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Scherzer dealing, Zimmerman mashing (Nats win 3-1)

SAN FRANCISCO - Max Scherzer had the look early tonight of a guy poised to once again do something special. The end result won’t be special after the Giants plated a run in the bottom of the fourth, but Scherzer nonetheless still has the look of a guy putting together another dominant start. The right-hander retired the first 10 batters he faced, four via strikeout,

Mays visits Nats clubhouse, plus notes on Lind and Blanton

SAN FRANCISCO - Having Dusty Baker for a manager carries some special perks. Like, for example, having Willie Mays show up in your clubhouse. The Hall of Famer made an unannounced visit to the visitors’ clubhouse at AT&T Park this afternoon, catching up with Baker (a longtime friend) and meeting Nationals players and personnel. “They were kind of shy, kind of like little kids, when

Game 52 lineups: Nats at Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - Things have changed as the Nationals and Giants prepare to play the finale of their series tonight. For one thing, the temperature has warmed up a bit, the clouds have dissipated and it’s actually a nice day by the bay. For another, Bryce Harper is suspended and not available to play in any of the next three games. The Nationals will attempt

Harper’s suspension reduced to three games, starts tonight

SAN FRANCISCO - Major League Baseball has reduced Bryce Harper’s suspension to three games after hearing his appeal, and the Nationals slugger will begin serving his time tonight, according to a source familiar with the decision. Harper, who originally was suspended four games for charging the mound Monday after getting intentionally hit in the right hip by a 98 mph fastball from reliever Hunter Strickland,

Unlikely Albers-Glover combo has stabilized Nationals bullpen

SAN FRANCISCO - Maybe everyone should have listened to Koda Glover a couple of weeks ago when the rookie reliever insisted the beleaguered Nationals bullpen would be just fine. Glover reiterated that sentiment Tuesday night after closing out the Nationals’ 6-3 victory over the Giants that included the latest in a string of dominant performances by this relief corps. “What’d I tell you earlier? We’re

No drama, only a convincing victory for Nats in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO - The best revenge is living well, and Dusty Baker knew that well in advance of tonight’s game against the Giants. Would there be retaliation for Hunter Strickland’s intentional plunking of Bryce Harper 24 hours earlier? No, not if the Nationals manager had anything to say about it. “The best thing for us to do is beat up on them and win tonight,”

Hits piling up on chilly night in San Francisco (Nats win 6-3)

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals made Jeff Samardzija work. And they inflicted some damage against the Giants right-hander. But they also squandered more than a few opportunities to expand their lead and now find themselves in a tight ballgame. Despite racking up nine hits and forcing Samardzija to throw 100 pitches in four innings, the Nationals scored only three runs in tonight’s second game of

Nationals insist there won’t be retaliation vs. Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - Neither the Nationals nor the Giants were totally satisfied with the punishments handed down by Major League Baseball today for Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland. The Nats felt Harper deserved a suspension fewer than four games, Strickland a suspension more than six games. The Giants felt the opposite way. On one point, though, both sides appear to agree: The matter is closed,

Game 51 lineups: Nats at Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - Hello again from AT&T Park, where the Nationals and Giants will play the second game of their series tonight. Whether there’s anything in addition to baseball taking place here tonight remains to be seen. With Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland suspended but appealing, both guys are eligible and available to play. And Harper is in the lineup, batting third as always in

Harper suspended four games, Strickland gets six; both appeal

SAN FRANCISCO - Bryce Harper has been suspended four games by Major League Baseball for charging the mound yesterday after getting hit with a 98 mph fastball by Hunter Strickland, who was suspended six games for his actions. Both players have appealed the suspensions and will be eligible to play tonight when the Nationals and Giants meet in the second game of their three-game series

Harper, Murphy lead early All-Star Game voting

SAN FRANCISCO - Major League Baseball made an announcement today about Bryce Harper. But not the one everyone has spent the last 18 hours anticipating in the wake of yesterday’s brawl at AT&T Park. This announcement, though, underscored just how popular Harper is, not only among Nationals fans but across the sport. Which is why the 24-year-old has received more All-Star votes so far than

Before brawl, Roark continues recent return to form

SAN FRANCISCO - So, there was an actual ballgame played yesterday afternoon at AT&T Park. Easy as that might have been to forget once Hunter Strickland decided to reignite a three-year-old feud with Bryce Harper. The Nationals beat the Giants, 3-0, with one of those runs made possible by Strickland’s apparently premeditated plunking of Harper in the top of the eighth. It was a nice

Three-year-old grudge fuels brawl between Harper, Strickland

SAN FRANCISCO - Baseball grudges are a strange thing. They carry over from year to year, sometimes longer. Events you think would bury the hatchet instead only allow the bad vibes to fester. Everybody in this game remembers everything that happened before. And so when Bryce Harper stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth this afternoon at AT&T Park, with Hunter Strickland

Harper-Strickland brawl mars Nationals’ 3-0 win over Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - The Giants won the war over the Nationals in the 2014 playoffs. That apparently didn’t stop Hunter Strickland from starting a fight against Bryce Harper three years later. A major benches-clearing brawl broke out after Strickland drilled Harper with a first-pitch fastball in the top of the eighth inning today as a long-festering vendetta marred what eventually ended as a 3-0 victory

Zimmerman inching up home run leaderboard (Nats win 3-0)

SAN FRANCISCO - Ryan Zimmerman’s ascent up the franchise home run leaderboard took a brief hiatus, but he’s back at it this afternoon in the opener of the Nationals’ long West Coast trip. Zimmerman launched a solo homer to left-center to lead off the top of the second and stake the Nationals to an early lead against the Giants. His 420-foot moonshot off left-hander Matt

