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Williams and Harper on slugger’s resurgence, plus more clubhouse chatter

Two wins in three games against a Mariners team fighting for a spot in the postseason is nothing to sneeze at. Though the Nationals have largely had their way with the Mariners over the years, a series win in Seattle this season is significant. Losing pitcher Tanner Roark lamented one bad pitch to Dustin Ackley on Sunday afternoon: a meaty fastball that Ackley turned on

Harper goes yard for second time (Nats fall 5-3)

You can’t say Bryce Harper doesn’t take instruction well. At Safeco Field, there’s an eatery on the second deck in right field called the Hit It Here Cafe. Guess where Harper deposited his ninth home run of the season in the second inning? The mammoth blast, measured at 418 feet by the Mariners, staked Tanner Roark and the Nationals to a 1-0 lead. It was

Roark going for team-high 13th win

SEATTLE - Right-hander Tanner Roark goes for his team-high 13th victory this afternoon as the Nationals try to sweep the Seattle Mariners in a three-game series. The last time the Nats swept the Mariners was in June 2011. After sealing their 12th win in 13 games, manager Jim Riggleman shockingly resigned, upset that general manager Mike Rizzo wouldn’t discuss an extension of his one-year contract.

Jayson Werth: “I want to win another championship. I want another ring”

SEATTLE - Jayson Werth made the postseason with the Dodgers in 2004, four years in a row with the Phillies from 2007-2010, then again in 2012 with the Nationals. He made it to the National League Championship Series in 2010. He won an NL pennant in 2009. He got a World Series ring in 2008. No shortage of accomplishments there. Yet, here’s what Werth said

Williams on Strasburg’s gem in Nats’ 3-1 win

SEATTLE - After one of his worst outings of the season, Stephen Strasburg delivered quite possibly his best. Strasburg went 7 2/3 innings tonight, allowing just one run on six hits, striking out eight and walking none. He dominated the Mariners through the middle innings, kept his pitch count low and led the way for the Nationals, who snagged their second straight win here in

Williams on the Strasburg-Lobaton battery and Frandsen

Stephen Strasburg’s numbers this season are noticeably different when Wilson Ramos and Jose Lobaton are behind the plate this season. In 14 starts throwing to Ramos, Strasburg has a 3.30 ERA. In 11 starts with Lobaton at catcher, Strasburg has posted a 2.94 ERA. So as the Nationals right-hander takes the mound tonight in Seattle, he’s again paired with the backstop with which he’s had

Nats lineup features both Ramos, Lobaton

SEATTLE - Fresh off his two-homer night, Wilson Ramos is back in the Nationals lineup. So is Jose Lobaton. How is this possible? Ramos is serving as the Nats’ designated hitter, a role he’s manned only once in 298 career games. His hot bat stays in the lineup and the Nats get to take advantage of starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg’s 2.94 ERA with Lobaton behind

Nats get to the King

SEATTLE - The guy on the mound had allowed more than three earned runs in a start just once all season. In that one outing, he had allowed four earned runs. The guy on the mound had a 2.07 ERA. The guy on the mound had never given up four homers in an outing. The guy on the mound is considered an overwhelming favorite for

Williams discusses Nats’ six-homer night in 8-3 win

SEATTLE - So much for that great pitchers’ duel we were all expecting. The Nationals hit four of their six home runs tonight off Felix Hernandez, who entered tonight’s game with a 2.07 ERA on the season and had never allowed four homers in an outing in his career, and rolled to an 8-3 win in the opener of this three-game set. Wilson Ramos homered

Rendon homers off King Felix in first (Nats hit six homers in 8-3 win)

Anthony Rendon got the Nationals off to a quick start against one of baseball’s best. Rendon homered of Mariners ace Felix Hernandez with one out in the first to give the Nats an immediate 1-0 lead. Hernandez entered the night third in the majors with a 2.07 ERA. He hasn’t allowed more than four runs in any of his first 27 starts, only once permitting

Positive update on Zimmerman, more on Werth at DH

Before Friday night’s series opener in Seattle, Nationals manager Matt Williams had a positive update on injured third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman, who hasn’t played since July 22 because of a severe hamstring strain, underwent another MRI on Monday and the medical staff liked what it saw. “The doctors looked at it and it’s healing up really nicely, so he can start increasing his strength

Werth DHing, Schierholtz will play right

SEATTLE - The Nationals will get to utilize the designated hitter for the next three days, and Jayson Werth will handle that role tonight. Werth will be in his normal No. 3 spot in the batting order, but will not roam right field here at Safeco Field. Nate Schierholtz will play right, getting his first start as a National. As I wrote earlier, we’ll get

Another test, this time out west

SEATTLE - Hello from the great Northwest, where the weather is lovely, the seafood is tremendous and there is practically a Starbucks on every single corner. I had heard that coming in - that coffee shops were all over the place here. But you seriously cannot walk half a block in Seattle without seeing coffee sold somewhere, and Starbucks logos can be spotted pretty much

Williams, Desmond and Fister weigh in after Phillies complete sweep

Think Nationals manager Matt Williams is stewing over the Phillies’ 8-4 come-from-behind win Wednesday night that gave them a series sweep? Think again. Sounds more like the skipper has already filed the three games at Citizens Bank Park away. The Nats might not be landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for another six hours, but Williams might as already be in the Pacific Northwest. The Nats

