Source: Strasburg to announce retirement (updated)

Strasburg blue

NEW YORK – What had sadly become obvious earlier this year is now becoming reality: Stephen Strasburg will be forced to retire from the Nationals, unable to recover from his 2021 thoracic outlet surgery enough to pitch again in a major league game.

The Nationals are not publicly announcing anything yet, but a source confirmed the decision has been made and there are plans for Strasburg to hold a press conference at Nationals Park during the team’s next homestand. The Washington Post first reported the news.

"For Strasburg and his family, I'm not going to make any comments about what's going on," manager Davey Martinez said, fighting tears following his team's 6-5 win over the Yankees this afternoon. "What I do know is that he means a lot to me and this organization, and the fans. I'll just keep it at that."

It had become clear earlier this year Strasburg was not going to be able to make a full recovery after several attempts to rehab from the July 2021 surgery that derailed his career. He made one start in Miami in June 2022 but could not avoid another trip to the injured list, and one final attempt to come back this spring was cut short due to continued pain and discomfort in his arm, neck and shoulder.

Because he still has three years remaining on the seven-year, $245 million contract he signed after the 2019 World Series, Strasburg needed to work out some kind of financial arrangement with the Nationals. In voluntarily retiring, the 35-year-old would normally forfeit any money still owed to him. Sources familiar with the situation said negotiations had been taking place for months, delaying the final resolution until now.

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Garrett heading back to D.C. with fractured fibula

Stone Garrett injury blue

NEW YORK – Stone Garrett has a fractured left fibula and is headed back to Washington for further tests and potentially surgery, though the Nationals are cautiously optimistic the outfielder’s injury is not as bad as it initially appeared Wednesday night.

The Nats placed Garrett on the 10-day IL today and recalled infielder Jeter Downs from Triple-A Rochester to take his roster spot. That’s not an indication he’s expected to return soon, though. Teams rarely place an injured player immediately on the 60-day IL, saving that transaction until they need to clear a 40-man roster spot for someone else.

Garrett hurt himself trying to make a leaping catch of DJ LeMahieu’s seventh-inning homer to right field, his left foot getting caught in the padded wall as he tried to climb it. He fell to the ground and writhed in pain until manager Davey Martinez and director of athletic training Paul Lessard could get to him.

After a seven-minute delay, Garrett was helped to a nearby cart, an air cast placed around his left leg. He got X-rays at Yankee Stadium and was still at the ballpark after the game, assisted by Lessard as he showered and got dressed, then greeted by teammates and others who offered words of support.

Garrett is now on his way back to D.C., where lead team physician Robert Najarian will administer more tests, including an MRI, to determine the extent of the fracture and possibly perform surgery. The initial indication was that the injury was limited to his lower leg, not his ankle or knee.

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Game 128 lineups: Nats at Yankees

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NEW YORK – After a difficult Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, the Nationals are right back here for their series finale, hoping there’s at least some encouraging news about Stone Garrett and focused on trying to win the rubber game of the series.

Garrett was officially placed on the 10-day injured list with a fractured left fibula, so the Nationals replaced him on the active roster with infielder Jeter Downs, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester only three days after he was sent down to allow Carter Kieboom to remain here in the big leagues. That does leave them with only three true outfielders (Lane Thomas, Alex Call, Blake Rutherford) but Ildemaro Vargas, Jake Alu, Michael Chavis and even Downs can play out there if needed.

The Nats need to do more at the plate than they’ve done so far this week. Since that four-run outburst in the first inning in Williamsport on Sunday night, they’ve scored a total of three runs, each of those via solo homers. Some more sustained offense would be a big help, especially on a day when the Yankees are throwing a bullpen game, with right-hander Michael King set to pitch first.

