-30 feet

Harper grounds out in his first at-bat (flies out in his second)

There would be no 500-foot home run, no legendary welcome-to-the-big-leagues moment which people will be talking about for decades to come. Bryce Harper's first major league at-bat ended in a slow ground ball back to Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley, who tossed to first to nab a sprinting Harper by a step. That's it. The kid's a bust. Get rid of him. Harper will smash many

Chien-Ming Wang strong in first rehab start

I can't blame anyone if Chien-Ming Wang isn't exactly the top Nationals player in on their mind tonight. But while Bryce Harper was getting set to debut at the major league level a couple hours ago, Wang was making his 2012 debut on the minor league level. Pitching for Single-A Potomac in his first rehab start since suffering a left hamstring injury March 15, Wang

With Harper, don't expect too much too soon

Bryce Harper, the 2010 No. 1 pick, will make his major league debut. Stephen Strasburg, the 2009 No. 1 pick, will be on the mound. Matt Kemp, who leads the universe in hitting with a .452 average and 10 home runs, will hit third for Los Angeles. The Nationals and Dodgers are both in first place in their respective divisions. Is this just about as

As promised, Harper hitting seventh in his debut

I'm not going to lie, it was a little strange typing Bryce Harper into the lineup that you see below. I'm still not used to the 19-year-old phenom being in the Nationals' batting order, and I'm probably not the only one. Harper will bat seventh and play left field in his major league debut tonight, and he'll take his hacks off Dodgers righty Chad Billingsley,

Ready or not, here he comes

Happy Harpmas. Is that what we're going with? Anyone got a better idea for a Bryce Harper-themed holiday name? This is certainly an exciting day in NatsTown, one which will see Stephen Strasburg on the mound and Harper in left field. It's a day Nationals fans (and many baseball fans everywhere) had been waiting for, although it comes a bit earlier than most of us

An uphill climb in L.A. (Nats lose 3-2)

Adam LaRoche is doing his best to keep the Nationals in this one, but they've still got some work to do. The Nats trail 3-2 as we go to seventh, thanks to a solid outing by Ross Detwiler and the one guy who has provided consistent offense for this team in 2012 - LaRoche. The first baseman's two-run homer in the sixth inning has gotten

Lidge to DL with abdominal injury, Perry recalled

Ryan Zimmerman isn't the only Nationals player heading to the disabled list. The Nats announced that they've placed right-handed pitcher Brad Lidge on the 15-day DL with an abdominal wall strain and recalled right-hander Ryan Perry from Triple-A Syracuse. Lidge, who has spent quite a bit of time on the disabled list over the course of his career, finds himself sidelined yet again. He battled

Lombardozzi hitting second, Espinosa hitting sixth

Before we dive even deeper into Bryce Harper cracking the Nationals lineup tomorrow, let's look at the Nats lineup today. There's an interesting twist to manager Davey Johnson's lineup against the Dodgers: He's dropped second baseman Danny Espinosa to sixth in the order and has Steve Lombardozzi playing third base and hitting in the No. 2 spot tonight. Johnson has said he likes slotting Espinosa

Bryce Harper to be activated, Ryan Zimmerman to the DL (updated)

The star of tomorrow will make his debut tomorrow. The Nationals have announced that Bryce Harper will be activated from Triple-A Syracuse and will replace third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 25-man roster. Zimmerman will be placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday. Harper, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, will make his major league debut at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. Speaking

Left field rotation not helping us forget about Morse

Of all the current Nationals who have faced Clayton Kershaw in their careers, guess who has recorded the highest batting average against the Dodgers left-hander? If you went with Craig Stammen, you are either a genius or your sarcastic sense of humor really backfired this time. Not surprisingly, most of the Nats who have faced Kershaw have struggled against him, but Stammen has actually gone

It was bound to happen

It's pretty simple, really: It's incredibly difficult to win at a consistent level when you score three or fewer runs a game. And in that regard, the Nationals have been pushing their luck so far. Through the season's first 19 games, the Nats' hitters have been spoiled. They've played 11 games in which they scored three or fewer runs and somehow found a way to

Before using brooms, Nats need their bats (Nats lose 2-1)

If the Nationals scored seven runs yesterday, does that mean they've used up their offensive allotment for the next three days? The Nats have managed just two hits tonight off Padres starter Edinson Volquez, and have yet to touch home plate as we go to the seventh inning. Wilson Ramos and Adam LaRoche are the only two Nationals hitters to have registered a tally in

Nationals begin spring training negotiations with Lee County

The Nationals have officially begun negotiations with Lee County and the city of Fort Myers that could lead to the team moving its spring training facility as early as 2014. According to reports out of Florida, representatives of the Nationals met with Lee County officials earlier today, and the two sides discussed what it would take to get the Nationals to relocate to the spring

Nats lineup in series finale against Padres (updated)

The Nationals have already locked up their sixth straight series win to start the 2012 season, but they'll look for their first sweep of three games or more when they take the field against the Padres tonight. Washington will face Padres right-hander Edinson Volquez, who has started the season with an 0-2 record and a 4.30 ERA. Chad Tracy will play third base tonight, as

Which player's start has been most impressive?

There have been plenty of positives for the Nationals through the season's first 18 games - the franchise-best start, the league-best ERA, the clutch hitting and the play of the Nats' bench to name just a few. Individually, there has been plenty to like, as well. A number of Nationals players have gotten off to hot starts and have helped lead the team to the

Runs aplenty within the Nats' organization

When Adam LaRoche crossed the plate with the Nationals' seventh run yesterday, those in the visiting dugout at Petco Park must not have known how to react. First of all, their seven runs scored matched their season high. Compared to the Nats' previous five wins (in which they scored a combined 12 runs), yesterday seemed like an absolute offensive explosion. Secondly, they'd actually gotten starter

Nats win fourth in a row, top Padres 7-2

Jordan Zimmermann allowed a run? Boy, this rotation is getting soft. The Nationals' scoreless innings streak from their starters ended at 26 tonight when Zimmermann allowed a run in the fifth inning, but that was about all the Padres could muster off Nats pitching today, with the exception of a tack-on run in the ninth. Backed by six strong innings from Zimmermann, the Nats beat

Zimmermann helps himself

If Jordan Zimmermann isn't going to get much run support from the eight guys above him in the order, he might as well get the job done himself. Zimmermann smacked an RBI single to center in the second inning, giving the Nationals a 2-0 lead over the Padres. The righty is actually a pretty good hitter, and now has six career RBIs. His base knock

Tracy hitting third, playing third base tonight

With Ryan Zimmerman still out because of a shoulder injury, Nationals manager Davey Johnson has Chad Tracy hitting third and playing third base today against the Padres. Hey, why not reward the guy for his massive two-run, pinch-hit single last night? Tracy's big hit yesterday snapped an 0-for-11 skid. He'll have a few chances to up his .200 average today against Padres righty Joe Wieland,

Zimmerman's absence will be tough to take

While it certainly hasn't been easy considering the lack of power in their lineup, the Nationals have been able to scratch and claw their way to wins without cleanup hitter Michael Morse, who is currently shut down with a strained lat muscle. They've made do without Drew Storen, who saved a whopping 43 games last season but is out until around the All-Star break because

Enjoying life atop the National League

How's it all look from up top, folks? Think you could get used to this view? After toiling toward the bottom of the league for the vast majority of their previous seven years of existence, the Nationals went to bed last night owners of the best record in the National League. Their 3-1 victory over the Padres yesterday coupled with the Dodgers' loss to the

Lots o' zeros (Nats win 3-1)

Nationals starters have now thrown 22 consecutive scoreless innings. Gio Gonzalez himself has tossed 20 straight scoreless frames. That's all well and good. Actually, it's more than that; it's pretty damn impressive. But at some point, the Nationals are going to have to score a run or two if they want to win this ballgame. The Nats and Padres are scoreless in the middle of