Inactivity is LaRoche’s enemy, while Fister shuts down running game

Adam LaRoche’s night off Tuesday because of a tightness in his back was nothing new for the veteran first baseman. He’s battled back issues for five or six years now, and knows the triggers that cause him trouble. Inactivity is a problem, and this time, the 2½-hour bus ride from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia on Sunday evening apparently was the culprit. “I felt it for

LaRoche returns in finale against Phillies (plus programming reminder)

PHILADELPHIA - Adam LaRoche is back in the lineup in his normal spots at first base and clean-up for the Nationals in the finale of a three-game against the Phillies. LaRoche was out of last night’s starting lineup, getting a rest while he nursed a tight back. Otherwise, the lineup looks very familiar in support of right-hander Doug Fister (12-4, 2.38 ERA) against Philadelphia’s Kyle

Given more consistent at-bats, Frandsen heating up in August

PHILADELPHIA - Being a bench player is never easy. The inconsistent playing time, the tough late-game match-ups against hard-throwing relievers, the lack of live pitching to build timing before at-bats - it’s all part of the gig, and it all makes the gig difficult. Add in the frustration that can build (and sometimes fester) when you don’t succeed in your very limited opportunities, and it

Hearing from Williams, Frandsen, Desmond and Gonzalez after Nats’ 4-3 loss

PHILADELPHIA - In a game that was seemingly filled with close, questionable calls, the Phillies got the benefit of the doubt on a few key ones, and they escaped with a hard-fought 4-3 win. The Nationals battled back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game in the top of the eighth on Asdrubal Cabrera’s solo homer. But the Phillies won a challenge in the

LaRoche out with tight back, Wednesday time change, Roark’s innings and more

For those planning to watch Wednesday night’s Nationals game at Citizens Bank Park, you’ll have to tune in 30 minutes later than normal. First pitch has been backed up to 7:30 p.m. because the Phillies will be honoring the Mid-Atlantic Little League champion Taney Dragons in a pregame ceremony. As for tonight, first baseman Adam LaRoche is out of the Nats lineup, but not because

Harper, LaRoche out of lineup against lefty Hamels

PHILADELPHIA - Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche will not start tonight against Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels. Kevin Frandsen will get the start at first base and bat eighth while Scott Hairston will start in left field and bat sixth for the Nationals. Hairston is batting .386 with five doubles, five homers and nine RBIs in 44 career at-bats against Hamels. Gio Gonzalez will face Hamels.

Rendon keeps on rolling deep into his first full big league season

PHILADELPHIA - It will go down as a solo homer in a 3-2 loss, but Anthony Rendon’s sixth-inning longball got the Nationals back into last night’s game and added to what has quietly been a really strong first full big league season. After last night’s action, Rendon now is hitting .276/.336/.461 on the year, with 17 homers, 69 RBIs and 93 runs scored. He’s played

Williams, Harper and Ramos discuss Nats’ 3-2 loss to Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - The rally magic couldn’t quite carry the Nationals tonight. The Nats trailed by two runs entering the top of the ninth, and they looked like they might be piecing together another late comeback when Wilson Ramos homered with two outs and Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a pinch-hit single to extend the rally. But Nate Schierholtz grounded out sharply to short to end the game,

Williams on Cabrera and maintaining the momentum

It’s difficult to find anything negative going on for the Nationals right now. The team is coming off of a near-perfect homestand, has won 13 of its last 14 games overall and currently holds a league-best eight-game division lead over the Braves. Oh, by the way, they hold the best record in the National League at 75-54. Forget half-full. The Nats’ glass is practically overflowing.

Espinosa replaces Cabrera at second base

PHILADELPHIA - Asdrubal Cabrera, who experienced tightness in his side while swinging in yesterday’s game, will not be in the starting lineup at second base when the Nationals open a three-game series against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Instead, Danny Espinosa will get the nod at second base. Washington’s Tanner Roark (12-7, 2.80 ERA) faces Philadelphia’s A.J. Burnett (6-14, 4.42 ERA) in a battle

Everyone contributing

PHILADELPHIA - After that ridiculous homestand, the Nationals are in pretty good shape with 33 games left on their schedule. They are 21 games over .500 on the season, and hold the best record in the National League. They have an eight-game lead over the Braves in the NL East, the largest division advantage in baseball. Their largest margin at any point during 2012 was

Williams breaks down Nats’ 14-6 win over Giants

In the fourth inning of the Nationals’ finale against the Giants, the team was down 5-0 and held hitless. At that moment it was hard to predict what would happen. The Nats’ bats broke out for 18 hits and scored 14 to runs to earn a series win over the Giants and finish their homestand 9-1. Stephen Strasburg was out after four innings and manager

Lobaton gets start in finale vs. Giants (with Giants lineup)

The Nationals are seeking their fourth straight series win this afternoon. With a win over the Giants, the Nats will finish their 10-game homestand with a 9-1 record. Stephen Strasburg will face the Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong. Strasburg is 2-0 with 0.60 ERA in 15 innings pitched over his last two starts. Catcher Jose Lobaton was behind the plate in both of Strasburg’s previous two starts.

