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Hearing from LaRoche, Gonzalez and Suzuki

DETROIT - Adam LaRoche's tone doesn't change much regardless of the outcome of a game. He's a quiet, calm presence in the Nationals' clubhouse after losses, and he's the same after big wins. But LaRoche seemed even a bit more beaten down than normal after today's 11-1 loss at the hands of the Tigers, a game where the Nats trailed 5-1 after two innings and

Johnson discusses 11-1 blowout loss, plus Harper, Ohlendorf updates

DETROIT - Not only did the Nationals get blown out by 10 runs this afternoon, they also had Bryce Harper and Ross Ohlendorf leave their 11-1 loss to the Tigers with apparent injuries. Quite a banner day for the road team. Fortunately for the Nats, neither Harper nor Ohlendorf appear to have any type of serious ailment, and the Nationals believe both will be fine.

Harper: "If we play like we're capable, we will win this"

DETROIT - Bryce Harper may be the youngest guy in the Nationals' clubhouse, but that's not going to stop him from speaking his mind. After this afternoon's 11-1 trouncing at the hands of the Tigers, the 20-year-old Harper aired some of the frustration that he's been feeling lately, with the Nats now four games under .500 and 10 1/2 games back of the Braves in

A disaster in Detroit

DETROIT - The Nationals won't be too upset that their time in Detroit has come to an end. A 11-1 loss this afternoon caps off a horrific two-game series, in which the Nats were outscored 16-2 and out-hit 23-11. Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez got stuck with the losses, with Gonzalez allowing 10 earned runs and 11 hits in just 3 1/3 innings today. The

It gets worse (the deficit increases, Harper leaves game)

DETROIT - The Nationals had a chance to do some major damage off Justin Verlander in the top of the first when they loaded the bases with no outs. They got one run, but largely let Verlander off the hook. After Jayson Werth's sacrifice fly brought in Denard Span, Adam LaRoche struck out and Ian Desmond grounded out to end the inning. If you had

Johnson talks trade deadline, "World Series or bust" slogan

DETROIT - The reality of the situation for the Nationals right now is this: They are currently three games under .500 with 55 games remaining in the 2013 regular season. They sit 10 games back of the Braves in the National League East and are 6 1/2 games behind the Reds for the final NL Wild Card spot with the Diamondbacks also ahead of the

Zimmerman DHing, Rendon at third, Span leading off (Cabrera sits)

DETROIT - Ryan Zimmerman will get a little bit of a breather today, serving as the designated hitter in the finale of this brief two-game set with the Tigers. Anthony Rendon will slide over and play third base today, with Steve Lomabrdozzi playing second. Denard Span is back in the leadoff spot this afternoon. Bryce Harper will hit second. The Nationals will have the pleasure

A player's perspective on the trade deadline

DETROIT - Things can certainly change very quickly at this time of year, but the Nationals are not expected to make any big splashes prior to today's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline. General manager Mike Rizzo might look to upgrade his bench or tweak the back-end of the roster, but the chances of adding (or subtracting) a major piece appear to be very slim. Since

Postgame quotes from Strasburg, Ramos and Desmond

DETROIT - Stephen Strasburg saw tonight's outing much in the same way Davey Johnson did. Johnson felt that Strasburg was cruising for much of his start but made one mistake, leaving a fastball over the heart of the plate to Alex Avila with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth. Yeah, Strasburg's on board with that assessment. "I pitched well, minus one pitch,"

Johnson recaps Nats' 5-1 loss

DETROIT - As far as Davey Johnson is concerned, Stephen Strasburg was on his A-game tonight right up until Alex Avila sent a 96 mph fastball deep into the Detroit night, turning a 1-1 game into a 5-1 Tigers lead in the sixth inning. That shot spoiled what seemed like a stellar outing from Strasburg and set the Nationals up for another tough loss, one

Sanchez does it again as Nats lose 5-1

DETROIT - The Nationals might have finally bested Anibal Sanchez back in May, handing the Tigers right-hander his first loss in 20 career starts against the Nats. Tonight, Sanchez returned to his dominating ways, holding the Nats to a single run over seven strong innings in the Tigers' 5-1 win here at Comerica Park. The Nats notched a run and three hits off Sanchez in

A smoothly-played first five frames (Avila having a grand old time)

DETROIT - Stephen Strasburg cruised through his first three innings of work, but if you make mistakes against this Tigers lineup, they will most certainly make you pay. In the fourth, Strasburg walked Prince Fielder for the second time in as many at-bats, then left two balls right out over the middle of the plate to Jhonny Peralta and Andy Dirks. The result was single

McCatty update plus Nats trade deadline chatter

DETROIT - Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty is not with the team here in Detroit as he recovers from an irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure, but he's expected to be released from a D.C. hospital tomorrow, according to manager Davey Johnson. McCatty needed to be taken to a hospital prior to Sunday's game against the Mets, and the Nats had hoped that McCatty would

Tracy serving as designated hitter as Nats face Tigers

DETROIT - Hello from the Motor City, where the weather is gorgeous and the city, not surprisingly, just feels empty. This is the first time I've been to Comerica Park, and for what it's worth, I'm really impressed. Nice layout, decent sight lines and lots of concrete sculptures of tigers all over the place. Got to love that. Tonight's Nationals lineup includes Chad Tracy as

Trying to keep it rolling in the Motor City

Is it possible that this weekend got the Nationals on track and can set them up for a final push for the postseason over the next two months? Maybe. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I'm done talking about momentum until the Nats prove they can carry it over a period longer than three days. They're on a three-game roll right now and have won four of five,

A bond strengthened over baseball and a gesture that touched a community

This isn't a blog entry about a Nationals winning streak, the upcoming non-waiver trade deadline or Taylor Jordan's improved slider. Those entries can wait. This is a blog entry about a father-son relationship that was strengthened over the Nationals and a Craigslist post that touched a portion of the D.C. baseball community. Like in many parent-child relationships, Kent Wilson and his father Richard bonded over

Span on his homer barrage, Ramos on his first grand slam

Denard Span, homerless in the first 104 games of the season, now has two longballs in as many days. Watch out Chris Davis. "Yeah, just another day at the ballpark," Span said, tongue planted firmly in his cheek. "I told you yesterday I might hit 30, and like you said, I'm on pace to do that, if I can just keep it up. So any

Davey updates McCatty's health, discusses Nats' 14-1 win

The Nationals got a little bit of a scare early this afternoon when pitching coach Steve McCatty needed to be taken to the hospital after dealing with elevated blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. The good news, however, is that McCatty is fine, according to manager Davey Johnson. "McCatty's doing all right. He's his usual grumpy self," Johnson said with a smile. "Blood pressure went

A granny for Ramos (Nats win 14-1)

The Nationals watched the Mets put up an 11-spot here at Nats Park two days ago. They've countered that with eight runs and nine hits through the first three innings today. The Nats exploded in the second and third innings, leading 3-0 after two and then 8-0 after three. Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond and Denard Span all reached base in front of Wilson

Pitching coach Steve McCatty taken to hospital (game update)

Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty was taken to the hospital before the start of today's game, a team spokesman confirmed. McCatty, 59, was not feeling well and will not be present for today's series finale against the Mets. The Nationals are not releasing any more information at this time and say they will provide an update on McCatty's health later. McCatty is in his fifth

Nats sticking with what works

The Nationals have won two in a row, so why tamper with success? Today's lineup for the finale of a four-game series against the Mets is the same one, minus the starting pitcher, the Nats trotted out last night. The only change is right-hander Taylor Jordan, who's still in search of his first major league victory. Jordan will get a break, with David Wright not

Haren: "We don't have any time for hitting rock bottom any more"

There have been a number of moments this season where it's felt like things might not be able to get much worse for the Nationals. They've been on the wrong end of too many blowouts, had too many losing streaks, too many games where they've scored one or zero runs and watched another of their starters get stuck with a tough-luck loss. Remarkably enough, they're

Hearing from Haren and Harper

Entering today's game, it had been 76 days since Dan Haren was last the winning pitcher in a baseball game. Some of the blame for that long winless streak doesn't fall on Haren. A lot of it does. But Haren has pitched much better since coming off the disabled list on July 8, and today he earned his fifth victory of the season after allowing

