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Nats at a bit of a loss when trying to explain rocky start

ATLANTA - The Nationals know they're a talented team. They know they're better than what their 13-14 record indicates. So why is their play slacking? Why the 0-5 record against the Braves? What can't this team do that needs to be done right now? "I feel like we can, we're just not," said Ian Desmond, who went around to a number of players after the

Johnson discusses another loss to Braves

ATLANTA - For the fifth time this season, Davey Johnson met with reporters following a loss to the Braves. "Do we have to talk about this one?" Johnson said with a smirk on his face. Had the Nationals not just finished the month of April with a disappointing 13-14 record, Johnson might've been in full-blown smile mode when making that comment. Knowing how long the

An incredibly bizarre outing for Gio Gonzalez (Nats lose 8-1)

ATLANTA - This is one of the more bizarre outings I've seen turned in by a starting pitcher in some time. Gio Gonzalez has struck out nine batters through four innings. His stuff has been good, his velocity is there and his pitches have plenty life. Outside of the strikeout numbers, however, everything else has gone wrong for Gonzalez. The Nationals left-hander has allowed five

McCatty defends Strasburg; talks mechanics, unrealistic expectations

ATLANTA - Stephen Strasburg hasn't been pitching at a Cy Young level thus far this season. But he also hasn't pitched poorly. The latter point is one that Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty wants to emphasize. McCatty passionately defended Strasburg this afternoon, saying that the expectations that media members and fans have placed on Strasburg have reached unfair levels, with it getting to the point

Strasburg given a clean bill of health, Werth hoping to play tomorrow

ATLANTA - Davey Johnson expressed concern last night after hearing that Stephen Strasburg had been dealing with some tightness in his forearm during his outing in the Nationals' 3-2 loss to the Braves. Today, the Nationals feel confident that all is well with their ace right-hander. General manager Mike Rizzo said that Strasburg has some irritation on his forearm, but reiterated that the Nats expect

Rizzo: Strasburg expected to make next start

ATLANTA - Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo alleviated some concerns about Stephen Strasburg's arm today. Via text message, Rizzo said Strasburg is doing fine and is expected to make his next start. Doctors gave good reports on Strasburg's arm after the right-hander experienced forearm tightness during his start Monday. This news confirms an earlier Washington Post report.

A handful of pregame notes and quotes (Werth out of Nats lineup)

ATLANTA - The Nationals are 11-1 when scoring first this season. That's pretty good. When their opponents score first, the Nats have gone just 2-12. That's not as good. In their 13 losses this season, the Nats have scored a measly 1.5 runs per game. In their 13 wins, they've put up a more robust 5.8 runs per contest. The lesson here: If you score

Looking deeper into Strasburg's outing

ATLANTA - And so we wait. The Nationals didn't provide much firm information last night on the status of Stephen Strasburg, who manager Davey Johnson said was dealing with some forearm tightness following his start against the Braves. They'll need to monitor Strasburg this afternoon and in the days ahead before really knowing where things stand and how to handle any health issues involving the

Postgame notes on Werth's health, LaRoche's knock, another Braves win

ATLANTA - Stephen Strasburg isn't the only one to have some health concerns coming out of tonight's game. Jayson Werth dealt with hamstring cramps tonight, an issue that worsened as the game went on. He told manager Davey Johnson before an eighth inning at-bat that if he reached base, he'd need to have a pinch-runner take over. During the at-bat, Werth fouled a ball off

Johnson: Strasburg battling forearm tightness

ATLANTA - The Nationals lost to the Braves 3-2 tonight, but that result took a backseat after the game when manager Davey Johnson said that Stephen Strasburg was dealing with some forearm tightness. Strasburg went six innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits with four walks and eight strikeouts. He struggled with his fastball command throughout the game but managed to limit the damage.

What to make of this Strasburg outing? (Nats lose 3-2)

ATLANTA - Stephen Strasburg's stat line will show that he allowed just two earned runs over six innings against the Braves tonight. It'll go down as a quality start. It's hard to believe Strasburg will consider this outing of much quality, though. The Nationals right-hander allowed six hits and four walks tonight. He put the leadoff hitter on in five of his six innings pitched.

LaRoche snaps his skid, both teams make blunders on the bases (Strasburg struggling)

ATLANTA - Adam LaRoche's hitless streak is over. And you have to wonder how much of that is due to Chipper Jones. LaRoche snapped an 0-for-26 skid with a single to left in the second inning tonight. This comes just hours after LaRoche sat down and studied tape with his good buddy and former Braves star Chipper Jones. The Nationals first baseman's leadoff single started

Johnson talks plans for Ramos and a strategy for Strasburg

ATLANTA - With Wilson Ramos getting activated from the disabled list today and Kurt Suzuki having gotten a heavy workload recently, it wouldn't have been unreasonable to expect Ramos to get the start tonight against the Braves. Instead, it's Suzuki behind the plate again. Nationals manager Davey Johnson explained his decision to sit Ramos, saying he's taking a better-safe-than-sorry approach with his catcher after his

Adam LaRoche getting hitting tips from ... Chipper Jones?

ATLANTA - It was a strange sight, really. A pretty cool sight, but a strange one. There was Chipper Jones in the visiting clubhouse here at Turner Field, the park that he called home for 19 years, dishing out hugs and chatting with Nationals players. There Jones was, the former Brave and future Hall of Famer talking shop with his good buddy and former teammate

Ramos activated, Suzuki behind the plate again (with lineups)

ATLANTA - The Nationals have activated Wilson Ramos from the 15-day disabled list, but Ramos is not in today's lineup against the Braves. Kurt Suzuki will start again behind the plate, marking the 15th time in a 16-game span that Suzuki has gotten the nod. He's played every inning of those 15 games. Ramos was sidelined the last 15 days with a left hamstring strain.

Nats head to Atlanta in search of some revenge

I'm off to Atlanta, ready for some quality National League East baseball and a city that doesn't have a ridiculous pollen count. I forgot to take my allergy pill yesterday and probably ripped off 150 sneezes in a 12-hour span. My apologies to everyone near me in the press box. When the Nationals last saw the Braves back at Nationals Park a little over two

LaRoche determined to claw his way out of deep slump

Following this afternoon's 5-2 loss to the Reds, in which Adam LaRoche went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, making him 0-for-his-last-26, a frustrated LaRoche was asked how he feels at the plate right now. "Probably about as good as it looks," he said. Yeah, LaRoche is upset at himself for how he's been playing lately. He has 13 strikeouts in his last eight games and doesn't

Johnson recaps Nats' 5-2 loss

This afternoon's game officially lasted three hours, 27 minutes. It sure felt a good bit longer than that. The Reds beat the Nationals 5-2 today, salvaging the final game of this four-game series and avoiding a sweep at the hands of their hosts. It wasn't a pretty ballgame to say the least, especially from the Nationals' side. Ross Detwiler allowed 11 hits and four runs

A much different picture in the series finale (Nats lose 5-2)

A lot went right for the Nationals over the last three days. They pitched incredibly well, allowing just four runs and 11 hits in that three-game span. They brought the bats, scoring 15 runs after putting up just four through their previous four contests. They played sound defense, for the most part. All three of those games resulted in wins. Today, it's been a different