Williams discusses Nats’ 6-2 win over Giants

The Giants held a 2-0 lead two batters in, but then Jordan Zimmermann bounced back. And the Nationals as a whole bounced back from dropping the opener of this three-game set, a defeat that snapped a 10-game winning streak. The Nats took the middle game of this series by an 8-2 score, with Zimmermann working eight stellar innings, Jayson Werth contributing two hits and two

Nats select the contract of Schierholtz, Taylor optioned to Triple-A (plus lineup)

The Nationals didn’t wait long before bringing Nate Schierholtz up to the big leagues. Signed to a minor league contract just five days ago, Schierholtz will be in uniform for the Nats this afternoon. The team has selected the contract of the 30-year-old outfielder, with Michael A. Taylor getting optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to clear a spot for Schierholtz. In order to open up a

Williams on Harper’s baserunning errors

Matt Williams has tried to instill an aggressive mentality on his ballclub this season. He’s willing to tolerate some miscues on the bases, because he feels like if his players take an aggressive mindset and push the issue, it will pay off more often than not. Williams has needed to answer quite a few questions about Bryce Harper’s baserunning style this season, however. Part of

Williams discusses Nats’ first loss in 11 games

It couldn’t go on forever. The Nationals’ winning streak ends at 10 after a 10-3 loss to the Giants tonight. There would be no dramatic late comeback or a walk-off finish in this one. Doug Fister allowed four runs over six innings and Tim Hudson limited the Nats to two runs (one earned) over 5 1/3 innings. The Giants went 5-for-8 with runners in scoring

Nationals lineup against Giants, Hudson

The Nationals try for their 11th straight victory tonight, which would establish a new franchise record. But in order to get there, they’ve got to beat a guy who’s decidedly had their number. Tim Hudson will be on the hill for the Giants. In 30 career starts against the Nats, he’s 17-5 with a 2.37 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. Ironically, though his career dates

Span getting closer to a personal milestone

After last night’s win, the Nationals’ 10th straight, Denard Span was asked how it felt to notch his 28th stolen base on the season, given how close he is to reaching his personal goal of 30 bags in a single year. “Twenty-seven,” Span responded, cracking a smile. “Twenty-seven. I know. I know these things.” He’s on top of it, all right. Span’s 27th stolen base

Williams on the Nats’ 10th straight win and his Babe Ruth impersonation

The Nationals’ winning streak hit double digits. And, of course, win No. 10 came on a walk-off. What else would you expect? The Nats notched their 10th straight win on their fifth walk-off in their last six games. They are the first team to have five walk-off wins in a six-game span since the 1986 Astros, according to Elias. This win means that at some

Day off for Desmond in finale vs. Diamondbacks

The Nationals try to complete a four-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks this afternoon, and are seeking their 10th straight victory. But they’ll have to accomplish those feats without shortstop Ian Desmond in the starting lineup. Desmond, who has played in 123 of the team’s 125 games this season, is getting a day off. He’ll be replaced at shorstop by Danny Espinosa. Washington’s Gio Gonzalez

Harper coming around of late

Bryce Harper scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth last night, coming in from third on Anthony Rendon’s single down the left field line. He touched the plate with the Nationals’ third run of the night, giving them their ninth straight win, fourth walk-off in five games and sixth one-run victory during this winning streak. All good stuff. But what Matt Williams

Williams on yet another Nationals walk-off win

This is starting to get ridiculous. The Nationals have won nine games in a row. They’ve had four walk-off wins in their last five games. They’ve had three blown saves in a four-game span, and it hasn’t seemed to matter. They continue to come back, they continue to scratch out runs late in games, and they continue to roll off victories. If you’re a Nats

Rendon gets rare day off vs. D-backs

Anthony Rendon gets a rare night off as the Nationals look to extend their season-best winning streak to nine in a row. Rendon has played every inning of every game since sitting out June 7-9 with a sore right hand. Instead, he’ll be a valuable bat off the bench as the Nats hope to secure a series victory over the Diamondbacks. Kevin Frandsen is playing

Two wins away from an entertaining trip around the bases

As I did a couple of days ago, I will issue a warning to the superstitious readers out there. If you feel that me discussing a winning streak will in any way impact the Nationals’ performance on the field tonight, or if such conversation will upset you, it might be best to click off this page and return to MASNsports.com later this afternoon. Glad that

Williams discusses Nats’ eighth straight win

Eight in a row. The winning streak has now reached eight games, the second-longest stretch in Nationals team history. The Nats are 18 games above .500 and are clicking on all cylinders. And tonight, they didn’t even need a walk-off to claim the victory. Stephen Strasburg allowed just one run on three hits in eight innings of work, notching his 10th win of the season.

McLouth to have shoulder surgery, out for season

Outfielder Nate McLouth’s first season with the Nationals has come to an early end. This afternoon, the team announced that the 32-year-old will undergo surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder on Thursday. He has been on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation since Aug. 4. McLouth signed a two-year, $10.75 million contract with Washington in the offseason, and the first year didn’t

Ramos gets a night off as Nats try to extend winning streak

The Nationals are attempting to win their eighth straight game tonight. They will have to do that without Wilson Ramos, who is getting the night off. Jose Lobaton will get the start behind the plate. Right-hander Stephen Strasburg will try to build on his previous outing in which he went seven innings, allowed just three hits, one unearned run and struck out eight. In his

Starting to get a little bit of a 2012 vibe

Back in 2012, the Nationals had a knack for the dramatic. They excelled in the late innings that season, posting 37 comeback wins. 10 times that year did they get to celebrate a walk-off win on the field at Nationals Park, games that seemed to build momentum and bring the clubhouse even closer together. It’s still just mid-August, but it seems like the 2014 Nationals