Johnson discusses Nats' 4-1 win

Davey Johnson has had many more gloomy postgame press conferences this season than he expected he'd have, days where he's had to sit in front of the cameras and discuss another frustrating loss. Today was not one of those days. A few minutes after the Nationals' 4-1 win over the Mets, Johnson bounded into his chair behind the press conference table with a giant smile

Perhaps Haren's finest start of the season (Nats win 4-1)

Dan Haren has been significantly better since coming off the disabled list than he was before that DL stint. And today might just have been his best start as a National to this point. Haren went seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits. He walked one and struck out six and threw 103 pitches, 73 for strikes. This was vintage Haren, folks. The

Desmond, Span go back-to-back (Haren cruising through six)

The Nationals had scored two runs off Dillon Gee in 18 2/3 innings against the Mets right-hander this season. They scored two runs off Gee in the second inning alone today, and they have a 2-0 lead thanks to back-to-back homers from Ian Desmond and Denard Span. The home runs came on back-to-back pitches by Gee. Desmond's homer was his 16th of the season, giving

Rizzo: Nats looking to improve bench before trade deadline

We're now four days away from Major League Baseball's non-waiver trade deadline, meaning Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has been spending a lot of time on his phone lately. Following the Nationals' acquisition of Scott Hairston nearly two weeks ago, Rizzo said that he didn't think the Nats were going to make any "splashy" moves before the deadline. "I still feel the same way," Rizzo

Rizzo on Clippard's comments: "I commend him for having a strong opinion on it"

You've heard from Davey Johnson on the Nationals' decision to option Drew Storen to Triple-A Syracuse. You've heard from Tyler Clippard on why he takes issue with how the Nats have managed his good friend and teammate. You've even heard my thoughts on the whole situation. Now let's hear from general manager Mike Rizzo, the one who decided to sign Rafael Soriano to a two-year,

Harper back in Nats lineup

After aggravating his left knee injury in the first game of yesterday's doubleheader, Bryce Harper wasn't in the Nationals lineup for the nightcap, marking the second time he'd been out of the lineup in a four-game span. Harper pinch-hit in the eighth inning of last night's game, however, and he's back in the lineup today as the Nats take on Dillon Gee in the third

Thoughts on the Storen demotion and the Clippard comments

I was asked a number of times on Twitter last night what my thoughts are on both the Nationals' decision to option Drew Storen to Triple-A Syracuse, as well as Tyler Clippard's critical comments about the way the Nats have managed Storen dating back to this offseason. There's no way I could express those thoughts on Twitter in just 140 characters (that might take a

Hearing from Zimmerman, Ohlendorf and Johnson after 2-1 walk-off win

The news of Drew Storen's demotion to Triple-A Syracuse, while not totally shocking, definitely dominated the postgame discussion with manager Davey Johnson and a couple of Nats players, most notably Tyler Clippard. Ryan Zimmerman has played alongside Storen for the last four seasons, and he was asked his take on the reliever being optioned after the game. "I mean, anytime something like that happens, it's

Clippard critical of Nationals' handling of Storen

Tyler Clippard had two questions asked of him after the game, and he spoke for more than four minutes. He spoke with tears in his eyes and his voice breaking a bit at times, and he delivered some forthright and critical comments about the Nationals' decision to option Drew Storen to Triple-A Syracuse and the way that they have managed Storen's role on this team

Nats option Drew Storen to Triple-A Syracuse (updated)

In order to trim their roster from 26 to 25 following today's doubleheader, the Nationals optioned a guy who saved 43 games for them two years ago. Manager Davey Johnson announced after tonight's 2-1 walk-off win that the Nats have optioned Drew Storen to Triple-A Syracuse. "He needs to get right, mentally and mechanically," Johnson said. "It's that simple. ... This is what's best for

Ohlendorf continues to come up big (Zimmerman's walk-off homer gives Nats 2-1 win)

Who would've thought back in February that the Nationals would be turning to Ross Ohlendorf in July to deliver a quality start to help save the bullpen and give them a much-needed win? Not this guy, that's for sure. Ohlendorf has been spectacular this season, and that didn't change today. He threw seven innings of one-run ball, keeping the Nationals in a game where their

The runs are still hard to come by (Nats tie it up)

The Nationals have played 13 innings today. They've scored in none of them. It didn't bode well for the Nats that they were shut out in the opener of today's doubleheader by Jenrry Mejia, Scott Rice and Gonzalez Germen. Yeah, not exactly a star-studded group right there. A matchup with Matt Harvey awaited in the nightcap, and so far, that hasn't gone too well for

Harper out of Nats lineup for Game 2

Bryce Harper's ailing left knee has knocked him out of the Nationals' starting lineup for the nightcap of today's doubleheader against the Mets. Harper banged the left knee when diving to make a catch on a Daniel Murphy sinking liner in the fifth inning of this afternoon's 11-0 Nationals loss. He was removed for a pinch-runner in the eighth inning. This is the second time

Johnson on Nats' 11-0 loss plus Storen and Harper health updates

As Davey Johnson entered the press conference room following this afternoon's 11-0 drubbing at the hands of the Mets, he managed half a smile. "Do we have to talk about it?" Johnson asked reporters. Unfortunately for Johnson, yes, he did. The first question Johnson received was in reference to Drew Storen, who Johnson had said pregame would likely be unavailable for both games because of

Some of this, some of that (Mattheus activated)

The six-game losing streak is over. The nine-game deficit in the National League East has been cut to eight. A lot more needs to go right before the Nationals are able to legitimately threaten the Braves for the top spot in the division. A lot more. But my goodness, is the NL East ever a flawed, jumbled mess right now. The Braves have lost four

Hearing from a happy clubhouse

Ryan Zimmerman was asked to describe the vibe in the Nationals' clubhouse following this afternoon's thrilling, up-and-down 9-7 walk-off win that snapped a six-game losing streak. "Just normal. You know," Zimmerman deadpanned, before cracking a big smile. "I mean we needed a win. It didn't really matter how we got it. Obviously that's probably the most exciting way you can get a win. This team,

Randy Knorr discusses Nats' 9-7 walk-off win

Boy, what a wild one that was. The Pirates made three errors in the first inning. The Nationals had a four-run inning after failing to score more than two runs in five of their last six games. Davey Johnson was ejected. The Nats blew a four-run ninth-inning lead. Bryce Harper hit his first career walk-off homer, snapping a six-game losing streak. Yeah, wild would describe

Johnson ejected in fifth inning (Harper saves the day with walk-off homer)

Davey Johnson had joked in recent weeks that he was waiting to getting ejected for the first time this season. He wanted to pick a good spot, but figured his time was coming soon. It happened today. Johnson was ejected in the fifth inning of today's game for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Mike Winters. It's the third time Johnson has been

The bats come alive as the Pirates fall apart

The Nationals seemingly hadn't gotten a break in weeks. They seemingly hadn't gotten a hit with a runner in scoring position in weeks, either. They got both of those things in the first inning of today's game, and both the breaks and the hits came in rapid-fire succession. The Pirates made three errors in the first inning, two of which allowed runs to score. Third

More on whether sending Storen down is an option

There's no arguing that Drew Storen is a very talented pitcher who possesses great stuff. You don't save 43 games in a season and post a 2.96 ERA over your first 164 major league games without having elite ability. But during a couple stretches this season, one of which has lasted over the last three weeks, Storen has really struggled. The 25-year-old has allowed either

Harper returns to Nats lineup, so does Desmond (updated)

Bryce Harper is back in the Nationals' lineup today after getting yesterday off to rest his left knee, which he received treatment on recently. Ian Desmond, however, is not in the Nats' lineup for the second straight day. Desmond had hoped to receive a special patch today that he could put on top of the blister that's on his left palm, but the patch wasn't

Ramos on Storen's struggles, Span on the team's struggles

Let's get the blown-call quotes out of the way early in this entry. Hey, Wilson Ramos, did Neil Walker tag you before flipping to first for what second base umpire Laz Diaz ruled was a game-ending double play? "Nope. Not even close," Ramos said. "He never tagged me." What did Diaz tell you when you argued the call, Wilson? "He told me, 'He tagged you.