Ryan Zimmerman not in Nats lineup

The Nationals said over the weekend that they felt confident if Ryan Zimmerman rested Saturday, Sunday and Monday, he'd be ready to go come Tuesday's game against the Padres. Tuesday's game against the Padres is here, and Zimmerman is not in the lineup. Zimmerman has now had the benefit of three days of rest, but his inflamed right shoulder is apparently still an issue. The

Carroll outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse

Outfielder Brett Carroll, who was designated for assignment by the Nationals on April 14, has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse. Carroll, who had to clear waivers before he could be outrighted to the minors, has accepted the assignment. Nationals manager Davey Johnson was high on Carroll in spring training because of his versatility, but the journeyman outfielder saw limited playing time with

Flipping through some insane numbers

I've never been a fan of power rankings. I think they're silly and worthless, especially this early in the season. (Come on, Dan, tell us how you really feel.) But when I saw the Nationals ranked sixth on ESPN.com's power rankings yesterday, I had to crack a smile. This is a team that has the second-most wins in the majors, has won 10 of its

Chien-Ming Wang goes three innings at extended spring training

In his first game action since suffering a left hamstring injury March 15, Chien-Ming Wang threw three innings today at extended spring training. Facing the Tigers' extended spring training club, Wang allowed one run and five hits with no walks and three strikeouts over his three frames of work. He threw 51 pitches, 37 for strikes. This is the latest step in Wang's recovery from

Some minor matters

Things are going pretty well at the major league level for the Nationals, and within the organization, there's a lot of positive stuff going on at the minor league ranks, as well. Bryce Harper hit his first home run at Triple-A Syracuse yesterday, crushing a 3-1 pitch from Buffalo's Jeurys Familia out to right. It took 16 games and 61 at-bats for Harper to finally

Clubhouse Cliff Notes

Another Monday, another edition of Clubhouse Cliff Notes. As you might've noticed, there were a lot more wins than losses for the Nationals this week, so most of the chatter in the clubhouse was of an upbeat nature. Here you'll find some of the more interesting, humorous or insightful things said this week. As always, I've tried to keep this entry fresh by going with

Rainy day news and notes on Zimmerman, Strasburg

There are both positives and negatives that can be taken out of this afternoon's rained-out series finale between the Nationals and Marlins. First, the pluses. Ryan Zimmerman was scheduled to get today off to give his inflamed right shoulder a chance to rest. Now, he'll get that break without needing to miss an additional game. The rainout means Zimmerman will go into Tuesday's series opener

Marlins-Nationals series finale postponed due to rain (updated)

The highly anticipated matchup of Gio Gonzalez and Josh Johnson will have to wait for another day. The final game of a three-game set between the Marlins and Nationals has been postponed due to inclement weather. No makeup date has yet been announced, but it will definitely not be tomorrow, as the Nats are flying out to West Coast for their six-game road trip. This

The wins just keep on coming

Now that we've gotten all of the negative stuff from this afternoon's game out of the way, let's talk about the positive. The Nationals keep winning. Even when they don't have their most consistent and clutch hitter (Ryan Zimmerman) in the lineup. Even when the guy who leads the team in RBIs by a mile and a half (Adam LaRoche) has a day off. Even

Despite another blown save, Johnson committed to Lidge

Brad Lidge has blown two of his four save opportunities so far this season. Henry Rodriguez, meanwhile, has closed out all four games in which he's gotten the ball in a save situation. Don't read too much into those early results, however. Manager Davey Johnson said after today's game - which the Nationals won in 10 innings after Lidge lost a two-run lead in the

Zimmerman on shoulder injury: "It's nothing"

Given the injury luck that the Nationals have had so far this season, some might have feared the worst when they heard Ryan Zimmerman was scratched from this afternoon's starting lineup just prior to first pitch. But according to both Zimmerman and manager Davey Johnson, the right shoulder inflammation that Zimmerman is suffering is minor, and shouldn't keep him out for an extended period of

Two-run lead disappears in the ninth (Nats walk off with 3-2 win)

Brad Lidge entered the game with a two-run lead and needing three outs to lock down the Nationals' second straight shutout of the Marlins. He couldn't deliver. Lidge got up on leadoff hitter Hanley Ramirez 0-2, then tossed four straight balls to put Ramirez on first and bring the tying run to the plate. Then, two pitches into Lidge's battle with Logan Morrison, the game

Strasburg, Sanchez dueling in D.C. (Nats lead 2-0)

We've got a good old fashioned pitcher's duel here at Nationals Park, as Stephen Strasburg and Anibal Sanchez are matching zeros. Through five innings of play, Strasburg has allowed just three hits and has struck out five Marlins hitters. He's thrown 71 pitches, 43 for strikes, and has overpowered Miami's lineup with a fastball that's topped out at 98 mph and a curveball which has

Ryan Zimmerman a late scratch from today's game (updated with diagnosis)

Ryan Zimmerman was written into today's lineup. He was scheduled to hit third and play third base. He was introduced with the Nats' starters to the crowd here at Nationals Park. But Zimmerman wasn't the guy standing at third when Stephen Strasburg threw his first pitch of today's game. Zimmerman has been scratched from today's game, with Mark DeRosa taking over at third base and

Johnson talks attendance, hot start, plans to rest Zimmerman

Davey Johnson brought his sense of humor to today's pregame press conference. Asked why he thinks Edwin Jackson's been traded so many times in his career (the total is now at six), Johnson took the comical approach with his response. "I don't know; why have I been fired so many times?" he said. A few minutes later, Johnson mentioned that he doesn't normally view left-handers

Tracy gets the start at first base

As promised, Chad Tracy is in the Nationals lineup for this afternoon's game against the Marlins. And he's hitting cleanup. Raise your hand if you ever thought you'd see a Nationals lineup that had Chad Tracy in the four-hole. Tracy spells another left-handed first baseman, Adam LaRoche, who will get his first day off of the season. Here are your Nationals and Marlins lineups as

Detwiler making his case to stick in Nats' rotation

It's long been assumed that when Chien-Ming Wang returns from his hamstring injury, the fifth spot in the Nationals' rotation is his, and Ross Detwiler will move to the bullpen. Wang is a proven veteran who twice has won 19 games in a season, and the Nationals loved what they saw from the 32-year-old this spring prior to the injury he suffered during a Grapefruit

Johnson on Ankiel: "He won it for us"

Davey Johnson pretty much summed up Rick Ankiel's impact on today's 2-0 Nationals win in one simple sentence. "He was basically our offense and our defense," the Nats' skipper said. Ankiel did it all tonight, hitting his first home run of the season, scoring both of the Nationals' runs, showing fantastic aggressiveness and intelligence on the basepaths, tracking down balls in the gap and letting

Ankiel delivers in Nats' 2-0 win over Miami

What a day for Rick Ankiel. Oh, and the Nationals' pitching staff fared pretty nicely, as well. Ankiel had a home run, single and double, and scored both of the Nats' runs tonight in a 2-0 win over the Marlins. The veteran center fielder went 3-for-3, while the rest of the Nationals' hitters combined to go 1-for-25. Ankiel's solo homer gave the Nats a 1-0

A surprisingly quick hook for Detwiler (Nationals clinging to 1-0 lead)

Ross Detwiler's day is done after six strong innings of work. In his third start of the season, Detwiler held the Marlins scoreless over his six frames, allowing just three hits and a walk. He struck out seven, tying a career high, and needed just 79 pitches to get through the sixth. He leaves with a 1-0 lead and Craig Stammen coming out of the

Ankiel smacks a homer, scares a runner

The Nationals' first baserunner of the night was only on the bases for a few seconds. Rick Ankiel's solo home run to deep center has given the Nats a 1-0 lead as we go to the fourth inning. Ankiel got a 2-0 sinker from Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano and crushed it over the centerfield wall for his first longball of the season. Ankiel has also