LaRoche dropped to sixth in Nats' order

Mired in an 0-for-22 slump, Adam LaRoche has been dropped to sixth in the Nationals' batting order. In an attempt to get his first baseman going, manager Davey Johnson has bumped LaRoche down a spot in the lineup and moved Ian Desmond up to the five-hole. This is the first time LaRoche has hit as low as sixth in the order since April 11 of

The one-year anniversary of a special beginning

A year ago today, Bryce Harper threw on a Nationals jersey for the first time. The then-19-year-old started his big league career by going 1-for-3 with a rocket of a double, tossing his helmet to the Dodger Stadium dirt as he made a violent turn around first base and sprinted for second. Since his highly-anticipated debut, Harper has played 162 games. His numbers look more

Hearing from Haren, Span and more

Dan Haren put up his best start as a National this afternoon, allowing just two runs over six innings in the Nationals' 6-3 win over the Reds. With his patented brutally honest perspective, however, Haren couldn't help but take a jab at himself when discussing his outing with reporters after the game. "It sucks it's taken so long to have a good outing, but I

Johnson discusses Nats' 6-3 win

Over his first four outings this season, Dan Haren had failed to record an out in the sixth and had surrendered 32 hits and four walks over 18 1/3 mediocre innings. This afternoon, Haren turned things around, holding the dangerous Reds at bay. The veteran righty allowed two runs on six hits over six strong innings, walking none and striking out five. "That was more

A quality start for Haren (Nats win third in a row)

Five outings into his Nationals tenure, Dan Haren has his first quality start. After a rough start to the season, Haren bounced back with a nice outing today against a high-powered Reds lineup. Haren went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He walked none and struck out five, throwing 88 pitches, 56 for strikes. With Haren's pitch count still fairly low, manager Davey

Haren looking sharp, helping his own cause (Harper into Nats record books)

So far, so good this afternoon for Dan Haren. Haren has faced the minimum through three scoreless innings today, striking out three. He's thrown just 35 pitches thus far, and came out of the gates attacking, firing first-pitch strikes to five of the first six hitters he faced. Manager Davey Johnson has said he'd like to see Haren worry less about velocity and more about

Johnson talks Espinosa, Haren and Zimmerman

Danny Espinosa has hit sixth or seventh in the Nationals lineup every game that he's played this season. Not this afternoon. Espinosa will bat second against the Reds today. Manager Davey Johnson has Anthony Rendon back in the lineup playing third base today, and Johnson would rather have Espinosa in the table-setting No. 2 spot than Rendon, who is appearing in just his fifth big

Starting to see more from the starters (Rendon in lineup)

The Nationals are starting to play better ball, and the Braves are starting to come back down to earth. Atlanta got whooped by the Tigers 10-0 last night, with Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez striking out 17 Braves hitters in eight innings of work. After the game, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was so frustrated with his team that this was the entirety of his press conference:

Zimmermann discusses another complete-game win

How good was Jordan Zimmermann tonight? He was facing a Reds team that had scored the second-most runs in the National League coming into the game, and he held them scoreless. Six of his nine innings lasted just 10 or fewer pitches. He faced 30 batters and threw just 32 balls. You can do the math. That's impressive stuff. "I felt great. This is the

Johnson: "Since I've been here, that's the best-pitched game I've seen"

Tonight was Davey Johnson's 268th game as manager of the Nationals. In his mind, the previous 267 starting pitching performances simply don't compare to the one put together by Jordan Zimmermann tonight in a 1-0 win over the Reds. "Since I've been here, that's the best-pitched game I've seen," Johnson said. "Low pitch count, really went after 'em. Never had any qualms at all about

Zimmermann on cruise control (Zimmermann delivers a shutout in 1-0 win)

There have been 13 Reds hitters that have stepped to the plate tonight. One has reached base. Twelve have gone back and had a seat in the dugout. Jordan Zimmermann is dealing here at Nationals Park tonight. The right-hander has faced just one over the minimum through four innings, with a single by Xavier Paul in the top of the third accounting for the lone

Bernadina off the schneid, plus the latest on Ramos and Zimmerman

Craig Robinson, the actor probably best known for his role as Darryl from "The Office," is here at Nats Park today to throw out the first pitch. Call me when Dwight Schrute shows up in a mustard-colored short-sleeve button-down to do the same. When Roger Bernadina delivered a pinch-hit single in the eighth inning last night, he finally broke his way into the hit column

Reading into the handling of Rendon

Davey Johnson is walking around with some pep in his step today. Part of that is because his team snapped a four-game losing skid last night, and did so in dominating fashion. Another part of it is that Johnson learned that former Dodgers and Cardinals GM Branch Rickey - a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and famously known for being the guy to

Rendon out of Nats lineup for second straight day

The Nationals are sticking with the lineup that was so effective last night, the one that put up eight runs on 12 hits. Can't really blame them for that. The one guy left on the outside looking in, however, is Anthony Rendon, the Nats' top prospect, who was called up to the majors on Sunday to make his big league debut. The Nationals' initial idea

For a night, it all comes together

Coming into this season, what type of team did you envision the 2013 Washington Nationals being? You probably didn't see the Nats hitting a collective .235 or getting on base at a .299 clip. I'm guessing you didn't see them leading the majors in errors and sitting dead last in fielding percentage. There's a good chance you didn't see the reigning National League East champions

Espinosa provides the gifts on his birthday

No need for anyone to get Danny Espinosa any birthday gifts. He gave himself the best present he could ask for tonight. On his 26th birthday, Espinosa delivered two clutch knocks, helping power the Nationals to a much-needed 8-1 win over the Reds. "I always feel like during the season I typically struggle on my birthday," Espinosa said. "In the minors, I was always hot

Johnson discusses Nats' losing streak-busting 8-1 win

While Davey Johnson might not enjoy having to sit down with reporters and answer questions about his team's performance after every single game, you can bet that experience was a bit easier to take tonight than it had been the last four days. Johnson's Nationals smacked 12 hits and picked up an 8-1 win over the Reds tonight, snapping a four-game losing streak and getting

Nationals pick up Rizzo's 2014 option

The Nationals have picked up general manager Mike Rizzo's option for 2014, a team source confirmed tonight. Rizzo and the Nationals are in negotiations on a long-term extension, the source said, but there is no immediate need to get a deal done. In addition to his 2014 option, Rizzo also has an option for 2015 written into his contract, which was signed after the 2010

Nats bust out in a big way (Nats stomp Reds 8-1)

A week's worth of frustration is all spilling out in the early innings tonight. The Nationals have put up six runs through the first three innings against the Reds, and they have a 6-0 lead. Jayson Werth said yesterday that the Nats had been neither lucky nor good during their recent slide. Tonight, they've been both. The Nats have seven hits, three for extra bases.