Johnson on the blown call, Nats' sixth straight loss

The manner in which tonight's game ended left Davey Johnson and the Nationals' players a bit steamed following their 4-2 loss, as second base umpire Laz Diaz clearly missed a call that ended the Nats' comeback hopes in the bottom of the ninth inning. The call certainly didn't decide the game, as the Nats had nine innings to try and get things going offensively only

Detwiler to miss another month

Ross Detwiler has already been out the last three weeks with a lower back injury. It appears the Nationals' left-hander will miss at least another month on top of that. Detwiler met with Dr. Robert Watkins, a back specialist out in the Los Angeles area, today to get a second opinion on his ailing back, and the word from Dr. Watkins wasn't great. Manager Davey

No hits through five (Nats lose 4-2)

The offensive woes continue. How many straight days can I write an entry with a lede similar to that? The Nationals don't have a hit through five innings tonight. Pirates starter Francisco Liriano has allowed two walks - to Scott Hairston leading off the bottom of the first and to Jayson Werth in the fourth - but has yet to surrender a base hit. The

Harper resting knee, Desmond dealing with torn blister

With Bryce Harper needing to get treatment on his left knee recently and Ian Desmond dealing with a torn blister on his left hand, Davey Johnson has given both guys a game off tonight against Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano. Harper has started all 19 games since he returned from a month-long DL stint due to left knee bursitis, but he's gone just .214 with one

Harper, Desmond out of Nats lineup

Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond have both been held out of tonight's Nationals lineup against the Pirates. Anthony Rendon will get the start at shortstop, and Steve Lombardozzi will be at second. This is the first time Harper is out of the starting lineup since his return from the disabled list in June. He's hitting just .190 with 15 strikeouts in his last 11 games.

Comparing each hitter's 2013 and 2012 campaigns

One hundred games into last season, the Nationals owned a 60-40 record, tied for the best mark in the majors. They were 20 games over .500 and had a four-game lead in the National League East. This year's Nats are 12 games off that pace, at 48-52. They're four games under .500, eight games out of first in the NL East and 8 1/2 games

Werth on unlucky Nats: "I think at some point, the tide's got to turn"

Following losses both Sunday afternoon and Monday night, reporters approached Jayson Werth to discuss his two-homer performance (something that happened both days) and another tough defeat. Both of those interviews were brief, with a frustrated Werth not wanting to answer what he called "gloom and doom" questions. Tonight, things were different. Werth called reporters over to his locker and opened up about the Nationals' play

Johnson on Jordan's outing and another Nats loss

Again, while the line score might not indicate it, Taylor Jordan pitched well enough to win tonight. Instead, the Nationals' rookie right-hander dropped to 0-3 on the season with tonight's 5-1 loss. Jordan allowed five runs (four earned) over 7 2/3 innings, but he got minimal help from his defense and the Nationals' bats. Two Pirates runs followed Anthony Rendon's second-inning error, an miscue that

Jordan again in line for a tough-luck loss (Nats lose fifth straight)

The Nationals are being outscored by the Pirates 5-1 midway through the eighth. They're being outhit 10-2. At least they hold lead in one category - errors, where they have a 2-0 edge tonight. They've got that going for them, so that's nice. The box score says that Taylor Jordan allowed five runs tonight, four of which were earned. And that's true, of course. But

More sloppy baseball (updated)

Taylor Jordan allowed three runs in the second inning, but in reality, he should've been out of the frame with the Nationals trailing 1-0. Sure, Jordan loaded the bases with none out and fell behind in counts too many times, putting pressure on himself and his defense. But with one out and runners on the corners, Jordan got a tailor-made double play ball hit to

Detwiler seeing back specialist, Mattheus to be activated Friday

I saw Ross Detwiler in the player parking lot as I was driving up to Nationals Park this afternoon. Detwiler won't be around the park too long before hopping on a plane for the West Coast. Manager Davey Johnson said Detwiler is heading out to Los Angeles today to meet with Dr. Robert Watkins to get another opinion on the lower back strain that landed

Nats sticking with same lineup (with Pirates lineup)

The Nationals will stick with their same lineup (minus the pitcher) for game two of this four-game series with the Pirates. Bryce Harper will lead off and Denard Span will hit seventh. Wilson Ramos is again behind the plate for the Nats. Taylor Jordan will get his fifth big league start tonight, still in search of his first win despite positing an impressive 3.32 ERA

Little things adding up to big problems

For much of the last two months or so, Davey Johnson has been peppered with questions about why the Nationals have been struggling so mightily. Early on in that period, Johnson didn't really have much of an answer, other than that the offense largely wasn't doing its job. That part is obvious, of course, but there are other factors at play. Overall, the Nats just

Hearing from Haren and LaRoche after Nats' 6-5 loss

Dan Haren was asked after tonight's 6-5 Nationals loss, a loss that dropped them to 48-51 on the season and eight games back of the Braves in the National League East, whether he thinks the Nats have reached their low-point, or "rock bottom," as one reporter phrased it. "That I don't know," Haren said. "Obviously the mood in the clubhouse right now isn't really good.

Johnson: "This is a bad day for me. I'm glad it's over with."

Davey Johnson normally walks through life with a smile on his face and a joke ready for those he encounters, regardless of the circumstances. The 70-year- old is typically upbeat and cheerful, even if his team is going through a rough patch on the field. When reporters met with Johnson this afternoon, he spoke quietly and slowly, his spirits severely dampened by the firing of

Stop pitching to Andrew McCutchen (Nats reach new low with 6-5 loss)

Seriously. Just stop. Andrew McCutchen has come to the plate twice tonight in three innings of play. He's twice hit a two-run homer off Dan Haren. This is McCutchen's 27th career game against the Nationals. In those 27 games, McCutchen is hitting .444 with 13 homers, 26 RBIs and a 1.448 OPS. Yes, those numbers are accurate. Yes, those numbers are insanely high. McCutchen has

Rizzo: "I felt we needed a change and so I made the change"

When Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo approached manager Davey Johnson and informed him the decision had been made to fire Rick Eckstein, Johnson stood up for his hitting coach. Johnson told Rizzo that if he wanted to change up the coaching staff, perhaps firing the manager was the way to go. Rizzo declined that offer, and instead made the decision to let Eckstein go and

Johnson on Eckstein: "Today is arguably the toughest day I've had in baseball"

One thing is clear about the Nationals' decision to fire hitting coach Rick Eckstein today: The move was not endorsed by manager Davey Johnson. General manager Mike Rizzo approached Johnson today and told him that he was going to fire Eckstein, who has served as the Nats' hitting coach for the last five years. Johnson, who has called Eckstein the best hitting coach he's ever

Harper hitting leadoff again

The Nationals lineup with Rick Schu as their hitting coach looks a lot like their lineup when Rick Eckstein was their hitting coach. Bryce Harper will remain atop the lineup today, with Denard Span returning and hitting seventh. Harper will be in left, Span in center. Dan Haren will look to continue his recent turnaround; he's allowed just two earned runs over 11 innings in

Eckstein out as Nats' hitting coach, replaced by Schu (updated)

Two days after getting a vote of confidence from Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who called him the best hitting coach he's had in his 17 seasons as a major league manager, Rick Eckstein has been relieved of his duties. The news came in a press release issued a few minutes ago. Rich Schu, a former major leaguer who has served as he Nationals' minor league

A look into some depressing numbers

Into torturing yourself? Not already feeling enough pain on a Monday morning and want some more? I've got some numbers that should do the trick. The Nationals sent their best three starters to the mound in their weekend series with the Dodgers. They got swept anyway. Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez combined to allow two runs over 13 innings with 17 strikeouts. It didn't matter.