Werth downplays hip issue, Nady looking to break out

While manager Davey Johnson pulled Jayson Werth from yesterday's game after six innings because of a minor hip injury, Werth insists he's fine. The Nationals right fielder told me today that he felt a little something in the hip a handful of days ago, but feels OK now. Werth, who is hitting .327 this season, says the injury is a non-issue going forward. Mark DeRosa

DeRosa to see less time in outfield

With Michael Morse out of the lineup, Davey Johnson hasn't been happy with how he's used his outfielders this season. Against right-handers, Johnson's gone with a rotation of Xavier Nady, Mark DeRosa and Roger Bernadina in left field. But that's going to change. Johnson said today that DeRosa is going to see less time in the outfield as he looks to develop more consistency in

Friday's Marlins-Nationals lineups

Pretty standard lineup for Davey Johnson's Nationals today, with the only change to the normal starting eight position players being Jesus Flores getting the nod behind the plate in Wilson Ramos' stead. Jayson Werth is in today's lineup after being pulled from yesterday's game after six innings. Werth has been dealing with a mild hip injury. The Nats will look to tee off against Carlos

Momma said there'd be days like this

After opening their homestand by going 6-1, I guess you could say a game like last night's was inevitable. There are only so many comebacks, only so many times when the Nationals could pull some eighth inning magic and send the fans home happy. "Can't win every game," Ryan Zimmerman said. On top of that, you can't get seven or eight shutout innings from your

Werth battling hip injury, Gorzelanny ineffective in Nats' loss

Jayson Werth has been dealing with a hip injury lately, and with the Nationals trailing by six runs late in the game on a cool night, manager Davey Johnson opted to pull Werth entering the seventh inning. Werth, who was replaced in right field by Mark DeRosa, declined to speak to reporters after the game, but his injury is not thought to be serious. Davey

Nats throttled by Houston 11-4

Two monster innings doomed the Nationals tonight. They were almost able to overcome the first. They had no chance of overcoming the second. The Astros put up five runs in both the first and sixth innings tonight, and cruised to an 11-4 win over the Nats, spoiling Washington's shot at a four-game sweep. Nationals starter Edwin Jackson allowed five runs over five innings of work,

It's a ballgame again (now it's not)

For the last two weeks, Ryan Zimmerman's been talking about how he feels like he's swinging the bat well, but just isn't getting the results. He got some results in the third inning tonight. Facing Astros starter Bud Norris, Zimmerman got the Nationals right back in tonight's ballgame, ripping a three-run homer to deep left field. It's the first home run of the season for

Astros triple up on Jackson

Five days ago, Edwin Jackson tossed a complete-game gem, allowing one run on two hits with nine strikeouts. Yeah, things haven't gone quite that smoothly so far this outing. Jackson got lit up in the first inning tonight, allowing six straight hits and five runs. Remarkably, three of Houston's six hits were triples, marking the first time in Astros history they've recorded three triples in

Rizzo on Harper's slow start, development in center

When Bryce Harper was demoted to minor league camp back in spring training, he joked that it was probably for the best. Harper's rationale was that had he made the Nationals out of spring, when - not if - he started slow, people would've been all over him. The basis for that wisecrack was that Harper has struggled early on at literally every new level

Johnson talks Desmond's day off, Lombardozzi's role, outfield rotation

In his pregame session with reporters, Davey Johnson was asked what he thinks of Steve Lombardozzi's defensive play at shortstop. "He's adequate. I've had a lot worse out there," Johnson said. Quite a ringing endorsement for the guy who will be Johnson's starting shortstop tonight. Ian Desmond gets a breather tonight, as Lombardozzi will hit leadoff and play short. The last time Lombardozzi started a

Desmond gets a day off, Lombardozzi to hit leadoff

Ian Desmond has gotten off to a nice start this season, hitting .300 with a homer, four RBIs and a .333 on-base percentage. Tonight, the Nationals' starting shortstop will get his first day off of the 2012 campaign. Steve Lombardozzi will play shortstop and hit leadoff for Davey Johnson's Nats tonight as they look for the sweep against Bud Norris and the Astros. If they

Battling against bullpens, Nats finding success in late innings

At least Jordan Zimmermann isn't the only National League East pitcher to get ridiculously poor run support. How about Philadelphia's Cliff Lee, who threw 10 scoreless innings against the Giants last night (10!) only to get matched pitch for pitch by Matt Cain and then see Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo give up the game-winning run one out into the 11th? That's brutal. And I could

Astros triple up on Jackson

Five days ago, Edwin Jackson tossed a complete-game gem, allowing one run on two hits with nine strikeouts. Yeah, things haven't gone quite that smoothly so far this outing. Jackson got lit up in the first inning tonight, allowing six straight hits and five runs. Remarkably, three of Houston's six hits were triples, marking the first time in Astros history they've recorded three triples in

Wrapping up the Nats' 3-2 win over Houston

Jordan Zimmermann was asked after tonight's game whether all this winning has given the Nationals a new attitude in their clubhouse. "Yeah, it's Natitude," he responded, cracking a smile. Here we go with the Natitude stuff. The Nationals needed to make two separate comebacks in tonight's game. They trailed 1-0 entering the bottom of the seventh before Roger Bernadina's RBI double tied the game, and

No win for Zimmermann, but another "W" for Washington

I feel like I could copy and paste any recent blog about Jordan Zimmermann not getting run support into this space and pass it off as my latest entry. But I wouldn't dare do that to you. Well, maybe I would if I was a little more tired and wanted to get out of the press box quicker. The story keeps repeating itself: Zimmermann turns

A brand new ballgame (Nats win 3-2)

We're all knotted up 1-1 as we head to the top of the eighth, after Roger Bernadina smacked an opposite-field, two-out double in the bottom of the eighth, plating Rick Ankiel. Finally, some offense. It was just the Nationals' fourth hit of the ballgame, but it did the trick. Jordan Zimmermann is now off the hook, and while he still won't leave Nats Park with

Still no support for Zimmermann; Lannan bounces back

Jordan Zimmermann has allowed one run through six innings. Is it possible for the offense to put two runs on the board and get this guy a win? Zimmermann has been sharp tonight in cool conditions, giving up just four hits and needing only 78 pitches to get through his six frames. But yet again, he's getting no offensive support, and trails 1-0 as we

McCatty talks about Lannan's struggles at Triple-A

The tarp has been pulled off the field, the drizzle here at Nationals Park has stopped, and we're set to start tonight's game on time. As for what will happen later on, well, we'll have to hope for the best. Since being optioned to the minors and subsequently requesting a trade, John Lannan has really struggled. In two starts for Triple-A Syracuse since his surprising

Wang throws successful simulated game; Lidge battling vertigo

Chien-Ming Wang faced hitters today for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury during a spring training outing on March 15, and the reports on Wang out of the Nationals' complex in Viera, Fl. were positive. Wang threw 35 pitches today, and manager Davey Johnson said the veteran right-hander threw well and came out feeling healthy. "Really good, hard sink," Johnson said. "Had a

An unlikely duo: Ryan Mattheus and Katy Perry

When it comes to picking a walk-out song, most major league relievers select something intense, something that will get their adrenaline flowing and pump them up as they jog out to the mound. Longtime Padres closer Trevor Hoffman used AC/DC's "Hells Bells" as his walk-out music. Mariano Rivera is famous for his use of Metallica's "Enter Sandman". Ryan Mattheus goes a different route. A very

Can they keep this up?