Rizzo comfortable with bullpen construction (Nats have a lead)

The Nationals chose to open the season with just one left-hander in their bullpen, and that's the way things will stay for the time being. Despite the Nats having a bullpen ERA of 4.48 over 64 1/3 innings, 21st in the majors, general manager Mike Rizzo is happy with the current construction of the 'pen. Zach Duke is currently the lone left-hander, but the Nats

More lineup talk plus notes on Ramos, Zimmerman

Given the way Adam LaRoche has been struggling at the plate lately, Davey Johnson knew LaRoche would be taking early batting practice today to try and find a groove. Johnson was curious how LaRoche's cage session would go, so he popped out to the field this afternoon to watch his first baseman take some cuts. Only problem was, LaRoche wasn't in the group rotating into

New-look lineup has Lombardozzi playing third, Werth batting cleanup

In desperate search of some more offense, Davey Johnson has inserted Steve Lombardozzi into today's Nationals lineup and moved Jayson Werth into the cleanup spot. Lombardozzi, who is off to a really strong start to 2013, batting .345 in 29 at-bats, will play third base and hit second in the new-look Nats batting order. Werth will hit fourth, with Adam LaRoche moving down to fifth

Players on board with a switched-up lineup

Following Tuesday night's loss to the Cardinals, a defeat which was, at the time, the Nationals' third in a row and eighth in 11 games, a handful of Nats players sat around in the clubhouse and vented. It was pretty late at the time. Media members and most players and coaches had left. But Jayson Werth and a few of his teammates stuck around, letting

Werth says recent slide has left Nats pressing

In his first at-bat of this afternoon's game, Ian Desmond bunted for a base hit and then stole second base, even after he was picked off by Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia. "Just trying to get something going," Desmond said. "A little spark here or there. You never know. Anything can turn into a snowball." In Desmond's final at-bat of the game, when he represented the

Johnson says more lineup changes are coming after 4-2 loss

Another Nationals loss, another postgame press conference with a frustrated Davey Johnson. The Nats fell 4-2 this afternoon, wrapping up a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cardinals and pushing the Nationals below .500 for the first time since the last day of the 2011 season. Johnson made some minor lineup changes for today's game and said we should expect more of the same

Strasburg rebounds, still on the hook (Nats swept by Cardinals, fall below .500)

It took Stephen Strasburg an inning to get settled in. Once he did, he was almost unhittable. Strasburg allowed three runs on three hits and a walk in the first inning, but in his final six frames, the Nationals ace allowed just two hits, holding the Cardinals at bay. Overall, Strasburg struck out seven and walked just one. He threw 110 pitches, 76 for strikes.

Another early deficit (Nats still trail after six)

The Nationals and Cardinals have played just half an inning this afternoon, and we've already gotten a sample of the same issues that have been plaguing this Nats team for much of the first 20 games of the season. Stephen Strasburg allowed three hits and a walk in the top of the first, Anthony Rendon committed his second error in four big league games and

Johnson explains lineup changes, decision to play Espinosa (with Ramos note)

A frustrated Davey Johnson promised lineup changes after last night's 2-0 loss to the Cardinals, the Nationals' eighth defeat in their last 11 games. Today's lineup card, however, only saw two tweaks: Tyler Moore playing first base in place of the slumping Adam LaRoche and Jhonatan Solano behind the plate instead of Kurt Suzuki. With the Nats facing Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia in this afternoon's

LaRoche, Suzuki sit, Moore and Solano in Nats lineup (updated)

Having gone hitless in his last 10 at-bats with seven strikeouts, Adam LaRoche is getting a rest for today's matinee against the Cardinals. So is catcher Kurt Suzuki with a day game after a night game. Tyler Moore starts at first while catcher Jhonatan Solano gets his first start behind the plate since being called up on April 14. The Nationals are facing Cardinals left-hander

Frustration slowly building, but confidence remains

Davey Johnson says it's time to get mad. He's frustrated with the Nationals' 10-10 start to the 2013 season and wants to see his boys get their act in gear. That should start, Johnson says, with a little anger. How exactly do the guys do that, though? Do they smash bats over their knees following strikeouts? Do they throw their gloves to the ground after

Davey Johnson: "It's time to get mad"

Typically a guy that preaches the need to keep an even keel over the course of a 162-game season, Davey Johnson has seen about enough. His Nationals team - the same one that was picked by many to win the World Series, the same team that Johnson felt was talented enough that he declared its motto to be "World Series or bust" - is now

The offensive issues continue (Nats fall to Cardinals 2-0)

Ross Detwiler has turned in four really strong starts, but he only has one win to show for it. The Nationals left-hander allowed two runs over six innings tonight against a tough Cardinals lineup, but he leaves on the hook for the loss with the Nats trailing 2-0 heading to the seventh. The Nats offense was struggling coming into tonight, and they've had major issues

An uplifting story, plus a Chris Young update (Nats trail)

A large group of Nationals players and coaches made their way over to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda this afternoon, giving some injured veterans a thrill and getting quite a cool experience themselves. Eleven Nats players made the trip, a group that included Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Chad Tracy, Tyler Moore, Steve Lombardozzi, Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Craig

Davey Johnson's theories on Detwiler's success, Nats' struggles

Prior to last night's game, MASN cameras caught Nationals manager Davey Johnson doing push-ups against the dugout bench. Yes, the Nats' 70-year-old skipper was getting in a quick workout before first pitch. Dan Steinberg of The Post has the GIF of the push-ups. This afternoon, Johnson was asked what exactly was going on there. "I was trying to get some blood flowing, that's all I

Nats claim left-hander Xavier Cedeno, option him to Triple-A (with lineups)

The Nationals have added another left-handed reliever to their organization, claiming Xavier Cedeno off waivers from the Astros and optioning him to Triple-A Syracuse. Cedeno, 26, posted an 11.37 ERA over five appearances spanning 6 1/3 innings with Houston this season. He allowed 10 hits and 11 runs (eight earned) with seven walks, three strikeouts and hit two batters. Last season, Cedeno's numbers were far

Waiting for the offense to come around

It seems there's been a bit of a power outage in D.C. over the last couple weeks. The Nationals, a team that on paper has a balanced, skilled lineup with a nice mix of guys who reach base at a high clip and can mash the ball out of the park, have seen their bats go quiet recently, to the surprise to some of the

Dan Haren: "It's close. It's going to turn around"

Dan Haren was asked after tonight's game whether he viewed his outing - in which he allowed three runs on six hits over five-plus innings - as a step in the right direction after failing to reach the sixth inning in any of his previous three starts. "Not really," Haren said. "I want more out of myself than five innings, giving up three runs and

Johnson discusses Haren, offensive struggles after 3-2 loss

As Davey Johnson sat down in front of reporters for his postgame press conference tonight, he let out a deep sigh. The Nationals are now 10-9 on the season after tonight's 3-2 loss to the Cardinals. They're treading water at the moment, searching for signs that they're making progress and on the way to snapping out of this funk to open the 2013 season. Dan

A mixed bag from Haren (Nats lose 3-2)

We saw two sides of Dan Haren tonight. For most of his first five innings of work, we got the sharp, effective Haren. That Haren has good control, works quickly and shows impressive movement with his sinker and offspeed stuff. Haren looked especially good in his first two innings, as well as the fourth, where he was able to work around a couple hits and

Haren trails again (Rendon's first major league hit is a big one)

There haven't been many innings that Dan Haren has completed this season in which he's held a lead. Four innings, to be precise. Haren trails again after three innings here tonight after allowing a two-run double to Allen Craig in the third. Denard Span nearly made a remarkable grab of Craig's deep fly ball to the wall in left-center, leaping at the fence and making

LaRoche on Nats' defensive struggles: "Very surprising"