Zimmermann and Werth discuss Nats' latest defeat

Jordan Zimmermann has battled through a stiff neck and found a way to pitch at a very high level over the last couple of months. Strangely enough, with the discomfort in his neck dissipating, Zimmermann turned in the worst outing of his career this afternoon in the Nationals' 9-2 loss to the Dodgers. Zimmermann has been on anti-inflammatories over the last week or so, and

Johnson on Zimmermann's rough outing, another Nats loss

If you thought there wasn't anything positive to take out of today's 9-2 drubbing at the hands of the Dodgers, a loss that wrapped up a three-game sweep, I've got something for you. Jordan Zimmermann's health isn't a concern. Zimmermann's neck had been bothering him for the last couple of months, but it appears that he might be over the soft tissue problem at this

It goes from bad to worse (Nats swept by Dodgers)

Well, this is a nightmare of a start for Davey Johnson, Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals. The Dodgers sent 11 men to the plate in the second inning. They notched six hits, walked twice and scored seven runs. Can the Nationals score eight times against Clayton Kershaw - the major league leader in ERA - and the Dodgers today? They'll need to plate at least

LaRoche returns, Harper leading off, Hairston in left

After missing two games with the flu, Adam LaRoche is back in the Nationals lineup today against Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw. LaRoche had been battling the flu for a few days now, an illness that left his body achy and confined him to a back room in the Nats' clubhouse during games so as not to infect his teammates. He returns in time to face

Getting in on the latest Eckstein discussion

Anytime the Nationals offense has struggled over the last few years, Rick Eckstein's name has surfaced. The Nats hitting coach has been the target of plenty of criticism - perhaps some warranted, some not - during the rough stretches, and since Eckstein came on board five seasons ago, there have been a number of rough stretches. And so it probably shouldn't surprise Davey Johnson when

Desmond and Gonzalez react to Nats' 10-inning loss

Ian Desmond had some interesting thoughts on the Nationals' season-long struggles and their current collective state of mind after tonight's 3-1 10-inning loss to the Dodgers. One of the more thoughtful, forthcoming players in the Nationals clubhouse, Desmond will tell it how he sees it. And tonight, after being a part of an offensive performance that again was subpar, Desmond said he felt the approach

Johnson discusses Nats' 3-1 extra-inning loss

It's not hard to pinpoint the major failing in tonight's 3-1 Nationals loss. It's the same issue that's plagued this team pretty much the entire season. The Nats scored a single run over 10 innings. They went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. They left 12 runners on base. Davey Johnson's team had the bases loaded and one out in the first. The Nats got

Gonzalez does his part, but Nats can't hold lead (Nats lose 3-1 in 10 innings)

Gio Gonzalez did all he could tonight. He threw six scoreless innings, tied a career high with 11 strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 2.89. Thanks to a Roger Bernadina pinch-hit single to right in the sixth, the Nationals had a 1-0 lead when Gonzalez left the game. They just couldn't hold it. Drew Storen surrendered back-to-back two-out hits in the top of the seventh,

Déjà vu all over again (updated again)

For the second straight night, the Nationals had a golden opportunity against Dodgers pitching, loading the bases early in an inning. For the second straight night, the Nats squandered the chance, left the bases loaded and heard a chorus of boos from the crowd at Nats Park. Last night, the Nats had the sacks packed with none out in the fourth and failed to score.

Detwiler out through the homestand

The Nationals had hoped to have Ross Detwiler back in their rotation coming out of the All-Star break, ready to go after missing some time due to a lower back strain. Now, barring a surprise development, Detwiler, who last pitched July 3, won't be appearing in a major league game until after the current 11-game homestand. Detwiler threw a bullpen session today, but it was

LaRoche out of Nats lineup again

Davey Johnson said last night that if Adam LaRoche was healthy enough to return to the Nationals' lineup, he'd bat Bryce Harper in the leadoff spot tonight and move Denard Span down in the order. Well, LaRoche is out of the Nats lineup yet again due to a bout with the flu. And as a result, Span remains in the leadoff spot and Harper is

Tracy's struggles could expand Rizzo's to-do list

The Nationals will try and keep their spirits high, remain optimistic and keep the faith that they can make a run over their final 66 games and reach the postseason. It sure would be easier to do that, however, if they didn't open the second half with another dud of a performance, one that assisted in dropping them back into third place in the National

Hearing from Soriano, Harper and Strasburg

The 1-2 pitch that Andre Ethier golfed over the right-center field fence for the game-winning homer off Rafael Soriano actually wasn't in a bad spot. Don't believe me? Check out the strike zone plot on BrooksBaseball.com. Soriano had set Ethier up by pounding four fastballs on the outside corner to start the at-bat, and being ahead in the count, the Nationals' closer then tried to

Johnson discusses Nats' 3-2 loss

The Nationals had hoped to come out of the All-Star break refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to turn their season around. If that turnaround is coming, it'll have to wait another day. The Nats fell to the Dodgers 3-2 tonight, smacking nine hits, but going just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. They had just one RBI on the night, with their other run coming in

Soriano serves one up in the ninth (Nats lose 3-2)

Entering in a 2-2 game in the top of the ninth inning, Rafael Soriano only threw five pitches before the game was no longer tied. Andre Ethier took a 1-2 slider from Soriano and golfed it just over the high wall in right-center for his sixth homer of the season, giving the Dodgers a 3-2 lead over the Nationals. It was Ethier's first homer since

More of the same in the second half (updated)

If the first five innings of tonight's game are any indication, some time off over the All-Star break apparently hasn't changed much about this Nationals team. The Nats trail 2-1 after five innings despite loading the bases with no outs in the fourth inning. They got nothing in that frame and had boos rain down upon them as they walked off the field. After Ryan

A Mattheus update plus Johnson's outlook on the second half

The Nationals have 11 home games in the next 10 days, a lengthy homestand coming out of the All-Star break and a chance to get things going in the right direction after playing a disappointing first half of the season. Davey Johnson's club has gone 27-18 (.600) at home this season, leading you to believe the Nats will have a bit of an edge over

LaRoche battling flu, Detwiler's return not imminent

I approached Adam LaRoche in the Nationals' clubhouse a bit ago to check in on him and ask if he was feeling OK, seeing as how he's been held out of the Nats' lineup for tonight's game against the Dodgers. "You might want to keep your distance," LaRoche responded in a quiet, somewhat raspy voice. LaRoche has been dealing with the flu over the last

LaRoche not in Nats lineup, Harper hitting cleanup (with Dodgers lineup)

Davey Johnson has done some more tinkering to his lineup for the first game of the second half, and one of the moves makes me wonder if something's up. Adam LaRoche is not in the Nationals lineup today. Chad Tracy will instead play first base. The Nats are facing Dodgers right-hander Ricky Nolasco today, and Tracy (like LaRoche) is a left-handed hitter, so it's not

Pitching match-ups and a pitcher that could be relocating

If you've struggled with the lack of real baseball this week, if you feel like there's been a hole in your summertime routine without the Nationals and hundreds of my tweets, then you're in luck - Major League Baseball returns today. And so will my tweets. Get pumped. Most players - those not involved in the All-Star events Monday and Tuesday - have gotten four

A look at what lies ahead

We've taken a peek back at the Nationals' first 95 games. It might not have been a pleasant experience for you, but we did it. Now, let's look ahead. The Nats have 67 games remaining, 67 chances to chip away at the Braves' six-game lead in the National League East and the five-game deficit for the final Wild Card spot. How tough a road do

The big remaining questions

For those questioning the decision to name Mariano Rivera the Most Valuable Player of last night's All-Star Game, let me ask you this: Who would you have selected? No player on either team had more than one hit. Two of the three runs that were scored all game came in on a sacrifice fly and an RBI groundout. Should Jose Bautista earn MVP honors for

Harper goes 0-for-2 in American League's 3-0 All-Star Game win

The National League All-Stars trail 1-0 after four innings in the Midsummer Classic, and much like the Nationals, the lack of offense has been an issue for the NL squad tonight. Only one National League hitter has reached base tonight - Carlos Beltran - and the NL squad wasn't able to make anything of that lone opportunity, even after pinch-runner Andrew McCutchen stole second base.