Teams aren't supposed to win games when they score three runs or fewer. Teams aren't supposed to be cruising along when they have a collective slugging percentage of .348 or be in first place when their five top outfielders have combined to drive in nine runs in 12 games. Yet, here the Nationals are. Two weeks into the season, Washington owns a 9-3 record and

Final notes from the clubhouse after the Nats' 1-0 win

Things got a little tight in the ninth inning of tonight's game when Brad Lidge, in trying to protect a 1-0 lead, allowed a leadoff double to Jed Lowrie, then walked J.D. Martinez on four pitches. For a time there, it looked like tonight might be the second time in five days that Lidge was going to blow a game for Gio Gonzalez after the

Another gem from Gio

Gio Gonzalez was representing the D.C. sports scene after tonight's dominant outing, sporting a Caps throwback t-shirt. The guy must love the nation's capital, huh? After tonight's outing, Gonzalez has now thrown 14 scoreless frames in his two starts at Nats Park this season, and he earned his first win as a National by holding the Astros to just two hits and two walks on

Another tight one, another Nationals win

It's a good thing the Nationals' starters keep turning in gems, because they're not getting a ton of offensive support. Tonight, Gio Gonzalez got just enough help, and the Nationals rode their left-handed starter and bullpen to a tight 1-0 win over the Astros. Gonzalez has his second straight fantastic outing, going seven innings of scoreless ball, allowing just two hits and two walks. He

Nats lead as we cruise through six (Gonzalez done after seven strong)

The No. 1 rule of being on a baseball beat is to never talk about how quickly a game is moving. So I won't. I'll just say that Gio Gonzalez and Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez have been incredibly efficient through five and a half innings of play, and those of us in the press box thank them for it. Gonzalez has been cruising right along

Jackson's surprise gift brightens up the clubhouse

Edwin Jackson's usually a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of guy. But today especially, his smile lit up the Nationals' clubhouse. Jackson got a surprise today when manager Davey Johnson called for Jackson to come into his office. The Nats skipper didn't want to talk about the hurler's latest outing or anything on-field related, but instead, he had a gift waiting for Jackson. Johnson picked up a

Today's Nats, Astros lineups

As promised, both Mark DeRosa and Xavier Nady are in manager Davey Johnson's lineup today, as the Nationals will load up with right-handed hitters against Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez. Interestingly, DeRosa is in right today with Nady in left. This will be DeRosa's first action in right field this season. Wilson Ramos also gets a day off today, as Jesus Flores is behind the plate

Ankiel's arm could play a major factor

The word was already out prior to last night. But if by some chance you didn't know, now you know: Rick Ankiel has a rocket for an arm. Ankiel's laser of a throw from center field to the plate last night was a cool moment. It allowed the 16,245 in attendance at Nationals Park a chance to stand and applaud the work of the Nats

More on the offensive and defensive stars of Monday's game

As I continue to recover from the ridiculous allergy attack I suffered in the press box during last night's game - bar none the worst allergy experience of my life - I wanted to pass along some more notes from the Nationals' 6-4 win over the Astros. Steve Lombardozzi was the star of the show last night, and as Byron Kerr wrote, Lombardozzi said he'll

Strasburg talks improved curveball, tipping pitches after Nats' win

Stephen Strasburg thinks the Astros knew what was coming tonight. Even if they did, Houston still couldn't do much to slow Strasburg down. In Strasburg's six innings tonight, Astros hitters managed to score just two runs on six hits. The Nationals righty walked only one batter and struck out five, but when he came off the mound in the sixth inning, he told manager Davey

Have yourself a ballgame, Steve Lombardozzi (Nats win 6-3)

Entering tonight's game, Steve Lombardozzi had eight career major league hits. The Nationals second baseman is already 4-for-4 tonight, and his two-out, two-run single in the sixth gave Washington the lead just a half-inning after the Astros scored twice on Stephen Strasburg to tie the game. Ryan Zimmerman followed Lombardozzi's hit with a two-run base-knock of his own, and the Nationals now have a 6-2

Strasburg filthy, Ramos homers (updated)

I mean filthy in a good way. Stephen Strasburg has been in a zone through the first five innings of tonight's game, allowing three hits and striking out four Astros. Three of the four strikeouts have been by way of the curveball, which has been especially nasty tonight. Strasburg is getting great bite on the curve, and is buckling Astros hitters' knees with his offspeed

Chien-Ming Wang to face hitters Wednesday

The news on Chien-Ming Wang continues to be positive. Wang, who is down at the Nationals' complex in Viera, Fla., rehabbing his strained left hamstring, will throw a simulated game tomorrow. This will be his first time throwing to hitters since suffering the hamstring injury March 15 in a spring training start against the Yankees. The Nationals will continue to take things very slow with

Espinosa getting a "mental break" day (plus tonight's lineups)

For the most part, Davey Johnson's lineups have been pretty consistent over the first 10 games of the season. Today, the Nationals lineup has a bit of a new look. Danny Espinosa will get the day off today, as Johnson wants to get his second baseman a "mental break" day. Steve Lombardozzi will start at second and hit second tonight against the Astros. Espinosa is

Scuffling at the plate, Zimmerman still excels at the hot corner

OK, so Ryan Zimmerman is hitting just .179 (7-for-39) with two RBIs through the first 10 games of the season. But even though the Nationals third baseman isn't getting balls to fall in, he's still bringing his A-game on the defensive side. "If I'm not getting any hits, I'll just take hits away," Zimmerman said yesterday. "That's the plan." The plan was executed to perfection

Clubhouse Cliff Notes

It's Monday morning, which means it's time for another edition of Clubhouse Cliff Notes. In this entry, you'll find a few of the most interesting/funny/insightful things spoken in the Nationals clubhouse over the last week. Again, I might re-use a quote that you've seen in one of my previous entries, but I'll do my best to keep this stuff fresh with new material. Here we

Clippard battling minor shoulder discomfort

Davey Johnson revealed after today's game that All-Star reliever Tyler Clippard is battling some shoulder discomfort, although it wasn't enough to keep him out of today's game. Clippard and Johnson both say that the discomfort didn't affect the righty's performance today (Clippard allowed three runs in the 11th inning) and isn't anything major. Instead, they say, this is something that 27-year-old experiences every season around

Questionable calls leave Detwiler at a loss

Here's Ross Detwiler on the umpiring in today's game: "I'm not going to make any comment on the umpiring." Later, Detwiler was asked if he thought he had struck out Ryan Ludwick on a 1-2 pitch in the first inning, two pitches prior to Ludwick hitting a grand slam that gave the Reds a 4-0 lead. The Nationals lefty cracked a wry smile but didn't

Johnson talks umpiring, situational hitting in Nats' 8-5 loss

The first question Nationals manager Davey Johnson was asked in his press conference following today's 8-5 extra-inning loss to the Reds was about the umpiring. That's how much a couple first-inning calls that didn't go the Nats way affected the course of this game. It started with a close play at first in which Adam LaRoche appeared to touch first base only to hear first

Nats finally fall in extras

In two of this series first three games, the Nationals went to extra innings with the Reds and were able to scratch across the game-winning run. Not today. The Nationals battled back from an early 5-0 deficit to force extras, but the Reds scored three times off reliever Tyler Clippard in the 11th inning and held on for an 8-5 win. Joey Votto's two-run double

We're all tied up (and we're going to extras, again)

Despite some truly poor situational hitting, the Nationals have battled all the way back from a 5-0 deficit and have tied this game 5-5 as we head to the eighth inning. Ian Desmond's third hit of the day knotted things in the seventh, plating Rick Ankiel with two outs. Ankiel had reached on a leadoff double. Back playing in his second game after starting the

Bad breaks cost Detwiler in lengthy first inning (Nats back in it)

The way I see it, Ross Detwiler recorded five outs in the first inning. Unfortunately, a couple close calls that didn't go Detwiler's way now leave him, and the Nationals, in a four-run hole. Detwiler gave up four runs in the top of the first on Ryan Ludwick's second career grand slam, but the Nats lefty probably feels like he should've been off the mound

Today's lineups plus a few fun facts

With a win today, the Nationals would record their first four-game home sweep since their arrival in Washington in 2005. Is it possible for that note to both surprise me and not surprise me in the slightest? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, with yesterday's win, Edwin Jackson became the first player in modern baseball history (since 1901) to record at least one win in

