Bryce Harper drops appeal, will sit out tonight's game

Bryce Harper drops appeal, will sit out tonight's game
Bryce Harper has dropped the appeal of his one-game suspension and will sit out tonight's game against the Marlins, a decision that allows the reigning league MVP to play in next week's showdown between the Nationals and Mets at Citi Field. Harper had initially appealed Major League Baseball's suspension, which was handed down Wednesday in the wake of his ninth-inning ejection two nights earlier, subsequent return to the field and cursing at plate umpire Brian Knight seconds after teammate...
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Home run barrage from Harper and surprisingly potent bench

Home run barrage from Harper and surprisingly potent bench
For the better part of a week now, Bryce Harper has barely seen anything to hit. Over his last eight games, he has 36 plate appearances - but only 14 official at-bats - as opposing pitchers went out of their way to avoid getting beaten by the current best hitter on the planet. Throughout it all, Harper has showed impressive patience, refusing most of the time to expand his zone and start hacking at pitches he probably couldn't do much damage with in the first place. Yet at the same time, he...
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Teams continue to play Walk-a-Bryce (Nats win 5-3)

Teams continue to play Walk-a-Bryce (Nats win 5-3)
Joe Maddon started the trend last weekend in Chicago. Now the craze is catching on elsewhere. Everybody in baseball wants to play Walk-a-Bryce. The Marlins became the latest team to pitch around Bryce Harper, walking the Nationals star in each of his first two plate appearances, not even making much of an attempt to give him anything to hit. Right-hander Tom Koehler walked Harper on four straight balls in the bottom of the first inning. Two innings later, he walked him on five pitches - though...
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Notes on tomorrow's doubleheader, Murphy and Espinosa

Notes on tomorrow's doubleheader, Murphy and Espinosa
Doubleheaders often create a headache for managers and general managers, who typically have to find someone to make a spot start, throwing a rotation out of whack. The Nationals, though, lucked out this weekend. With an off-day Thursday and another Monday, they're able to stick with their regular rotation and make it through tomorrow's day-night doubleheader against the Marlins without disrupting much of anything. Stephen Strasburg will start the 1:05 p.m. opener, with Tanner Roark then...
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Game 35 lineups: Nats vs. Marlins

Game 35 lineups: Nats vs. Marlins
It's been a dreary couple of weeks in D.C., but here's some good news: The skies are supposed to clear later this afternoon and there may even be a bit of sunshine when the Nationals take the field at 7:05 p.m. for the opener of their weekend series with the Marlins. This is a four-games-in-three-days series, with a day-night doubleheader tomorrow to make up the game that was rained out way back in the season's first week. The Nationals haven't yet announced who's pitching when tomorrow,...
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What's realistic to expect in the end from .409-hitting Murphy?

What's realistic to expect in the end from .409-hitting Murphy?
It got lost in the shuffle easily Wednesday night amid Max Scherzer's 20 strikeouts, Jordan Zimmermann's return to Washington and Bryce Harper's one-game suspension, but Daniel Murphy's torrid start to the season hit yet another high-water mark. With a 3-for-4 night in the Nationals' 3-2 win over the Tigers, Murphy raised his batting average to .409. Yes, that's .409. A number that is no small accomplishment. Of course there's way too much baseball left to start thinking about Murphy...
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Thursday morning Q&A from D.C.

Thursday morning Q&A from D.C.
So, uh ... anything interesting happen so far this week? I mean, think about everything that has happened in just the last four days alone. On Sunday, Bryce Harper tied the all-time record with six walks in a game, while Ryan Zimmerman stranded 14 runners on base. On Monday, the Nationals signed Stephen Strasburg to a $175 million contract extension, then Harper was ejected in the bottom of the ninth, then Clint Robinson hit a walk-off homer moments later. On Tuesday, the Strasburg contract...
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For Max Scherzer, a performance to top them all

For Max Scherzer, a performance to top them all
Max Scherzer has thrown two no-hitters. He has come within one oh-so-errant pitch of a perfect game. He has won a pennant clincher. He has started a game in the World Series. All significant achievements for any pitcher, but all things that have been achieved by more than a handful of hurlers over the course of baseball history. That's why tonight meant so much to Scherzer. And it's why what the right-hander did, striking out 20 batters during the Nationals' 3-2 victory over the Tigers,...
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Cheers for Zimmermann, K's for Scherzer (Nats win 3-2)

Cheers for Zimmermann, K's for Scherzer (Nats win 3-2)
Nationals fans finally got a chance to give Jordan Zimmermann the standing ovation they wanted to last September. But they're cheering louder for Max Scherzer each time their new ace strikes out a member of Zimmermann's Tigers lineup. In a marquee matchup of elite pitchers facing their former teams, Zimmermann and Scherzer have been front-and-center at Nationals Park early on tonight. Fans gave Zimmermann two loud ovations in the first three innings alone: When he was announced as part of...
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Bryce Harper suspended one game, playing tonight after appeal

Bryce Harper suspended one game, playing tonight after appeal
Bryce Harper has been suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball for his actions following his ninth-inning ejection Monday night, but the reigning National League MVP is appealing the decision and remains eligible to play for the Nationals tonight against former teammate Jordan Zimmermann. Harper was suspended by Joe Garagiola Jr., MLB's senior vice president of standards and on-field operations, who in a news release announcing the punishment said it was...
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Game 34 lineups: Nats vs. Tigers