Handing out some first-half hardware (Mattheus bumped up in rehab assignment)

Yeah, Bryce Harper didn't bring home the Home Run Derby trophy, finishing in second place behind Athletics slugger Yoenis Cespedes, but there is a silver lining here: With Harper just 20 years old, imagine how many more times we'll get to watch him hit bombs in the Derby and take a run at that hardware. Harper put on quite a show last night, and it

Harper advances to second round of Home Run Derby (Harper is runner-up)

Yoenis Cespedes has set the bar pretty darn high, crushing 17 homers in the first round of the Home Run Derby. Bryce Harper didn't quite get to that level, but he showed well in his first-round hacks, hitting eight homers off pitches thrown by his dad, Ron. Performing in his first home run derby since taking part in an aluminum bat showcase at Tropicana Field

Harper batting ninth in NL All-Star lineup

You know what's weird? Seeing Bryce Harper's name in the No. 9 spot in a batting order, that's what's weird. Harper will hit ninth for the National League All-Star team, which makes me wonder whether Harper has ever, in his life, hit ninth before. It probably ensures that Harper will only get on at-bat in the Midsummer Classic. Harper will play center field. Here's the

A look back at the first half

We've officially finished up the first half of the 2013 season. We'll ignore the fact that the Nationals have already played 95 games (59 percent of their season) and continue calling the pre-All-Star break portion of the schedule the first half. Is it weird that's a little bit of a pet peeve of mine? Yes? I thought so. The Nationals head into the All-Star break

Dissecting the disaster in Miami

There's plenty to discuss coming out of last night's 2-1, 10-inning loss to the Marlins. So let's dive right in. On Bryce Harper getting ejected in a 1-0 game in the eighth inning: Can't happen. It just can't. I know Harper was frustrated by a couple of Hunter Wendelstedt's calls during a sixth-inning at-bat in which he was called out on strikes. Two called strikes

Harper ejected in eighth inning (Nats lose 2-1 in 10 innings)

Bryce Harper has been ejected in the top of the eighth inning for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. After getting called out on strikes for the second time tonight, Harper threw up his hands and gave Wendelstedt a piece of his mind. Wendelstedt was less than pleased with the display, and tossed Harper from the game. This is the second

An impressive beginning for Haren (Haren outduels Fernandez)

You cannot predict baseball. Try as hard as you might, you just can't. Stephen Strasburg entered last night's game with a 2.45 ERA. He allowed seven runs over just two innings in a loss to the Marlins. Dan Haren entered tonight with a 6.00 ERA. He's thrown four scoreless innings against the Marlins, with six strikeouts. Haren has looked really sharp thus far tonight, allowing

Rendon getting a day off (with Marlins lineup)

Davey Johnson will give Anthony Rendon the day off today in Game 2 of this three-game set against the Marlins. Steve Lombardozzi will play second base for the Nationals today, giving him his first start since June 23, while Rendon gets a rest. This will be the first time Rendon isn't in the starting lineup since June 14. Dan Haren gets the start for the

Moving in the wrong direction

Stephen Strasburg has had shortened outings due to injury reasons. That kind of stuff can happen to any pitcher. You don't expect to see Strasburg leaving games after two innings when he's completely healthy. That kind of stuff also can, of course, happen to any pitcher. It's just surprising to see it happen to Strasburg. Strasburg's ERA jumped from 2.45 to 2.99 yesterday thanks to

The worst outing of Strasburg's career (Nats lose 8-3)

Stephen Strasburg has now made 63 major league starts. Tonight's outing was his worst. By far. Strasburg is done after just two innings of work tonight. He allowed a career-high seven earned runs on five hits and four walks. He struck out two, and only half of his 66 pitches were for strikes. Strasburg had thrice allowed six earned runs in an outing (Aug. 10,

LaRoche's turnaround continues, Strasburg roughed up (plus Owings note)

A notoriously slow starter, Adam LaRoche followed that career-long trend this season. Boy, did he ever. Through his first 25 games this season, LaRoche hit a miniscule .129/.204/.247 with three homers and eight RBIs. Yes, his slugging percentage was well below his career batting average, and he was barely reaching base 20 percent of his plate appearances. In LaRoche's 63 games since, however, the Nationals'

Strasburg faces the Fish

The Nationals open their final series before the All-Star break tonight in Miami, with Stephen Strasburg taking on Nathan Eovaldi in a battle of young, talented right-handers. Eovaldi, acquired by Miami last season in the Hanley Ramirez trade, has made just four starts with the Marlins this season since coming up from the minors. The 23-year-old has gone 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA, 13 strikeouts

Closing out the first half; Desmond reflects on Final Vote campaign

The Nationals leave Philly and head to Miami for the final series before the All-Star break trailing by six games in the division. They snagged just one of the four games against the Phillies this week, leaving them with a 47-45 record. Five games above .500 is the best the Nats can hope for heading into the break, and with the Marlins playing much better

Span on his rough night, plus quotes from Harper and Frandsen

PHILADELPHIA - Denard Span's night got off to a rough start from the get-go. He sent a pop-up foul leading off the first inning, only to have Chase Utley's error give him another shot in the at-bat. He then shot a liner at Utley, who skied to make the catch and rob Span of a hit. In his second at-bat, Span laid down a bunt

Johnson discusses Nats' 3-1 loss to Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - It might be a little deceiving when you look at the box score and see the Phillies committed four errors behind starter Kyle Kendrick tonight. One of those errors came on a dropped foul pop-up. Two came on one play with the bases empty. Another came on a diving stop by third baseman Michael Young, who stole a single and then handed Kurt

Zimmermann: Missing All-Star Game "a possibility" due to stiff neck

PHILADELPHIA - For the last handful of weeks, Jordan Zimmermann has been pitching through some mild stiffness in his neck. After tonight's outing, in which he allowed two runs over 6 1/3 innings in a loss to the Phillies, Zimmermann acknowledged that the neck issue could lead him to skip the All-Star Game, which he was selected to for the first time in his career.

Less than textbook baseball being played in Philly (Nats lose 3-1)

PHILADELPHIA - The Phillies have committed four errors through five innings of play. Somehow, they've still managed to grab a 1-0 lead. Chase Utley has committed three errors himself, two of which came on one play in the fourth that put Jayson Werth on third with two outs. Michael Young committed a two-base error in the fifth that put Kurt Suzuki in scoring position with

Desmond loses NL Final Vote

PHILADELPHIA - Droves of Nationals fans went online and took to Twitter to support shortstop Ian Desmond in the National League All-Star Final Vote competition, but it wasn't enough. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman won the NL Final Vote, receiving a record 19.7 million votes and securing the final spot on the National League All-Star roster. Desmond finished fourth, behind Freeman, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig

Nats, Phillies lineups for finale in City of Brotherly Love

PHILADELPHIA - After facing left-handers each of the last three days, the Nationals will take their hacks against Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick tonight in the finale of this four-game series at Citizens Bank Park. With a win, the Nats would salvage a split in this set despite dropping the first two games. Bryce Harper is 7-for-14 career off Kendrick with a homer and three doubles

Digesting some early afternoon stats

PHILADELPHIA - Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos are raking lately, but they're not alone. There's also Jayson Werth, whose recent hot streak is worth taking note of. Since June 15, a span of 24 games, Werth has posted a .373/.454/.614 slash line with five homers, five doubles and 17 RBIs. He has at least one hit in 19 of those 24 games, and is 8-for-21

Rendon and Ramos packing a punch, Gonzalez hitting his stride

PHILADELPHIA - If you haven't heard much about Henry Rodriguez lately, it's because the former Nationals reliever, who was traded to the Cubs a month ago, hasn't seen a whole lot of action with his new team. Prior to last night, Rodriguez had appeared in just four games since heading to the Cubs on June 11, and just one since June 23. Rodriguez got into

Johnson discusses Nats' 5-1 win over Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - It might sound a bit silly at first, but Davey Johnson thinks a key to the Nationals' 5-1 win over Cliff Lee and the Phillies tonight was his team's aggressive approach in batting practice. Aggressive approach? In batting practice? By that, Johnson doesn't mean that there are some days where his players just stand there in the cage and choose not to swing.