The Cardinals are back in D.C. for the first time since they rolled out of here with a dramatic series win over the Nationals in the National League Division Series last October, and while Nats players have put that loss behind them and know this is a new season, they admit it'd be nice to get a little payback over the next three days. "Are

Soriano unavailable after birth of child, plus notes on Haren, Rendon, Ramos

A little more than six months after Drew Storen allowed four runs to the Cardinals in the ninth inning in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, he might be called upon for another save opportunity against St. Louis. Rafael Soriano is not with the Nationals today after leaving to be with his wife in New York for the birth of the couple's second

Haren hoping to turn things around against the Cards

The Cardinals return to D.C. today for the first time since rudely knocking the Nationals out of the 2012 playoffs in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. I'm guessing Pete Kozma won't be getting too many free beers in the district over the next three days. The Cards, like the Nats, have a 10-8 record on the season. They've won six of their

Returning home still searching for some answers

Leading into this week's sets of games against the Cardinals and Reds, two tough, talented playoff teams from a year ago, the Nationals went on the road last week to face the two National League East teams everyone expects to finish at the bottom of the division for a second straight season. Six games against the Marlins and Mets? That'll be the remedy for whatever

Nats yet to get to Gee (Nats lose game, series in New York)

Over his previous two outings coming into today's start against the Nationals, Mets right-hander Dillon Gee had allowed 12 earned runs and 17 hits over 7 2/3 innings. This afternoon, Gee has looked like a completely different guy. The Nationals have been held scoreless through five innings, managing just three hits off Gee and putting only one runner into scoring position thus far. Gee has

Zimmerman officially lands on DL, Rendon recalled (Rendon hitting sixth)

It's official: Anthony Rendon now finds himself on the Nationals' big league roster. The Nats have placed Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain this morning. The DL stint will be retroactive to April 18. Taking Zimmerman's spot on the roster - and in the Nationals' lineup - will be Rendon, the organization's top prospect according to Baseball America. The

A sweet Friday night matchup

If you don't happen to have anything planned for tonight, I suggest you find a seat on your sofa or local bar stool around 7:05 p.m., and flip on MASN2 HD. Tonight's pitching matchup in New York is a really good one: Stephen Strasburg against Matt Harvey. The 24-year-old Harvey might have just 13 career starts under his belt, but he's already making quite an

Detwiler delivers few surprises but exceptional results

So let me get this straight: Bryce Harper missed Tuesday's game with flu-like symptoms and was still feeling ill on Wednesday, but talked his way into the Nationals' lineup anyway. Harper told reporters in Miami that he threw up during the second inning during last night's game and felt his head spinning at the plate. Then he goes out and smacks four hits, including a

More of the same from Ross Detwiler (Nats win 6-1)

Ross Detwiler's third start of the season has gone much the same as his first two. And that's a good thing for the Nationals as they look to leave Miami with a series win. Through four innings tonight, Detwiler has held the Marlins scoreless, allowing four hits and striking out four. He's thrown 61 pitches thus far, 45 for strikes. In typical Detwiler fashion, he's

Harper returns to Nats lineup; Span, Espinosa still out

The Nationals get the reigning National League Rookie of the Year back in their lineup, but their leadoff hitter and starting second baseman are still sidelined. Bryce Harper returns to the Nationals lineup tonight after missing yesterday's game with flu-like symptoms. Center fielder Denard Span (flu-like symptoms) and second baseman Danny Espinosa (right wrist) will not start tonight's series finale against the Marlins, however. This

MASN hires Julie Alexandria as new Nationals sideline reporter

There's a new member of MASN's Nationals broadcast team. MASN has hired Julie Alexandria as its new sideline reporter for Nationals broadcasts, the network confirmed this afternoon. Alexandria will begin appearing on-air as a part of MASN's in-game broadcasts as well as the "Nats Xtra" pregame and postgame shows sometime during the next homestand. Alexandria most recently worked as a sideline reporter for FOX Sports,

Taking a closer look at two struggling veterans

The Nationals were on the losing end of an 8-2 ballgame in Miami last night, but that's one game of 162. Of bigger concern right now are the struggles of two Nats veterans, guys who appear to be battling some confidence issues at this point. Let's start with Dan Haren. The 32-year-old right-hander, who signed a one-year, $13 million deal with the Nats this offseason,

Another Zimmerman error, another homer off Haren (Nats lose 8-2)

Dan Haren was cruising through his first three innings of work. The veteran right-hander had allowed just one batter to reach, he'd struck out two and was working quickly, clearly feeling like he was in a zone. A Ryan Zimmerman throwing error with one out in the fourth brought an end to that momentum and eventually led to four Marlins runs, all of which were

Harper, Span, Espinosa all out of Nats lineup (updated)

Davey Johnson is using this series against the Marlins as a chance to get his bench guys into the mix. After resting Adam LaRoche yesterday and starting Tyler Moore at first base, Johnson has opted to give Bryce Harper and Denard Span their first days off of the season tonight. Harper has struggled over the last few games, going 0-for-13. Moore will play left field

Encouraging early season signs from Zimmermann and Detwiler

We're only 13 games into the regular season, so we all need to be careful not to read too much into a starting pitcher's numbers just yet. Teams are not even three turns through the rotation at this point, after all. That said, we've seen some very encouraging signs from both Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler early in the 2013 campaign. Zimmermann made his third

Just what the doctor ordered

There's never a bad time for a 10-3 victory. Any team out there will take such a ballgame on opening day, in September, when it's hot, cold, or when that team is in the middle of a lengthy winning streak. But there's got to be something a little extra satisfying about bashing an opponent by seven runs after just coming off of a three-game sweep

One way to forget a rough weekend (Nats open series with dominating win)

Six batters into tonight's game, Marlins starter Wade LeBlanc had yet to retire a Nationals hitter. Five hits - four singles and a double - and a walk led to four Nats runs, and just like that, Washington has a nice 4-0 lead after the top of the first inning. Nothing like a three-game set against the Marlins to get the Nats back on track

Espinosa and LaRoche not in Nats lineup vs. Marlins (updated)

The Nationals will look to snap their three-game losing streak tonight in Miami with the first of three games against the Marlins. They'll go into tonight's game without both Danny Espinosa and Adam LaRoche in their starting lineup. Espinosa was hit by a Paul Maholm pitch on the right wrist yesterday and needed to leave the Nationals' game against the Braves after four innings. X-rays

Gio Gonzalez: "You've got to give us a chance"

The Nationals entered their weekend series with the Braves trailing Atlanta by a game in the division and feeling pretty good about themselves following a three-game sweep of the White Sox. The Nats leave their weekend series against the Braves suddenly trailing their division rivals by four games in the National League East after they were handed a spanking over the last three days. "I

Hearing from Espinosa and Gonzalez after Nats' 9-0 loss

It's never a good thing when the only real positive news coming out of a game from one team's perspective is that a player who got hit by a pitch isn't seriously injured. But that's about all the positive news I have for Nationals fans after this afternoon's 9-0 loss to the Braves, a game that caps off Atlanta's three-game sweep. That, and there's 150

