Imperfect Nationals fall 8-5 to Cubs, in danger of series sweep

Imperfect Nationals fall 8-5 to Cubs, in danger of series sweep
CHICAGO - To beat the Cubs right now, you have to play perfect baseball. The Nationals played very good baseball this afternoon, but they were far from perfect. And so they remain winless against baseball's best team so far in 2016. The Cubs battled their way to score three times in the sixth and then twice more in the seventh, taking advantage of some near-misses by the Nationals defense to emerge with a 8-5 victory on a long day at Wrigley Field. Addison Russell's bases-loaded two-run...
Continue reading

Runs not at a premium on cold, windy day at Wrigley (Nats lose 8-5)

Runs not at a premium on cold, windy day at Wrigley (Nats lose 8-5)
CHICAGO - On a cold, windy afternoon at Wrigley Field, where the ball isn't likely to leave the yard with nearly as much ease as it did yesterday, the Nationals and Cubs knew they'd have to manufacture their offense. The Nats did just that in the top of the third, using both a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly to take a 1-0 lead. Moments later, it was the Cubs' turn to advance a runner via bunt, setting up the RBI triple that tied this game. But then Kris Bryant proved it possible to drive...
Continue reading

Sick Murphy out of lineup; Rendon also ill but playing

Sick Murphy out of lineup; Rendon also ill but playing
CHICAGO - Dusty Baker likes to give his starters regular days off, and he likes to give them plenty of advance notice before doing it. So when today's Nationals lineup was posted and didn't include Daniel Murphy, the immediate assumption was that Baker planned to give his second baseman this game off all along, .406 batting average, 4-for-4 performance on Friday and career numbers versus Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel (6-for-11) notwithstanding. Turns out Baker never intended to sit Murphy...
Continue reading

Game 30 lineups: Nats at Cubs

Game 30 lineups: Nats at Cubs
CHICAGO - They say here in Chicago: If you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes. And boy has that been true so far this weekend. It was 47 degrees and cloudy on Thursday night. Then it was 73 degrees with a warm breeze blowing out of Wrigley Field yesterday. Now it's back down in the 50s with a really strong wind blowing in from the north. At least the sun's out. Don't expect the ball to fly like it did during yesterday's game, which may not be such a bad thing for the Nationals, who...
Continue reading

Another four-hit day leaves Murphy hitting .406 for the season

Another four-hit day leaves Murphy hitting .406 for the season
CHICAGO - Perhaps back in the day, before they added the two giant video boards behind the famed bleachers at Wrigley Field, Daniel Murphy could have rested easy, knowing there was no chance of looking up while he stood at the plate here and seeing the numbers ".406" right next to his name. After last year's ballpark renovations, though, it's pretty hard not to see it. So Murphy has to approach this just as he does everything else on the baseball field: staying focused on the game at hand,...
Continue reading

Scherzer tries to explain yet another home run barrage

Scherzer tries to explain yet another home run barrage
CHICAGO - Max Scherzer has blamed his struggles on mechanics. He's blamed them on execution of pitches. And now he's blaming them on his inability to outthink the talented Cubs hitters that dug in against him this afternoon and blasted his pitches out of Wrigley Field. "I felt like I was predictable, and they were just able to kind of key on that," Scherzer said following an 8-6 loss that featured four Chicago homers in his five innings of work. "It's almost like they had a better...
Continue reading

Blistering-hot Cubs thump Nationals again 8-6

Blistering-hot Cubs thump Nationals again 8-6
CHICAGO - The Nationals knew the final leg of their 10-game road trip through the Midwest was going to be the toughest, but they might not have known just how tough. The blistering-hot Cubs have taken down every opponent they've faced so far in 2016, and now they're adding the Nats to their checklist of conquests. Today's 8-6 thumping at Wrigley Field was merely the latest outcome to date. Behind four home runs off struggling ace Max Scherzer, the Cubs cruised to another victory, improving...
Continue reading

Ball flying out of Wrigley (Nats lose 8-6)

Ball flying out of Wrigley (Nats lose 8-6)
CHICAGO - There is no ballpark in America for which changes in weather have a more dramatic effect on the game than Wrigley Field. On cold nights when the wind blows in off Lake Michigan, the Friendly Confines seemingly expand into national park dimensions. But when the temperature heats up and the wind blows out, this becomes a home run hitter's haven. So when John Lackey threw his first pitch of today's game under mostly sunny skies, 73-degree temperature readings and a nice breeze blowing...
Continue reading

Revere ready to go "all-out" in return, while Taylor returns to bench

Revere ready to go "all-out" in return, while Taylor returns to bench
CHICAGO - Ben Revere awoke this morning to a text from his agent, Barry Meister, that contained a simple-yet-significant message: "Second opening day of the season!" Suffice it to say, Revere is just a bit fired up to be back in the Nationals lineup after straining his right oblique muscle on his very first swing of the season. "I'm real happy," he said. "It was kind of a bummer missing the first month of the season, with the team doing so well without you. The chemistry in that locker...
Continue reading

Game 29 lineups: Nats at Cubs

Game 29 lineups: Nats at Cubs
CHICAGO - After a chilly night with the wind blowing in at Wrigley Field, it's suddenly a beautiful, warm day with the wind blowing out today. Chicago weather, folks, gotta love it. Or hate it. The Nationals and Cubs play the second of their four-game series this afternoon, the Nats looking to bounce back from a fairly nondescript 5-2 loss in last night's opener. The good news: They've got their leadoff hitter and center fielder back at last. Yes, Ben Revere has been activated off the...
Continue reading