Williams meets with the media after Nats’ third straight walk-off win

Three games, three walk-offs. They’re going to run out of Gatorade at Nationals Park. Too much of it is getting dumped on the walk-off heroes. Adam LaRoche played the role of the hero tonight, crushing a 3-1 curveball from Will Harris deep to right for his first career walk-off homer, sending the Nats players and coaches spilling onto the field for the third straight night

Werth returns to Nats lineup in opener vs. D-backs

Right fielder Jayson Werth, who hasn’t started since Aug. 7 while nursing inflammation in the AC joint in his right shoulder, will be back in the Nationals lineup tonight for the opener of a four-game series against the Diamondbacks. The sprained AC joint limited Werth, who got a cortisone injection late last week to reduce the imflammation and discomfort. Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann opposes Arizona left-hander

Nats add outfield depth, ink veteran Schierholtz to minor league deal

The Nationals have signed outfielder Nate Schierholtz to a minor league contract, adding some depth to the organization and positioning the veteran for a September call-up into a pennant race. The 30-year-old Schierholtz batted .192 with six homers and 33 RBIs in 99 games for the Cubs this season before being released on Aug. 13, but is only one year removed from his finest offensive

Two recent pickups playing a major factor

The Nationals have now won six games in a row, their longest winning streak of the season. Oh, and they’re now 16 games over .500, also a season best. Oh, and they have the best record in the National League. Oh, and they now have four games against a Diamondbacks team that is currently 18 games under .500. Things are looking up in the nation’s

Williams’ discusses Nats’ second straight walk-off win

Earlier this week, Drew Storen noted that to win a pennant, you need to not only win the games where things go smoothly, you need to win the ugly games, too. This one would certainly qualify in the latter category. But it sure was fun to watch nonetheless. The Nationals made two errors in the sixth inning, allowing two Pirates runs to score. Rafael Soriano

Werth sits again for Pirates-Nats finale (with Pirates lineup)

Jayson Werth is out of the lineup for the sixth straight game as the Nationals look to sweep the Pirates. Werth hasn’t played since last Sunday because of an AC joint sprain in his right shoulder. Michael A. Taylor starts in right field with Bryce Harper in left. Asdrubal Cabrera is also back in the lineup, batting second and playing second base after sitting on

A comeback keeps the good times rolling

Asked last night how he views his team at this point in the season, with 121 games in the books and a six-game lead over the Braves in the National League East, Nationals manager Matt Williams used the word “tenacious.” That word choice seems apt given the comeback that the Nats put together last night. Down 3-0 after seven innings, facing a tough Pirates bullpen,

Williams recaps Nats’ 4-3 walk-off win

There were no shortage of contributors in tonight’s thrilling Nationals comeback. Craig Stammen worked three scoreless innings, keeping the Nats’ deficit at three. Kevin Frandsen notched three hits in a rare start. Michael A. Taylor drew a pinch-hit, leadoff walk in the eighth, then scored the Nats’ first run to make it a 3-1 game. Adam LaRoche turned a smooth 3-6-3 double play on a

Ramos speaks about his walk-off on “amazing night” (plus Harper, Gonzalez quotes)

Held to no runs over the first seven frames and down 3-0, the Nationals were faced with the tough task of trying to mount a comeback against the Pirates. They delivered. In the eighth inning, the Nats pushed across three runs thanks to Kevin Frandsen’s RBI single and Adam LaRoche’s two-run homer. But the real fun came in the form of a walk-off victory an

Pirates take 3-0 lead in third (Nats walk off in ninth)

The Nationals and Pirates starters were cruising though the first few innings before the Bucs opened things up in the third. Gio Gonzalez allowed two hits in the first two frames, but struggled in the third. After retiring pitcher Jeff Locke on strikes, Gonzalez allowed a single to Josh Harrison, and after retiring Gregory Polanco, a walk to Russell Martin. Starling Marte then doubled to

Williams addresses Werth’s availability, Gonzalez’s key to consistency

The Nationals are going for their fifth straight win, but once again, they’ll take the field without July’s National League Player of the Month, Jayson Werth. Werth, who has been out of the lineup since Aug. 10 with an AC joint sprain, could be available off the bench as early as tonight, depending on how his workout goes this afternoon at Nats Park. “He’s going

Gonzalez looks to get back on track (plus lineups)

Gio Gonzalez will be looking to get back on track as he heads to the hill tonight for the Nationals. The Nats left-hander has been in a bit of a funk lately, losing his last five decisions to fall to 6-9 on the season. Gonzalez’s last three starts have been especially rough, as he as surrendered 11 runs and 20 hits while walking seven in

On Soriano’s shaky last few days

There was a stretch earlier this season where Rafael Soriano wasn’t just notching saves and recording scoreless innings. He was nearly untouchable. From June 15 through July 12, Soriano made 12 appearances. He didn’t allow a single run in that span, surrendered just four hits and two walks and struck out 13. Opposing hitters had just a .103 batting average against Soriano in that 12-game

Roark made most of run support, LaRoche continues August surge

Tanner Roark got another early lead - the Nationals have scored 29 runs in the first inning in his starts, so it’s becoming routine - but the right-hander couldn’t gut his way through the sixth inning. He said he wasn’t finishing pitches, was trying to be too perfect. And he paid the price. One bad inning made a 5-0 game much closer and substantially upped