Drew activated off DL, Heisey begins rehab assignment

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals’ bench got a major boost today at the start of a long West Coast trip when Stephen Drew was activated off the disabled list, his right hamstring strain finally healed enough to allow him to play on the big league roster. Drew had been out since April 12, suffering his hamstring injury only three days after teammate Trea Turner did

Game 50 lineups: Nats at Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - Hello from the banks of McCovey Cove, where it’s currently 54 degrees with a nice marine layer hovering over everything as the Nationals begin their week-long tour of the Bay Area. Yes, this is a rare (and nice) road trip that includes three games against the Giants, an off day and then three games against the Athletics on the other side of

Taylor’s numbers continue to rise since assuming everyday role

The caveats will continue, because it has only been 24 games and because he’ll need to do this over a much longer period of time before anything declarative can be said. But in those 24 games since he took over as the Nationals’ starting center fielder, Michael A. Taylor sure has done everything he can to make sure he can continue holding that role. With

With robotic precision, Strasburg dominates another opponent

When Max Scherzer does something big, you know it. Scherzer puts all his emotions on display, celebrates when he succeeds, laments when he fails. When Stephen Strasburg does something big, you have no idea. Strasburg rarely reveals any emotions, and his expressions and words aren’t much different after a win than they are after a loss. Take, for example, the Nationals right-hander’s response this evening

Strasburg strikes out career-high 15 Padres (Nats win 3-0)

Stephen Strasburg isn’t getting a ton of help from his defense, so he’s taking matters into his own hands this afternoon. Strasburg has seven strikeouts through three scoreless innings against the Padres, overcoming two errors by his Nationals infield but struggling to keep his pitch count manageable. Ryan Zimmerman and Trea Turner each were charged with errors in the game’s first two innings, prolonging things

Murphy sidelined with illness, Difo gets another start

Daniel Murphy is out of the Nationals lineup for the second straight day, and this one is no simple planned-in-advance day off. Murphy is under the weather, dealing with a stomach bug, according to acting manager Chris Speier. “He’s just not feeling all that hot,” said Speier, who is filling in for Dusty Baker this weekend while the latter attends his son’s high school graduation

Game 48 lineups: Nats vs. Padres

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: It’s a cloudy day in D.C. with a chance of rain being a factor for this afternoon’s game. As always, stay tuned and hope for the best as the Nationals and Padres attempt to start and complete the second game of their weekend series. San Diego native Stephen Strasburg is on the mound for the Nats, making

With 95 mph slider, Glover seizing opportunity to close

Max Scherzer was the story of last night’s 5-1 victory, but let’s not overlook Koda Glover, who made quite an impression himself despite only throwing four pitches. Summoned to relieve Scherzer with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Glover was thrown into a major fire but immediately doused it by striking out Hunter Renfroe to earn his fourth save.

With 8 2/3-inning gem, Scherzer authors another magic moment

Chris Speier has watched comfortably from afar as Max Scherzer has sent Dusty Baker back to the dugout on several occasions over the last two seasons, the Nationals ace refusing to let his manager remove him from a ballgame before he’s ready to be removed. But with Baker back home in California this weekend for son Darren’s high school graduation, Speier is filling in as

Scherzer nearly goes the distance as Nationals beat Padres 5-1

With the reigning Cy Young Award winner on the mound and one of the National League’s least productive lineups at the plate, you could be excused for showing up at Nationals Park tonight fully expecting to witness something historic. In the end, there was no history. A run-of-the-mill Max Scherzer gem would have to suffice. Scherzer nearly went the distance, allowing only three hits while

Heisey will try to rehab without surgery; Nats acquire Raburn

The prognosis for Chris Heisey may not be nearly as dire as initially feared. Though an MRI confirmed Heisey ruptured his right biceps tendon, doctors have told the Nationals outfielder he can attempt to rehab the injury without surgery and thus return to play in a relatively short time frame. Heisey said he had been playing through shoulder pain for much of the season and

Game 47 lineups: Nats vs. Padres

The Nationals host the Padres this weekend, and they’ll have someone else calling the shots from the dugout for all three games. Bench coach Chris Speier will be serving as manager while Dusty Baker attends his son’s high school graduation in California. Speier will have some extra help in the dugout, with minor league field coordinator Jeff Garber added to the big league coaching staff

Friday morning Nats news and notes

Some news and notes before the Nationals open their weekend series with the Padres ... * If you missed the news yesterday, Dusty Baker will be away from the team all weekend as he attends his son’s high school graduation in California. Baker flew home after yesterday’s loss to the Mariners. And since the Nationals will be heading out west themselves to begin a three-city

The critical pitching decision that loomed over a Nationals loss

The modern day manager’s job has far more to do with player and media relations than in-game strategy, but sometimes a specific situation does crop up in a ballgame that requires a key decision by the man in charge. And in those instances, the manager in question has to weigh competing factors and pick the one he believes makes the most sense at the time.