Gio gets some rope, works out of a jam (Nats win 5-1)

PHILADELPHIA - Davey Johnson jokingly has given himself the nickname "Captain Hook" because he tends to err on the side of caution with his starting pitchers. The Nationals' skipper tends to have a fairly quick hook with his younger starters, and rarely sends them out for that extra inning in the middle or late innings, in an effort to have their start end on a

Rendon and Ramos go back-to-back (so do Zimmerman and Werth)

PHILADELPHIA - Anthony Rendon broke open a scoreless tie four pitches into the fifth inning. Wilson Ramos didn't waste much time copying Rendon and giving the Nationals a 2-0 lead. After Gio Gonzalez and Cliff Lee had each started tonight's game with four scoreless innings, Rendon took an 0-2 Lee fastball out to left for his fourth homer of the season. That was the first

Christian Garcia suffers another setback (plus Jordan notes)

PHILADELPHIA - Christian Garcia's rough 2013 continues. The right-hander, who made his major league debut with the Nationals last season and played a big factor in the Nats' bullpen down the stretch, has suffered a hamstring injury and will miss his next scheduled appearance for Triple-A Syracuse, manager Davey Johnson said today. Garcia will get an MRI on the hamstring to determine the severity of

Johnson on adding a starting pitcher: "I don't think that's in our plans"

PHILADELPHIA - Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said the other day that he doesn't envision making any major deals prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, feeling that there are no "big splashy moves that are remaining" for the Nats this season. Still, there are those who feel that with Ross Detwiler having landed on the DL twice in the last two months and

A battle of two tough lefties

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals have struggled mightily against left-handed pitching this season, and they'll face one of the toughest left-handers in the bigs tonight when they take on Cliff Lee. Lee is 10-2 with a 2.73 ERA this season, and he held the Nats to two runs over eight strong innings back on June 18 in a Phillies win here at Citizens Bank Park. The

Needing more from the bottom two spots in the rotation

PHILADELPHIA - Two days ago, the Nationals deficit in the National League East had been cut to four. Just like that, it's back to six. Two Nats losses here in Philly coupled with two Braves wins over the Marlins, and there goes the momentum again. The good news for the Nats is that they'll now send Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann to the mound in

LaRoche, Zimmerman and Desmond discuss Nats' loss

PHILADELPHIA - Davey Johnson can't really explain why the Nationals look so locked-in offensively one day and then produce so little the next. Neither can Adam LaRoche, who admits it's a bit frustrating the way the Nats have been so feast-or-famine offensively of late. "A little bit," LaRoche said. "We'll get into a game and we'll be in the sixth, seventh inning with two or

Johnson recaps Nats' 4-2 loss

PHILADELPHIA - Here are the number of runs the Nationals have scored in each of their last 10 games: 13, 10, zero, one, eight, eight, five, 11, two, two. Of those 10 games, the Nats won six. Take your best guess which six ended in a Nationals handshake line on the field after the final out. The Nats have shown in the last couple weeks

Werth crushes, Jordan impresses (Nats lose 4-2)

PHILADELPHIA - As he is before his first at-bat of every game here at Citizens Bank Park, Jayson Werth was booed heavily when he stepped into the batter's box in the top of the second inning tonight. Werth responded to the jeers from his former fanbase by reaching out and crushing a Cole Hamels changeup into the bleachers in left-center, giving the Nationals an early

On Span sitting, Hairston hitting leadoff and Harper patrolling center

PHILADELPHIA - Scott Hairston's stocky, solid, 6-foot, 205-lb. frame doesn't really scream "leadoff hitter." Yet, that's what Hairston will be tonight for the 100th time in his career. Hairston is listed atop the Nationals' lineup tonight, as manager Davey Johnson has opted to give Denard Span the night off and put Hairston in there against Phillies lefty Cole Hamels. Hairston hits lefties well, and he

Hairston leading off, playing left in Nats debut

PHILADELPHIA - Not only is Scott Hairston making his Nationals debut tonight in just his second day with the team since coming over in a trade with the Cubs, he's also in the leadoff spot. I did expect to see Hairston in the lineup tonight. I did not expect him to lead off. Anyone that says they did is probably lying. Hairston will play left

A step forward from Haren or more of the same?

PHILADELPHIA - With the Nationals dropping the opener of their four-game series with the Phillies last night, the Braves capitalized on the opportunity to put some more space between themselves and Davey Johnson's bunch. Atlanta scored six times in the 14th inning of its game with the Marlins last night, and with that victory, the Braves pushed their division lead back to five games. After

Hearing from Lannan, Desmond and Hairston

PHILADELPHIA - John Lannan isn't the type to talk openly about wanting to stick it to an organization or shove a strong performance in anyone's face to prove a point. He could go that route, but Lannan just isn't that kind of guy. That's why the left-hander downplayed the fact that his best outing in years - eight scoreless innings of four-hit ball - came

Johnson discusses Nats' 3-2 loss

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals optioned John Lannan to Triple-A Syracuse the day before opening day last season and then non-tendered him this winter. Today, Lannan got his payback. The left-hander, who was twice the Nats' opening day starter but spent the vast majority of last season in the minors, threw eight shutout innings against his former team today, leading the Phillies to a 3-2 win.

Lannan holding Nats in check, Haren survives shaky start (Nats lose 3-2)

PHILADELPHIA - Through five innings tonight, John Lannan is outpitching the guy the Nationals replaced him with this offseason and sticking it to his former team in the process. Lannan has held the Nats to just two hits over five scoreless innings, and he and the Phillies hold a 2-0 lead. The Nats had their only real chance against Lannan in the fourth. Bryce Harper

Rizzo, Johnson discuss Hairston acquisition

PHILADELPHIA - Reporters have still not laid eyes on Scott Hairston since the veteran outfielder was acquired by the Nationals for minor league righty Ivan Pineyro in a trade with the Cubs last night. Hairston's flight out of Chicago was delayed by a couple hours earlier today, and he had yet to arrive in the Nats' clubhouse when the open-media period had ended around 5:30

Bryce Harper to take part in Home Run Derby

PHILADELPHIA - Not only is Bryce Harper going to be a starter in the All-Star Game, he'll also be participating in the Home Run Derby the previous night. Harper has accepted Mets third baseman David Wright's offer to take part in the National League team for the Home Run Derby, joining Wright and the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer. The American League team will

Hairston on lineup card, Moore optioned (with lineups)

PHILADELPHIA - Scott Hairston is not here at Citizens Bank Park just yet, but he is on the Nationals' lineup card and is expected to be in uniform tonight. Tyler Moore is not on the lineup card, and while the roster move is not yet official, he'll be optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Hairston. Moore is batting .151/.195/.283 this season, and will

More on Hairston, some on Harper (Nats send pitcher Pineyro to Cubs)

If you've seen the news that the Nationals have acquired outfielder Scott Hairston from the Cubs and find yourself unimpressed by Hairston's .172/.232/.434 slash line this season, well, you're probably not alone. As a team, Nats pinch-hitters are batting .174/.208/.313 this season, so why do they need another guy who is hitting well below the Mendoza line and isn't reaching base at a solid clip?

Report: Nats acquire outfielder Scott Hairston from Cubs

The Nationals have been looking around for a right-handed bench player, someone who can provide some pop and depth in the outfield. They reportedly got such a guy tonight. According to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, the Nats have acquired outfielder Scott Hairston from the Cubs for a minor league pitcher. I don't expect to be able to confirm details at this late hour, but we'll know

Johnson discusses Nats' 11-7 win, sweep of Padres

At close of business today, the Nationals look up and find themselves four games over .500 for the first time since May 17. They also find themselves four games back of the Braves in the National League East, the lowest deficit in the division since May 20. Today's 11-7 win over the Padres - a win that finished off a three-game sweep - combined with

Harper heating up (Nats sweep away Padres)

Apparently, all Davey Johnson needed to do to get Bryce Harper back on track was threaten to take him out of the lineup. Since Johnson did so, Harper has four RBIs in five at-bats. His last four plate appearances have all resulted in an RBI. Harper went 1-for-2 with three RBIs yesterday, and he came through again in his first trip to the plate this

Detwiler officially placed on DL, Haren to start Monday

The Nationals have made it official, putting left-hander Ross Detwiler on the disabled list with a lower back strain. Detwiler's DL stint will be retroactive to July 4, meaning he'll be eligible to come off the DL on July 19, the Nationals' first game after the All-Star break. It's unclear, however, how much time Detwiler will need to get past the lingering back stiffness that

LaRoche sitting as Nats shoot for the sweep

Adam LaRoche took a seat on the infield dirt after making a diving stop to end yesterday's game in dramatic fashion. Today, LaRoche will take a seat on the Nationals bench. With the Nats facing Padres left-hander Robbie Erlin (1-1, 4,34 ERA), manager Davey Johnson has opted to rest LaRoche and put another right-handed bat in the lineup. Tyler Moore will get the start at