On Nationals staff, competition is king

Five days ago, Ross Detwiler went five shutout innings. The next day, Stephen Strasburg threw six shutout frames. Gio Gonzalez followed with seven scoreless innings. Jordan Zimmermann then tossed seven innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 13-inning win. Then yesterday, Edwin Jackson threw a complete game, allowing just one run. If it seems like the Nationals' starters are actively trying to one-up each other

A new side to Edwin Jackson

Edwin Jackson had thrown a complete game before. He'd actually thrown four of them, including a no-hitter. But never had he been nearly this pitch-efficient when going a full nine innings. Jackson finished today's outing having thrown just 92 pitches in his nine frames of one-run ball, a far cry from his 149-pitch no-hitter back in 2010. Known for elevated pitch counts and having to

Jackson closes out complete game in style

When pitching coach Steve McCatty went out to talk to talk to Edwin Jackson after the Nationals righty had issued a four-pitch leadoff walk in the eighth inning, the conversation was pretty cut and dried. As McCatty puts it, it was like a scene out of the movie "Full Metal Jacket." "I went and asked him, 'How are you doing?' " McCatty said. "He says,

Jackson the latest Nats starter to dominate (Nats win 4-1)

Given the workload that the Nationals' bullpen had to handle last night, the team needed Edwin Jackson to step up and work deep into today's game. Jackson's done just that. The hard-throwing righty has worked seven incredibly impressive innings, allowing just a single run on two hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Jackson has now retired 16 straight hitters and shockingly has needed just

LaRoche gives Nats lead over Reds

In his 43 games played last season, Adam LaRoche had 15 RBIs. This season, in nine games, LaRoche already has 10 runs batted in. The Nationals first baseman added to his team-high RBI totals with a two-run double in the bottom of the third inning, giving Washington a 3-1 lead. LaRoche is now hitting .324 on the season and has exactly one-third of the Nationals'

Johnson: Nationals' infield best defensive unit I've been around

Davey Johnson has been in baseball more than 50 years. He's played with some of the best, and managed some exceptional players and teams, as well. And of all the infields the Nationals' 69-year-old manager has seen in his time in professional baseball, he says the best defensive unit he's even been around is the one he's writing onto lineup cards this season. "I've never

Nats' lineup has Ankiel in center, hitting seventh

Rick Ankiel will make his 2012 debut this afternoon against the Reds after missing the first eight games of the season due to a left quad injury. The 32-year-old will bat seventh today and play center field after hitting .400 with three home runs during his rehab assignment. Ankiel said the quad is feeling good and he's ready to get back out and rejoin his

Even more from another walk-off win

The last six outs Craig Stammen have recorded go down in the scorebook as such: strikeout swinging, strikeout swinging, strikeout swinging, strikeout swinging, strikeout swinging, strikeout swinging. "I kind of messed up," manager Davey Johnson said last night. "I should have brought in Stammen earlier because he seems to make things happen when he comes in." Stammen has been absolutely filthy in his last two

Nationals' Jayson gets it done on Friday the 13th

When Jayson Werth saw the sharp ground ball get through the infield, allowing the game-winning run to touch home, he tossed his bat aside, left the arm extended for a second and casually trotted down to first base. After 13 innings of minimal hits and missed offensive opportunities, was that the look of relief? "That was let's go home," Werth said. "Didn't want to go

Johnson talks after Nationals' 2-1 win in 13 innings

Before we get to the fun stuff from another walk-off win, there's a roster move to pass along. The Nationals designated infielder Brett Carroll for assignment after the game, making room for Rick Ankiel on the 25-man roster. Ankiel will be activated from the disabled list and play tomorrow against the Reds. When manager Davey Johnson sat down for his postgame press conference, he let

And we keep on playing (Werth wins it in the 13th)

We're going to the 12th here at Nationals Park, as the Nats and Reds are still locked in a 1-1 tie. The two teams have combined for just the two runs and nine hits through 11. The Reds have failed to score since the fifth, and haven't recorded a hit the last six innings, either. The Nats, on the other hand, are now 0-for-7 with

Can Zimmermann get a little help, please? (we're heading to extras)

The Nationals' hitters have to feel terrible for Jordan Zimmermann. Time and again, the guy goes out and pitches his butt off, and time and again, he doesn't get any run support. Zimmermann has left tonight's ballgame after yet another stellar outing, and leaves on the hook for yet another tough-luck loss. The righty went seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits with

The streak is over

The Nationals entered tonight's game with their starting pitchers having thrown 19 consecutive scoreless innings. That streak reached 23 before coming to an end tonight in the fifth inning. The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the fifth after Jordan Zimmermann allowed a double to Willie Harris (remember him?) leading off the inning, and then Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo drove Harris home with a sac

Forget the slow starts, LaRoche is in a zone

What's the difference between the 2012 Adam LaRoche and the Adam LaRoche that we've seen around this time in previous seasons? "He isn't struggling," manager Davey Johnson deadpanned. Well, yeah. There's that. LaRoche, typically a slow starter, has opened this season on a tear, hitting .345 with two homers and eight RBIs. He's tied for sixth in the majors in both homers and RBIs, at

Ankiel to return tomorrow, serve as primary center fielder

Rick Ankiel has rejoined the Nationals after a week-long rehab assignment as he works back from a lingering quad injury, and the veteran center fielder is set to come off the DL and enter the Nats lineup tomorrow. Manager Davey Johnson said that Ankiel took part in a team workout this afternoon and "looks good to go." "He's in great shape," Johnson said. "He had

Today's Reds-Nationals lineups

Manager Davey Johnson's lineup for tonight's game against the Reds has Mark DeRosa back in left field, hitting sixth. Jordan Zimmermann takes the hill, hoping for his first win of 2012. Here are the lineups for both teams: Reds CF Drew Subbs SS Wilson Valdez 1B Joey Votto 3B Scott Rolen RF Jay Bruce LF Ryan Ludwig 2B Willie Harris C Ryan Hanigan P Bronson

Runners on base, but not runners crossing the plate

As a team, the Nationals have 61 hits through the season's first week, a total which is fourth-best in the majors. Ian Desmond is hitting .406 out of the leadoff spot, Danny Espinosa has a .367 on-base percentage out of the two-hole and the Nats are giving themselves plenty of chances to drive in runs. They're just missing out on opportunities to do so in

For starters, Nats' rotation dominating

A lot has changed for the Nationals this season. They have a new sense of optimism, five legitimate quality starting pitchers and a deep back end of the bullpen with a number of power arms. But not everything's changed. Teddy Roosevelt still can't win a race. Those hoping the 2012 home opener would serve as Teddy's first ever win were left disappointed yesterday, when Tom

Late-inning roller coaster ends with Nats on top

The message from multiple guys in the Nationals' clubhouse after today's 3-2 extra-inning win over the Reds was the same: It's too bad we couldn't finish this one off for Gio. Gio Gonzalez pitched seven exceptional innings in his debut at Nationals Park, allowing just two hits and no runs, but even though the Nationals held a 2-0 lead entering the ninth inning, they were

Instinct led Zimmerman on decisive dash

Ryan Zimmerman didn't see the outstretched right palm of Roger Bernadina at home plate, the hitter's signal that he should hold at third. Zimmerman was focused on the ball skittering away from Reds rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco and knew that it had bounced far enough from home plate to allow him to score the winning run in the Nationals' 10-inning 3-2 victory in their home

Lidge blows ninth-inning lead (Nats walk off with 3-2 win in 10th)

So much for all the headlines about Gio Gonzalez leading the Nationals to a win in his home debut. Gonzalez won't get a victory in the Nats' home opener despite throwing seven shutout innings, and we've got a tie game here heading to the bottom of the ninth. The Reds tied this game 2-2 in the top-half of the ninth after Ryan Ludwick's single to

LaRoche just keeps on hitting (Gonzalez keeps on dealing)

The emergence of Adam LaRoche as a legitimate power hitter in the middle of the Nationals lineup - and a healthy one, at that - was one of the biggest stories we took from the Nats' opening road trip. Now that the Nats are back at home, LaRoche has no plans of slowing down. Up with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth,