Cruz’s homer propels Mariners to first-ever win in Washington

His starter beginning to labor, Dusty Baker made the decision to hand over today’s game to the Nationals bullpen with one out in the top of the sixth. The ensuing result was not what the veteran manager wanted. Though quite possibly was what too many in the crowd of 18,881 feared. Nelson Cruz’s three-run homer off Jacob Turner turned the Nationals’ two-run lead into a

Game 46 lineups: Nats vs. Mariners

A very pleasant good morning to you all. And it most definitely is the morning, with the Nationals and Mariners today wrapping up their series with a 12:05 p.m. first pitch. The start time was bumped up four hours in hopes of getting this one in before the heavy rain arrives later. It’s not an ideal scenario, but as Dusty Baker put it: “It beats

After a 1-2-3 ninth, Baker finally deems Glover his new closer

This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying close attention over the last week, but Koda Glover is now the Nationals closer. The rookie reliever had essentially taken over the role last week after Shawn Kelley blew a save opportunity against the Phillies, but Dusty Baker was unwilling to go so far as to formally pronounce it. But after Wednesday night’s

With seven dominant innings, Roark finds himself again

Sometimes a pitcher spends hours poring over videos, working on mechanics in the bullpen, analyzing opposing hitters, using every technological method available to him to fix a problem. And sometimes he just takes advice from Crash Davis. Ask Tanner Roark the biggest difference for him during tonight’s 5-1 victory over the Mariners, how he was able to succeed in two-strike counts after struggling in those

Nats score early, get another quality start in 5-1 win over M’s

What’s the best way to overcome a suspect bullpen? How about a string of starts that reduce the relievers’ workload by a significant amount? The Nationals have figured out that formula in recent days and tonight won their third straight game thanks to seven strong innings from Tanner Roark. Roark’s best outing in weeks, combined with another early offensive explosion against the Mariners, produced a

Heisey goes on DL with ruptured bicep; SolĂ­s rehabbing in Florida

The Nationals outfield took another significant hit this evening when Chris Heisey had to be placed on the disabled list with what the club says is a right bicep rupture. It’s unclear how the injury occurred, but Heisey was on the field for batting practice this afternoon and did not appear to be dealing with any ailments prior to that point. Already playing with a

With rain in forecast, Nats move Thursday’s game up to 12:05 p.m.

Faced with an ominous forecast, the Nationals are moving up the start time of Thursday’s game to 12:05 p.m., hoping to get their series finale with the Mariners in before the worst of the expected rain arrives in the area. It’s a highly unusual move for a franchise that rarely, if ever, makes weather-related decisions that far in advance. But there were several factors at

Game 45 lineups: Nats vs. Mariners

Fresh off a 10-1 thumping of the Mariners last night, the Nationals are back at it tonight, looking for another big performance at the plate. Dusty Baker isn’t letting up, keeping all his regulars in the lineup against rookie right-hander Sam Gaviglio. Gaviglio, 27, is making only his second career start. He has spent the better part of the last two-plus years at Triple-A, where

After three days of rest, can Nats bullpen hit the reset button?

What’s the most important thing to happen to the Nationals over the last three days? Is it their offensive explosion last night against the Mariners? Big-time starts from Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross? Some encouraging results at the plate for Trea Turner? Those are all nice developments, but perhaps the most important one has involved the part of the roster that basically has not been

Rendon leads the way on another big offensive night for the Nats

It’s too much to ask of this from the Nationals lineup on a nightly basis, but it’s sure nice to be reminded what this group is capable of doing on any given night. Ten runs? Check. Fifteen hits? Check. Four homers? Check. An eight-run outburst in one inning? Check. “It’s fun to be a part of when you get going like that,” first baseman Ryan

Nats once again break out the bats for Ross in 10-1 rout of Seattle

Apparently, the best way for the Nationals to score a bunch of runs is to make sure they send Joe Ross to the mound. With Ross back after a three-week demotion to Triple-A Syracuse, the Nationals broke out their big sticks during their best offensive performance in some time, blasting the Mariners during a 10-1 victory at rain-soaked Nationals Park. Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and

Eight years later, Manny Acta finally returns to Nationals Park

Baseball has taken Manny Acta all over the place the last eight years, to nearly every ballpark in the majors, to spring training complexes across Florida and Arizona, to winter ball stadiums in his native Dominican Republic and across the Caribbean. It had not, however, taken him to the corner of South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue. No, when Acta - now third base coach

Game 44 lineups: Nats vs. Mariners

The Nationals didn’t exactly enjoy a successful road trip, losing two of three both in Pittsburgh and Atlanta. They’ll hope their fortunes improve this week at home against the Mariners and Padres. Joe Ross has an opportunity to get things started on a positive note, returning from a three-week stint at Triple-A Syracuse to take the mound tonight. We’ll see if the right-hander has been

Back in majors, Ross will try to rewrite his 2017 story tonight

Joe Ross’ 2017 season to date has followed a script few, if any, could have seen coming. Even the Nationals front office, which made the decision twice to demote the right-hander to the minors, didn’t intend for things to play out like this. Yes, club officials did plan to have Ross open the regular season at Triple-A, recognizing they wouldn’t need a full-time No. 5

Nats starters being pushed to the brink with high pitch counts

The Nationals bullpen is a problem. That shouldn’t be news to anybody at this point. But the deeper we get into the season, the more we see how the bullpen problem impacts other parts of the team’s roster. And atop that list is a Nats rotation that right now is being pushed nearly to the point of exhaustion. With hardly any relief arms he trusts,

Friday morning Nats Q&A

It’s been a couple of weeks since we did one of these, and since I’m sitting at home after making the drive back from Pittsburgh last night - MASNsports.com’s Byron Kerr is en route to Atlanta and will be covering this weekend’s series - this seemed like a good time to take some questions and attempt to provide some answers. I’m sure there will be

Roark trying to re-prove himself: “The game is testing me right now”

PITTSBURGH - It can be easy to forget, because he has been so consistently good for the Nationals over long stretches in his career, but things have never come that easily for Tanner Roark. This is, after all, a guy who was drafted in the 25th round by the Rangers who went 6-17 with a 4.39 ERA for the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate in 2012. That