Storen bounces back in a big way

In his two previous outings prior to yesterday, Drew Storen had thrown a combined 54 pitches in two innings. He had allowed seven runs on seven hits, walked one, struck out two and allowed hitters to post a .538 batting average and a 1.725 OPS. After the second of those two blowups, manager Davey Johnson talked about wanting to see Storen get back to attacking

Detwiler to DL, plus postgame quotes after 5-4 Nats win

Prior to today's game, manager Davey Johnson said that Ross Detwiler was "questionable" for Monday's start against the Phillies. It doesn't seem like there's much question anymore. Johnson said after the Nats' 5-4 win over the Padres today that Detwiler will land on the disabled list, allowing him time to rest his stiff back. "He's a tough customer," Johnson said. "But he understood the value

Harper, Zimmermann, others react to All-Star Game news

Bryce Harper made the All-Star team last year as a reserve. This year, he goes in as a starter. Harper was one of the top three vote-getters among National League outfielders in the All-Star fan voting, meaning he'll start the Midsummer Classic, making him the youngest NL player to ever start the game. "I'm very blessed to be part of that," Harper said. "I'm just

Harper, Zimmermann named to NL All-Star team (Desmond in Final Vote)

The Nationals will have at least two representatives in this year's All-Star Game. That number could end up growing to three. Bryce Harper is heading back to the Midsummer Classic, this time as a starter, while Jordan Zimmermann will make his first career All-Star appearance. Harper, who in his rookie season last year made the National League All-Star team as a reserve, earned a starting

Harper comes through, Ohlendorf serves one up (Nats win 5-4)

It's a good thing Bryce Harper tried to talk himself into the Nationals' lineup. It's also a good thing Davey Johnson was willing to listen. Harper has bounced back from a rough last few games by drawing a bases-loaded walk and slapping an RBI single in his first three at-bats, producing two of the Nats' three RBIs and helping to briefly push them to a

Detwiler "questionable" for Monday's start after feeling more back discomfort

The Nationals got a little bit of a scare today, when left-hander Ross Detwiler felt some more discomfort in his lower back during a bullpen session. As a result of this setback, Detwiler is now "questionable" to make his start on Monday, according to manager Davey Johnson. Detwiler had originally felt some stiffness in his back after his start in New York back on June

After text conversation, Johnson puts Harper back in Nats lineup

Following last night's game, Davey Johnson told reporters that he planned to give Bryce Harper the weekend off in an effort to get Harper on track and out of an 0-for-18 funk. Harper wasn't a fan of that idea, and sent a text message to his manager last night. "Play me or trade me," the text message read. Johnson's response? "Since trading's out of the

Harper talks his way into Nats lineup (with Brewers lineup)

After yesterday's game, Davey Johnson said he planned to give Bryce Harper, mired in an 0-for-18 slump, the weekend off. So much for that. Harper has talked his way back into the Nationals' lineup today against the Padres. Kurt Suzuki will get the start behind the plate after Wilson Ramos had caught the last two days. The Nats will face old buddy Jason Marquis today.

Clippard expanding the repertoire, finding plenty of success

Repeating a stat I dropped last night, the Nationals have now won two in a row and still have two more games against a Padres team that has lost seven straight by a collective score of 39-12. As if that didn't look good enough for the home team, the Nats will send their two top pitchers this season - Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg -

Notes and quotes following Nats' 8-5 win

There have been a host of times over the last seven weeks where Gio Gonzalez has gone out, pitched a gem and been stuck with a tough-luck loss or a no-decision. In tonight's 8-5 Nationals win, Gonzalez threw 50 pitches in the first two innings, allowed eight runners to reach base in the first four frames and still got the win. Baseball can be a

Johnson plans to give Harper rest of the weekend off

Since homering in dramatic fashion in his first at-bat off the disabled list, Bryce Harper has gone 0-for-18 with three walks and an RBI. Defensively, he's dropped two fly balls in the five games that he's been back in the Nationals lineup since returning from left knee bursitis. With Harper perhaps not 100 percent healthy and perhaps pressing from a mental standpoint, manager Davey Johnson

Ramos keeps on rolling (Nats win 8-5)

Everything's coming up Wilson Ramos. A night after posting a career-high five RBIs and hitting a game-winning three-run homer in his first game back off the DL, Ramos drove in two with a single to left, starting the Nationals scoring in a five-run second inning. Ramos missed 44 games while on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, but he's been on fire since

Pregame notes on Storen, Mattheus, All-Star possibilities

In just over 24 hours, we'll know how many Nationals have been selected to the 2013 National League All-Star team. We might as well use this time to speculate and talk about the possibilities. In Davey Johnson's eyes, he has two no-doubt-about-it All-Stars on his team: Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond. "Those guys, for sure," Johnson said. Zimmerman ranks first in the National League with

Johnson sticking with same lineup

Aside from pitcher Gio Gonzalez, Nationals manager Davey Johnson will trot out the same lineup for tonight's opener of a three-game series against the Padres as he used yesterday in the finale against the Brewers. I guess when you score eight runs, you don't want to mess up a good thing. Gonzalez will be opposed by right-hander Andrew Cashner. Here are tonight's lineups: For the

On Ramos and Jordan

Hope everyone had a very happy July 4. We had a beautiful day yesterday, and after sweating through my polo in the press box, I was able to get in some barbequing and quality outdoor time with friends after leaving Nationals Park. Hopefully, you all got to do the same. The way I see it, Wilson Ramos is owed some happy moments. Ramos had to

Johnson and Ramos discuss Nats' 8-5 win

When Wilson Ramos strode to the plate with two on and two outs in the bottom of the sixth with the score tied 5-5, Nationals manager Davey Johnson turned to his bench coach, Randy Knorr. "He's had a good day," Johnson told Knorr. "He might as well just hit one out here." Ask, and you shall receive. In his first game off the disabled list

Storen gives up the lead (Ramos leads Nats to 8-5 win)

Over the last couple of months, Drew Storen has either been really good or really bad. During a 17-appearance stretch, Storen didn't allow an earned run in 16 of those games. Now, in his last two appearances, Storen has surrendered a total of seven runs. Today, it was the Brewers putting up three runs on Storen in the seventh inning, turning a 5-2 Nationals lead

Davey knows what he's doing (Ramos delivers a big knock in his return)

Davey Johnson was asked why he flipped Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth in the batting order today. "I don't know. Because I'm supposed to do something," Johnson joked. The man knows what he's doing. Desmond and Werth are a combined 3-for-3 with a walk and an RBI in their new spots in the lineup, and Werth's run-scoring single in the first gave the Nats a

The early leader for press conference of the year

A sleep-deprived Davey Johnson is the best kind of Davey Johnson. Johnson was in rare form this morning when meeting with reporters before today's 11 a.m. game, ripping jokes - many of which were self-deprecating - and telling stories that even he admitted made him look a bit nuts. The ball got rolling when Johnson was asked why he decided to switch up his lineup

Davey Johnson: "I don't have any answers"

Twice during his brief, three-minute postgame press conference tonight, Nationals manager Davey Johnson - a man who rarely is at a lack for words - uttered a simple phrase that sums up how perplexed the Nats are by their 42-42 start this season. "I don't have any answers," Johnson said quietly. The Nationals fell to the Brewers 4-1 tonight, marking their second straight defeat at

The scoreless streak is over (Nats lose 4-1)

Let's look on the positive side of things. Anthony Rendon's solo home run in the seventh, the second homer of his big league career, has brought the Nationals to within three at 4-1 and prevented them from getting shut out for the second straight day. Their scoreless streak has been snapped at 15 innings, and they'll turn the lineup over and get their big bats

Ramos expected to return to Nats' lineup tomorrow (the deficit increases)

Assuming all goes well tonight, the Nationals should have Wilson Ramos back in their starting lineup tomorrow. Ramos, who has missed the last 43 games with a strained left hamstring, will play in his fifth rehab game tonight. He'll serve as the designated hitter for high Single-A Potomac, and is slated to play a full nine innings. Barring any setbacks, manager Davey Johnson said Ramos