Gonzalez, Latos trading zeros

The Nationals and Reds have combined for just three hits through four innings of play this afternoon, as starters Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos have looked sharp early in the Nats' home opener. Gonzalez has allowed only two Reds runners to reach base - one on a Jay Bruce double and the other on an error committed by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. The Nats left-hander,

Plan for Harper not affected by Morse injury, plus Storen update

The news that Michael Morse will be shut down for the next six weeks because of a re-aggravated strained lat might lead some to wonder whether the Nationals will adjust their plan for top prospect Bryce Harper. The answer from general manager Mike Rizzo, not surprisingly, is a resounding no. "No. It does not," Rizzo said. "We've got a plan for (Harper), and when he's

Morse in "total shutdown mode" for six weeks

Michael Morse's latest setback in his rehab from a strained lat will land him on the shelf until at least mid-May. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said today that Morse, who re-aggravated his lat injury while on a rehab appearance with low Single-A Hagerstown on Monday, will be in "total shutdown mode" for the next six weeks, and will be evaluated after that. "We tried

Zimmerman says seventh home opener offers "a little more hope"

Ryan Zimmerman is no stranger to home openers. Today is his seventh, yet none of them has dawned with the immense expectations for success that this afternoon's game against the Reds brings. Still, the Nationals third baseman doesn't seem to think this opener is any different than the others he's experienced. "No," Zimmerman said in the Washington clubhouse Thursday morning. No? Not even a little

Nats lineup for home opener

The Nationals open their home schedule today against the Reds. Adam LaRoche will hit cleanup for the Nats. Nationals lineup: SS Ian Desmond 2B Danny Espinosa 3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B Adam LaRoche RF Jayson Werth LF Xavier Nady CF Roger Bernadina C Wilson Ramos P Gio Gonzalez

Strasburg talks about his first win of 2012

FLUSHING, N.Y. - How did Stephen Strasburg react to the Nationals' decision to let him throw a career-high 108 pitches and finish off the sixth inning of today's game despite having the go-ahead runner on base? Is that a real question? He welcomed the heck out of it. Stephen Strasburg talks about going six innings in the Nats' 4-0 win "I just want to be

Storen has surgery to remove bone fragment in elbow

FLUSHING, N.Y. - Nationals closer Drew Storen had surgery to remove a small bone fragment from his elbow today, according to an industry source. The procedure was not considered major, and Storen is expected to return sometime during the middle of the season, likely before the All-Star break. Storen battled elbow issues in spring training, and was shut down when he started feeling tightness in

The reins are starting to come off Strasburg

FLUSHING, N.Y. - For the first time in his professional career, Stephen Strasburg topped the 100-pitch mark today. To the bulk of the baseball world, that's a fairly major storyline. The Nationals, for the first time, really took the reins off their workhorse, their No. 1 starter, and let him throw 108 pitches over six innings in a 4-0 win over the Mets. Strasburg has

Nats beat Mets 4-0, win second straight road series

FLUSHING, N.Y. - The Nationals will head back to D.C. for their home opener possessing two series wins. Washington beat the Mets 4-0 this afternoon, giving them their second straight road series victory and a 4-2 record as they return to the nation's capital. Stephen Strasburg outdueled Johan Santana in an early season battle of the aces, as Strasburg went six shutout innings, allowing just

A long day for Strasburg, in a good way

FLUSHING, N.Y. - The Nationals have gotten very little done at the plate today, but Stephen Strasburg is doing plenty to distract from Washington's poor offensive showing. Strasburg went deeper into a game today, in terms of pitches, than he has at any point in his professional career. The righty has been pulled from today's game after going six shutout innings, having allowed two hits

Strasburg starts slow, settles into groove

FLUSHING, N.Y. - In his first inning of work today, Stephen Strasburg threw 26 pitches, only 10 of which were for strikes. He allowed a single to Ruben Tejada leading off the game, walked the Mets' No. 2 hitter, Daniel Murphy, on four pitches and tossed a wild pitch, allowing both runners to move up a station. But much like Ross Detwiler last night, after

Morse's test results sent to Dr. Andrews (plus Nats lineup)

FLUSHING, N.Y. - Nationals closer Drew Storen went to see Dr. James Andrews yesterday to get his inflamed right elbow checked out. Looking at Michael Morse's strained lat will be next on Dr. Andrews' to-do list. Morse won't actually make a trip to see Dr. Andrews for now, but the Nationals have sent the renowned orthopedist Morse's test results and are awaiting Dr. Andrews' opinion

After a slow start, Werth sees postitive results

FLUSHING, N.Y. - In the midst of an early-season skid, Jayson Werth sat down for a conversation with bench coach Randy Knorr in the Nationals clubhouse Monday night. Werth, who entered yesterday's game 1-for-14 on the season with seven strikeouts, felt like he was happy with his swing, but was starting to get frustrated with the results, or lack thereof. It was during that talk

Deconstructing Detwiler's stellar debut

FLUSHING, N.Y. - Exactly a week to the day prior to his win over the Mets on Tuesday night, Ross Detwiler was informed he had made the Nationals' rotation. Detwiler, who previously was under the impression he'd be used as a reliever this season, was walking off the mound at Nats Park after having just thrown an inning in an exhibition against the Red Sox

Johnson reflects on Nats' 6-2 win

FLUSHING, N.Y. - It all went right for Davey Johnson's bunch today. The Nationals led 1-0 after the first batter of the game, thanks to Ian Desmond's leadoff home run. They got an outstanding pitching performance from Ross Detwiler, making his first start of 2012. And they got five tack-on runs in the middle innings, allowing them to roll to a 6-2 win over the

Nats lead Mets late (Final score: 6-2)

FLUSHING, N.Y. - The Nationals have opened up a four-run lead on the Mets after pushing across three runs in the top of the sixth. The damage started when Ryan Zimmerman led off the inning with a double and was driven in by Jayson Werth's RBI single to right. That was Werth's first RBI base hit of the season. (He had an RBI walk on

Detwiler dominant early in debut

FLUSHING, N.Y. - If the Nationals can get this type of effort out of their fifth starter every time, they'll be a happy bunch. Ross Detwiler has thrown four sparkling scoreless innings so far tonight, holding the Mets to just two hits and striking out six. Ruben Tejada doubled to lead off the game and Ronny Cedeno followed with a single to left, but since

Nats playing it careful with Espinosa, plus Ankiel update

FLUSHING, N.Y. - Danny Espinosa did, in fact, undergo a concussion test after yesterday's ballgame, but the Nationals' second baseman checked out OK after taking an elbow to the head in the ninth inning last night. "I'm 100 percent fine," Espinosa said. The concussion test consisted of various balance exercises and is designed to check for nausea or other symptoms of a brain injury. Espinosa

Michael Morse suffers another setback

FLUSHING, N.Y. - The bad news on the injury front just keeps coming. Yet again, Michael Morse has suffered a setback in his strained lat, and the Nationals' left fielder has been shut down for the time being. Scheduled to play a full nine innings yesterday at low-A Hagerstown as part of the next step in his rehab, Morse was pulled in the seventh inning

Espinosa gets a day off after getting elbowed in head

FLUSHING, N.Y. - A day after getting elbowed in the head while covering first base, Danny Espinosa is not in manager Davey Johnson's starting lineup against the Mets. Asked how he was feeling after last night's game, Espinosa insisted he was OK, and he only had some dizziness for a few seconds after catching a Ruben Tejada elbow on the side of the head. It

A mid-afternoon stat or two

FLUSHING, N.Y. - The New York Mets currently have the best record in the major leagues at 4-0. Let's just take a second and let that all sink in. I know, I didn't see it coming, either. Tonight's starter for the Mets, Dillon Gee, won 13 games for New York last year in just his first full season in the big leagues. He's had good

Some of this, some of that

FLUSHING, N.Y. - The Nationals just can't catch a break on the injury front. As reported by my colleague Byron Kerr, Hagerstown Suns outfielder Brian Goodwin, the 34th overall pick in last year's draft, had to leave yesterday's game with an apparent upper right leg injury after pulling up lame while running out an infield single. Goodwin is expected to be re-evaluated today. The 21-year-old

Breaking down where it all broke down

FLUSHING, N.Y. - Danny Espinosa caught an elbow to the head when he tried to retrieve Henry Rodriguez's throw to first in the ninth inning, but the Nationals second baseman says he'll be fine. Espinosa felt a little dizzy immediately after Ruben Tejada collided with him and briefly talked things over with a trainer on the field following the play, but remained in the game.