Nationals lose 10-4, drop second straight to Pirates

PITTSBURGH - Needing innings today from Tanner Roark and then quality work from his bullpen, Dusty Baker got neither. Roark’s latest abbreviated start, combined with more relief struggles, sent the Nationals today to a 10-4 loss to the Pirates and a series loss at PNC Park. Baker was hoping for much better on a steamy afternoon along the shores of the Allegheny River, hoping Roark

News and notes before today’s series finale (Nats lose 10-4)

PITTSBURGH - It’s not uncommon for veteran players to get a day game off after a night game. And given the Nationals’ current schedule, with no break between today’s series finale against the Pirates and Friday’s series opener against the Braves, it’s not surprising that Dusty Baker decided to sit both Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman. It does, however, create an imperfect lineup for today’s

Game 40 lineups: Nats at Pirates

PITTSBURGH - We’ve got an early getaway day here at PNC Park, with a 12:35 p.m. first pitch on what is going to be a very warm afternoon along the banks of the Allegheny River. The Nationals will be looking to win this series, taking two of three from the Pirates before heading down to Atlanta for a weekend series with the Braves. It’s Tanner

Goodwin’s mistakes overshadowing his positive contributions

PITTSBURGH - For a guy who has played in just eight games and received only 13 plate appearances, Brian Goodwin has sure found himself in the middle of a lot of significant moments for the Nationals. Some of those moments have been positive ones, including a pair during Wednesday night’s game: an RBI double to account for the Nats’ lone run off Pirates ace Gerrit

Jacob Turner runs out of gas but makes case to remain as fifth starter

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals would like Jacob Turner to take over as their No. 5 starter for the immediate future. Circumstances and priorities have prevented that from happening, with the right-hander needed to help stabilize the least-stable bullpen in the majors. Tonight, though, Turner was back on the mound for the first inning, allowed to stay on the mound as long as his arm and

Pitching fades late as Nationals fall 6-1 to Pirates

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals needed to keep tonight’s game within striking distance, knowing they faced a stiff challenge against Pirates ace Gerrit Cole. For six innings, they were able to do that. Then it fell apart and any realistic hope of a comeback was dashed. A three-run homer off tiring starter Jacob Turner in the bottom of the sixth and then three more runs off

Why Fedde is moving to bullpen while Ross is not (Nats lose 6-1)

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals didn’t make a spur-of-the-moment decision to try out Erick Fedde as a reliever. General manager Mike Rizzo said the move had been in the works for a while and was prompted by multiple factors involving both the organization’s top pitching prospect and the current state of the big league bullpen. “It’s a good way to get your feet wet in the

Blanton goes on DL with shoulder inflammation, Grace recalled

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals hope a stint on the disabled list will do for Joe Blanton what pitching in big league games has not. Blanton was placed on the 10-day DL today with right shoulder inflammation, an ailment the veteran reliever mentioned to club officials Tuesday and may have played at least some role in his ragged start to the season. Blanton has a 9.49

Game 39 lineups: Nats at Pirates

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals look to make it two in a row against the Pirates tonight, though they’ll face a stiffer challenge than they did last night, with Jacob Turner on the mound facing Gerrit Cole. Turner makes his second start of the season, his eighth overall appearance. The right-hander has been mostly effective, but he hasn’t been stretched out since his six-inning start at

Turner to start tonight vs. Pirates, Harper finally homers at PNC Park

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals have been trying to get Jacob Turner back into their rotation for a few weeks now, only to be forced to keep him in a relief role that has been more of an immediate need for the club. Tonight, they’ll finally be afforded the opportunity to put Turner on the mound in the first inning. Turner will start the second game

Treinen, Romero, Glover combination works for Nats this time

PITTSBURGH - It’s only one game, and lord knows we’ve been teased a few times already this season by one strong performance from the Nationals bullpen into thinking it’s a sign of better things to come. So don’t put too much stock in what took place over the final three innings of tonight’s 8-4 victory over the Pirates. But don’t ignore it altogether, either, because

After brief hiccup, Nationals seize 8-4 victory from Pirates

PITTSBURGH - Just when it looked like the Nationals would be asking yet another unproven reliever to notch a save in a tight situation, a Bryce Harper blast provided some much-appreciated cushion. Harper’s two-run homer that nearly left PNC Park in the top of the ninth turned a two-run lead into a four-run lead and allowed Koda Glover to pitch the bottom of the inning

Fedde will get look in Harrisburg bullpen (Nats win 8-4)

PITTSBURGH - How significant is the Nationals’ need for reliable relief pitching? Significant enough that they’re moving their top prospect to the bullpen and will consider promoting him to the big leagues at some point to help shore up the club’s biggest problem area. Erick Fedde is due to pitch in relief for Double-A Harrisburg tonight and will continue to get a look in that

Nationals “very confident” Scherzer will make next start

PITTSBURGH - Take a glance at Max Scherzer’s left knee, and you might not even notice it’s anything less than 100 percent healthy right now. There’s virtually no swelling, and the only outward evidence of the 100 mph line drive he took off the knee Sunday night is a small red mark with the faint sign of baseball stitching. “I’m feeling great,” Scherzer said this

Game 38 lineups: Nats at Pirates

PITTSBURGH - Hello from beautiful PNC Park, where the sun is shining and it’s going to be very toasty the next three days as the Nationals and Pirates square off. The stakes aren’t quite as high for this series as that other series between teams from Washington and Pittsburgh the last couple weeks, but these are important games for the Nats, who are hoping to

Tuesday morning Nats thoughts and observations

Some thoughts and observations on this Tuesday morning before hitting the road for Pittsburgh (with a mandatory rest stop in Breezewood, Pa., of course) ... * Trea Turner is proving to be a far better shortstop than most of us probably figured he’d be, at least in his first big league season there. Nearly one-quarter of the way through the season, Turner has been charged

