Hometown kids Wood and Lipscomb settling into majors together

Brady House Trey Lipscomb James Wood spring training

NEW YORK – James Wood and Trey Lipscomb each took long roads to only end up in their own backyards. The two Nationals prospects both grew up within an hour of D.C. and now they’re teammates for the first time at the major league level.

“This is kinda how it felt all throughout the minors,” Wood said. “We just are doing the same stuff that we do normally, but it's just up here, which is always fun. It's cool.”

Wood and Lipscomb both entered the Nats farm system in 2022, but by different means. Lipscomb, a Frederick, Md., native, was drafted by the Nats in the third round out of the University of Tennessee. Two weeks later, Wood, an Olney, Md., native, was included in the biggest trade in baseball history when he and four other top prospects were shipped to the Nats in exchange for Juan Soto.

The two quickly became teammates at Single-A Fredericksburg and have risen through the system together ever since, making stops at High-Wilmington, Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Rochester before finally making the major leagues together this past week.

“I don't think really much of it has changed to be honest,” Lipscomb said. “I feel like we came up (together). When I first got drafted and he got traded over by the Padres, we were in Low-A Fredericksburg together. We've been working our way all the way up since then. Obviously, last year started at High-A together. And then Double-A. Then obviously, spring training and Triple-A. But it's kind of just been the same. I feel like we've just been the same and just continuing to grow, us being teammates. Not only that, but our friendship together.”

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Nats swept out of New York with shutout loss as slide continues (Rutledge starting Friday)

gore

NEW YORK – The Nationals entered Thursday’s matinee finale in Queens needing a win against the Mets to avoid the three-game sweep. More importantly, they needed a win to slow down their two-week slide before the finale series of the first half.

It’s been a mostly positive first half of the season for the Nationals, who have surpassed some preseason expectations, thanks in large part to some impressive performances by their young players.

They reached .500 in late April for the first time since July 2021. And they hovered around that mark for the next couple of months, sometimes even slipping into a wild card spot. But starting with a three-game sweep in San Diego in late June, the Nats have started going in the opposite direction, losing 12 of their last 16 entering today’s game.

Make that now losers of 13 of their last 17 games and five straight to fall 10 games under .500 after a 7-0 shutout loss to the Mets in front of an announced crowd of 25,710 at Citi Field.

The Nationals offense continues to slog through these weeks leading up to the All-Star break. They scored too late in Tuesday’s loss. They scored two early Wednesday, but none after that. And they didn’t score at all today.

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Game 94 lineups: Nats at Mets

wood 1st hr

NEW YORK – The Nationals need a win today, plan and simple. After trending in the right direction for most of the first half, they are heading the opposite way going into the All-Star break. A win to avoid a sweep at Citi Field and a couple more in Milwaukee wouldn’t be a cure-all. But it would be a good way for the team to enter the break and perhaps get back on track to start the second half.

MacKenzie Gore was beaten around in his last start for five runs on six hits and five walks in just 3 ⅓ innings against the Cardinals. But in his start before that, he held the Mets to just one run while getting eight strikeouts in 5 ⅔ innings. So he’ll try to avoid what happened to Jake Irvin the other night and continue his success against New York.

David Peterson goes for the Mets this afternoon in another rematch of starting pitchers from last week’s series in D.C. The lefty was charged with two runs on seven hits in 6 ⅓ innings against the Nats. He was similarly effective in his previous start, holding the Pirates to two runs but only completing 4 ⅓ innings.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at NEW YORK METS
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 1:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB Network (out-of-market only), MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, DC 87.7 (Spanish), MLB.com
Weather: Mostly sunny, 87 degrees, wind 14 mph out to right-center field

NATIONALS
SS CJ Abrams
RF Lane Thomas
LF James Wood
DH Jesse Winker
C Riley Adams
1B Juan Yepez
2B Luis García Jr.
3B Trey Lipscomb
CF Jacob Young

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Disastrous sixth for Corbin and Law buries new-look lineup in loss (updated)

Disastrous sixth for Corbin and Law buries new-look lineup in loss (updated)

NEW YORK – Davey Martinez needed to shake up his lineup. For the most part, it hasn’t been getting the job done as is over the past couple of weeks. Sure there were a few offensive outbursts here and there, but it definitely needed a kickstart to be more consistent.

So what did the Nationals manager do against Mets right-hander Luis Severino? He stacked the first five spots in the batting order with four left-handed hitters and one switch-hitter. And although it was actually the right-handed hitters at the bottom of the lineup that helped give the Nats an early lead, a disastrous sixth inning led to a fourth straight loss.