Johnson talks missed opportunities after Nats' 4-3 loss

FLUSHING, N.Y. - When you simplify the Nationals' 4-3 loss to the Mets tonight, the reason for the outcome was simple: The Mets made the fundamental plays late in the game, and the Nationals didn't. Manager Davey Johnson saw it all unfold in the final two innings. In the top of the ninth, with the game tied 3-3, the Nats got the leadoff man on

Battle of the bullpens (Mets walk off with 4-3 win)

FLUSHING, N.Y. - Both Edwin Jackson and Mike Pelfrey are out of this game, and with the score tied 3-3 in the middle of the seventh, the Nationals and Mets will leave the outcome of tonight's game up to their bullpens. Jackson went five innings in his Nationals debut, allowing three earned runs on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. The outing was

Nats brought their bats to New York (updated)

FLUSHING, N.Y. - Apparently all it took was a change of scenery for the Nationals to start hitting early in ballgames. The Nats have gotten out to a 3-1 lead over the Mets after three innings here at Citi Field, and they already have seven hits off New York starter Mike Pelfrey. Hey, even Jayson Werth has his first base hit of the 2012 season

Morse, Ankiel closing in on returns; Wang progressing

FLUSHING, N.Y. - While the news on Drew Storen's rehab from elbow tightness certainly isn't good, things appear to be improving for three other Nationals currently on the disabled list. Michael Morse will play nine innings for low Single-A Hagerstown tonight, and if all goes well, he's scheduled to get a full nine innings in again tomorrow. The Nats power-hitting left fielder, who has been

Storen to see Dr. Andrews after feeling more elbow tenderness

FLUSHING, N.Y. - Drew Storen will be examined by renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews tomorrow after the Nationals closer felt some tenderness in his right elbow following a simulated game yesterday. This is the second time that Storen has been shut down by elbow problems this spring, as the 24-year-old felt tightness in his throwing elbow midway through spring training. He's been on the comeback

Tonight's Nationals-Mets lineups

FLUSHING, N.Y. - Wilson Ramos will get his first day off of the season, as manager Davey Johnson has written Jesus Flores into his lineup today. Flores will catch Edwin Jackson in the righty's first start with the Nationals. Jackson will oppose the 3-0 (yeah, who would've thunk it?) Mets. Here are your lineups for tonight's game: Nationals SS Ian Desmond 2B Danny Espinosa 3B

Runs early in games still hard to come by

NEW YORK - Hello from Queens, where it's a breezy but warm 58 degrees. We've been incredibly lucky with the weather so far this season, in two cities where warmth and sunshine is not always found in early April. And I just jinxed it. For whatever reason, the first the first seven innings of all three games in Chicago were not kind to the Nationals.

Clubhouse Cliff Notes

CHICAGO - Before I take off on my super-early flight from the Windy City to the City That Never Sleeps, I wanted to kick off a feature that I hope to post every Monday morning during the season called Clubhouse Cliff Notes. Since it would be both impossible and completely unnecessary to post every single quote I get from players in my pregame, in-game and

Zimmermann's debut a strong one, Lannan's not so much

CHICAGO - Here's the line that John Lannan put up during his brief debut for Triple-A Syracuse against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this evening: Two innings, five earned runs, six hits, two walks and one strikeout. Not a great start to the year, and not exactly the type of performance you want to turn in when you're trying to improve your trade value. Jordan Zimmermann, however, delivered a

Werth not concerned with slow start

CHICAGO - All spring, we heard Jayson Werth talk about how confident he was feeling at the plate. We heard manager Davey Johnson say he was seeing a major difference in Werth this year, not only during Grapefruit League games, but even during batting practice. Through the season's first three regular season games, the results just haven't been there for the Nationals right fielder. And

Nats stymied by Samardzija, hurt by late insurance runs

CHICAGO - Jeff Samardzija pumped his fastball in at up to 98 mph, located a hard, biting slider on the corners and mixed in some quality changeups down in the zone. Making just his sixth career start, the Cubs righty had Nationals hitters guessing all afternoon, and allowed just one run until Adam LaRoche's two-run home run in the ninth inning made it a 4-3

No comeback, no sweep: Nats fall to Cubs 4-3

CHICAGO - The whole dramatic late-inning comeback stuff was great while it lasted. But the Nationals will need to score more runs, and do so early in games, if they're going to compete this season. Adam LaRoche did his best to get the Nats their third straight come-from-behind win with a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth, but Carlos Marmol closed it out for the

Samardzija outdueling Zimmermann early on (updated twice)

CHICAGO - Jordan Zimmermann has been great through five innings of work. Jeff Samardzija has just been a little bit better. Samardzija, making just his sixth career start, has dominated the Nationals hitters today at Wrigley Field, retiring 15 straight since allowing a leadoff double to Ian Desmond to start the game. The Cubs' starter has struck out four and has been mowing the Nats

A handful of pregame notes

CHICAGO - Since he used somewhat of a mixture of his A and B bullpens yesterday, the relievers manager Davey Johnson will lean on today will mostly be the guys who didn't get work in the Nationals' 7-4 win on Saturday. Hello, Brad Lidge. Lefties Sean Burnett and Tom Gorzelanny could also be called on today, especially since Cubs manager Dale Sveum has written in

Rendon's injury is sprained ankle (updated)

CHICAGO - Just got word that 2011 first-round pick Anthony Rendon's injury has been diagnosed as a badly sprained left ankle. X-rays on Rendon's ankle were negative. The Nationals will need to wait until the swelling goes down in Rendon's ankle before they have an idea of how long the third baseman will be out. The team obviously won't like seeing Rendon in the trainer's

Nats lineup for series finale vs. Cubs (updated)

CHICAGO - Rick Ankiel went yard again yesterday for Double-A Harrisburg, giving him two homers in as many rehab games. He's now batting .429 in three contests for the Senators. Harrisburg center fielder Eury Perez went 3-for-6 yesterday to raise his season average to .400, but he was caught stealing and picked off first base. Easy, Eury. There were a couple strong pitching performances in

Yesterday an example of how good Nats' 'pen can be

CHICAGO - We know about what Tyler Clippard, Brad Lidge and Drew Storen can bring to the back end of the Nationals' bullpen, when healthy. But when you add in quality performances from guys like Craig Stammen, Ryan Mattheus and Henry Rodriguez, who all helped the Nationals secure a 7-4 comeback win yesterday over the Cubs, you start to see that this could be a

Rendon's injury is to his left leg

CHICAGO - There's not much new information to pass along just yet on Anthony Rendon, the Nationals' top pick in the 2011 draft who had to be helped off the field last night after suffering an injury during Single-A Potomac's game at Lynchburg. Rendon fell to the ground after slipping while making a turn around third base. The good news, if there is any, is

Gonzalez not disappointed with rocky Nats debut

CHICAGO - If you look at Gio Gonzalez's stat line from tonight and think that he left Wrigley Field disappointed with his performance, you'd be wrong. The Nationals starter actually says he was perfectly fine with his 3 2/3 innings, in which he allowed four runs on seven hits with three walks and six strikeouts. "It was exactly what I wanted," Gonzalez said. "I was