Taylor finding way to deliver big hits between strikeouts

Michael A. Taylor knows he’s going to be the Nationals’ everyday center fielder for the foreseeable future, with Adam Eaton out for the season after tearing his ACL and no other viable in-house options for the Nationals as currently constructed. That has helped Taylor take some pressure off himself, the kind he knows he succumbs to more than he’d like as he tries to prove

Scherzer OK after comebacker scare

There is much that could be said about the Nationals bullpen right now. And yet, what else can be said about that group except that it is a mess and requires nightly manipulating by Dusty Baker that occasionally works and frequently does not. The Nationals won tonight’s doubleheader finale over the Phillies, 6-5, thanks to Michael A. Taylor’s two-run homer in the bottom of the

Taylor’s late homer bails out bullpen, Nats hold on for 6-5 win

They can get the gutsiest of performances from their ace. They can scratch out runs and take a lead into the late innings. It doesn’t matter what happens up to that point, though, because every single Nationals game these days is decided in the eighth inning or later, good or bad. And you can now add tonight’s doubleheader finale to the good column. Despite blowing

Scherzer stays in after comebacker off knee (Nationals win 6-5)

Few images would cause the Nationals and their fans to clutch their hearts right now more than the sight of Max Scherzer writhing in the ground in pain. Thus, the reaction inside Nationals Park tonight in the top of the fourth when the ace right-hander went down in a heap after taking a comebacker off his left knee was one of shock and then panic.

Game 37 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

On the heels of another in a growing list of soul-crushing losses suffered so far this season, the Nationals are right back out on the field tonight for the second half of their doubleheader with the Phillies, hoping to salvage one game and win the weekend series. The good news: Max Scherzer is on the mound. To ask for a complete game would be to

Bolstered by Glover and Kelley, bullpen puts up zeros in victory

Lost among the excitement of Bryce Harper’s walk-off homer last night was the fact it would not have been possible if not for some stellar work by the Nationals bullpen, which turned in its best collective effort in weeks. After Tanner Roark was pulled with two outs in the fifth and his pitch count at 110, a quintet of Nationals relievers combined to toss 4

After Harper’s latest: “Nobody can say he ain’t worth the money”

In explaining how and why the Nationals decided to agree to terms now with Bryce Harper on a 2018 contract, some seven months before that sort of thing would normally be done, Mike Rizzo offered up a fairly simple rationale. “He’s a unique player,” the general manager said, “with a unique talent set that is our own.” There’s only one Bryce Harper, and so why

Harper walks off Phillies again, leads Nats to 6-4 victory

Bryce Harper walked off the Phillies again. Harper blasted a pitch from Edubray Ramos over the center field wall with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Nationals a 6-4 victory to complete another impressive comeback. Harper’s 11th homer of the season was the fifth walk-off blast of his career, his second this season. Both of those have come against the Phillies,

Phillies making Roark work once again (Nats win 6-4)

The Phillies made Tanner Roark work five days ago at Citizens Bank Park but couldn’t make much of a dent into the right-hander. Tonight, they’re making Roark work once again, and this time they’re taking advantage of it. Roark surrendered a pair of two-out RBI singles in the top of the fourth - one to Michael Saunders, one to Cameron Rupp - that plated three

Harper and Rizzo on the deal for 2018, and what comes next

The Nationals didn’t have to offer Bryce Harper a 2018 contract right now. And Harper didn’t have to accept the Nationals’ 2018 offer right now. So why did the two sides believe now was the time to take care of negotiations that would’ve been taken care of this winter and agree to a $21.625 million salary for next year? “Why now is just because it’s

Game 35 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

This turned into a busier Saturday than initially expected, what with the surprise announcement that the Nationals and Bryce Harper have agreed to terms on a contract for 2018, buying out his final year of arbitration for $21.625 million. That agreement, general manager Mike Rizzo said, should give Harper some comfort and peace of mind as he takes the field every day for the rest

Nats, Harper agree to $21.625 million salary for 2018 season

The Nationals and Bryce Harper today agreed to terms on a contract for next year, a surprisingly early move that doesn’t change the fact Harper can still become a free agent after the 2018 season, but does suggest the two sides are maintaining a productive relationship as they head toward that critical moment. In essence, the Nationals and Harper are avoiding the arbitration process they

Series finale postponed, makeup scheduled for June 8

The Nationals’ series finale against the Orioles has been postponed after a day and evening filled with rain - and not enough reason to believe it would end early enough to get the game in at a reasonable hour. The game will be made up June 8 at 7:05 p.m., one of only two common off-days the clubs had the rest of the season. One

Kelley and Glover on track to return from DL on Friday

They won’t, by their mere presence alone, turn the Nationals bullpen from a major problem into a major asset. But the anticipated return this weekend of both Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover from the disabled list certainly won’t hurt the Nats’ attempt to stabilize the shakiest unit on their roster. The Nationals haven’t made final decisions yet, but both Kelley and Glover are on track

Game 35 lineups: Nats vs. Orioles

To answer the question you all want answered: I have no idea. It’s been raining all day. It’s supposed to continue raining through most of the night. The tarp is covering the infield. But no word yet about the status of tonight’s series finale between the Nationals and Orioles. As always, stay tuned. As soon as we know anything, you’ll know it. Promise. If they

Breaking down Werth’s latest epic home run at-bat

We’ve seen him do it so many times now during his Nationals career, we’ve come to expect that every time Jayson Werth engages in a long at-bat late in a ballgame, he’s going to cap it off with a home run. Werth, of course, doesn’t actually do that every single time. But he sure does it a lot. And it certainly did it Wednesday night