Patrick Corbin gets the start for the Nationals, facing another American League team. He’s been notably better in interleague games this season, going 6-3 with a 4.03 ERA. And he’s been great in his last three such starts, going 3-0 with an 0.90 ERA against the Mariners, Rangers and Red Sox. It’ll be fascinating to see if that trend continues today against what had been an awfully weak Yankees lineup before Wednesday night’s nine-run explosion.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at NEW YORK YANKEES
Where: Yankee Stadium
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Chance of rain, 71 degrees, wind 9 mph out to left field

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Garrett suffers potentially serious leg injury in blowout loss (updated)

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NEW YORK – What was already the Nationals’ worst night in weeks, strictly from a performance standpoint, turned worse in the bottom of the seventh at Yankee Stadium.

A 9-1 loss to New York included a disastrous second inning for MacKenzie Gore and a defense behind him that was tough to watch, but that paled in comparison to the sight of Stone Garrett being carted off the field in tears after suffering what appeared to be a serious lower left leg injury.

The Nationals, who had won 20 of their last 30 and were trying to deal the Yankees their first 10-game losing streak in 110 years, were far more distraught about their young outfielder, whose promising season may have come to a devastating conclusion as he tried to make a spectacular catch to rob DJ LeMahieu of a homer that barely cleared the fence in right.

"Just one of those situations ... just sucks to see ... praying for him," Gore, one of Garrett's closest friends on the team, said as he unsuccessfully tried to hold back tears, needing to step away for a minute to compose himself.

His team already trailing by six runs at the time, Garrett raced back to the wall in search of LeMahieu’s deep drive. He planted his left foot in the padded wall to get leverage for his leap, then fell to the ground and writhed in pain as LeMahieu circled the bases and a crowd of 37,266 roared before fully realizing what happened.

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Edwards shut down with stress fracture in scapula

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NEW YORK – Though encouraged by the recent return of two key relievers from the injured list, the Nationals recently received bad news about one of their other key bullpen arms attempting to return from the IL.

Carl Edwards Jr. has been shut down indefinitely with a stress fracture in his right scapula, a significant derailment of the veteran’s rehab efforts.

Edwards, who has been out since June 20 with shoulder inflammation, appeared to be on track to return for the season’s final month, making two rehab appearances for Single-A Wilmington in the last week. The first appearance went well, with Edwards retiring the side on 12 pitches. But his second outing Saturday did not, with the pitcher retiring only one of the five batters he faced and surrendering two homers and a triple.

Edwards reported not feeling right after that most recent game, and the Nationals scheduled an MRI for him, which revealed the stress fracture.

“We’re going to shut him down indefinitely until this goes away,” manager Davey Martinez said. “It stinks, because he was working his way back. But his last outing, he said he just didn’t feel right. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but he’s going to be out for a while.”

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Game 127 lineups: Nats at Yankees

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NEW YORK – It’s been two years since the Nationals last won eight of 10 games. It’s been way longer since the Yankees last lost nine in a row. And way longer than that since they lost 10 in a row.

Tuesday night’s 2-1 victory secured the Nats’ first 8-2 stretch since June 2021. It also secured the Yankees’ first nine-game losing streak since 1982. One more tonight and the mighty Bronx Bombers would have their first 10-game losing streak since (gulp) 1913. (For what it’s worth, the Nationals haven’t lost 10 in a row since 2008, which isn’t a bad streak in itself, all things considered.)

MacKenzie Gore will try to do what Josiah Gray did Tuesday night and keep the Yankees from scoring runs in bunches. Gore was outstanding his last time out, shutting out the Red Sox on one hit over 6 1/3 innings before a blister opened up on his left middle finger and forced him from the game. The Nats hope that won’t be an issue again tonight but will keep an eye on it, for sure.

Davey Martinez would probably like more than two runs (each via solo homer) tonight, even though that was barely enough offense to win Tuesday. His lineup will be facing Luis Severino, who enters an astonishing 2-8 with a 7.98 ERA and 1.88 WHIP.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. NEW YORK YANKEES
Where: Yankee Stadium
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 74 degrees, wind 7 mph out to left field

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Kieboom returns to majors with a bang

Carter Keiboom blue jersey

NEW YORK – The smile on his face was evident. As was the fist pump as he approached second base. What, though, really was going through Carter Kieboom’s mind during a trip around the bases two years in the making Tuesday night?