Williams on Roark, LaRoche and more after Nats’ 5-4 win

A 5-0 Nationals lead after three was trimmed to 5-3 in the fourth when the Pirates got to Tanner Roark. They then got to Rafael Soriano in the ninth, and nearly completed a big road comeback. Instead, Soriano walked the tightrope yet again and notched the save, his 29th of the season, giving the Nats a 5-4 win and their fourth straight victory. Adam LaRoche

Nats take 3-0 lead in first over Pirates (Nats win 5-4)

How’s this for a statistic: The Nationals have scored 29 first-inning runs when Tanner Roark is on the mound. Adam LaRoche got the party started tonight, his RBI single scoring Asdrubal Cabrera to stake the Nats to a 1-0 lead. Denard Span led off the frame with a single, Cabrera walked and Span was thrown out trying to steal third before Anthony Rendon’s single to

McLouth getting second opinion on ailing right shoulder

Outfielder Nate McLouth’s inflamed right shoulder isn’t responding as quickly to treatment as the Nationals had hoped, so he’ll see another doctor to get a second opinion. McLouth, who signed a two-year, $10.75 million deal in December to be a fourth outfielder and defensive specialist for the Nats, has been on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 4. He’s hitting .173 with a home run

Tonight’s Pirates-Nationals lineups

The Nationals will kick off their 10-game homestand tonight with a game against the Pirates. Right-hander Tanner Roark will face the Pirates’ Charlie Morton. First baseman Adam LaRoche is 3-for-5 against Morton in his career with a home run and four RBIs. For the Pirates SS Josh Harrison RF Gregory Polanco C Russell Martin 2B Neil Walker CF Starling Marte LF Travis Snider 1B Ike

Odds in their favor

I’m not sure whether the following piece of information will please readers or make you guys want to slam down your laptop screens and run away. So I guess I’ll issue a quick warning: if you’re the superstitious type, if you’re the type to get annoyed by some positive news about your baseball team’s chances of making the postseason, you might want to stop reading

Nationals continue success against divisional foe

For all of the talk about how much the Nationals struggle against the Braves, it’s the team’s record against another divisional opponent that should be raising a few eyebrows. Following Thursday night’s 4-1 win over the Mets, the Nationals hold a 10-2 advantage against New York in 2014, having outscored them 62-34. Sure, the Mets don’t appear to have any hopes of playing in the

Williams, Strasburg on the Nationals’ 4-1 win

Prior to Thursday night’s game, Nationals manager Matt Williams was confident starter Stephen Strasburg was going to come out firing. It seemed like a reasonable, even predictable comment for a manger to make of his own starting pitcher. Yet with a meager 1-8 road record this season coming into tonight, Strasburg’s success away from our nation’s capital had been anything but a realistic notion. As

LaRoche provides early spark (Nats win 4-1)

The Nationals didn’t waste any time in giving Stephen Strasburg room to work. After the newest National Asdrubal Cabrera drew a walk with one out in the first inning, Adam LaRoche blasted his 17th home of the season, a two-run shot that put the visiting team ahead 2-0. It’s LaRoche’s third first-inning home run of the season, tying him for the most in any single

Cabrera wasting no time turning heads with Nats

It’s been a whirlwind of changes for Nationals second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera. Not only has the infielder had to get used to playing for a new team, but for the first time in his eight-year career, he’s in a new league. Oh by the way, he’s learning a new primary position, too. All in a day’s work. “It’s hard when you switch leagues and you

Span returns to lineup, Cabrera remains in two-hole

NEW YORK - Denard Span is back in the starting lineup in his customary center field and leadoff roles as the Nationals go for a sweep of their three game series against the New York Mets at Citi Field. A night after hitting his first home run in a Washington uniform, second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera remains in the two-hole. Right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the

Storen comes up huge

NEW YORK - One-run game, bottom of the seventh inning. Two Nationals errors have already been committed, allowing the Mets to load the bases with just one out. Game on the line. Momentum possibly starting to shift. Matt Williams comes out to get Jordan Zimmermann, who hadn’t allowed an earned run through his 6 1/3 innings to that point. Drew Storen trots out of the

Hearing from Williams, Zimmerman, Frandsen and Cabrera after Nats’ 3-2 win

NEW YORK - It certainly wasn’t pretty. The Nationals made three errors and needed to work their way out of bases-loaded, one-out jams in both the seventh and ninth innings. Yet they still managed to come away with a tight 3-2 win over the Mets, securing a series win and giving themselves a shot at a sweep tomorrow night. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a much-needed solo

Nats, Mets locked in scoreless tie (Nats win 3-2)

We’re three innings deep, and there’s no score at Citi Field. Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann and New York’s Bartolo Colon are putting up zeros all around. The Nationals had a threat brewing in the top of the third when Wilson Ramos doubled and Kevin Farndsen singled, putting runners on the corners with no one out. But Zimmermann and Michael A. Taylor struck out and Asdrubal Cabrera

Werth gets cortisone injection, Span gets a day off

Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth will miss at least a couple of days after receiving a cortisone injection this morning in his right shoulder to relieve inflammation in his sprained AC joint. Manager Matt Williams hopes the preventative treatment will “calm it down,” allowing Werth to return to the lineup in short order. “He had an MRI last night, and all of that checked out

Taylor leading off, playing center field with Span getting day off

NEW YORK - After starting every Nationals game for 1 1/2 months, Denard Span is not in tonight’s lineup at Citi Field. Instead, rookie Michael A. Taylor is leading off and starting in center field, one night removed from a memorable major league debut where he had his first two hits, including a two-run homer. Span had started each game since getting the second contest