The Nats fell to the Mets 6-2 in front of an announced crowd of 24,887 at Citi Field, who got very loud during the bottom of the sixth.

With a 2-1 lead, Patrick Corbin returned to the mound to give his team at least one more inning and keep the lead intact. He had been effective up until that point at only 65 pitches, but the third time through the heart of the Mets order proved too much for the veteran lefty to handle.

Three straight hits tied the game at 2-2 and that was enough for Martinez to go to the bullpen to try to keep this one close. In came Derek Law, who has struggled with inherited runners this season, with two runners in scoring position and no outs. What could have been predicted came to fruition.

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Wood batting second, Thomas drops to sixth

Wood batting second, Thomas drops to sixth

NEW YORK – James Wood’s movement up the Nationals lineup continues today as he gets bumped up to the No. 2 spot against Mets right-handed starter Luis Severino. In fact, all of the Nats’ left-handed hitters moved up the order for tonight’s second game of this three-game set in Queens.

To face Severino, who held the Nats to one run on seven hits, no walks and four strikeouts over eight innings a month ago, manager Davey Martinez is putting lefties CJ Abrams, Wood, Jesse Winker, Keibert Ruiz (switch-hitter) and Luis García Jr. in the first five spots in the order. That does mean some guys have to move down.

Lane Thomas, who has hit second in 48 of his 63 games, moves down to sixth in the lineup for the first time this season.

“I just wanted to get our lefties up there against Severino, all of them up there, and see if we can score early,” Martinez said during his pregame media session. “I bumped Lane down a little bit just to take his mind off some stuff. Gotta get him ready to hit the fastball again. He's a little late, so I just wanted to get some other guys up there.”

The Nats struggled against left-hander Jose Quintana last night and have struggled to score early lately. They haven’t scored first in any of their last three games.

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Game 93 lineups: Nats at Mets

wood

NEW YORK – The Nationals are hoping to start tonight’s game like they finished last night’s. Down 6-0 going into the eighth, they hit two two-run home runs and scored a fifth run over the game’s last two innings. And by doing so, they made the Mets use four relievers, including closer Edwin Díaz, in a game they should have run away with.

The Nats will try to jump on Luis Severino early. The veteran right-hander has been solid in his first season pitching for the other New York team, going 5-3 with a 3.83 ERA and 1.200 WHIP over his first 17 starts. One of those starts came against the Nats, not last week but a month ago. Severino held them to one run on seven hits, no walks and four strikeouts over eight innings.

Patrick Corbin takes the mound for the Nats. He opposed Severino in that June 5 game at Nationals Park with very different results. The veteran left-hander gave up six runs on seven hits and three home runs in just 5 ⅓ innings while taking the loss. He’ll at least try to do what Jake Irvin did last night and provide some length.

If this game gets into a battle of the bullpens, the advantage could be in the Nationals’ favor given how many relievers the Mets had to use last night while the Nats only used Jordan Weems to cover the last two innings. However, the Mets did make a couple of roster moves this afternoon to bolster their bullpen, including placing former National Reed Garrett on the 15-day injured list with right elbow inflammation and activating right-hander Phil Maton, who they acquired from the Rays yesterday in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at NEW YORK METS
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, DC 87.7 (Spanish), MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 79 degrees, wind 21 mph out to center field

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With improving results, Ruiz starting to hit with more authority

Keibert Ruiz

NEW YORK – This first half has been forgettable for Keibert Ruiz. Ever since he landed on the 10-day injured list, missed 10 games and lost almost 20 pounds with a bad case of the flu in April, his season has been thrown out of whack.

But surely – and albeit slowly – the young catcher is starting to see some consistent positive results at the plate.

Ruiz’s batting average bottomed out at .127 and his on-base percentage at .184 in early May. His slugging and OPS soon followed at .207 and .392, respectively. He was still working to regain the weight and strength he lost while he was sick.

Then he needed to get his timing and feel back at the plate, reverting back to what has been his downfall in the past of using his great bat-to-ball skills to put balls in play that he shouldn’t for easy outs.

He has been the biggest disappointments for the Nationals thus far in 2024.

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Irvin can’t replicate mastery of Mets, bats remain quiet against Quintana in loss (updated)

wood running blue

NEW YORK – What Jake Irvin did against the Mets on Independence Day was nothing short of special. In what turned out to be a career highlight, the right-hander struck out eight over eight shutout innings of one-hit, one-walk ball on 99 pitches.

