Catch him if you can: Burns flying in Hagerstown

Catch him if you can: Burns flying in Hagerstown
Outfielder
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Hamels suspended five games for plunking Harper

Hamels suspended five games for plunking Harper
What's the price of honesty these days? Five games, apparently. Phillies starter Cole Hamels has been suspended five games for intentionally throwing at Bryce Harper last night. In reality, however, Hamels was suspended not because of his actions, but because he was honest about his actions. If he had denied any wrongdoing, no suspension would have come down. Major League Baseball did not announce any disciplinary action had been taken against Nationals' Jordan Zimmermann, who hit Hamels...
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Final thoughts on the Hamels/Harper situation

Final thoughts on the Hamels/Harper situation
I swear, this is my last entry on the Cole Hamels/Bryce Harper plunking and subsequent stealing of home. Well, that is until someone else steps in and tosses more fuel on the fire and makes this an even bigger deal. Hey, it could happen. This story has taken on a life of its own over the last 14 hours or so, after Hamels admitted that he hit Harper on purpose because he wanted to carry on the "old school" way of handling things and then Nationals GM Mike Rizzo called out Hamels, telling the...
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Still digesting Werth's injury and a thrilling weekend

Still digesting Werth's injury and a thrilling weekend
Instead of doing another "Clubhouse Cliff Notes" entry, which I plan on posting Monday mornings when the team is coming off a homestand, I decided to put that aside for now. There's just too much to discuss coming out of the Nationals' exciting three-game series with the Phillies this weekend. I'll start with Jayson Werth's wrist injury, which unfortunately will in some ways overshadow all the fantastic baseball we saw over the past three days. Even a good hour after the game last...
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Hamels on Harper: "I was trying to hit him. I'm not going to deny it"

Hamels on Harper: "I was trying to hit him. I'm not going to deny it"
These days, you rarely see a pitcher admit that he hit a player on purpose. Fans and media members get all over pitchers when they deny intentionally plunking a hitter, but in reality, there's no reason to come clean about it. All it will get you is a fine and possible suspension. That's why the postgame comments made by Phillies starter Cole Hamels are so surprising. Hamels drilled Bryce Harper in the back with a first-pitch 93 mph fastball in the first inning of today's game. It surely...
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Nats lose game, probably lose Werth

Nats lose game, probably lose Werth
The sweep was not to be. Unfortunately for the Nationals, tonight's series finale against the Phillies might not be the only thing they lost. Washington fell to the rival Phillies 9-3 tonight, preventing the team from winning its fifth straight game. But the injury to Jayson Werth, who looked to hurt his left wrist while diving for a ball in the sixth inning, is the bigger story. The Nats might be without their $126 million man for a while, providing another blow to an offense which is...
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Nats lineup remains the same in series finale

Nats lineup remains the same in series finale
As promised, Davey Johnson's lineup for Sunday night's game against the Phillies is exactly the same (minus a different starting pitcher) as the one he put up for yesterday afternoon's contest in which the Nationals pounded out 15 hits. If it ain't broke, don't ... Here's how things will look for the Nats tonight: SS Ian Desmond 3B Steve Lombardozzi LF Bryce Harper RF Jayson Werth 1B Chad Tracy 2B Danny Espinosa CF Rick Ankiel C Wilson Ramos P Jordan Zimmermann
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Ready for a shot at a sweep

Ready for a shot at a sweep
You know what's pretty remarkable? Even after the five-game losing streak the Nationals went through recently, they still are tied for the best record in the National League and are just a half-game back of the Rays, who have the best mark in baseball. That's how solid this team has been this season. The Nats now lead the Phillies by 5 1/2 games in the NL East, and have an opportunity to deliver an early-season blow in front of a nationally televised audience tonight when they go for the...
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A total team effort leads to another series win

A total team effort leads to another series win
I'm back from the "Nats Xtra" set after quite a fun day of TV work. The members of the crew all were great liars and told me I did a nice job. Dating to last season, the Nationals have now won seven in a row and 11 of their last 13 against the Phillies after today's 7-1 victory. Through the first two games in this series, they out-hit Philadelphia 29-11 and already locked up their eighth series win of the young season with a chance to earn a sweep of their division rivals tomorrow. Yeah,...
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Baserunning error costs Nats in sixth (Nats walk off with 4-3 win)