Johnson talks Espinosa's wrist, impressions from Braves sweep

The Nationals didn't play great baseball over the last three days. They got outscored by the Braves 18-5, were outhit 29-16 and made four errors, and Atlanta turned those numbers into a three-game sweep in the first battle this season between these two National League East rivals. Not surprisingly, however, the Nats are not concerned just yet. "It's just early," manager Davey Johnson said. "Things

A disastrous start to the finale of a disastrous series (Nats swept by Braves)

This series has gone from bad to worse. After dropping the first two games of this three-game set against the rival Braves, each by two runs, the Nationals find themselves in a monster hole through 2 1/2 innings this afternoon. They trail 7-0 in the third inning. Gio Gonzalez has gotten smacked all over Nats Park by Braves hitters, allowing two homers and four extra-base

Nats don't feel Ramos' injury is serious

While it's certainly tough to see Wilson Ramos land on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring after all he's been through in the last couple of years, the Nationals don't believe Ramos will be on the DL for more than the required 15 days. General manager Mike Rizzo said today that the Nats got positive news from an MRI taken on Ramos' hamstring

Ramos to DL, Solano recalled from Syracuse (plus lineups)

The Nationals placed catcher Wilson Ramos on the 15-day disabled list Sunday morning, and recalled catcher Jhonatan Solano from Triple-A Syracuse to take Ramos' spot on the 25-man roster. Ramos strained his left hamstring in Saturday's loss to the Braves. He was hitting .300 with two homers and three RBIs while splitting catching duties with Kurt Suzuki. Solano, who was hitting .150 in five games

Espinosa: "They're good. I don't think they're better than us"

The Braves have taken the first two games of their series here in D.C., out-hitting the Nationals, playing superior defense and getting better overall pitching. This afternoon, Tim Hudson held the Nats to just one run and four hits over seven innings, the Braves capitalized on Ryan Zimmerman's third-inning throwing error, getting two unearned runs on Evan Gattis' two-run homer, and Eric O'Flaherty and Craig

Ramos likely heading to DL with pulled hamstring (updated)

Not only did the Nationals lose their second straight ballgame to the Braves this afternoon, they also lost catcher Wilson Ramos for what looks like at least a couple of weeks with a pulled left hamstring. Ramos suffered the injury when hustling down the first base line on a groundout in the bottom of the eighth inning in the Nats' 3-1 loss to Atlanta. This

Zimmerman's wild throw proves costly (Nats drop second in a row to Braves)

For the third time in the last two days, Ryan Zimmerman has delivered an off-target throw. Two of those three throws have cost the Nationals. I'm of the mind that not too much blame should be heaped on Zimmerman for his throw to second base in the ninth inning last night. Zimmerman was off-balance and needed to get the throw off in a hurry in

Davey on starters' workloads, what's plaguing the 'pen

This morning, I wrote that it might be time for Nationals manager Davey Johnson to start giving his starters a little bit of a longer leash, letting them work deeper into games when their low pitch counts and level of effectiveness dictate that another inning or two is a possibility. Doing so would, in turn, take some pressure off a struggling Nats bullpen. But Johnson

Braves-Nats lineups

One night after a disappointing extra-inning loss to the Braves, the Nationals are sticking with their regular lineup. Stephen Strasburg gets the start with Wilson Ramos behind the plate. The Braves have Ramiro Pena at shortstop after he hit the go-ahead homer in the 10th on Friday. For the Nationals: CF Denard Span RF Jayson Werth LF Bryce Harper 3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B Adam LaRoche

Time to begin letting starters go deeper?

Here's a strange note: Last night's blown 4-0 lead and eventual 6-4 loss to the Braves came six months to the day after the Nationals blew a 6-0 lead and lost 9-7 to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. Ironically enough, Drew Storen's first save opportunity since that crushing postseason loss came last night. This one also ended in a

Hearing from Clippard, Storen and Zimmerman after 10-inning loss

Nationals starting pitchers have gotten off to a strong start to 2013, putting up a 3.09 ERA collectively with six quality starts in 10 games. Nationals relievers, however, have had some issues through the season's first 10 contests. The guys in the Nats' bullpen have posted a 6.34 ERA over 32 2/3 innings. Tonight, three Nationals relievers combined to surrender five runs over three frames,

Johnson on bullpen issues, Zimmerman's throw after 6-4 loss to Braves

Thanks to Ross Detwiler's seven strong innings and a few big swings of the bat from Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth, the Nationals held a 4-1 lead over the Braves after seven innings. Then, things fell apart. Tyler Clippard failed to get through the eighth, allowing a run on a hit and three walks. Drew Storen got out of a jam he inherited

It all falls apart for Nats (Nats lose in 10 innings)

Well this didn't go as planned. After Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen each struggled in relief and contributed to the Nationals blowing a 4-1 lead, Craig Stammen surrendered a two-run homer to Ramiro Pena in the top of the 10th, giving the Braves a 6-4 lead. In 327 career at-bats, this was just Pena's third home run. And boy, was it a big one. The

Another dandy delivered by Detwiler (we go to extras)

Yeah, I love alliteration. What of it? Ross Detwiler is completely locked in tonight against the Braves, having thrown six scoreless innings on just 79 pitches. Detwiler has allowed just three hits, walked two and struck out three. He's held the potent top five hitters in the Braves' order to a 2-for-14 line with two Ks. Only once has Atlanta put a runner in scoring

Harper stays red-hot at Nats Park (the lead increases)

OK, Bryce Harper is red-hot anywhere he hits. But at Nationals Park, Harper is really crushing the ball. Harper smoked an opposite-field, two-run shot in the first inning off Braves starter Julio Teheran, giving the Nats an early 2-0 lead over their division rivals. The homer came on a 2-1 fastball, and it left the yard in a hurry. It's Harper's fifth homer of the

Soriano might get tonight off

The Nationals have played nine games thus far this season. Rafael Soriano has pitched in six of them. That includes each of the last three nights. Soriano worked the ninth inning in each game of the Nats' recent series against the White Sox, notching three straight saves. The heavy recent workload might prevent Soriano from handling the closer's duties tonight if the Nats have a

Pitching probables for Nats-Braves weekend series (plus tonight's lineup)

The Nationals and Braves will square off tonight for the first of 19 times this season, with Ross Detwiler and Braves right-hander Julio Teheran taking the mound this evening at Nats Park. The 22-year-old Teheran has made just five career big league starts and has a 5.81 ERA in his brief major league career. Detwiler is coming off six strong innings in his 2013 debut.