“Baseball’s crazy,” the Nationals third baseman said. “We’ve all seen some crazy stuff. And after everything, being two years removed, to have that be my first hit back, first swing … it’s special. It meant a lot to me. You really can’t make this stuff up.”

No, you really can’t. Because who would believe it?

After three failed attempts to prove himself in the majors from 2019-21, then Tommy John surgery in 2022, then a shoulder impingement and an oblique strain as he tried to return this season, Kieboom finally was back in the Nats lineup Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. And then homered on his very first major league swing since the final day of the 2021 season.

It almost felt too contrived to be reality.

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Young Nats again lead the way in win over Yankees (updated)

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NEW YORK – The Nationals arrived at Yankee Stadium this afternoon with a newly re-signed manager, a bunch of emerging young stars and one of the best records in the majors over the last month and a half.

Then they showed a crowd of 38,105 why they don’t believe any of this is a fluke, riding the contributions of some of those emerging young stars (and one returning former top prospect) to a 2-1 victory that sent the reeling Yankees deeper into a hole they appear unlikely to emerge from.

Carter Kieboom homered on his first major league swing in nearly two years, Josiah Gray pitched around five walks to allow only one hit over six innings and CJ Abrams provided the winning blast with an eighth-inning homer off the right field foul pole.

And just like that, the Nationals kept flying high, unfazed by the supposed mystique and aura of The House That’s Supposed to Look like the House Ruth Built. They’ve won eight of their last 10, 24 of their last 38. And they’re doing it thanks in large part to key building blocks who are coming into their own at the same time.

"I think we can compete with anybody," Gray said. "We've shown that over the last month and a half, two months. ... We've been playing like a team since recent memory, and it's really fun to come to the ballpark every day knowing we have a chance to win, knowing we have a chance to upset the standings and kind of make a name for ourselves."

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New contract secured, Martinez focuses on future success

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NEW YORK – After an exhausting, exhilarating Sunday in Williamsport, Davey Martinez was looking forward to a relaxing Monday off in Manhattan before his Nationals opened a three-game series against the Yankees. It wound up being an exhilarating day in its own right, complete with an evening celebration with family members after he signed a two-year contract extension to remain this club’s manager through at least the 2025 season, potentially more.

“It’s a blessing for me and my family to be able to do what I love,” Martinez said today after the signing was officially announced. “And actually to be doing a lot better with it right now, with the way the guys have been playing. I really believe the future is bright here for us. I’m excited about that.”

Martinez had been working on the final year of his current contract, unsure if he’d have to wait until September or even October to learn his fate. When he got the word from longtime agent Alan Nero on Monday, though, he was elated to know the question wouldn’t linger any longer.

Martinez’s deal includes two guaranteed years, plus a club option for 2026, according to a source familiar with the contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but the 58-year-old is making $3.5 million this season, his sixth as Nationals manager.

Originally hired in November 2017 to take over a franchise that had won four recent division titles but had yet to win a postseason series, Martinez led the Nats through a frustrating 2018 season and then a 19-31 start to the 2019 season before guiding that star-laden roster to a World Series title. Two years later, that roster began to be dismantled, the organization embarking on a full-scale rebuild that bottomed out in 2022 with a club-record 107 losses.

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Game 126 lineups: Nats at Yankees

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NEW YORK – After an eventful day in Williamsport and then an eventful off-day in New York, the Nationals get back to work tonight with the opener of a three-city trip that will take them up and down the East Coast and even across international borders.

It begins tonight at Yankee Stadium, where the home team is in a freefall, having lost eight in a row, falling four games under .500 and 9 1/2 games out of the American League wild card race. Yes, the Nats are closer to a playoff berth (eight games) than the Yankees. Strange times, indeed.

Davey Martinez (whose new two-year contract was officially announced today) has a lineup loaded with eight right-handed bats, including Carter Kieboom, who makes his first appearance in a big league game since 2021. He’s also got both Keibert Ruiz and Riley Adams in the lineup together, something we’re seeing most of the time now when the Nats are facing a lefty like Carlos Rodón.