Nats take advantage of last at-bat for “best win of the year”

The Nationals had become too familiar in recent days with the slow trudge off the field after losing a road game in walk-off fashion. It’s the worst feeling in baseball, and they had experienced it Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia and again Tuesday night in Baltimore. So, if nothing else, the Nationals took the field tonight on South Capitol Street knowing they could not lose another

Nationals complete stunning rally to topple Orioles 7-6

On a night that was looking absolutely dreadful for Washington sports fans, the local baseball club managed to bring a ray of sunshine with its most dramatic comeback of the young season, toppling a previously thorn-in-their-side rival in the process. Matt Wieters’ bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth brought home the tying and winning runs and took down his former team while catapulting

Eaton has ACL reconstruction, faces long rehab

Adam Eaton had surgery Tuesday to repair the torn ACL - as well as other injuries - in his left knee, immediately moving into the long rehab phase that now will consume the outfielder for some time. Eaton’s surgery was performed in Washington by Nationals team orthopedist Robin West, who in addition to the full ACL reconstruction also did repair work on other ligaments and

Game 34 lineups: Nats vs. Orioles

After a couple of frustrating losses in Baltimore, the Nationals now come home for the second half of this year’s Battle of the Beltways, hoping to at least salvage a four-game split of the season series with the Orioles (which would match the best they’ve done against their interleague rivals for the last decade). Stephen Strasburg gets the start tonight, hoping to do what Max

Baker concerned about fundamental mistakes late in games

BALTIMORE - The Nationals’ 12-inning loss Tuesday night was attributable, first and foremost, to their makeshift bullpen, which could not hold a two-run lead in the ninth and eventually was charged with the loss. But there were other problems, especially late, when the Nationals started making careless mistakes at the plate, in the field and on the bases, and in one case let their emotions

Relief-induced losses taking emotional toll on Nationals

BALTIMORE - The Nationals are exceptionally good at most of the things they need to do to win ballgames. Problem is, the one thing they are not even close to exceptionally good at doing is the one thing that almost always results in a loss. It’s one thing to lose games late via poor relief pitching. It happens to every team a number of times

Another bullpen meltdown sends Nats to painful 5-4 loss

BALTIMORE - They got eight dominant innings from Max Scherzer. They got a huge pinch-hit homer from Adam Lind. All the Nationals needed were three outs from their bullpen before surrendering two runs. For this bullpen, that’s no simple task. And so what should have been a nice, uplifting victory over the Orioles instead turned into a 5-4 12-inning loss and the latest nightmare for

Cole will start Thursday night, Turner remains in bullpen

BALTIMORE - A.J. Cole will start Thursday’s series finale against the Orioles, with Jacob Turner remaining in the Nationals bullpen for the time being. The Nationals had their choice of right-handers for the assignment of the final of four straight games between them and the Orioles this season. Manager Dusty Baker said this afternoon the decision had not been made yet, but the club made

Game 33 lineups: Nats at Orioles

BALTIMORE - Not that they’re in any kind of serious trouble right now, but the Nationals have lost two in a row and certainly would prefer not to extend that streak to three (not to mention drop both games they’ll be playing at Camden Yards this season). So there’s just a hint of pressure on them tonight to beat the Orioles. The good news: Max

Reluctant Wieters appreciates warm reception from Orioles

BALTIMORE - Matt Wieters isn’t the type to seek attention, and so Monday at Camden Yards was in some ways a nightmare scenario for the veteran catcher. Not that Wieters wasn’t excited to see his former Orioles teammates in his first appearance here with the Nationals, but he had to be uncomfortable with all the attention that was heaped upon him because of it. Wieters

Gonzalez, Nats confounded by trio of first-inning homers

BALTIMORE - Only once in his Nationals career had Gio Gonzalez surrendered three homers in a game. Never in his major league career had he surrendered three homers in an inning. So imagine the shock the left-hander and his teammates were experiencing around 7:15 p.m. Monday night when Joey Rickard, Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini all went deep the span of six batters, turning the

Nats fall behind early, drop series opener 6-4

BALTIMORE - If the next four nights represent the Nationals’ toughest test of the season to date, they didn’t exactly pass Part One. Gio Gonzalez served up three home runs during a nightmare first inning, and the Nats never recovered during a 6-4 loss to the Orioles in the opener of this year’s Battle of the Beltways. Gonzalez was rocked from the moment he took

Harper returns, Drew getting close, Kelley and Glover throw

BALTIMORE - Slowly but surely, the Nationals are getting closer to getting their injured players back on the field. Bryce Harper returns to the lineup tonight after missing three games with a sore groin. Stephen Drew is hoping to begin a rehab assignment this weekend, putting the shortstop on track to return from his hamstring injury next week. And Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover each

Game 32 lineups: Nats at Orioles

BALTIMORE - The Nationals and Orioles don’t typically play each other this early in the season. It’s usually quite warm and muggy when the Nats make their annual trek to Camden Yards, and it most definitely is not warm nor muggy today. But no matter the temperature, this always remains a great place to hit, and so the majors’ most productive lineup should be licking

One month later, Guthrie still coping with career-ending start

One month has passed, one month since that Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park when Jeremy Guthrie turned into the loneliest man in the world, stuck on the mound with no place to hide, the Phillies battering him all over the park, the Nationals watching helplessly as a 38-year-old pitcher’s career came to an agonizing end. Twelve batters faced. Six hits allowed. Four walks issued.

