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

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 play in this case that may have made it necessary. Thursday's forecast calls for morning rain, then a midday break before...
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Game 45 lineups: Nats vs. Mariners

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 he sports a 4.38 ERA in 36 games (31 starts). Tanner Roark takes the mound for the Nationals, trying to right his...
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After three days of rest, can Nats bullpen hit the reset button?

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 used during this mini stretch: the bullpen. With Strasburg going 7 2/3 innings on Sunday in Atlanta, then a...
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Rendon leads the way on another big offensive night for the Nats

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 Zimmerman said. "It doesn't happen very often, so you just try to enjoy it and keep going." Tonight's 10-1 thumping of the Mariners was the...
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Nats once again break out the bats for Ross in 10-1 rout of Seattle

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 Anthony Rendon all homered during an eight-run bottom of the fourth against embattled Seattle starter Christian...
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Eight years later, Manny Acta finally returns to Nationals Park

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 for the Mariners - walked into Nationals Park this afternoon, it was the first time he had set foot here since June 12,...
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Game 44 lineups: Nats vs. Mariners

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 able to adjust his arm slot, get better downward movement on his sinker and save enough in the tank to get...
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Back in majors, Ross will try to rewrite his 2017 story tonight

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 starter for several weeks. But once he made his debut April 19 in Atlanta, there was no reason to believe he'd be heading...
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Nats starters being pushed to the brink with high pitch counts

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, Dusty Baker has been forced to ask for more than he wants from his starters. We saw it Sunday in Atlanta, when Stephen Strasburg was still on the...
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Friday morning Nats Q&A

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 plenty of inquiries about the Nationals bullpen, which is perfectly appropriate given the continued disarray of that unit. But hopefully we can...
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Roark trying to re-prove himself: "The game is testing me right now"

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 he turned himself into one of the better starting pitchers in the National League is in itself a remarkable achievement. So while Roark's ragged start...
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Nationals lose 10-4, drop second straight to Pirates

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 would be efficient enough to go six-plus innings and spare his bullpen some unnecessary work. But the Nationals...
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News and notes before today's series finale (Nats lose 10-4)

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, with Brian Goodwin batting second, in front of Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Daniel...
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Game 40 lineups: Nats at Pirates

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 Roark on the mound, looking to bounce back from a bit of a ragged start against the Phillies. The biggest thing holding Roark back so far this season...
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Goodwin's mistakes overshadowing his positive contributions

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 Cole and a pinpoint throw to the plate from center field to nail Gift Ngoepe. And some of those moments have been negative ones,...
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Jacob Turner runs out of gas but makes case to remain as fifth starter

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 results would allow it. And while the end result wasn't positive - the Nationals suffered a 6-1 loss to the...
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Pitching fades late as Nationals fall 6-1 to Pirates

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 relievers Oliver Pérez and Matt Albers in the bottom of the seventh carried the Pirates to a 6-1 victory over the Nationals...
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Why Fedde is moving to bullpen while Ross is not (Nats lose 6-1)

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 big leagues," Rizzo said. "You start as a reliever, then we can gradually stretch you out and put you back as a starter at...
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Blanton goes on DL with shoulder inflammation, Grace recalled

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 ERA in 14 games, having surrendered 20 hits (six of those homers) in only 12 1/3 innings. He last appeared in a game Saturday but...
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Game 39 lineups: Nats at Pirates

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 Coors Field on April 24, so it's unclear how far he can go tonight. And once he departs, we'll see who's...
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