The task for the 27-year-old tonight: A similar performance to provide the Nationals bullpen some much-needed rest and give his team a chance to win for just the second time since that spectacular outing.

Eight scoreless innings is a lot to ask anyone, nonetheless a young pitcher facing the same team in back-to-back starts. And while Irvin was able to provide the Nats some length, he and the bats weren’t able to overcome a rough second inning and another dominant start by Jose Quintana in a 7-4 loss to the Mets in front of an announced crowd of 31,243 at Citi Field.

“He wasn't as sharp," said manager Davey Martinez. "His breaking ball wasn't as sharp. He fell behind a couple of hitters and made some mistakes just by location. But all in all, he gave us some innings that we needed. So it's just one of those days.”

Irvin only gave up one hit and one walk over eight innings last week against the Mets. He matched that in the first three batters he faced tonight, including a two-bag error on a pickoff attempt to move leadoff man Francisco Lindor to third base. But he got out of the first with a comebacker and strikeout, needing 21 pitches to complete the frame.

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Williams, Gallo still ways away; Cavalli, Ferrer going to Florida during break

williams pitching gray

NEW YORK – While still slowly progressing in their respective rehabs, Trevor Williams and Joey Gallo are both still a ways away from returning off the injured list for the Nationals.

Williams landed on the 15-day IL on June 4 (retroactive to June 1) with a right flexor muscle strain, a similar injury to what has kept Josiah Gray sidelined for the last three months. Although the right-hander finally began throwing recently, he’s still not near the point of throwing from a mound, nevertheless facing live hitters and starting a rehab assignment.

“No, the same,” said manager Davey Martinez when asked if there is an update on Williams ahead of this series opener against the Mets. “He's still progressing. It's going to be a process. But he's throwing up to like 60 feet and he's getting better.”

Williams was the Nats’ best starter over the first two months of the season: In 11 starts, he went 5-0 with a 2.22 ERA and 1.076 WHIP, while the Nats went 9-2 in those games. After struggling last year, the 32-year-old had made himself the team’s top trade chip ahead of this month’s deadline.

But now it’s unlikely Williams will be able to return to major league mound ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.

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Game 92 lineups: Nats at Mets

irvin pitching gray

NEW YORK – After a 3-5 homestand, the Nationals cannot get back to a .500 record before the All-Star break next week. But they’ll have this six-game road tip to end the first half of the season and get close before a much-needed break. For reference, these Nationals are five games better than they were at this point in the season last year.

And look who they’ll face to start this road trip: An old friend in the Mets, who the Nats split a four-game series with in D.C. last week. And look who will take the mound against the Mets: Jake Irvin, who pitched one of the best games we’ve seen from a Nationals pitcher on Independence Day. The right-hander struck out eight over eight innings of one-hit, one-walk ball. Now he’ll have the challenge of facing the same New York lineup in back-to-back starts.

And look who will take the mound for the Mets: Jose Quintana. who opposed Irvin last week. The veteran left-hander held the Nats scoreless over seven innings with four hits, three walks and only one strikeout.

Do we have another pitchers’ duel on-deck for the opener of this three-game series or will the offenses exact their respective revenge?

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at NEW YORK METS
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, DC 87.7 (Spanish), MLB.com
Weather: Cloudy, 83 degrees, wind 13 mph out to center field

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Wood drives in winning run as Nats beat Mets (updated)

James Wood Jesse Winker

While James Wood’s first two major league games came with all of the deserved hype, the Nationals’ top prospect had yet to really deliver a signature moment.

Sure, he reached base in high-leverage moments in both games, but he hadn't yet scored his first major league run nor recorded his first major league RBI.

So maybe the third time would be the charm for Wood, who was promoted to the No. 1 prospect in baseball by Baseball America earlier today. And sure enough, his first big league moment came tonight in leading the Nationals to victory.

Wood drove in the game-winning run with an RBI single in the seventh inning of the Nats’ 7-5 win over the Mets, their first against their division rival this season.

After rallying from a 5-0 deficit to make it a one-run game entering the sixth inning, the Nationals offense put Wood in position to be the hero.

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Adams recalled from Rochester, Millas optioned down, Ferrer moved to Harrisburg

adams catching gray

The Nationals made a switch at their backup catcher position Wednesday afternoon, recalling Riley Adams from Triple-A Rochester and optioning Drew Millas back to Rochester.