Game 34 lineups: Nats vs. Tigers
Every franchise experiences certain rites of passage throughout the course of its existence, and tonight the Nationals will experience a new one: The return of a star player now wearing an opposing uniform. Jordan Zimmermann makes his first-ever start at Nationals Park as a member of the Tigers, taking the mound for tonight's series finale. When he does, he'll become easily the best former National ever to face his old team here in town. Thinking back across the years, who else is even in the...
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Nationals lament missed late scoring opportunities

Nationals lament missed late scoring opportunities
Though the Nationals were upset about the application (or, more specifically non-application) of Major League Baseball's new slide rule during last night's 5-4 loss to the Tigers, they admitted it would've been moot had they managed to take advantage of either of their golden opportunities to tie (or even win) the game in both the bottom of the eighth and ninth innings. "I would preface this whole conversation by saying that I had an opportunity there in the ninth inning to tie the...
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Confusion over new slide rule plays role in Nats' 5-4 loss

Confusion over new slide rule plays role in Nats' 5-4 loss
At first glance, there wasn't much to the play in question. With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the sixth tonight, Detroit's Andrew Romine grounded to second baseman Daniel Murphy. It wasn't an especially hard-hit grounder, and there was little reason to think in that moment the Nationals had any chance of turning an inning-ending double play. Which they didn't. Murphy threw to Danny Espinosa, who threw well late to Ryan Zimmerman. Anthony Gose was out at second, Romine was safe...
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Ross gives up rare homer off slider (Nats lose 5-4)

Ross gives up rare homer off slider (Nats lose 5-4)
Joe Ross has stared down plenty of challenges already this season, his first full campaign in the major leagues, and has emerged on top the majority of the time. Tonight's challenge, though, ranks among the toughest he's faced to date: A Tigers lineup loaded with talent and experience. Ross held his own early on in the second game of this interleague series, but then he left a slider over the plate to Nick Castellanos in the top of the fourth and watched the Detroit third baseman crush it...
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Strasburg on surprise extension: "The timing just felt right"

Strasburg on surprise extension: "The timing just felt right"
In the end, it was about comfort. Stephen Strasburg's comfort in Washington. The Nationals' comfort in giving the right-hander a $175 million contract extension that also gives him the right to opt out after only three or four years. And Scott Boras' comfort in doing what his client wanted, even if it potentially meant leaving more money on the table as a free agent this winter. All sides expressed pleasure with the deal that apparently was agreed upon two weeks ago but only was officially...
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Game 33 lineups: Nats vs. Tigers

Game 33 lineups: Nats vs. Tigers
Oh yeah, there's a game tonight. It's been an eventful day, what with the Stephen Strasburg contract extension and the aftermath of Bryce Harper's ejection last night. But the Nationals and Tigers will be back at it this evening for the second of their three-game interleague series. Joe Ross gets the ball for the Nats, coming off a strong outing in Chicago against a very tough Cubs lineup that still resulted in a loss. He'll be facing another strong lineup tonight that features the likes...
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Strasburg deal is official

Strasburg deal is official
The Nationals officially announced their seven-year contract extension with Stephen Strasburg and plan to hold a 2:15 p.m. news conference to discuss their new deal with the right-hander. Strasburg and the club came to terms on the contract, which a source familiar with the deal confirmed is worth $175 million, last night. The 27-year-old then started the Nats' interleague series opener against the Tigers, giving up four runs over seven innings, striking out 11 while walking three batters. The...
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With Strasburg deal, Nats finally show they can re-sign best players

With Strasburg deal, Nats finally show they can re-sign best players
The question would come up every now and again over the years, becoming more frequent the last few months as the potential finish line drew closer: Is there any chance the Nationals will re-sign Stephen Strasburg? And the answer, always, was a simple: Not likely. There were plenty of legitimate reasons to draw that conclusion. Strasburg seemed like a guy who wanted to return to the West Coast. The Nationals were reluctant to hand out nine-figure contracts to any pitcher, but particularly those...
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What to make of the Nationals' roller-coaster 5-5 road trip?

What to make of the Nationals' roller-coaster 5-5 road trip?
CHICAGO - Had they been told at the outset, before they embarked on a 10-day road trip to face three imposing clubs, that they'd wind up with a 5-5 record, most everybody associated with the Nationals probably would have been content with it. On the heels of a disappointing series sweep against the Phillies, and with the Cardinals, Royals and Cubs on the docket, the Nats couldn't afford to set the bar too high. So why now, at the end of this grueling trip, does 5-5 feel like a...
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Nats know they must start making teams pay for walking Harper

Nats know they must start making teams pay for walking Harper
CHICAGO - They walked him. Then they walked him again. Then they intentionally walked him. Then they hit him with a pitch before walking him the next time up. Which set up another intentional walk, this time with runners on first and second base and two out in a tie game in extra innings. Which set up yet another intentional walk, also with runners on first and second base and two out in a tie game deeper into extra innings. Throughout it all, the Cubs made their intention quite clear. They...
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