Josiah Gray, meanwhile, makes his first career start at Yankee Stadium, just a stone’s throw away from his childhood home in New Rochelle. The young right-hander has been teetering a bit in recent outings. He’ll surely be motivated tonight, but the Nationals need quality from him.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. NEW YORK YANKEES
Where: Yankee Stadium
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 77 degrees, wind 7 mph in from left field

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What Monday's news says about the state of the Nationals

Rizzo and Martinez

Even before the Nationals went on a 23-14 run that has reinvigorated the franchise and its fans after 3 1/2 years of losing, Davey Martinez and Mike Rizzo’s fates seemed secure.

Maybe the on-field results at the major league level weren’t exemplary but take a step back and consider the bigger picture. Was the Lerner family, still controlling the club for the foreseeable future, really going to make changes at the manager and general manager positions at this point?

You can certainly find faults with Martinez as a manager, though there are a number of reasons to praise the job he’s done as well. But considering the roster he was given since the rebuild began in July 2021, were you really going to blame him for the Nats’ won-loss record?

And you can certainly find faults with Rizzo as a GM, most notably his team’s inability to draft and develop players who have turned into quality big leaguers over a not-insignificant stretch. But likewise, there are plenty of reasons to applaud the job he’s done, especially when it came to acquiring both quantity and quality in the two biggest trades he’s made in his career.

Besides, once the Nationals were clearly embarking on a rebuild that figured to take several years to complete, how could you reasonably evaluate their GM before giving him a chance to see that process all the way through?

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Source: Martinez has new deal, Rizzo working toward one

Mike Rizzo Davey Martinez 2019 NLCS

The Nationals’ recent turnaround on the field appears to have convinced ownership to address the biggest off-the-field issue that has been looming over the club all summer: Davey Martinez and Mike Rizzo are getting new contracts.

Martinez has already agreed to a two-year deal that includes a third-year option, and Rizzo is close to finalizing a deal of similar length, a source familiar with the terms confirmed. The Athletic was first to report the news.

Both Martinez and Rizzo were working under contracts set to expire at season’s end, the club having previously picked up their 2023 options last summer. The uncertain status of the Lerner family’s attempt to sell the franchise left the fates of its longtime manager and general manager in limbo, but with the clock ticking and no evidence a sale is imminent, it increasingly felt like a foregone conclusion both would be brought back.

The Nationals’ recent on-field performance, both at the big league and minor league levels, only bolstered the cases for both Martinez and Rizzo. The major league team has won seven of its last nine series, five of those against playoff contenders, and is 23-14 since July 8, the third-best record in the National League during that span.

A farm system that has been overhauled in the last 24 months both via major trades and the draft, meanwhile, now ranks as the sport’s eighth-best after consistently ranking near the bottom for several years. Recent first-round pick Dylan Crews was just promoted to Double-A Harrisburg after dominating in 14 games at Single-A Fredericksburg, and he’ll now join fellow top prospects James Wood, Brady House and Robert Hassell III in a potent Senators lineup, all four of them potentially ready to debut in Washington sometime next season.

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A day the Nationals (and Little Leaguers) will never forget

Josiah Gray LLWS

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Every member of the Nationals’ traveling party arrived here Sunday morning with some personal expectation what the experience would be like. And every one of them left town at the end of the night with the same reaction: It was nothing like they expected it to be. It was so much more than that.

CJ Abrams: “Growing up and watching Little League, and actually getting to go to the field, it’s a lot more exciting than you think it is.”

Josiah Gray: “A lot bigger than I expected. Because on TV, you see just the field and some of the crowd. But to see the field itself and how big the stands were, along with how expansive the hill was, it was huge.”

Kyle Finnegan: “It was pretty crazy. A lot of kids, a lot of fans.”

Davey Martinez: “It blew me away. TV doesn’t do it any justice of what it is. I was amazed.”

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Nats score early, hold down Phillies in Little League Classic (updated)

Keibert Ruiz Little League Classic

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – As he sat in the dugout at tiny, historic Bowman Field this afternoon, watching his team take the field for batting practice, Davey Martinez considered what participation in the MLB Little League Classic meant for the Nationals.