Adams, 28, was sent down to Rochester and replaced by Millas on the major league roster a month ago after he hit .215 with five doubles, two homers, six RBIs, seven walks, one stolen base and six runs scored in 25 games with the Nationals.

Now after 22 games with the Red Wings, he’s back in the big leagues with improved timing at the plate and another defensive position in his back pocket to give manager Davey Martinez more flexibility.

“Feels good to be back,” Adams said mere minutes after he returned to the clubhouse at Nats Park. “Obviously I've been here now for 20 minutes and I'm happy to be back. Happy to be here and anyway can help the team and all that stuff, I'm here for. That's what I told Davey. I'm excited to get back to work.”

Adams slashed .288/.396/.550 with a .946 OPS, three doubles, six homers, 13 RBIs, 12 walks and 16 runs scored with Rochester.

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Game 86 lineups: Nats vs. Mets

parker pitching white

Will tonight be the night? Can the Nationals finally beat the Mets after starting the year 0-5 against their division rival? Better yet, can they do it in the standard nine innings after losing each of the first two games of this series in the 10th?

Starting pitching hasn’t been a problem for the Nats this week. On the contrary, they have remained in these games thanks to some dominant performances from their starters over the last two days. Mitchell Parker will look to continue that trend in his 15th start. The left-hander is 5-4 with a 3.32 ERA and 1.119 WHIP to begin his rookie season.

The Mets called up rookie right-hander Christian Scott to make his sixth major league start tonight. The 25-year-old is 0-2 with a 3.90 ERA and 1.084 WHIP to begin his big league career. After holding his own against two southpaws in his first two games, this will be James Wood’s first time facing a right-handed starter in the majors.

If you’re coming to the game tonight, you’ll be treated to the traditional postgame fireworks ahead of tomorrow’s July 4 celebrations.

Note: The Nationals requested unconditional release waivers on Eddie Rosario, who was designated for assignment on Monday to make room for Wood.

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With big smile and blue hair, Ramírez happy for opportunity with Nats

ramirez

When the Nationals signed Harold Ramírez to a minor league deal two weeks ago, the idea was that he could provide another right-handed bat to face left-handed pitching. He joined the Nats this week leading all major leaguers with a .339 batting average against left-handed pitchers since 2020, which could definitely help a team that ranks in the bottom half of the league in hitting southpaws.

Ramírez wasn’t having a terrible year by league standards, hitting .268 in 48 games with the Rays before they designated him for assignment and released him. There just wasn’t a lot of power (.305 slugging percentage and .589 OPS) or consistency after he hit .300 in each of the previous two seasons.

The question wasn’t really: Could Ramírez recapture his hitting ability? It was more: Where is his mindset after being designated for assignment in the middle of the season?

There was a conversation to be had between the 29-year-old and the Nats brass as he joined the team in San Diego on Monday. And that conversation was all about confidence.

“We just talked about confidence,” Ramírez said. “What can I do when I hit? We feel excited because I'm here. … I always have confidence because that's the most important thing for me.”

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Nuñez collects first major league knock in surprise pinch-hit at-bat

Nasim Nunez

SAN DIEGO – In the moment, it was a small maneuver. Even Nasim Nuñez himself was a bit surprised at the timing of it, though he figured it was going to come in an 8-0 game.

But Nationals manager Davey Martinez waited until the last possible moment to let Nuñez know he was going to pinch-hit for CJ Abrams in the top of the ninth to give the starting shortstop a breather.

Jacob Young was already in the midst of drawing a leadoff walk when the Rule 5 pick gathered his things to step onto the on-deck circle. Except Martinez told him so late, he wasn’t even using his things.

“I was mentally prepared for it, but I didn't know if it was actually gonna happen,” Nuñez said of getting the call to get in the game. “So I was like, ‘Oh, man.’ And then I didn't have my batting gloves, so I was like, ‘CJ, let me get yours real quick.’”

Using Abrams’ gloves, the 23-year-old stepped into the batter’s box for his 12th big league plate appearance still in search of his first major league hit. Facing Padres left-handed reliever Tom Cosgrove, Nuñez fell behind 0-2 but battled back to even the count 2-2.

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Nats serve up another slam to get swept out of San Diego (updated)

DJ Herz

SAN DIEGO – This series between the Nationals and Padres didn’t need any more drama. Not after the extra-inning theatrics on Monday and the extracurriculars on Tuesday.

It felt like both teams got everything off their respective chests last night and could just play a regular ballgame Wednesday.