Baker, Nats left to hope for the best with the bullpen they’ve got

PHILADELPHIA - Most managers, especially those of good teams, have a short list of regular candidates to summon from the bullpen for the final innings of a close game. A couple of setup men, a lefty specialist, a closer. Dusty Baker has a good team, the best team in the majors by record through the season’s first five weeks. He does not, however, have the

Bullpen can’t finish off sweep, Nats lose 6-5 to Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - Dusty Baker has been forced to mix and match in his bullpen early this season, especially in the last week as his best relievers have landed on the disabled list and other veterans have lost the faith of their manager. The Nationals were able to get by like this thanks to a lot of offense and some quality relief work from some unexpected

Does Turner stay in ‘pen or return to rotation? (Nats lose in 10)

PHILADELPHIA - Jacob Turner has turned into an unlikely pitching weapon for the Nationals. The question now is where (and when) should Turner next pitch for the Nats? The club needs a fifth starter after sending struggling Joe Ross to the minors. The club also needs as much help as it can get in the bullpen right now. At the moment, Turner’s ability to pitch

Game 31 lineups: Nats at Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals have gotten off to some good starts in recent years (think 2012, 2014, 2016) but they’ve never gotten off to a start as good as this one. Yes, at 21-9 the Nats have produced their best record through 30 games not only in club history but in franchise history (that includes the Expos years). That they’ve been able to do this

Few style points for Cole, but positive results in 2017 debut

PHILADELPHIA - A.J. Cole knows his final line Saturday night was not entirely reflective of the way he pitched. He and the Nationals also know style points weren’t important in this one. Positive results were of far greater consequence. “I was always fighting the whole game, really trying to get ahead of hitters and throw strikes,” the right-hander said. “And a lot of times, I

Zimmerman’s season-opening tear continues: “That’s Bonds-like”

PHILADELPHIA - The comparison, on the surface, is ludicrous. Because one of the players involved did this for entire seasons at a time, while the other has merely done it for five weeks. But the comparison came straight from Dusty Baker’s mouth, and if anyone in the world is qualified to make this statement, it is the only person who has managed both players in

Pair of homers and effective pitching carry Nats to 6-2 victory

PHILADELPHIA - Rather than stress too much over how he was going to cobble together his bullpen tonight, Dusty Baker conjured up a less-stressful road map to victory a few hours before the Nationals and Phillies took the field. “Hopefully we score a lot of runs,” the manager said. “And hopefully Cole goes deep in the game.” Baker got his wish. On both counts. The

Who’s tonight’s closer? Stay tuned (Nationals win 6-2)

PHILADELPHIA - It’s turning into a daily question for Dusty Baker: Who’s your closer tonight? “Same thing as yesterday,” the Nationals manager said this afternoon. So, Matt Albers gets the ninth inning again? “I don’t know, Albers has thrown two days in a row,” Baker said. “I don’t know. We’ll figure it out as the game goes. That’s how it’s been every day.” The conglomeration

Harper better but out of Nats lineup for at least one more game

PHILADELPHIA - Bryce Harper informed Dusty Baker today his minor groin tweak has healed, hoping that might convince the Nationals manager to put him in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Phillies. Deep down, though, Harper must’ve known Baker’s standard policy for this type of situation. Which is why he remained on the bench for the second straight day. “He’s better,” Baker said. “When

Game 30 lineups: Nats at Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals have the best record in baseball, a .690 winning percentage, and they’ve done so despite a steadily revolving door of pitchers. Tonight the door opens again, and in walks A.J. Cole, making his first big league start of the season. Cole technically takes over Joe Ross’ rotation spot, though the Nationals would have liked to give that spot to Jacob Turner

Strasburg’s gutsy effort includes 119 pitches and a homer

PHILADELPHIA - His pitch count over 110, his left calf cramping up each time he finished his delivery and his gray Nationals jersey soaked through on a humid night at Citizens Bank Park, Stephen Strasburg looked done during the bottom of the sixth Friday night. And when Dusty Baker, Mike Maddux and Paul Lessard emerged from the visitors’ dugout upon seeing Strasburg in some amount

After 461 appearances, Albers finally gets to save the game

PHILADELPHIA - Matt Albers has been a professional pitcher for 16 seasons, a major leaguer for 12, a full-time reliever for 10. He’s the guy who is called upon to pitch in whatever situation is needed on a given night. Long relief. Extra innings. Mop-up work. A random sixth or seventh inning here or there. And a whole lot of ninth innings ... with his

Nats ride homers, Strasburg, altered bullpen to 4-2 victory

PHILADELPHIA - Ryan Zimmerman homered again, which is no surprise. Anthony Rendon homered, which is not a surprise this week. But a Stephen Strasburg home run? That was most surprising and elicited the biggest gasp among the crowd at Citizens Bank Park tonight. Strasburg’s solo blast, only the second of his career, helped the Nationals open up a lead tonight. His heavy workload on the

Sore groin keeps Harper out of lineup (Nationals win 4-2)

PHILADELPHIA - Still dealing with a sore groin, Bryce Harper is not in the starting lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Phillies, but the Nationals remain confident the injury isn’t anything serious and that their slugger will return in short order. “He’s a little sore,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Like I said yesterday, he’s day-to-day. I said I’ll check with him daily. I didn’t

Kelley lands on DL with strained lower back, Grace recalled

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals hoped they’d have Shawn Kelley available out of their bullpen tonight after he missed the last two days with an illness. Turns out they’re going to be without him a while longer after they placed him on the 10-day disabled list with a strained lower back. The surprise move came only 15 minutes before first pitch between the Nationals and Phillies,