Most of these players had never been in a nationally televised game before. Certainly none of them had played in a game in a setting like this, with an invitation-only crowd of 2,473 made up of Little League World Series competitors, their families and other locals packing themselves into this rustic minor league ballpark.

This whole day, which began with a fun-filled tour of the nearby Little League World Series complex, was a big deal for the Nationals. But there was also an actual major league game to play, and in it a chance for this fast-growing team to show just how far it has come in a short amount of time.

That made the Nats’ 4-3 victory over the Phillies all the more special. Yeah, the specific details were important to the individuals who performed well, none more so than Trevor Williams, who tossed six scoreless innings of two-hit ball to save a weary bullpen. But this was important for the franchise as a whole, a chance to show a larger audience what fans back in D.C. have already picked up on: These guys are playing really good baseball right now.

"It's been really good," catcher Keibert Ruiz said. "We have a really good family in the clubhouse, and we believe we can play good against a really good team like the Philadelphia Phillies. All the teams."

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Source: Crews to Harrisburg, Morales and Pinckney to Wilmington

Dylan Crews Fredericksburg

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – As they showcase themselves before a national audience for the first time this season, the Nationals are moving their top picks from this summer’s draft a step closer to the big league stage, including a big jump for their No. 1 prospect.

The Nats are promoting outfielder Dylan Crews to Double-A Harrisburg, a source familiar with the decision confirmed, after the No. 2 overall pick dominated at Single-A Fredericksburg in his professional debut.

Crews hit a robust .351 with five homers, 24 RBIs and a 1.073 OPS in only 13 games with Fredericksburg, proving more than capable of competing at that level only months after he led LSU to the College World Series title.

The fact the Nationals are bumping Crews up to Double-A, skipping the High-A level altogether, underscores how advanced they believe he is, not to mention how soon they believe the 21-year-old could be big league ready.

Crews will join a Harrisburg lineup already loaded with top prospects, including outfielders James Wood and Robert Hassell III and third baseman Brady House.

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Kieboom, Thompson rejoin roster for Little League Classic

Carter Kieboom blue throwing

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Tonight’s MLB Little League Classic offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Nationals to both experience the Little League World Series in person and then play in a nationally televised game in the most intimate setting they’ll ever have in the major leagues.

For two players, it also marks a welcome return to the big league roster.

Mason Thompson and Carter Kieboom were added to the Nats roster today, Thompson activated off the 15-day injured list to take the bullpen slot that opened up when Cory Abbott was optioned to Triple-A Rochester, Kieboom recalled from Rochester to serve as the designated 27th man for this special game.

Thompson returns after an IL stint of exactly 15 days due to a left knee contusion. The right-hander returns after making one rehab appearance for Double-A Harrisburg on Thursday, during which he tossed a scoreless inning on nine pitches.

Given the heavy usage of their bullpen this week, the Nationals couldn’t afford to activate Thompson before he was ready to be used in full capacity. He insisted to them he was ready for the workload.

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Game 125 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies in Williamsport

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WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Hello from Muncy Bank Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field, the longtime home of the minor league Williamsport Crosscutters and home tonight of the MLB Little League Classic between the Nationals and Phillies.

For the first time in club history, the Nats are playing in a neutral-site location, selected last year to participate in the sixth edition of the Little League Classic. They are still considered the home team, so they’ll bat last just like the game was being played back in D.C.

It’s already been a long and exciting day, with both teams arriving at the local airport to awaiting kids and media members, then spending a couple hours at the actual Little League World Series just a few miles away from here. Much of tonight’s very small crowd will be comprised of those Little Leaguers, so it should make for a very different environment than any of these big leaguers are used to.

As for the actual game, the Nationals are looking to bounce back from Saturday’s game, which they led 3-0 in the seventh and saw fall apart before their eyes as an overworked bullpen finally crumbled. The good news: All the top relievers should be available to pitch tonight if the situation calls for it.

To get there, they’ll first need a better start out of Trevor Williams, who has struggled big-time of late. The right-hander gave up five runs via three homers and threw 93 pitches in 4 1/3 innings against the Athletics his last time out. Prior to that, he gave up six runs via three homers and threw 103 pitches in 4 2/3 innings against the same Phillies lineup he’ll face tonight.

