Rainey makes long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery

Tanner Rainey Keibert Ruiz hug blue

ATLANTA – The symmetry wasn’t lost on Tanner Rainey.

As he stood at his locker at Truist Park, a member of the Nationals’ active roster for the first time in 14 months, the right-hander couldn’t help but think about the fact he was in this exact same location the last time he was a member of the active roster, before he tore his elbow ligament, before he required Tommy John surgery.

When manager Davey Martinez told him earlier this week he was going to come off the 60-day injured list and make his long-awaited return for the final series of the season, Rainey thought about the full-circle nature of his story.

“I kind of had a feeling,” he said. “I had spoken to Davey, and he told me that it was possibly for this trip, which is kind of weird. This was my last outing last year, as well. In July, I threw two innings here and that was the last outing. To return here, it’s a little weird.”

Weird, but joyous as well. It’s been a long road back for Rainey, who hasn’t pitched in a major league game since those two scoreless innings against the Braves on July 10, 2022. Three days later, he went on the IL. A few weeks after that, he had surgery to replace the torn elbow ligament.

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Nats' shutout woes return; Ruiz, Garcia snuff out steal of home

Ruiz tags Henderson

BALTIMORE – The Nationals, believe it or not, haven’t been shut out often this season. Tuesday night’s 1-0 loss to the Orioles was only their eighth shutout loss this year. Only seven major league clubs have failed to score fewer times in 2023.

There are two odd facts about the Nats’ shutouts, though. They’ve all come in April, August or September. And three of them have now come at the hands of the Orioles.

The Nationals were shut out four times in the season’s first 18 games, including back-to-back times by Baltimore on South Capitol Street. One of those was a 1-0 loss to Dean Kremer. The other was a 4-0 loss to Kyle Bradish.

Wouldn’t you know Tuesday’s game was a 1-0 loss to Bradish, who tossed the first eight innings before handing over the ninth to closer Yennier Cano.

Tuesday also was the Nats’ fourth shutout loss in their last 43 games, these recent offensive struggles coming after a long streak in which they always scored runs. They went 97 games from mid-April to early-August without ever being shut out.

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Nats rally in 10th but fall apart in 11th en route to loss (updated)

Travis Blankenhorn cherry blossoms

The Nationals’ winning month of August was defined by success late in games, both at the plate by an opportunistic lineup and on the mound by a lockdown bullpen.

On the first night of September, they showed it might be tough to keep that going through the season's final month.

Despite rallying to tie the game in the bottom of the 10th, the Nationals couldn't overcome an ugly top of the 11th and wound up on the wrong end of an 8-5 loss to the Marlins, suddenly their fifth loss in six days.

Robert Garcia and Mason Thompson, the Nats' fifth and sixth relievers of the night, combined to allow those four decisive runs in the 11th, the first of those scoring in the form of the automatic runner, the others scoring in more conventional fashion.

Garcia, returning to the mound after a two-inning, 28-pitch appearance Thursday night, surrendered three straight singles to open the inning. Thompson then replaced him and immediately served up a two-run homer to Garrett Hampson to cap the rally and make it all the more difficult for the Nationals to bounce back again in the bottom of the inning.

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Revenge games for Adon and Garcia in Miami

adon celebrates blue

MIAMI – Last night’s 7-4 victory over the Marlins was a payback win for the Nationals. It was their first win over their National League East rivals this season in their seventh attempt. It was just their fifth win against the Fish and just their third at loanDepot Park since the start of last year. And it helped catapult them out of the division basement with a one-game lead over the Mets.

But it was also a revenge game for two Nationals pitchers, both of whom had past demons to conquer in Miami.

The first was Joan Adon, the 25-year-old right-hander making his fourth start since rejoining the Nats rotation at the beginning of the month.

Adon entered last night’s start with an 0-2 record, 10.57 ERA and 1.826 WHIP in two career starts against the Marlins, both coming in that very ballpark. Those numbers are inflated by the eight runs on seven hits and two walks he allowed in three innings during a June 7 start last year.

He was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after that rough outing and only made two more major league starts the rest of the 2022 season, both in emergency situations.

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Nats finally beat Fish behind Adon's no-hit bid (updated)

Joan Adon

MIAMI – It has been 11 months to the day since the Nationals last won at loanDepot Park. It’s also been that long since the Nationals last beat the Marlins after starting this season 0-6 against their division rivals.

Those streaks came to an end tonight as the Nats finally beat the Fish 7-4 in front of 12,409 fans.

It has been 20 days since Joan Adon took a perfect game into the sixth inning against the Reds in Cincinnati, a two-out single breaking up the perfecto bid and leading to three runs against the young right-hander in an otherwise incredible return to the rotation.

After allowing eight runs in seven innings over his last two starts, Adon recaptured that Cincy magic in South Beach, this time by taking a no-hit bid into the sixth inning.

“Man, his fastball was good," manager Davey Martinez said of Adon after the game. "His breaking ball was good. His changeup. His changeup was really, really good today and made all the other pitches that much better. He attacked the zone and when he does that, he's really effective. He pitched really well for us and we were able to get a win.”