Leftovers from last night

NEW YORK - After last night’s game, Mets manager Terry Collins provided what I thought was an incredibly accurate description of how Doug Fister goes about his business. “Doug throws what he wants, when he wants, where he wants,” Collins told reporters. Yeah, that pretty much hits the nail on the head. And it’s quite a compliment, if you ask me. Fister is now 12-3

Williams, Taylor and Harper on Taylor’s big debut and Nats’ 7-1 win

NEW YORK - Michael A. Taylor collected his first major league hit in his major league debut. He also ripped his first home run. And it all came in a 7-1 win. Decent little night. Taylor, called up from minors on Sunday, got his first taste of big league ball tonight with Jayson Werth sidelined with a shoulder injury, and the 23-year-old provided one of

Harper’s homer gives Nats 2-0 lead (Nats homer four times in 7-1 win)

We’ve got both a no-doubt-about-it home run and a memorable first in the second inning. As a result, the Nationals have a 2-0 lead and rookie outfielder Michael A. Taylor has his first major league hit. Bryce Harper took care of the firepower, crushing a two-run homer to left field after Rafael Montero had walked Ian Desmond to lead off the frame. It’s the fifth

Werth sees doctor, Nats trying to schedule MRI on right shoulder (update)

Right fielder Jayson Werth departed the Nationals clubhouse at Citi Field this afternoon to have his sore right shoulder checked out by a physician. The Nationals are trying to schedule an MRI to determine the severity of the inflammation in the AC joint and to make sure there’s nothing further wrong with the shoulder. “We’re just going to get him checked by the doc,” manager

Werth out of lineup, Taylor making major league debut

NEW YORK - With Jayson Werth once again out of the Nationals lineup, rookie Michael A. Taylor will make his big league debut tonight in right field and bat eighth. Werth missed two of the Nats’ three games in Atlanta due to shoulder and ankle ailments. Taylor hit a combined .315 with 20 doubles, 22 home runs, 63 RBIs and 35 stolen bases in 102

A refresher on the revocable trade waiver process

NEW YORK - The Braves continue to lose to teams not named the Nationals. Atlanta dropped another game last night, falling to the Dodgers 6-2. The Braves now are four games back of the Nats in the National League East and have dropped eight of their last 10 games. The only two wins in that span were over the Nats. Bob Nightengale of USA Today

Putting a bow on the Atlanta series

NEW YORK - Good morning from the Big Apple. It’s an off-day for the Nationals, which is much-needed for a handful of reasons. First, the schedule: This is the Nats’ first day off since July 24, 18 days ago. After this, there will be 16 more games before the next off-day, so the Nats will savor this one. Second, the recent grind: The Nats played

Williams on the Nats’ 3-1 loss to Braves

The Nationals will leave Atlanta with their lead down to 3 1/2 games in the National League East. Gio Gonzalez was a victim of a high pitch count. He was unable to make it out of the fifth inning as he allowed two runs on 111 pitches. Jerry Blevins allowed the other run of the night in the eighth inning. Shortstop Ian Desmond provided the

Gonzalez rolling in Atlanta (Nats fall 3-1)

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Nationals and Braves have played three innings and remain in a scoreless game. Gio Gonzalez settled down after a 29-pitch first inning when he loaded the bases to strikeout the side in the second inning. Overall, Gonzalez has seven strikeouts through the first three innings. The Nats offense has been held in check by Braves starter Alex

Nationals and Braves lineups for series finale

Jayson Werth is currently in the Nationals lineup for the series finale at Turner Field. Werth pinch-hit in the 11th inning of last night’s extra-inning win. With a win tonight, the Nats would extend their National League East lead to 5 1/2 games. Gio Gonzalez will face fellow lefty Alex Wood. Gonzalez has struggled in his career against the Braves. He is 2-7 with a

Nats recall Michael Taylor, place Souza on DL with left shoulder contusion

ATLANTA - Steven Souza Jr.’s collision with the Turner Field wall has landed him on the disabled list. The outfielder has been placed on the DL this afternoon with a left shoulder contusion. Michael Taylor has been recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to take Souza’s place on the roster, marking his first stint in the big leagues. Souza tried to rob a home run Friday night

A long wait, but a big win

ATLANTA - On Friday night, the Nationals sat through a rain delay and battled nearly all the way back from a seven-run deficit, but still dropped a game to Atlanta. Despite the loss, the comeback was significant, players said prior to yesterday’s contest. And they meant it. But moral victories only go so far. And so when the Nats headed to extra innings with the

Williams discusses Nats’ thrilling 4-1, 11-inning win

ATLANTA - Are the Nationals and Braves capable of playing a normal, uneventful 5-2 ballgame? How about a quiet 3-1 contest? No? OK, then. The Nats and Braves waited out nearly a four-hour rain delay tonight and then battled for 11 innings before Washington was able to take a 4-1 win. Wilson Ramos’ RBI single to center broke the 1-1 tie, and Kevin Frandsen then

We’re scoreless in Atlanta (Nats win 4-1)

The Nationals and Braves had to wait three hours and 47 minutes to play baseball tonight; in return, we’ve seen a pretty decent pitching matchup between Tanner Roark and Aaron Harang. Neither pitcher has allowed a run through three innings of work. Roark has allowed three hits, walked one and struck out two, while Harang has allowed two hits, walked one and struck out one.