Some of this, some of that (including a great Haren video)

While it's still incredibly early in the 2013 season, the battle for National League playoff spots just got a bit more interesting. Right-hander Zack Greinke, the Dodgers' $147 million man, fractured his left collarbone during a brawl last night, and might miss somewhere around the next two months. The injury happened after Greinke plunked Padres left fielder Carlos Quentin and Quentin charged the mound. Greinke

Ventura, Zimmerman and Harper on the questionable intentional walk

The big topic of discussion in the press box during tonight's 7-4 Nationals win was White Sox manager Robin Ventura's decision to intentionally walk Bryce Harper with two outs and Ryan Zimmerman on deck in the fifth inning. Harper, while he's on fire and possesses a world of talent, has played just 148 games in his big league career. Zimmerman has a proven track record,

Johnson talks after Nats pick up sweep of White Sox

The Nationals have played two series at home this season. They've swept them both. Tonight's 7-4 win over the White Sox gave the Nats another three-game sweep at Nats Park and made a winner of Dan Haren for the first time this season. While Haren allowed 10 hits, hit a batter and threw 101 pitches over five innings, he allowed just three runs and kept

Zimmerman makes Ventura's gamble look silly (Nats sweep White Sox)

Coming into tonight, the hitter in front of Ryan Zimmerman in the Nationals' batting order had only been intentionally walked once since 2009. That one time, on Sept. 3, 2011, Zimmerman responded with a walk-off homer over the Mets. Zimmerman, after all, has been the Nats' most fearsome hitter for some time now. There's very rarely a reason to put a runner on base in

A lot of pitches, a lot of runners stranded (updated)

Through three innings, the White Sox have put six men on base off Nationals starter Dan Haren. The Nats, in turn, have put seven on against Chicago starter Dylan Axelrod, who has already thrown 74 pitches. Still, it's just a 3-1 ballgame, with the Nats holding the lead as we go to the fourth. The two teams have combined to strand nine runners and have

John Wall returning to Nats Park, hoping for better first-pitch results (updated)

The last time Wizards guard John Wall threw out a ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park, back in 2011, things, uh, didn't go so well. Wall wound up and spiked the ball so short of home plate that it didn't even reach the dirt, forcing Drew Storen, who was behind the dish awaiting Wall's toss, to lunge to his right to snag the ball before

Nats, White Sox lineups for series finale

There's plenty of action on the field at Nationals Park right now. Out in left field, White Sox pitchers are stretching. Down the first base line, Kurt Suzuki is in full catching gear, throwing a football with a team trainer. First base coach Tony Tarasco is standing in the left-handed hitter's batter's box, hitting flips from a batting practice pitcher out to Roger Bernadina and

McCatty provides a fresh perspective on Haren

When the Nationals take the field around 7:05 p.m. tonight aiming for a sweep of the White Sox, they'll give the ball to Dan Haren, their 32-year-old right-hander, who will be making his Nationals Park debut. Haren got smacked around pretty good in his first start as a National last Friday against the Reds, allowing six runs on nine hits over just four innings. The

Hearing from Desmond and Harper

The umpires might have hit a traffic jam on their way to the stadium this afternoon, causing a 16-minute delay, but there are plenty of guys in the Nationals clubhouse who can relate. Ian Desmond is one of them. "I've got no problem with it. I've been stuck in traffic many a time here in D.C.," Desmond said. "I'm surprised they got here as fast

Johnson discusses Nats' 5-2 win

Some starting pitchers map out their pregame routine so carefully that an unexpected 16-minute delay would totally throw them out of whack. Jordan Zimmermann is not one of those pitchers. Zimmermann needed to wait a bit longer than normal to throw his first pitch tonight because the umpires got stuck in traffic and were late to the stadium. There apparently was an immigration rally at

Zimmermann, Desmond lead Nats to 5-2 win

Backed by a strong seven innings of work by Jordan Zimmermann and three extra-base hits from Ian Desmond, the Nationals beat the White Sox 5-2 in front of 24,586 at Nats Park. The Nats' second win over Chicago in as many nights gives them the series win, and Dan Haren will take the mound tomorrow night as Washington will shoot for the sweep. Zimmermann allowed

Harper visits the second deck (that's all for Zimmermann)

Tonight's game was delayed 16 minutes - not because of rain, but because the umpires were stuck in traffic. C'mon, fellas. Plan ahead here. In Adam Dunn's return to Nationals Park, Bryce Harper crushed a home run to the seats that Dunn used to visit on a consistent basis. Leading off the bottom of the fourth, Harper took the first pitch he saw from White

Johnson on bullpen struggles, plus Garcia and Kimball updates

Apparently, the Nationals experienced some technical difficulties during last night's game when the video system they use to track pitches and locations in real time went down. The system eventually was fixed by the time the game was in the middle innings, but the Nats had to adjust their normal in-game plan without the video. "We couldn't follow it," Davey Johnson said. "Rick (Eckstein, hitting

Adam Dunn playing left field, batting cleanup for White Sox

He didn't make an appearance in last night's 8-7 Nationals win, but Adam Dunn is in the White Sox lineup for tonight's contest. Dunn will hit cleanup for Chicago and will play left field. It'll be interesting to see what type of response Dunn gets from the Nats Park crowd in his first plate appearance tonight. This will be Dunn's first game played at Nats

The many ways Denard Span can impact a game

Michael Morse crushed another home run for the Mariners last night, giving the former Nationals slugger six bombs and nine RBIs through the season's first nine games. Nationals fans might cringe seeing those totals. Morse, after all, is a guy the Nats traded away this offseason, choosing to go with Denard Span in center, Bryce Harper in left and Adam LaRoche at first base rather

Drake LaRoche to his father: "It's about time"

When Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche came into the clubhouse after tonight's 8-7 win over the White Sox, he had a visitor waiting for him by his locker. It was his 11-year-old son, Drake, who had a message for his father. "It's about time," Drake said, patting his dad on the back. Drake then turned and walked away. "I think he was getting fed up

Johnson discusses Nats' wild 8-7 win

There were six home runs hit in tonight's ballgame. The Nationals and White Sox combined to put up 24 hits. Over the final eight half-innings, at least one run was scored in seven of them. "Wasn't pretty," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said as he sat down for his postgame press conference. Johnson then took a deep breath. It was one of those kinds of nights,

Werth keeps on crushing (Nationals eke out 8-7 win)

In his second at-bat tonight, Jayson Werth smoked a ball 400 feet to straightaway center. It died at the wall, and White Sox center fielder Alejandro De Aza brought it in for a loud out. In his third at-bat tonight, Werth took a shorter path to the seats. He crushed the first pitch he saw from Jake Peavy - a 90 mph two-seam fastball -

Gonzalez battling himself this time out (Nats take the lead)

Gio Gonzalez threw 91 pitches over six shutout innings in his season debut last week, but he seems like a different guy tonight. It's taken the Nationals left-hander 84 pitches to get through four innings against the White Sox, as he's walked two, allowed three hits and had trouble putting Chicago hitters away. Gonzalez needed 33 pitches just to get through the top of the

Updates on LaRoche, Soriano and more

Davey Johnson and Bryce Harper took a little field trip this afternoon, heading down to City Hall to be honored by the D.C. Council with ceremonial resolutions. Johnson, the 2012 National League Manager of the Year, and Harper, the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year, received their resolutions, presented by council member Vincent Orange. "It was good. I'm glad to see they're doing some work

Adam Dunn: "It's great to be back"

Nationals fans will have to wait at least a few innings to give Adam Dunn a true welcome back to D.C. After all, this is interleague play, and Dunn isn't the most skilled defensive player out there. With no designated hitter in the lineup and the visiting White Sox having Paul Konerko already locked in as their first baseman, Dunn won't be starting in his

LaRoche returns, Dunn absent from White Sox lineup in return to D.C.