The wild ride continues for Tracy

CHICAGO - Around 2:50 p.m. Central time, Chad Tracy - he of the .235 batting average and one home run in Japan last year - was trending on Twitter. Not just in the Washington, D.C., area. Nationwide. Tracy's reaction to the fact that likely tens of thousands of people were sending out messages about him on the popular social media platform? "Oh really? That's good

Back on track, LaRoche delivers a monster performance

CHICAGO - After Thursday's game, in which Adam LaRoche went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts, his 9-year-old son Drake approached him with a question. "What were you doing?" Drake asked his father. All the Nationals' first baseman could do was laugh. "I said, 'Drake, you're exactly right,' " LaRoche said. LaRoche didn't know exactly why he struggled so badly in the Nationals' opening day win over

Another day, another comeback

CHICAGO - These dramatic comeback wins are nice and all, but have the Nationals thought about jumping out to an early lead and coasting to an easy win? Is that something that might be in the cards instead of these chaotic, nail-biting, hair-pulling finishes? "No, I think we kind of like this," Adam LaRoche said. "We perfected it at times last year. So just keep

Five-run eighth lifts Nats to thrilling 7-4 win

CHICAGO - If the Nationals keep this up, they're going to shorten their fans' lifespan by a few years. Not sure if anyone in the D.C. area would mind, however. On Thursday, the Nats came back from a run down in the late innings, tying the game in the eighth and taking the lead in the ninth. Today, yet again, the Nats put together an

Another deficit entering the eighth (and another comeback)

CHICAGO - For the second straight game, the Nationals have done very little at the plate through seven innings. And for the second straight game, the Nats will need to get the job done against the Cubs' bullpen in the late frames in order to come away with a win. Adam LaRoche's two-run homer in the fourth is all the Nats have been able to

LaRoche's blast puts Nats on top (but not for long)

CHICAGO - Adam LaRoche has given the Nationals a 2-1 lead here in the fourth inning with a two-run homer off the right-field foul pole. That's one way for LaRoche to put his stinker of an opening day behind him. The homer came on a 2-2 pitch from Cubs starter Matt Garza, who tried to blow a 95 mph fastball past LaRoche on the inner

Morse getting treatment in New York

CHICAGO - After homering yesterday while on his rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg, Nationals outfielder Michael Morse is heading up to New York today to get some treatment on his strained lat. Morse, who was scheduled to have today off, will meet with a specialist and receive treatment and some massage on his lat, according to manager Davey Johnson. Morse will rejoin the Senators tomorrow

Saturday's Nats-Cubs lineups

CHICAGO - Gio Gonzalez won't benefit from the same wind blowing in from center that Stephen Strasburg did on Thursday, as it's a much milder day here at Wrigley Field than it was opening day. They're calling for a high of 67 degrees here today, and while the breeze might pick up later on, the flags above the center field scoreboard are barely waving back

Gonzalez pumped for his Nationals debut

CHICAGO - After going hitless two days ago in their first rehab appearance of the season, both Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel homered last night for Double-A Harrisburg in the Senators' 5-2 win over Bowie. Minor league rehab assignment, major league power. Ankiel played center field yesterday for Harrisburg, while Morse served as the DH. Morse, who is recovering from a strained lat, will be

Lidge finds himself in a save situation yet again

CHICAGO - It wasn't like Brad Lidge hadn't been in this situation before: Standing on the mound in the ninth inning, trying to protect a one-run lead and secure a save. He'd been there plenty of times over the course of his now 11 seasons in the big leagues. It had just been a little while. Prior to yesterday, Lidge had only been in one

For LaRoche, an opening day to forget

CHICAGO - It wasn't the smoothest of opening days for Adam LaRoche. LaRoche came to the plate four times during yesterday's game against the Cubs, and the Nationals first baseman left Wrigley Field having started his season with a big, fat 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts - all swinging - and five runners left on base. "Those games suck," LaRoche said after the

Nats' bats slow to wake up

CHICAGO - I'm still not used to being in the Central time zone after living in the mid-Atlantic region my whole life. I wake up here and look at my phone, which says one time, then open my computer, which says another. Yesterday, I knew the game was a 2:20 p.m. start, but it didn't kick in that first pitch would actually be at 1:20

Nats happy to see Tracy deliver, for more reasons than one

CHICAGO - One final note from Wrigley before I head out and do some damage over at Geno's East, which I hear is a fantastic Chicago-style pizza place: Let's not overlook the work turned in by Chad Tracy today. Tracy, who sat around in the Nationals' dugout for seven innings trying to stay warm, delivered a clutch two-out double in the eighth inning that eventually

Notes and quotes on Desmond, Werth and Zimmerman

CHICAGO - Today's "Coolest Quote of the Day" goes to Stephen Strasburg, who was asked what was going through his mind in the final innings of today's game, when the Nationals were mounting their rally against the Cubs and then subsequently took the lead. "Watching from the dugout, you almost feel like you're in the box there with them," Strasburg said. "That says a lot

Strasburg breezes through first start in the Windy City

CHICAGO - See what I did there? Stephen Strasburg learned something today. But it wasn't anything relating to hitters' tendencies or specific pitch sequences that he should focus on in the future. The Nationals righty learned that Chicago can get a little breezy. "I knew it was called the Windy City but I didn't really think about it," Strasburg said. "I knew it was going

Not a bad way to start

CHICAGO - Was this really opening day? Are we sure, given the weather and the intensity in the late innings, that we didn't hop in a time machine and end up in October? (Insert your jokes about the Cubs having no shot at October.) (Cubs fans, insert your jokes about the Nationals not being able to joke about postseason appearances just yet.) This sure had

Late-inning magic gives Nationals 2-1 win

CHICAGO - The Nationals had one hit and failed to score a run through the first seven innings of today's ballgame. They then scratched across one run with two outs in the eighth to tie the game, and got the winning run with two outs in the ninth. Ian Desmond went 3-for-5, including the game-winning RBI single in the top of the ninth that plated

Strasburg stellar, but can he get some help? (He can)

CHICAGO - You'd like to think on days where Stephen Strasburg goes seven fantastic innings, allowing just one run, that his teammates would be able to scratch across a couple runs for him. That has not been the case today. Strasburg is in line for the loss this afternoon despite a stellar start to the regular season. The Nationals righty went seven innings, allowing a

Nats getting them on, but not driving them in (Cubs strike first)

CHICAGO - Twice today, Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth have come to the plate with two runners in scoring position. Twice today, LaRoche struck out swinging and Werth flew out to right to end the threat. The Nationals have left five runners on base through three innings this afternoon, and left 'em loaded in the third. Today, at least, the Nats haven't had issues with

Lidge to close today, plus other non-Lannan notes

CHICAGO - Yes, a baseball game will be played at Wrigley Field today. No, John Lannan will not be here for it. We've talked a ton about Lannan over these last three days, but there are other notes to pass along as we close in on first pitch. Manager Davey Johnson said today that Brad Lidge will be his closer today, but don't take that

Johnson on Lannan: "We're not trading him. We're keeping him"

CHICAGO - The Nationals understand John Lannan is angry and frustrated with being bumped out of the rotation and sent down to Triple-A Syracuse. They even appreciate the fact that he feels the way he does, because, as general manager Mike Rizzo says, "If he was any other way, I would wonder about him." But the fact that Lannan has requested a trade doesn't change

Your opening day Nats-Cubs lineups

CHICAGO - Hello, Wrigley. I'm all set up here in the press box high atop iconic Wrigley Field, and man, could there be a more perfect place for opening day 2012? (Other than Nationals Park, of course.) This is just a fantastic setting, and while it's a bit chilly here this morning, the sun is out in full force and it should get up to

Welcome to Nationals Pastime

CHICAGO - Happy opening day, everyone, and welcome to my brand spankin' new blog here on MASNsports.com - Nationals Pastime. Clever title, huh? Feel free to bookmark the link to my landing page, email it to your friends and tell your grandparents, cousins and annoying co-workers all about it. This is where you'll be able to find me from now on, although you can still

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