Rare defensive miscues cost Nats in loss to Cubs

Rare defensive miscues cost Nats in loss to Cubs
CHICAGO - They had been a stellar defensive team throughout the season's first month, entering play last night with fewer errors than any other club in the National League. Which only made the Nationals' defensive miscues during their 5-2 loss to the Cubs all the more striking. From a purely official standpoint, the Nats were not charged with any errors. They still lead the NL with only nine in 28 games so far this year. From an unofficial standpoint, they were quite shaky in the field. It...
Continue reading

Taylor's struggles get magnified during key strikeout

Taylor's struggles get magnified during key strikeout
CHICAGO - The Nationals didn't want to make Michael A. Taylor bat leadoff on a daily basis, and with Ben Revere about to return from the disabled list, they probably won't need to ask Taylor to do it much more. But no matter where he bats in the Nats lineup, no matter how many or how few opportunities he gets moving forward, Taylor has to prove he can transform himself into the kind of hitter his team can trust in big spots. Taylor found himself in one of those spots tonight during a 5-2 loss...
Continue reading

Ross effective vs. Cubs, but Nats lose 5-2

Ross effective vs. Cubs, but Nats lose 5-2
CHICAGO - The opener of a marquee series between the National League's top two teams featured plenty of big names, plenty of dominant pitching performances and some highlight-reel defense. What it didn't include was very much offense. The Cubs managed to pull off a 5-2 victory over the Nationals thanks to Ben Zobrist's two-run single to right in the bottom of the fourth and two-run homer off Felipe Rivero in the bottom of the eighth. Addison Russell added an RBI double in the eighth, as...
Continue reading

Nationals shut out by Cubs, 5-2, in opener of key series

Nationals shut out by Cubs, 5-2, in opener of key series
CHICAGO - The opener of a marquee series between the National League's top two teams featured plenty of big names, plenty of dominant pitching performances and some highlight-reel defense. What it didn't include was very much offense by the visitors. The Cubs managed to pull off a 5-2 victory over the Nationals thanks to a pair of big hits by Ben Zobrist: His two-run single to right in the bottom of the fourth, then his two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth, spoiling a mostly strong...
Continue reading

Cubs strike first in opener of marquee series (Nats lose 5-2)

Cubs strike first in opener of marquee series (Nats lose 5-2)
CHICAGO - Joe Ross showed no fear in staring down the Cubs lineup in his first career start at Wrigley Field. But you can't hold these guys down forever, and Chicago's big bats got to Ross in the fourth inning tonight to take a 2-0 lead on the Nationals. Ben Zobrist's single to right brought home the first two runs of this highly anticipated series and sent Ross' ERA "soaring" over the 1.00 mark for the first time. The inning featured some shaky defense - Michael A. Taylor couldn't haul...
Continue reading

Revere looks ready, but Nats will wait til Friday to activate him

Revere looks ready, but Nats will wait til Friday to activate him
CHICAGO - Ben Revere joined the Nationals at Wrigley Field today, put on his uniform and participated fully in all pregame drills before the opener of a big, four-game series against the Cubs. But he didn't suit up for the game itself and remains on the disabled list for another day, a decision the club made to remain cautious with their returning leadoff man and center fielder. Given the fact Revere hasn't played in a big league game since straining his right oblique muscle 31 days ago, and...
Continue reading

Game 28 lineups: Nats at Cubs

Game 28 lineups: Nats at Cubs
CHICAGO - Good afternoon from the one and only Friendly Confines here at the corner of Clark and Addison on the North Side. There truly is no place in baseball (or really all of sports) like Wrigley Field, and this weekend there's no better place to be, with the top two teams in the sport going head-to-head for a four-game series that is being built up big time by the Chicago media. The Cubs have been utterly dominant so far this season, with a .769 winning percentage and a run differential of...
Continue reading

Revere activated off DL, den Dekker optioned to Syracuse

Revere activated off DL, den Dekker optioned to Syracuse
CHICAGO - The Nationals have activated Ben Revere off the disabled list and will have their leadoff man and center fielder available to them this afternoon for the first time since opening day. Needing to clear a spot for Revere on the active roster, the Nats optioned Matt den Dekker to Triple-A Syracuse, a decision manager Dusty Baker admitted earlier this week would be particularly tough. A key offseason acquisition from the Blue Jays in the Drew Storen trade, Revere barely got a chance to...
Continue reading

Thursday morning Q&A from Chicago

Thursday morning Q&A from Chicago
CHICAGO - This has turned into quite some road trip, hasn't it? First the Nationals swept the Cardinals in St. Louis, despite Bryce Harper going 0-for-11. Then they nearly swept the Royals in Kansas City, missing out on that only by one Jonathan Papelbon blown save. Now the toughest road trip of the season reaches its final (and toughest) leg. The Nats will face the blistering-hot Cubs each of the next four days, a battle of the National League's two best teams to date. Yes, it's only May,...
Continue reading

After 13-run explosion, Nationals lineup rounding into form

After 13-run explosion, Nationals lineup rounding into form
KANSAS CITY - Nobody would suggest the Nationals lineup has functioned as one complete, perfectly in-sync unit at any point yet in this young season. At least one key hitter has been mired in a slump on any given day. And leadoff man Ben Revere has been out since his first at-bat of the season, only now on the verge of rejoining the team from the disabled list. Yet the Nats have had more than their share of days like this, days when they score runs in bunches and coast to victory, as they did...
Continue reading