After missing the last two games with tightness in his back, Adam LaRoche is back in the lineup tonight for the Nationals' series opener against the White Sox. Including yesterday's off-day, LaRoche had three days to rest his ailing back, which initially tightened up on him late in the Nationals' series against the Marlins last week. The cold weather at Nats Park likely contributed to

Nats starting to catch on

I've decided that I would like a montage of moments from my life set to "One Shining Moment" and played at my funeral. I'm not sure whether I'm kidding or not. Is that weird? I don't care. Now I just have to get to work on creating some actual shining moments. I'm not sure me sitting on my sofa eating nachos will cut it. If

Getting defensive

Today's day off for the Nationals comes at a pretty good time. Not only does it allow Adam LaRoche, who sat out the last two games, a chance to rest his sore back a bit more prior to tomorrow's series opener with the White Sox, but it also gives the Nats a chance to enjoy some down time and put their three-game series in Cincinnati

Rubber game goes to the Reds

Stephen Strasburg wasn't at his sharpest, the Nationals' infielders made a couple of more defensive miscues and the bats went silent after the second inning. Put it all together and it's a 6-3 loss to the Reds, giving Cincinnati the series win. After a big second inning, highlighted by Kurt Suzuki's three-run homer to left, the Nats had just three hits and four baserunners the

Nats' catchers continue to crush Reds pitching (Nats trail as Strasburg leaves)

In their last four at-bats against Reds pitching, the Nationals' catchers are 3-for-4 with three home runs and six RBIs. Wilson Ramos did some damage yesterday, crushing two homers in the Nats' 11-inning win. In his first at-bat today, Kurt Suzuki got the Nats on the board in the second inning, taking a 1-1 slider from Johnny Cueto and smoking it out to left for

LaRoche sits for a second straight day

Adam LaRoche is out of the Nationals' lineup for the second straight day. LaRoche, who has been dealing with some tightness in his back since late in the Nationals' series against the Marlins earlier this week, will not play in this afternoon's series finale against the Reds. Chad Tracy will play first base and hit in the No. 5 hole in LaRoche's stead again today.

Much to digest from yesterday's dramatic extra-inning win

The first two games of this Nationals-Reds series sure have been plenty interesting. First, the Reds put up two touchdowns and a two-point conversion on the Nats on Friday night in a 15-0 drubbing. Sorry, I feel bad even bringing that one up again. Yesterday's game was far more competitive and far more dramatic. The Nationals jumped out to a 5-1 lead, only to see

Desmond redeems himself with clutch homer (Nats win a thriller)

It had been a pretty rough afternoon for Ian Desmond. The Nationals shortstop committed two errors in today's game against the Reds, both of which led to unearned runs. Desmond had gone 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his first four trips to the plate. He and the rest of the Nats watched as a 5-1 lead became a 5-5 tie. But Desmond redeemed himself for

Ramos making his mark in return to Cincinnati (Soriano blows the save)

Prior to today, the last time Wilson Ramos was on the field at the Great American Ballpark, he wasn't able to walk off under his own power. Ramos tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee last May 12 in a game against the Reds, a devastating injury that knocked the Nationals' young catcher out of action for the remainder of the season and

Harper homers again (Detwiler dancing out of trouble)

The Nationals left the bases loaded in the second. No matter. Bryce Harper got them on the board an inning later. Harper crushed the first pitch from Reds right-hander Mike Leake, an 87 mph cutter on the inner half, out to right for a two-run homer. The ball got out of the Great American Ballpark in the blink of an eye. It's Harper's third home

Tracy replaces LaRoche in Nats lineup

The good thing about the Nationals having a 1:10 p.m. first pitch today is that last night's 15-0 drubbing at the hands of the Reds is quickly pushed into the background. No need to stew on that one through the afternoon. The Nats will get back out there in just a few hours and will start fresh. There's one change to manager Davey Johnson's lineup

What's happening with Haren?

It's probably safe to assume that Dan Haren's Nationals debut didn't go quite as he'd planned. Yeah, I'd say that's a fair assumption. Haren got hit all over the Great American Ballpark last night, allowing nine hits and six runs in just four innings of work. He surrendered four home runs, this from a guy who had allowed just 1.1 homers per nine innings over

A night to forget in Cincinnati

Dan Haren got smacked around, allowing four longballs and six runs overall in just four innings in his Nationals debut. Zach Duke, Henry Rodriguez and Ryan Mattheus combined to give up nine runs in relief. The Nats put up just five hits and were shut out by a trio of Reds pitchers. Kurt Suzuki and Ian Desmond both committed fielding errors. Pretty much nothing went

Back-to-back homers have Nats trailing for first time in 2013 (it's gotten ugly)

The Nationals are in an unfamiliar position: They're actually trailing for the first time this season. Back-to-back home runs by Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart off Dan Haren in the second inning have given the Reds a 2-0 lead and put the Nats in a hole. Haren had struck out two straight hitters prior to the homers, getting Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce swinging. But

Friday's Nationals-Reds lineups

The Nationals open a three-game weekend series in Cincinnati tonight, with right-hander Dan Haren taking the hill and making his first regular season start in a Washington uniform. After all those two-hour bus rides to Jupiter, Fla., in spring training, the flight to Cincy must have seemed like a snap. Here's the Nationals lineup for tonight's 7 p.m. game: CF Denard Span RF Jayson Werth

Getting ready for a much tougher test

The Nationals limited the Marlins to one run in 27 innings over the last four days. Washington outscored Miami 11-1 and held its division rivals to a .167 batting average. After three games against a clearly inferior opponent, the Nats will now get much more of a test. Tonight, they open a three-game set against the Reds, a team that won the NL Central by

The DH debate

Three games into the season, the Nationals stand alone with the best record in baseball. They have a well-rounded, talented roster to thank for that. They also have the Miami Marlins to thank for that. Let's be honest. The Nats are the only undefeated team left in the majors after their three-game sweep over the Marlins. Now, it's on to Cincinnati to face a Reds

Zimmermann and Harper discuss Nats' 6-1 win

Jordan Zimmermann ruined it. He ruined the Nationals' shot at 1,458 consecutive shutout innings. Might as well just cancel the season. Zimmermann went six innings today, allowing eight hits and one run. He walked two and struck out one, rounding out a line that's not incredibly impressive by his standards outside of just the one run surrendered, but Zimmermann said he actually felt pretty sharp

Johnson on Marlins: "It was good to spank them this series"

It's no secret that the Marlins are rebuilding this season and will likely contend for the worst record in baseball. You look up and down Miami's roster and there really isn't much top-notch talent beyond Giancarlo Stanton. Still, games aren't played on paper. Beyond that, the Marlins have traditionally played the Nationals tough, including last year, when the teams split the season series despite the

Werth goes deep as Nats break it open (Nats sweep Marlins)

Davey Johnson was asked before today's game whether he feels he needs to monitor Jayson Werth's left wrist, which doctors expect won't be full strength until after the season ends. That's the wrist Werth broke last May, the one that he says limited his power stroke upon his return to the lineup last year. Johnson said Werth felt like the wrist was pretty weak coming

The shutout streak is over, Harper gets dinged up (Nats lead after six)

The Nationals will not play an entire season without allowing a run. The Marlins will not go the whole year without having a runner touch home plate. The dreams are dead. After pitching a scoreless first inning this afternoon, Nats starter Jordan Zimmermann allowed a leadoff homer to Miami center fielder Justin Ruggiano, ending the Nationals' streak of consecutive scoreless innings to begin the season