Haren ready to return, with what he feels is an improved repertoire

At 2 p.m. today, Dan Haren stepped on the mound at Nationals Park and started firing away as a rotation of hitters took their hacks. It was just a simulated game against three hitters with whom he shares a clubhouse - Chad Tracy, Tyler Moore and Steve Lombardozzi - but it was yet another step in the right direction for Haren, who has been on

Detwiler back on the mound

Left-hander Ross Detwiler makes his first start tonight since feeling stiffness in his lower back following Friday night's effort at Citi Field in New York. Detwiler is 2-6 with a 4.13 ERA in 12 starts this season. His opposition is Brewers righty Kyle Lohse. He'll be backed up in his start against Milwaukee by what is becoming a familiar batting order, now that some of

Nats sign catcher Kelly Shoppach to minor league deal

The Nationals have bolstered their catching depth, agreeing to terms with veteran Kelly Shoppach on a minor league deal. Shoppach, 33, will report to Triple-A Syracuse. A nine-year major league veteran, Shoppach played 35 games with the Mariners this season, posting a slash line of .196/.293/.346 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 107 at-bats. Shoppach's best offensive season came in 2008, when he

On Strasburg, Espinosa and Span

Stephen Strasburg's ERA this season - a miniscule 2.24 - is 24 points lower than his rotation mate Jordan Zimmermann's. Somehow, Zimmermann has 12 wins on the season, and Strasburg has one-third that many. Yet there are those who still view pitchers' wins as a crucial statistic. Doesn't make much sense to me. The Nationals are scoring an average of 4.71 runs per game when

Strasburg on lack of run support, Harper on the drop

Stephen Strasburg has gotten the lowest run support of any starter in the major leagues this season, at 2.44 runs per game. The Nationals have scored more than three runs in just three of his 16 starts, including tonight's 4-0 loss to the Brewers. Strasburg has now allowed two earned runs or fewer in last eight starts (and one earned run or fewer in seven

Johnson discusses Nats' 4-0 loss

Over the course of 162 games last season, the Nationals were shut out eight times. Tonight marked the ninth time they've been shut out in their first 83 games this season. The Nats lost to the Brewers 4-0 tonight, wasting another stellar outing from Stephen Strasburg, who threw seven scoreless innings, dropping his ERA to 2.24. They went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and

Storen comes apart in the eighth (Nats lose 4-0)

Over the last five weeks, Drew Storen has reverted to his 2011 form, when he saved 43 games, struck out nearly a batter per inning and posted a 2.75 ERA. Storen had allowed an earned run in just one of his last 17 appearances coming into tonight and had talked about how he was feeling really confident against left-handed hitters lately, largely thanks to his

Nats sign seven international free agents

The international free agent signing period started today, and the Nationals have made a handful of moves within the first 24 hours, agreeing to terms with seven 16-year-olds. The Nats announced they've signed right-handed pitcher Edwin Adames, catcher Jose Cabello, right-handed pitcher Angel Guillen, left-handed pitcher Jose Jimenez, outfielder Victor Robles, outfielder Dany Rojas and catcher Edwin Trejos. In accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement,

Brewers can't touch the Strasburg curve, Nats can't give Strasburg runs (updated)

Stephen Strasburg has thrown five scoreless innings tonight, allowing just two hits (one of which came on a blown call at first base) and walking two. He's struck out five Brewers, all five of which have been on the curveball, a pitch that has been truly filthy tonight. Strasburg has dialed the fastball up to 97 mph. He's thrown a few nasty changeups. But it's

Detwiler good to start tomorrow, Haren could rejoin rotation next week

Davey Johnson wanted to wait until today before making the final determination that Ross Detwiler would be good to start tomorrow against the Brewers. Detwiler felt some stiffness in the left side of his lower back following his last start on Friday in New York, and while Detwiler came out of his side session yesterday feeling just fine, the Nats needed to see how the

Today's Nationals lineup (with Brewers lineup)

The Nationals will use the same lineup as yesterday, with one obvious exception. The Nats will send Stephen Strasburg to the mound instead of Jordan Zimmermann. I know Zimmermann went 3-for-3 yesterday, but if he was in the lineup again today, we'd have some news on our hands. As for the eight position players in the batting order, I guess if it ain't broke, don't

Nats outright Cole Kimball to Triple-A

The Nationals have outrighted right-handed reliever Cole Kimball to Triple-A Syracuse, the team announced this afternoon. Kimball was already on Syracuse's roster, but outrighting him takes him off the 40-man roster, opening up a spot. The Nats now have 39 players on the 40-man roster. That does not include reliever Christian Garcia, who is on the 60-day disabled list and is currently on a rehab

Another tease or the start of an offensive turnaround?

It's impossible to see what the Nationals have done offensively the last two days and not wonder whether this is it. Has the offense finally woken up for good? Is this the stretch where things turn around and the Nats start playing to their ability, as Davey Johnson likes to put it? This just has to be where the offense kicks things into high gear,

Harper on the homer and his return

Bryce Harper stepped up to the plate at Nationals Park for the first time in a while, got a loud ovation from the crowd, looked at a ball out of the zone and then slugged the second pitch he saw for a solo homer. He sprinted around the bases, was greeted by smiles and high fives in the Nationals' dugout and then came out to

Johnson discusses Nats' 10-5 win

It didn't take more than 15 minutes into tonight's ballgame, Bryce Harper's first in over a month, for the 20-year-old outfielder to make his presence felt. Up with two outs in the bottom of the first, Harper took the first pitch he saw from Yovani Gallardo, then smoked the second on a line over the left-center field fence for a solo homer that got the

Nats beat Brewers 10-5

The Nationals scored 10 runs or more in one of their first 80 games this season. They've now reached the double-digit run mark on back-to-back days. First, it was a 13-2 romp over the Mets. Tonight, it was a 10-5 win over the Brewers. The last time the Nats put up at least 10 runs in consecutive games was June 26-28 of last year, when

Harper homers in first at-bat in 36 days (it's a ballgame again)

Was there any doubt Bryce Harper would do something special in his return to the Nationals' lineup after missing 31 games while on the disabled list? If you were one to have those doubts, you must not have seen much of Harper over the last two seasons. In his first big league at-bat in 36 days, Harper took the first pitch he saw from Brewers

Detwiler will make Wednesday start, Ramos continues rehab, Owings granted his release

The Nationals got Bryce Harper back today, and they're getting good news on a couple other banged-up players, as well. Ross Detwiler threw a bullpen session today and came out feeling just fine, according to manager Davey Johnson. Detwiler had felt some stiffness in the left side of his lower back after Friday's start against the Mets, and it looked for a bit like the

Harper on his return, Johnson on his lineup decisions

Around 2 p.m. today, while milling around the Nationals' clubhouse, Davey Johnson saw Bryce Harper, his 20-year-old outfielder who had missed the last 31 games while dealing with left-knee bursitis. "Is that really you?" Johnson asked Harper. "Are you OK? You ready to go?" Harper shook Johnson's hand. "Yeah, I'm ready," Harper said. Harper was reinstated from the disabled list today after a four-game rehab

Harper reinstated from DL, Davis optioned (Werth hitting second, Rendon seventh)

He's back. The Nationals have activated outfielder Bryce Harper from the 15-day disabled list. To make room for Harper on the active roster, right-hander Erik Davis was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. Harper, who missed the last 31 games with left-knee bursitis, is batting .287 with seven doubles, one triple, 12 home runs, 23 RBI, 25 walks and two stolen bases in 44 games this season.

Haren feels injury might've been more serious than he first thought

Dan Haren will be - and has been - the first to admit that he hasn't thrown the ball well this season. We've seen Haren's brutal honesty on more than a few occasions this year, and he certainly isn't shy about telling you when he isn't getting the job done or pitching to the level he feels he should. But Haren was pleasantly surprised with

Hitting the halfway point

The Nationals have reached the halfway point of their 2013 season the owners of a 41-40 record. Not where they thought they'd be right now, that's for sure. The first three months have been one extended dance, with the Nats taking a step forward with a positive showing, like yesterday's 13-2 romp over the Mets, followed - usually immediately - by a step backwards. It

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