Game 29 lineups: Nats at Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - As was the case in Washington, it poured in Philadelphia this morning. But as is the case in D.C., the rain has mostly cleared out now and so the Nationals and Phillies shouldn’t have much trouble getting the opener of their weekend series in tonight at Citizens Bank Park. If and when they play, Stephen Strasburg will be on the mound for the

Zimmerman starts off May how he ended April

Ryan Zimmerman found out Wednesday afternoon he had been named National League Player of the Month for April. Then he took the field for his second game in May and picked up right where he left off. Zimmerman went 2-for-3 and drove in the go-ahead run with a sixth-inning double, helping lead the Nationals to a 2-1 victory over the Diamondbacks. In doing so, he

Jacob Turner comes to the rescue: “He saved our bullpen”

Before their team takes the field every night, Dusty Baker and Mike Maddux come together and map out a pitching plan for that particular game. They know who’s starting and how much can be expected from him. They know who is available and who isn’t available out of the bullpen. And they know which reliever they ideally want to turn to for each potential scenario.

Turner’s dominant relief holds D-backs down 2-1

Their starter walked seven batters in five innings. Their emergency starter pitched four scoreless innings of relief, taking over all the setup roles and the closer’s job by himself. This isn’t how the Nationals envisioned pitching their way to a 2-1 victory, but hey, whatever works, right? Behind five ragged-but-effective innings from Gio Gonzalez and then four surprising and dominant innings from Jacob Turner, the

Baker on Zimmerman’s award, Blanton’s homer problem

Dusty Baker has managed more than a few guys who won their league’s Player of the Month award. Shoot, you don’t even have to go back to his previous jobs to compile a deep roster of honorees. When Ryan Zimmerman was named National League Player of the Month today, he became the Nats’ fourth different starter to earn such an honor in the last seven

Game 27 lineups: Nats vs. Diamondbacks

As impressive as Ryan Zimmerman was in April, there was no bigger surprise on the Nationals roster in the season’s first month than Gio Gonzalez. After a ragged 2016, Gonzalez burst onto the scene to begin this year, going 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA in five starts. Now we find out if the lefty can keep it going and not fall back into the same

Zimmerman named NL Player of the Month

Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman was officially recognized for his remarkable April this afternoon when he was named National League Player of the Month. It was a worthy capper to a dominant month for Zimmerman, who entered the season facing major questions about his ability to bounce back from the worst year of his career and proceeded to put those questions to rest in emphatic

Struggling Treinen seeks more strikes, faster pace

In their quest to fix what ails Blake Treinen right now, the Nationals coaching staff isn’t looking as much at the reliever’s mechanics or pitch selection as the slow pace in which all those pitches are being delivered to the plate. “I’d like to see him pick up the pace,” manager Dusty Baker said Tuesday night after Treinen struggled again during the Nats’ 6-3 loss

Uninspired Nationals slog through “kind of a downer day”

The game lasted 3 hours, 48 minutes. It felt like it took even longer for the Nationals to slog their way through an uninspired 6-3 loss to the Diamondbacks that bore virtually no resemblance to the high-energy, high-drama games they had played nearly every night in April. “It was kind of a downer day,” manager Dusty Baker conceded. “I don’t know why, but it seems

Nationals drop series opener to Diamondbacks 6-3

The Nationals aren’t going to score 23 runs every night, and it’s not going out on a limb to say so. But neither are they going to score six or seven runs every night, which is what they averaged in April. There are going to be nights like this one, when the lineup produces a couple of clutch hits but misses several opportunities for more.

Baker on Ross demotion: “Joe wasn’t Joe”

Asked today why the Nationals made the decision to demote Joe Ross to the minors, Dusty Baker offered up a simple answer at first. “Joe wasn’t Joe,” the manager said. “That was it in a nutshell.” There are different theories trying to explain why Ross hasn’t looked like his normal self the last two times he has taken the mound. Is there a physical problem?

Game 26 lineups: Nats vs. Diamondbacks

After the most impressive offensive week and month in their history, the Nationals start anew tonight when they host the Diamondbacks in the opener of a three-game series. This is a good Arizona club that comes to town with the National League’s second-ranked offense and second-ranked pitching staff. One of those pitchers is Taijuan Walker, who takes the mound tonight. The young right-hander and former

Ross optioned to Syracuse, Cole returns to major league staff

The Nationals have optioned Joe Ross to Triple-A Syracuse, a move that comes as a surprise but underscores the organization’s concerns with how the right-hander has performed in limited action so far this season. Ross was formally demoted Monday, but the club didn’t announce the move until today. Right-hander A.J. Cole was recalled from Syracuse to fill the roster spot, though he will need to

After impressive April, what does May have in store for Nats?

Though they were far from perfect - hello, bullpen! - the Nationals did just wrap up an overwhelmingly successful opening month to the season. At 17-8, they own the best record in the majors and the second-best 25-game start to any season in club history. (Only last year’s 18-7 team got off to a better start.) They lead the majors in just about every offensive

Zimmerman named NL Player of the Week

Ryan Zimmerman was named National League Player of the Week this afternoon. That’s a nice little honor, but it probably will be overshadowed shortly, as Zimmerman is likely to be named NL Player of the Month as well. Zimmerman earned the weekly award after a torrid seven days to cap off his brilliant month. The Nationals first baseman went 13-for-26 with two doubles, five homers,

While lineup soars, bullpen continues to concern Nationals

The Nationals lineup, in case you hadn’t heard, is really good. As the calendar shifts from April to May, the Nats as a team lead the majors in runs, hits, doubles, RBIs, walks, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. And on an individual level, either Ryan Zimmerman or Bryce Harper now leads the majors in runs, hits, home runs, RBIs, walks, batting average,

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