Game 100 lineups: Nats at Indians

Game 100 lineups: Nats at Indians
CLEVELAND - Hello from Progressive Field in the heart of downtown Cleveland, home of champio...sorry, that still just doesn't sound right. This town is still awash in the glow of the Cavaliers' NBA title, the first major pro sports championship by anyone here since 1964. And now the Indians are trying to make their own run, some 68 years removed from their last World Series crown. They may not be garnering as much attention as they deserve, but they currently sit in first place in the...
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Chapman wouldn't have been worth the price for Nationals

Chapman wouldn't have been worth the price for Nationals
The Nationals like Aroldis Chapman. A lot. Mike Rizzo tried to sign the closer out of Cuba in 2010, and even thought he had outbid every other franchise in the majors for him (until it turned out the Reds had done it instead). Dusty Baker, of course, managed Chapman his first four seasons in the big leagues, continues to speak glowingly about the flame-throwing left-hander and was one of his staunchest supporters after the pitcher was suspended for domestic violence. So the Nationals, to make...
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After another underwhelming start, what's next for Giolito?

After another underwhelming start, what's next for Giolito?
Three starts into Lucas Giolito's career, the only thing the Nationals know for sure about their 22-year-old pitching prospect is that they don't really know yet what they've got. Giolito arrived in the big leagues late last month with a near-flawless pedigree. He had the stuff, the maturity and the presence to suggest he was ready for the big show. The results, though, haven't matched up with the pedigree. And now, following another underwhelming performance yesterday during what became a...
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Bullpen maneuvers "didn't work out at all" (Giolito, Taylor down)

Bullpen maneuvers "didn't work out at all" (Giolito, Taylor down)
The Nationals, believe it or not, entered the day with the majors' lowest bullpen ERA (2.85), the fourth-lowest WHIP and sixth-lowest batting average against. Yet there is no unit on the roster that appears more in need of help as the trade deadline approaches than this team's relief corps. It's an odd dichotomy between stats and the eye test, but games like today's 10-6 loss to the Padres only underscore the challenge facing general manager Mike Rizzo before the Aug. 1 deadline hits in...
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Bullpen implodes late in Nationals' 10-6 loss to Padres

Bullpen implodes late in Nationals' 10-6 loss to Padres
If the current back end of the Nationals bullpen wanted to convince general manager Mike Rizzo that he doesn't need to make any major acquisitions before next week's trade deadline, this wasn't the way to do it. Shawn Kelley and Jonathan Papelbon combined to give up six runs in the eighth and ninth innings this afternoon, turning a two-run lead into a 10-6 loss to the Padres that might have underscored this first place club's biggest weakness entering the final week of July. Handed a 6-4...
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Aaron Barrett fractures elbow during Tommy John surgery rehab

Aaron Barrett fractures elbow during Tommy John surgery rehab
Aaron Barrett, who was hoping to be in the final stages of rehab from Tommy John surgery and perhaps rejoin the Nationals bullpen before season's end, instead will be forced to undergo another major surgery Monday after fracturing his right elbow. Details of Barrett's latest injury weren't made public, but the Nationals said the 28-year-old reliever is scheduled to meet with orthopedist James Andrews on Monday. Andrews will repair the fractured elbow and evaluate the state of Barrett's...
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Ryan Zimmerman ready to return from DL (Nats lose 10-6)

Ryan Zimmerman ready to return from DL (Nats lose 10-6)
Ryan Zimmerman was back in the Nationals clubhouse this morning. And barring some surprise development, he'll be back in the Nationals lineup Tuesday night in Cleveland. Zimmerman completed a three-day rehab assignment with Single-A Potomac on Saturday and emerged reporting no issues with the strained left ribcage muscle that landed him on the disabled list earlier this month. He's scheduled to join his teammates on tonight's charter flight and be activated off the DL in time for the opener...
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Game 99 lineups: Nats vs. Padres

Game 99 lineups: Nats vs. Padres
It's another scorcher in the nation's capital, and today the Nationals and Padres will be playing smack dab in the middle of the afternoon with the sun beating down on them. That's going to be quite the test for Lucas Giolito, who makes his return to the big leagues after a very brief (two starts) demotion to the minors. The Nationals are hoping Giolito displays some better command of his off-speed pitches today against the Padres, which would help make his fastball more effective. That'll...
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On hot night, Scherzer stays cool for Nationals

On hot night, Scherzer stays cool for Nationals
Max Scherzer knew he needed to conserve as much energy as possible on a 94-degree night in which the heat index reached 103. But there's only so much you can do to combat the kind of conditions the Nationals right-hander faced last night: Change sopping wet jerseys every few innings, stand in front of a giant industrial fan to cool down, pour water over your head. "Look, it's hot for me, it's hot for them," Scherzer said. "It's just not an excuse. It's just something you've got to get...
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"Pale white" after six days with flu, Drew returns in style

"Pale white" after six days with flu, Drew returns in style
For the first time in six days, Stephen Drew found himself in an oddly familiar place: The Nationals dugout. The veteran infielder, mind you, has been on the club's active roster all week, but not until the latter innings of tonight's game against the Padres was he able to actually put on a full uniform and join his teammates on the bench. Beset with a severe case of the flu, (or some other undiagnosed ailment that sure felt like the flu) Drew was of absolutely no use to the Nationals the...
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Drew comes off bench to deliver walk-off 3-2 win for Nats