Baserunning error costs Nats in sixth (Nats walk off with 4-3 win)
The Nationals have left runners on base a host of ways tonight, and trail 3-2 as we go to the seventh. Jayson Werth grounded into a 6-4-3 double play in the first inning, ending the inning and stranding two runners. Rick Ankiel was caught stealing in the second inning, ending the frame. In the third, Werth struck out with the bases loaded to blow that chance. The Nats then had runners at the corners in the fourth, but Stephen Strasburg struck out and Ian Desmond lined out to spoil an...
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Here come the Phillies

Here come the Phillies
Months from now, when we find ourselves in September and playoff races are coming down to the wire, we likely won't remember this weekend's three-game series between the Nationals and Phillies as anything too significant. There are just too many games between now and then, too many opportunities for momentum to swing and the fate of these teams' seasons to be shaped. But today, as the Nats prepare to welcome their division rivals into town for the squads' first meeting of the season, this...
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Proof is in the pitching: Nationals staff is dominating

Proof is in the pitching: Nationals staff is dominating
The Nationals have played 16 games and have won 12 of them, resting in first place in the National League East in late April. The Nationals have had big extra-inning wins, like Saturday's thrilling 3-2 win over the Miami Marlins, or the timely hit to stay in games. They haven't blown out teams, going 6-2 in one-run games. They have played error-free baseball, tallying an 8-2 mark when they don't commit a miscue. But manager Davey Johnson said pitching, with starters Stephen Strasburg,...
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McCatty: Lidge is "not afraid when he is out there"

McCatty: Lidge is "not afraid when he is out there"
The Nationals announced Thursday they have signed two-time All-Star reliever Brad Lidge to a one-year contract. Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty said Lidge brings a lot to help make the bullpen better. Lidge comes in with 223 saves and 26 wins in 10 seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Houston Astros and was a National League All-Star in 2005 and 2008. "The guy obviously has a real good track record," McCatty said. "A guy that can be in the bullpen and not only still has...
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Detwiler, Espinosa complete Nats' doubleheader sweep of Phillies, 3-0

Detwiler, Espinosa complete Nats' doubleheader sweep of Phillies, 3-0
Nice move by Nationals manager Davey Johnson. Only a few hours before Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park, Johnson decided to switch the starters for each game. Tommy Milone pitched the opener and tossed six innings of shutout ball. Ross Detwiler took the nightcap. Did he ever. The Nationals swept a doubleheader from the Philadelphia Phillies behind a career night from Detwiler in a 3-0 nightcap victory. Davey Johnson talks to Debbi Taylor after the Nationals' shutout...
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Be aggressive: Johnson has no problems sending the runner

Be aggressive: Johnson has no problems sending the runner
It is a decision made by the third base coach that comes up sometimes two or three times in a game: when to send the runner. In the first inning with two outs in a scoreless game Saturday night against the Philadelphia Phillies, Ryan Zimmerman at first, Michael Morse doubled to right field. Zimmerman raced around second and as Hunter Pence gathered the ball, Nationals third base coach Bo Porter held up Zimmerman at third. The next batter, Laynce Nix struck out looking to end the threat. After...
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LaRoche sees "challenge," not difficulty in facing Lee

LaRoche sees "challenge," not difficulty in facing Lee
The starting pitching the Nationals face this week against the Phillies has been a focal point of the series. Jayson Werth said it after game one: "It was good to get a win off Joe Blanton, because it will not get any easier facing Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee." After all, the Nationals avoided Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt in this series. It is a difficulty the Nationals will face almost every week in the National League East. The Braves have Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson, not to...
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Nationals devise prescription for facing "Doc" Halladay

Nationals devise prescription for facing "Doc" Halladay
Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay is the opposing starter tonight as the Nationals go for the series win against Philadelphia at Nationals Park. Halladay (1-0, 0.69 ERA) has started the season off, well, like a reigning National League Cy Young Award winner should. In his first two starts, Halladay has allowed only one run on 11 hits in 13 innings while walking one and striking out 13. Halladay was particularly good against the Nationals last season, going 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in three...
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Scouting the Phillies: Utley injury early concern

Scouting the Phillies: Utley injury early concern
Chase Utley's injury has dominated news out of the Phillies camp in Clearwater, Fla., early in March, according to Matt Gelb, who covers the team for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Utley is nursing patellar tendinitis in his right knee, and the team is not sure when he is going to play. A few Nationals fans wonder if the Phillies miss Jayson Werth so far in spring training? Former Phillies standout Mike Schmidt thinks they are going to really miss him, but Gelb says for most of the players,...
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