Williams on Roark, Werth and Souza (10:50 p.m. start time)

When Nationals manager Matt Williams wrote out the lineup card, he anticipated Jayson Werth could return to right field this evening, but that won’t be the case. Werth was scratched from the Nats lineup with lingering soreness in his right shoulder and right ankle. Prior to being scratched, Williams said Werth was receiving treatment from the training staff. “When you get to this time of

Werth scratched from Nats lineup (with Braves lineup)

ATLANTA - Jayson Werth has returned to the Nationals lineup one day after sitting out with shoulder and ankle ailments. Werth will bat third and play right field. Outfielder Steven Souza Jr. is still listed on the Nats’ active roster one day after he crashed into the right field chain-linked fence. Tanner Roark will face Braves right-hander Aaron Harang. Bryce Harper is 4-for-8 with a

Trying to pull some positives from last night

ATLANTA - Not only have the Nationals gone 0-4 at Turner Field this year and 4-10 in Atlanta dating back to the beginning of last season, but they always seem to come out of those games nursing a new batch of ailments. Last season, Stephen Strasburg twice came out of starts at Turner Field with injuries (forearm and oblique) and Bryce Harper injured his side

Hearing from Williams, Strasburg and Ramos after Nats’ 7-6 loss

This was very nearly the Nationals’ biggest comeback of the season, a comeback that could’ve delivered a blow to their top division rival both psychologically and in the standings. Instead, it goes down as a 7-6 loss. The Nats trailed 6-0 after two innings and 7-0 after five, but clawed back to within one thanks largely to Anthony Rendon’s three-run homer and Wilson Ramos’ solo

Souza diagnosed with shoulder inflammation

The Nationals’ roster may have suffered another hit this evening in Atlanta. In the second inning, right fielder Steven Souza Jr., who was filling in for Jayson Werth, attempted to catch Freddie Freeman’s two-run homer. Instead Souza slammed into the right field wall which is actually a chain link fence. Souza stayed in the game through the bottom of the inning, but was removed in

Nats down early to Braves (Nats fall 7-6)

The Nationals find themselves in a hole early in Atlanta. After being retired in order in the first, Stephen Strasburg took the mound in the bottom of the inning. Strasburg retired the first two batters he faced, but then issued a walk to Freddie Freeman. Justin Upton followed with a two-run homer to center field. Strasburg then walked Jason Heyward, but struck out Evan Gattis

Williams on Werth, Souza, the bullpen and more

Jayson Werth is noticeably absent from the lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Braves. Over the last few days, Werth has been dealing with shoulder and ankle injuries, and Nationals manager Matt Williams wanted to give the veteran a night off. This comes one night after Werth played all 13 innings in the Nats’ 5-3 win over the Mets. “He’s pretty banged up. He’s

Werth out of lineup in Atlanta (with Braves lineup)

ATLANTA - The Nationals begin a crucial three-game series with the Braves tonight, but will be without the services of right fielder Jayson Werth. Werth has dealt with right shoulder soreness and an ankle injury in the past few days. Steven Souza Jr. will get the start in right instead and bat eighth. Asdrubal Cabrera will hit second and play second for the Nats. Stephen

A big swing yesterday and a big series beginning today

ATLANTA - Yesterday’s 13-inning walk-off win over the Mets was significant for the Nationals as a whole. It probably was even more significant for Bryce Harper individually. The victory gave the Nationals a 4 1/2 game lead in the National League East, their largest advantage in the division since September 24, 2012. And now they head into their big three-game set with the Braves riding

Williams after the Nats’ 13-inning walk-off win

It took nearly five hours and 13 innings, but the Nationals earned a series win over the Mets. Bryce Harper’s two-run walk-off homer gave the Nats a 5-3 win over the Mets. The bullpen pitched 6 2/3 innings scoreless innings, highlighted by three scoreless frames from Craig Stammen. On Harper’s two-run, game-winning homer: “That was a good swing. He had a couple of good ones

Nationals lineup for series finale vs. Mets

Jose Lobaton will once again get the start behind the plate for the Nationals this afternoon. Wilson Ramos, who has been on the Paternity List since Tuesday, is still at the hospital with his family following the birth of his first daughter. Jordan Zimmermann will take the mound for the Nats. Over his last two starts, Zimmermann is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and has

Williams on Fister, LaRoche, Espinosa and more after Nats’ 7-1 win

The division lead is now the largest it’s been all season, as the Nationals’ 7-1 win over the Mets combined with Atlanta’s loss to the Mariners has given Washington a four-game edge in the National League East. Doug Fister went 7 1/3 strong innings today, allowing just one run on six hits with no walks and seven strikeouts, Adam LaRoche slugged two homers, Danny Espinosa

Nats activate Thornton, option Treinen to Triple-A Syracuse (with lineup)

The Nationals’ newest reliever has arrived in D.C. and will be active for tonight’s game against the Mets. Left-hander Matt Thornton, acquired yesterday in a waiver trade with the Yankees, has been added to the Nats’ roster. Right-hander Blake Treinen was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to open a roster spot for Thornton. This means the Nats will carry three left-handers in their bullpen for now.