They were able to do so. Except the Nationals were searching for a victory to avoid getting swept out of San Diego and couldn’t overcome an early deficit in an 8-5 loss in front of an announced crowd of 37,397 at Petco Park.

DJ Herz was tasked with holding the Padres lineup in check after it scored a combined 16 runs over the first two games. But as in his previous start in Colorado, the rookie southpaw couldn’t get out of the fourth inning. Today marked the shortest outing of his five major league starts to date.

Kyle Higashioka snuck a two-run homer down the left field line to give the Padres a 2-0 lead in the second. Herz left an 81 mph changeup right down the middle of the plate for the catcher to smack.

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Clarifying Nats' comments after Tuesday's incident with Padres

Keibert Ruiz Nats Padres

SAN DIEGO – Let’s be very clear from the start: The Nationals did not intentionally hit Jurickson Profar during Tuesday’s game. Nor did manager Davey Martinez suggest that they did so during his postgame press conference.

Yes, Keibert Ruiz confronted Profar before his first at-bat last night, leading to both benches and bullpens clearing. Yes, MacKenzie Gore hit Profar with the first pitch. But the left-hander hit the back foot of the switcher-hitter, who was standing in on the right-handed side of the plate. A nearly impossible feat to accomplish on purpose.

And yes, Martinez said he was proud of the way his team – i.e. Ruiz – handled the situation by having a conversation, not by using physical retaliation.

As is commonplace on social media nowadays, some misinformation circulated online this morning speculating otherwise. And that’s the proper word for what happened because Martinez’s quotes were taken totally out of context.

For proper context, the portion of the manager’s postgame session that aired on MASN’s “Nats Xtra” postgame show started after the first couple of questions were already asked and didn’t include the question that Martinez was answering.

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Game 80 lineups: Nats at Padres

herz @ COL

SAN DIEGO – Are there any more fireworks left in this series between the Nationals and Padres? The Nats certainly hope so as they look to avoid the three-game sweep in today’s finale.

Last night’s game was full of emotion and got pretty heated early, but it eventually settled down and became more about baseball than any off-field theatrics. Let’s see if the Nats can take the frustration of these two losses and turn it into something positive before heading to Tampa Bay.

While the Nats have been able to score runs over the first two games of this series, they haven’t been able to keep the Padres from doing so as well. They’ll turn to rookie DJ Herz to hold this lineup and give them a chance to get out of here with a win. Herz was charged with four runs (three earned) in his last start at Coors Field, so he’ll try to get back to what made him so successful when he struck out 13 Marlins over six shutout innings in his start before that.

Meanwhile, Dylan Cease hasn’t been all that impressive after coming to the Padres from the White Sox this spring in exchange for four players. The veteran right-hander is 6-6 with a 4.14 ERA and 1.106 WHIP in 16 starts.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at SAN DIEGO PADRES
Where: Petco Park
Gametime: 4:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, DC 87.7 (Spanish), MLB.com
Weather: Sunny, 75 degrees, wind 10 mph from left to right

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After benches clear early, Nats lose to Padres late (updated)

Keibert Ruiz Jurickson Profar

SAN DIEGO – There was underlying tension ahead of this second game between the Nationals and Padres.

After Jurickson Profar took exception to two inside pitches that weren’t really close to hitting him then walked off the Nats and directed his celebration toward the visiting dugout last night, some members of the Nationals bench waited around to see if things would escalate.

They didn’t then. But it didn’t take long for it to carry over into tonight’s game.

The Nationals ended up losing 9-7 to the Padres, but not before both benches cleared in the first inning with Keibert Ruiz and Profar getting into it.

“It was nothing crazy," Ruiz said after the game. "We were just having a conversation about what he did yesterday. But it was nothing really crazy.”

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Gray strong in fourth rehab start with Rochester (updated)

gray pitching blue

SAN DIEGO – While the Nationals prepared for their second game against the Padres here in San Diego, they were also keeping an eye on a minor league game in Rochester, N.Y.

Josiah Gray made his fourth rehab start with Triple-A Rochester while nearing the end of his comeback from a right elbow/forearm flexor strain. And he had excellent results.

The right-hander completed six shutout innings with four hits, one run, no walks and four strikeouts on 73 pitches, 44 strikes. He'll probably throw more in the bullpen to get up to the targeted 90 pitches.

Gray has now completed three, four, five and six innings in his four rehab starts.

Nationals manager Davey Martinez, of course, didn’t have an update on Gray before the Nats’ game as he held his pregame media session as Rochester’s game was just getting started. But surely he will be happy with these results when we talk to him again after the game here.

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