Nats sign Chris Young to minor league deal

Chris Young is back with the Nationals. After opting out of his initial minor league deal with the Nats on March 25, Young has returned to the organization, agreeing to terms on a new minor league deal this afternoon. Young, 33, will throw a couple bullpen sessions down at the Nationals' minor league complex in Viera, Fla., and then will report to Triple-A Syracuse to

Marlins-Nationals lineups for series finale

The Nationals will look for a sweep of the Marlins this afternoon at Nationals Park, with Jordan Zimmermann attempting to match the stellar efforts of Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez over the Nats' first two games. Zimmermann is 1-3 with a 4.43 ERA in eight career starts against the Marlins and is without a win against them at home. Left-hander Wade LeBlanc will take the

Joining a pretty exclusive club

Michael Morse smacked another home run last night for the Mariners, giving him three in the last two days. The former Nationals slugger has four hits on the season. Three have left the yard. That man sure can hit. Morse better keep going deep, though. He's got Gio Gonzalez right on his tail in the home run department. For those who haven't gotten a chance

Hearing from Gonzalez, Zimmerman and Span

You might not know it by looking at his pitching line - or his batting line, for that matter - but Gio Gonzalez was battling a pretty bad headache during his 2013 regular season debut tonight. Gonzalez started feeling the headache prior to first pitch and relied on consistent massages on his temple from trainer John Hsu and some Advil in order to get through

Johnson speaks after another Nats shutout

The Nationals are red-hot to start the 2013 season. So is their hitting coach. The heater in the Nationals' tunnel serves an important purpose on a night when the temperature at first pitch was 45 degrees and dropped quickly. But for Rick Eckstein, the propane heater nearly did more harm than good. "He went down there and started talking to one of the hitters that

Two games, two curtain calls (Nats win 3-0)

Bryce Harper got called out of the dugout by the Nationals Park crowd on opening day, getting a curtain call following his second homer of the ballgame. Tonight, Gio Gonzalez was the one to get the curtain call, and not for something he did while on the mound. The Nationals left-hander took a first-pitch Kevin Slowey curveball into the bleachers in left field for his

Johnson on where Gonzalez can improve, plus plans for bench guys

Gio Gonzalez finished third in the National League Cy Young voting last season. The Nationals left-hander led the majors with 21 wins, posted a sub-3.00 ERA, worked nearly 200 innings and struck out 9.3 batters per nine innings, best in the NL among starting pitchers. It was a heck of a season, and quite a statement in Gonzalez' first season in D.C. after coming to

Suzuki, Ramos to alternate starts for now

Davey Johnson has said for months now that he feels he has two No. 1 catchers. From his perspective, how better to use those two guys than to alternate them on a daily basis, giving them equal playing time? After going with Wilson Ramos behind the plate on opening day, Johnson wrote Kurt Suzuki's name into today's lineup as his starting catcher. Those two will

Suzuki behind the plate for Gonzalez's first start (with Marlins lineup)

The Nationals will trot pretty much the same lineup out for tonight's 7:05 p.m. game against the Marlins at Nationals Park. The only changes are the battery, with Kurt Suzuki catching left-hander Gio Gonzalez. Here's the Nationals lineup: CF Denard Span RF Jayson Werth LF Bryce Harper 3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B Adam LaRoche SS Ian Desmond 2B Danny Espinosa C Kurt Suzuki LHP Gio Gonzalez

Rizzo takes a look back and ahead

With a long offseason behind him and opening day now in the rear view mirror, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo took a few minutes yesterday to catch up with MASNsports.com to discuss his team's postseason run in 2012, the changes to the roster made over the winter and his expectations for this upcoming season. Rizzo touched on how he's seen Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg

Some opening day leftovers

Under normal circumstances, Rafael Soriano picking up his first save as a National on opening day with a dominant ninth inning would be something we'd be discussing immediately following the game. With what Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg did yesterday, however, Soriano's performance took a bit of a backseat. Now that we've broken down Harper and Strasburg's efforts backwards and forwards and backwards again, however,

A glimpse into what could be a special few years

It's hard, after seeing what we saw yesterday at Nationals Park, not to think big picture. It's hard not to think about what could be happening two or three years down the road, possibly more. It's hard not to envision Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg putting together dominating performances like Monday's in front of consistently packed houses, with fans clamoring for tickets to watch the

Harper on his highlight-filled day: "It was a pretty special moment"

With his mom and dad in attendance along with 45,272 others, Bryce Harper put on a show in the Nationals' regular season opener. Harper crushed two home runs in his first two at-bats of the season, scored the Nationals' only two runs of the day and started a dramatic double play in the seventh inning that brought an end to a would-be Marlins rally and

Johnson discusses Nats' opening day victory

Davey Johnson probably couldn't have drawn up a more perfect game if he tried. Johnson and the Nationals got two home runs from Bryce Harper, seven exceptional innings from starter Stephen Strasburg, a couple tremendous defensive plays, a strong eighth inning from Tyler Clippard and a perfect 1-2-3 ninth from Rafael Soriano. Add it all up, and it's a 2-0 Nats win. There was plenty

Harper, Strasburg carry Nats to 2-0 opening day win

The Nationals plated two runs today. Both came off the bat of Bryce Harper, who clubbed solo home runs in his first two at-bats of the season. The Nats shut out the Marlins. Seven of those scoreless innings came from Stephen Strasburg, who retired 19 in a row at one point, allowed just three hits and failed to walk a batter. A sellout crowd of

Harper starts 2013 off with a bang (more Harper, more Strasburg)

Bryce Harper might just do some things this season. In his first at-bat of the season, just some 20 minutes after receiving his 2012 National League Rookie of the Year award, Harper crushed a 1-0 pitch from Ricky Nolasco into the right field bleachers. Two pitches, one home run and a lot more talk about what could be to come from Harper in his age-20

Johnson on his future, Harper and Garcia

The Nationals have just been introduced to the large crowd at Nats Park, with Bryce Harper, Davey Johnson and Stephen Strasburg receiving the loudest ovations. Jayson Werth opted not to give a high five to Screech, the mascot standing next to the players and team staffers along the first base line, drawing a laugh from reporters here in the press box. Adam LaRoche received his

Rizzo on Young, Desmond contract talks and hoisting a championship banner

A sea of red is spilling into Nationals Park through the center field gate, and we're just about an hour away from first pitch here between the Nationals and Marlins. Wilson Ramos is ready for his first regular season game in nearly 11 months, saying he's as excited as he could possibly be. Denard Span is pumped for his first meaningful game in a Nats

Your Marlins-Nats opening day lineups

We couldn't have asked for a much nicer day for a ballgame, at least on April 1 in Washington, D.C. It's supposed to be around 63 and sunny at first pitch here at Nationals Park, with no rain in the forecast. I'll take it. For those of you coming to the game, you might want to get here early. The opening day ceremonies will begin

Nats' quest for a World Series begins today with Strasburg leading the way

A long winter and a seemingly even longer spring training are behind us. The first pitch of the regular season was thrown last night in Houston, and this afternoon, the Nationals will kick off their 2013 campaign, one that comes with the highest of expectations. Happy opening day, everyone. This day couldn't come soon enough for the Nationals, who saw their 2012 World Series hopes

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