Looking for some separation

The Braves keep on losing. Another loss last night, to Felix Hernandez and the Mariners, marked Atlanta’s seventh straight defeat and their 12th in their last 16 games. Fredi Gonzalez’s team is giving the Nationals a major window here, a big-time chance to open up their National League East lead. And to this point, the Nats have been unable to truly capitalize on it. Yeah,

Williams discusses Nats’ 6-1 loss

The Nationals had a few chances early on, but couldn’t cash in. Then the Mets opened things up late. Mets righty Zach Wheeler settled in after a very shaky start and allowed just one run over 6 2/3 innings, and after brushing off a shaky start himself, Gio Gonzalez got into trouble in the seventh, and ended up surrendering four runs over six frames. The

Lobaton behind plate for opener vs. Mets

After a loss in last night’s makeup game, the Nationals will look to turn things around tonight, but they’ll be without Wilson Ramos. Ramos left the team today after being put on the Paternity List as he and his wife Yely are expecting their first child. Jose Lobaton will get the start behind the plate tonight, and is batting eighth. For the Nats CF Denard

Nats place Ramos on Paternity List, recall Leon

The Nationals will be without catcher Wilson Ramos for the next couple of days. Ramos was placed on the Paternity List as he and his wife Yely are expecting their first child. Sandy Leon has been recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to take Ramos’ spot on the roster. This is the third time Leon has been with the Nats this season. He is hitting .212 with

On the decision to let Roark hit last night in the bottom of the sixth

The turning point in last night’s 7-3 loss to the Orioles came in the top of the seventh inning, when Baltimore knocked out six hits, pushed across three runs and turned a one-run deficit into a two-run lead. Tanner Roark had started that seventh inning on the mound for the Nationals, having worked six solid frames to that point, allowing just two runs (both solo

Williams on Roark, Span and more after 7-3 loss

The Nationals held a 3-2 lead through six until the dormant-of-late Orioles offense awoke and put five unanswered runs on the board, leading to a 7-3 win for the visitors. Tanner Roark pitched pretty well until the O’s pounced on some pitches up in the zone in the seventh, and after Roark departed, Baltimore only kept on coming. The O’s out-hit the Nats 14-8, and

McLouth lands on DL with shoulder inflammation, Souza recalled (with lineups)

The Nationals placed outfielder Nate McLouth on the 15-day disabled list this afternoon, and have recalled Steven Souza Jr. from Triple-A Syracuse to take McLouth’s place on the 25-man roster. McLouth’s DL stint is retroactive to Aug. 2. The veteran outfielder has struggled offensively this season, hitting .179 in 139 at-bats. He has stolen four bases, drawn 16 walks and played solid defense when called

A chance to open things up

Don’t look now, but the Nationals have their largest division lead since the end of the 2012 season. Yesterday’s win over the Phillies coupled with Atlanta’s loss to the Padres gave the Nats a 3 1/2 game lead in the National League East. That’s the widest margin between a first- and second-place team in the NL. Currently, the Tigers are the only division-leading team in

Williams recaps Nats’ 4-0 win

Last night, the Nationals pounded out 11 runs and cruised to a shutout win over the Phillies. Today, the shutout victory came a little tougher. Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels battled it out in the finale of this four-game set, each going seven strong innings and combining to allow just one run (which was unearned). Luckily for the Nats, that run was theirs, and they

Harper sits, Hairston in left for Phillies-Nats finale

Bryce Harper is not in the starting lineup for today’s series finale against the Phillies as the Nationals seek a four-game split. Harper had started the Nats’ last 11 games and has appeared in all 27 contests since coming back from the disabled list on June 30. Instead, Scott Hairston is starting in left against Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels. Hairston has had tremendous career success

Williams discusses Nats’ 11-0 romp over Phillies

Nationals fans can’t possibly find much wrong with tonight’s ballgame. The Nats pounded out 14 hits, pushed across 11 runs and shut out the Phillies, earning a nice 11-0 win. Jordan Zimmermann worked seven scoreless, Anthony Rendon drove in four and came up a triple away from the cycle and Asdrubal Cabrera had two hits - including a triple - in the win. Here’s manager

Zimmermann faces Burnett, plus Phillies-Nats lineups

In the third game of the Nationals’ four-game series with the Phillies, they will be fielding the same lineup as they did for Friday night’s 2-1 loss. Asdrubal Cabrera makes his second appearance since being acquired from Cleveland on Thursday. He’ll again bat seventh and play second base. Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann is on the hill against Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett. Zimmermann is coming off a

Nats missing Zimmerman

How much can one man change how a team performs? Depends how you look at it. The facts are these: the Nationals are 33-19 when Ryan Zimmerman is in the starting lineup this season. Without him, they’re 25-30. Since Zimmerman landed on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain a week and a half ago, the Nats are 3-6. In those nine games, they’ve

Williams discusses Nats’ 2-1 loss

There have been games this season when the Nationals, like any team, really, just didn’t square many balls up offensively, and had trouble scoring runs. Tonight wasn’t one of those nights. Yes, the Nats only pushed across one run against Roberto Hernandez and Jonathan Papelbon tonight, but the minimal offensive production wasn’t due to a lack of solid contact. The Nats ripped the ball all

Bullpen hitting a bit of a rough patch

Throughout most of the season, the Nationals’ bullpen has been one of the team’s strong suits. Nats relievers have taken slim leads and held their opponents at bay, and when the Nats have trailed in ballgames, the guys out in the ‘pen have done a tremendous job of keeping the deficit where it is, allowing the position players a chance to come back in the

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