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With confidence and swagger, Machado rising to occasion

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As he sauntered off the mound, having just struck out a $300 million hitter to strand the bases loaded and preserve a two-run lead for his team, Andrés Machado looked every bit the part of an established, high leverage, big league reliever. He did not look anything like a guy who had been designated for assignment by the Nationals twice in the last year.

How far Machado has come in a short amount of time, having survived a roller coaster of a season to emerge now as one of the Nats’ most trusted arms to get big outs late in games. And none was as big as the one he got Friday night during an 8-7 victory over the Phillies.

Summoned out of the bullpen with two on, one out and the middle of the order coming up in the top of the seventh, Machado proceeded to strike out Nick Castellanos before walking Bryson Stott to load the bases and bring Trea Turner to the plate.

Turner may be having a hugely disappointing debut season in Philadelphia after signing a monster contract, but the former Nationals star is still capable of changing a game with one swing. So when Machado got ahead in the count 1-2 and then got Turner to whiff at a slider, he reacted the only way he knew how: Walking off the mound like a guy who believes he’s the best.

“I was getting ready for the moment,” he said. “I’ve been pitching in that kind of situation, and I just prepared myself for that situation. I tried to do my best, and I saved that run.”

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Nats storm back early, bullpen holds on late to beat Phillies (updated)

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There was juice at Nationals Park tonight, the kind of energy that comes not merely from a large crowd but from a highly competitive game between an opponent trying to reach the World Series for the second straight year and a home team trying to prove to everyone they’re not as far away from reaching that goal as most would’ve believed not long ago.

A crowd of 26,747 that included a healthy amount of Phillies fans roared when the Nationals took an early lead off Michael Lorenzen, foiling his unlikely bid for a second straight no-hitter. It roared when the Phillies put up a six-spot in the top of the fourth to take what looked like a commanding lead. It roared when the Nats fought right back to score six runs of their own in the bottom of the inning and re-take the lead. And it roared as a parade of Nationals relievers held on to finish off a thoroughly enjoyable 8-7 victory and continue a thoroughly convincing turnaround over the last month.

Thanks to CJ Abrams’ three-run homer and lights-out work from a bullpen that looks better each passing day, the Nats won for the 15th time in their last 18 home games. They’re 18-9 since July 21. And they continue to beat good teams, often through a surge of power and late-inning heroics.

"We always tell each other we're going to surprise some people," Abrams said. "I think we've done that. And we're going to keep going and see what happens."

Why wouldn’t the assembled crowd on South Capitol Street tonight feel the energy and embrace a rebuilding home ballclub that is trying to expedite the timeline for a return to the kind of success that used to be the norm around here?

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Flurry of rehab appearances for injured Nats relievers

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It’s purely a coincidence of timing that so many injured Nationals relievers were ready to begin rehab assignments within days of each other. Intentional or not, the team is more than happy to monitor a bunch of these assignments, knowing each pitcher is getting close to returning to the active roster.

Mason Thompson and Carl Edwards Jr. got the process started, each tossing a scoreless inning of relief Thursday. Tanner Rainey will make his rehab debut tonight, hours after Thaddeus Ward pitched in West Palm Beach.

Thompson tossed a 1-2-3 inning for Double-A Harrisburg, striking out one and throwing seven of his nine pitches for strikes. The right-hander, out since Aug. 2 with a left knee contusion, is scheduled to return to make another appearance Sunday, ideally building up to 20-to-25 pitches.

Edwards also threw a perfect inning of relief, with six of his 12 pitches for strikes with Single-A Wilmington. The right-hander, out since June 20 with shoulder inflammation, is going to need more time on his assignment considering how long he’s been out. He’s next scheduled to pitch Saturday.

“He’s been out a little longer,” manager Davey Martinez said. “For me, it’s like spring training all over with him. I want to get him this outing tomorrow, see how that goes, and then possibly two or three more after. … But he said he felt way better yesterday.”

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