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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Nats take out Arrieta, but Cubs sweep series with 13-inning win

Nats take out Arrieta, but Cubs sweep series with 13-inning win
CHICAGO - The Nationals threw everything they had, up to and possibly including the kitchen sink, in an attempt to do what no team in baseball has been able to do since last summer and actually beat Jake Arrieta. That still wasn't enough to pull off the implausible, though, certainly not when an overworked bullpen couldn't hold a late lead and a lineup that had countless opportunities to score runs throughout couldn't do it enough times to win. The Cubs rallied to score two runs in the...
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Harper walking up a storm at Wrigley (Nats lose 4-3 in 13)

Harper walking up a storm at Wrigley (Nats lose 4-3 in 13)
CHICAGO - The Cubs pitching staff has wanted no part of Bryce Harper this weekend, a strategy that worked for three days but hasn't paid off so far this afternoon. Midway through the final game of this four-game series at Wrigley Field, the Cubs have walked Harper 10 times in 15 plate appearances. He has only four official at-bats, with one hit. Chicago beat the Nationals three straight days with that avoid-Harper-at-all-costs approach, but the reigning league MVP finally made them pay for it...
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Pregame news and notes from Wrigley Field

Pregame news and notes from Wrigley Field
CHICAGO - It's tough to conjure up a tougher challenge for the Nationals than the one they face today, needing to beat Jake Arrieta to avoid a four-game sweep at Wrigley Field. But they seem to be embracing this matchup against the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, with the reigning NL MVP leading the charge. "Love that challenge," Bryce Harper said. "Being able to go against one of the best in baseball, what better on Mother's Day? It's going to be a lot of fun to go out there and face...
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Game 31 lineups: Nats at Cubs

Game 31 lineups: Nats at Cubs
CHICAGO - Though they've lost three straight and are in danger of getting swept out of Wrigley Field, in a strange way the Nationals are actually encouraged by the way they've played here against the Cubs. No, they haven't played perfect baseball, but they've played good baseball against a team that pretty much has been perfect through the season's first five weeks. "It's good that we're sticking right there with them," center fielder Ben Revere said after yesterday's 8-5 loss. "To...
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What happened on Gio Gonzalez's botched safety squeeze?

What happened on Gio Gonzalez's botched safety squeeze?
CHICAGO - There were several key moments during yesterday's 8-5 loss that could only leave the Nationals shrugging their shoulders in disbelief, plays simply just out of their reach and plays that just underscored how good (and perhaps fortunate) the Cubs have been during their record 23-6 start to the season. There was, however, one very significant play that was entirely the Nationals' fault, one for which no excuse would suffice: a botched safety squeeze that turned into a double play. It...
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Nationals lament close plays they didn't make in latest loss

Nationals lament close plays they didn't make in latest loss
CHICAGO - There was the slicing soft liner by Ryan Kalish that just barely got past a lunging Danny Espinosa and brought home two runs to give the Cubs a temporary lead over the Nationals in the bottom of the sixth. Then there was the double down the left field line by Anthony Rizzo that narrowly landed in fair territory and then bounced into the stands, putting the Cubs into prime position to break a tie game in the bottom of the seventh. And of course there was the ball Addison Russell popped...
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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...
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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...
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