Drew comes off bench to deliver walk-off 3-2 win for Nats
Runs are not coming easily to the Nationals right now, which only compounds the pressure when they do actually give themselves an opportunity to push a run across the plate. That made tonight's game against the Padres something of an exercise in frustration for the Nats, who just didn't give themselves that many opportunities and didn't take much advantage of them either. Until the bottom of the ninth, that is. Stephen Drew, in his first appearance in six days after battling flu-like...
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Baker on Revere: "We need him badly" (Nats win 3-2)

Baker on Revere: "We need him badly" (Nats win 3-2)
We're now nearly four months into the six-month baseball season, and Ben Revere's batting average remains a paltry .214, his on-base percentage an equally paltry .258. It's the time of year when struggling players often start worrying about job security, and Revere may well need to be thinking in those terms. Dusty Baker, though, did his part today to offer his struggling leadoff man some words of encouragement and reason to believe his job isn't in jeopardy at this point. "I'm hoping,...
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Giolito will return to big leagues, start Sunday vs. Padres

Giolito will return to big leagues, start Sunday vs. Padres
Lucas Giolito will return to the big leagues and start Sunday's series finale against the Padres, manager Dusty Baker announced, though the length of his second stint with the Nationals (as was the case for his first stint) may not be long. Giolito will be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse only two weeks after he was demoted following the first two major league starts of his career. The 22-year-old right-hander made two starts in the minors in the interim - he gave up four runs in seven innings...
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Game 98 lineups: Nats vs. Padres

Game 98 lineups: Nats vs. Padres
It is an extraordinarily hot day here in the nation's capital, where according to my trusty weather app, it is currently 95 degrees with a heat index of 105. It will cool down moderately before Max Scherzer takes the mound at 7:05 p.m., but not a whole lot. If you're coming to the game, please make sure you prepare accordingly and do what you need to do to stay relatively cool. As for the game itself, the Nationals are attempting to snap a two-game losing streak, trying to beat a Padres club...
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Gio Gonzalez turns in best start since May

Gio Gonzalez turns in best start since May
Two innings into his start last night, Gio Gonzalez had an all-too-familiar look to himself. He was having trouble putting hitters away, resulting in a hefty pitch count of 43. He had already walked two batters. And though he had surrendered just one run to the Dodgers, he seemed to be teetering on the brink of far more serious damage. What transpired after that - four more scoreless innings on just 54 pitches - offered the best evidence in a long time that Gonzalez can right what has turned...
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Nationals combine power and speed in rout of Dodgers

Nationals combine power and speed in rout of Dodgers
The Nationals score many of their runs via the home run. They lead the National League with 132 of them, and are on pace for 225 by season's end, which would destroy the club's previous record of 194 in 2014. So the fact they hit four homers tonight during an 8-1 thumping of the Dodgers should not come as much of a surprise. This is what they do. But here's what they're also trying to do on a more regular basis: Score runs not with power, but with speed. Just like they did during a...
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Harper reaches third deck for 20th homer (Nats win 8-1)

Harper reaches third deck for 20th homer (Nats win 8-1)
If it's possible for one swing to get Bryce Harper back into MVP form, this might have been the one. Harper launched a towering home run off Bud Norris in the bottom of the first inning tonight, sending the 3-1 pitch halfway up the third deck down the right field line at Nationals Park, the farthest a ball has ever traveled to that portion of the stadium. The two-run blast traveled 451 feet and left Harper's bat with a velocity of 113 mph, according to Major League Baseball's Statcast...
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Lopez demoted after debut, Glover gets surprise promotion

Lopez demoted after debut, Glover gets surprise promotion
Reynaldo Lopez's first stint in the big leagues was a brief one. The Nationals optioned the right-hander back to Triple-A Syracuse one day after the 22-year-old was roughed up in his major league debut. The pitcher the club promoted to take Lopez's spot, though, is even less experienced than the one he will replace: Koda Glover, who had his contract purchased from Syracuse to complete the 2015 draft pick's meteoric rise through the organization's farm system. Glover, also 22, was an...
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Game 95 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers

Game 95 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers
If you experienced last night's sudden and violent thunderstorm, you know how much rain and hail fell from the sky in a very short amount of time. And if you saw photos or video from Nationals Park around 11 p.m., you know how bad the field and warning track looked, with the grounds crew unable to get the tarp out fast enough to beat the storm. Well, only 15 hours later, you'd never know what hit the place. The field looks fantastic, with scant evidence of the damage. Major props to John...
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What's next for Lopez and Giolito?

What's next for Lopez and Giolito?
Reynaldo Lopez revealed both weaknesses (a very hittable fastball) and strengths (a very unhittable curveball and changeup) in his major league debut last night, enough to leave the Nationals plenty intrigued to see more of the 22-year-old. "He's young, this is the big leagues, and you're facing big-league hitters," manager Dusty Baker said after Lopez gave up six runs and 10 hits but struck out nine in 4 2/3 innings. "But he's very bright. Just gotta tighten up a few things. I think...
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