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Nats score early, clamp down late to sweep Reds (updated)

lane thomas happy grey

CINCINNATI – In order to sweep the Reds and win for the 11th time in their last 16 games overall, the Nationals merely needed to hit back-to-back homers on the first two pitches of the afternoon, then entrust an overworked, unproven, still-effective bullpen to hang on in one of baseball’s toughest pitchers’ parks.

When things are going your way, things are going your way. And they are most certainly going the Nats’ way right now.

Today’s 6-3 victory capped off an impressive weekend sweep at Great American Ball Park by an upstart visiting ballclub that made up for the sweep it suffered at the hands of the Reds last month in D.C. And it continued this club’s best sustained stretch in more than two years.

Owners of an 11-5 record since July 21, with sweeps of the Giants and Reds and a series win over the Brewers, the Nationals are giving themselves and their fans more reason to be optimistic than at any previous moment since the roster teardown and franchise rebuild began in July 2021. At 49-63 overall, they’re now on a 71-win pace that would represent a healthy 16-game improvement from last season’s 107-loss nadir.

"It's a long season. To do that consistently is hard," right fielder Lane Thomas told reporters afterward. "Otherwise, a lot of teams would do it. We've just got to keep doing what we're doing, and control what we can control. I think we do good things when we do that."

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Nats get a look at another lefty with latest bullpen move


The Nationals made another change to their ever-changing bullpen today, adding recently acquired left-hander Robert Garcia to the mix and optioning right-hander Hobie Harris to Triple-A Rochester.

Garcia was just claimed off waivers from the Marlins on Tuesday, a lower-profile transaction on trade deadline day that nevertheless could have some short-term impact for a Nats club that has been desperately trying to find quality lefties for its bullpen all season.

Garcia, 27, made his major league for Miami last month, pitching one-third of a scoreless inning against the Orioles, after posting a 2.85 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 41 innings for Triple-A Jacksonville. He wound up getting caught up in a roster crunch as the surprising Marlins became buyers at the trade deadline, and the Nats jumped in and claimed him.

“Terrific Triple-A season so far,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “A lefty that has two good pitches and has shown a propensity to strike guys out. Tough left-on-left. And a guy we think will add to a deficiency of our minor league system.”

Originally a 15th round pick of the Royals in 2017, Garcia becomes the third left-hander in a Nationals bullpen that for much of this season had none. Whether he, Jose A. Ferrer or Joe La Sorsa sticks remains to be seen, but there’s been a concerted effort to try to address that obvious area of need.

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Nats recall Alu from Rochester, claim Garcia from Marlins (plus minors notes)

Jake Alu cherry

We are just minutes before the trade deadline, and although the Nationals have made a few roster moves this afternoon, none of them have been in the form of a trade like last night’s deal of Jeimer Candelario to the Cubs for two prospects.

This afternoon the Nats announced they recalled infielder Jake Alu from Triple-A Rochester to take Candelario’s spot on the active roster.

“I was excited,” Alu said back in the Nats clubhouse. “I kind of understood the scenario of everything. Like I said, I was playing baseball just one day at a time and kind of just staying focused as much as I could. That's kind of how I went about it.”

This marks Alu’s fourth major league stint this season. He has appeared in five games, going 3-for-14 (.214) with one walk and one stolen base with the Nats.

On the farm, Alu, 26, has been having another strong season. He's tied for first among Nationals farmhands with 22 doubles and ranks in the system in hits (third, 90), runs (fifth, 48), batting average (sixth, .293), OPS (seventh, .777), RBIs (tied for seventh, 43), slugging percentage (eighth, .420) extra-base hits (eighth, 28) and on-base percentage (10th, .357).

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Game 108 lineups: Nats vs. Brewers

Alex Call whites celebration

It’s Trade Deadline Day, which means people all around baseball will be glued to their phones, computers and TVs awaiting the big moves being made throughout the day up until the 6 p.m. deadline.

For the Nationals, that means keeping an eye on names like Lane Thomas and Kyle Finnegan after Jeimer Candelario was traded to the Cubs for two prospects last night. Jake Alu was officially recalled from Triple-A Rochester this afternoon to take Candelario’s roster spot.

Thomas is in tonight’s starting lineup … for now. Keep an eye out for any lineup changes leading up to the deadline.

A guy who we know isn’t going anywhere and was acquired two years ago at the deadline is tonight’s starter, Josiah Gray. The young right-hander is 7-8 with a 3.27 ERA and 1.411 WHIP over his first 21 starts this year. After a shaky start to the second half, Gray has pitched seven innings of one-run ball and six shutout innings in his last two outings.

Freddy Peralta makes the start for the Brewers, who could be busy today as they are in a tight battle with the Reds at the top of the National League Central. Peralta is 6-8 with a 4.46 ERA and 1.248 WHIP in 20 starts this season. In five games (three starts) against the Nats, the right-hander is 2-2 with a 7.29 ERA and 1.381 WHIP.

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