Purke makes first start in more than a year, plus notes on Werth injury

Left-hander Matt Purke made his first start of 2015 with low Single-A Hagerstown, falling to Kannapolis 4-0.

Purke allowed two runs over four innings, had no walks and struck out three. It has been exactly one year since the 2011 third-round selection had Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.

Purke-Throws-Red-Spring.jpgPurke is on an innings limit for each game, and even though he gave up the two runs in the third, it is always a major step to make that initial start of the next season following Tommy John surgery. He had been progressing on the mound at extended spring training for the past two months.

* The high Single-A Potomac offense enjoyed a rare breakout in an 8-3 win over Wilmington. The P-Nats pounded out 11 hits, including four consecutive singles in the second for a 3-1 lead. Narciso Mesa, Jimmy Yezzo, Christopher Bostick and Estarlin Martinez connected off of the Blue Rocks, all with two outs. Drew Ward's base hit later notched his team-leading 22nd RBI and the P-Nats led 4-2. Stephen Perez had two hits and two RBIs.

Despite three runs allowed and five walks, John Simms (2-4) lasted five frames for the win. Wander Suero pitched four scoreless innings for his first save.

* Seems to be the usual suspects atop the National League as the second month of the season draws to a close. The St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Nationals and San Francisco Giants are at the top of the standings. The Nats, Giants and Pirates have all won eight of their last 10 games.

Tonight's opponent, the Reds, are reeling. They have lost 10 of their last 11 and are only 10-11 at home. Todd Frazier leads the offense with 14 homers on the season.

* The loss of outfielder Jayson Werth mirrors the Cardinals' loss of power-hitting first baseman Matt Adams for an extended period of time. Werth is out until at least August with two fractures in his left wrist. Adams is recovering from a quad tear. He is likely gone for three to four months, and perhaps for the season.

The outfield depth on the Nationals bench, which has been Michael A. Taylor, Tyler Moore and Clint Robinson, will now be tested for what could be around 60 games.

That would mean a lot more starts for Taylor, who displayed his spectacular defensive ability with a diving catch against the Cubs this week. His offensive numbers have slowed a bit recently. Taylor is batting .129 his last 15 games, with just four hits in 31 at-bats plus 12 strikeouts since May 16. But with consistent at-bats, maybe Taylor will be able to get more out of those plate appearances.

If not, a platoon with Tyler Moore might be an answer. Moore has two homers and six RBIs last 15 games, including a .500 slugging percentage.

Both Taylor and Moore are right-handed, so left-handed-hitting Robinson will also get some shots against right-handed pitchers along the way as well. He has come on the last few games with some hits, going 3-for-10 in last seven games. Robinson has 11 base hits, and is seeking his first home run as a National.

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