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Morse plays five innings in right field during rehab game

For the first time since re-aggravating a strained lat and being shut down in early April, outfielder Michael Morse played the field during a rehab game with Single-A Potomac tonight. Morse played five innings in right field and went 0-for-3 at the plate, making him 3-for-9 with a double and a walk in his three games with the P-Nats. Most importantly, however, he told reporters

New outfield alignment will sacrifice defense for offense

When Michael Morse returns to the Nationals, which should be in mere days, he’ll give the team an offensive jolt. This is the guy who led the Nats in batting average (.303), home runs (31) and RBIs (95) last season, a guy whose slugging percentage was 99 points higher than anyone else on the Nationals’ roster. When Morse returns to the Nationals, however, he’ll also

A strong start, a disappointing finish (plus Morse update)

Any time you end up with a winning road trip, you’ll take it. It’s not easy winning on the road in this league, especially when you’re playing in a division where every team has an above-.500 record. But when you start a tough nine-game road trip against division opponents by going 5-1 and then proceed to lose your final three games before heading home, it

The tables have turned (Nats swept away in Miami)

Five days ago, Chien-Ming Wang jogged out of the bullpen to relieve Ross Detwiler after a mediocre start. Today, the reverse happened. Wang went just four-plus innings in his first start of the season, giving up four runs. He allowed 10 baserunners in that time (seven hits and three walks) and clearly wasn’t showing the command that we saw early in spring training when the

Solano gets first major league start

After making a strong first impression last night by smacking a pinch hit, opposite-field double in his first major league at-bat, Jhonatan Solano will get another first tonight: he’ll make his first big league start behind the plate. Solano will catch Chien-Ming Wang and hit eighth for manager Davey Johnson. Perhaps because of his past success against Marlins starter Josh Johnson, Roger Bernadina will get

Against Johnson, Nats face another tough test

Last night, the Nationals squared off against Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez, who still has never lost to the Nats in what’s now 19 career starts. Who do the Nats face tonight as they look to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Fish? None other than Josh Johnson, who has never lost to the Nationals in 14 career starts. Fantastic. Johnson has gone

Looking back at last night

It’s kind of hard to believe, given his impressive 3.17 ERA and six quality starts in 10 outings, but Edwin Jackson still has just one win on the season. Over his last five starts, Jackson has allowed just 10 earned runs in 33 2/3 innings (a 2.67 ERA) with a .212 batting average against, a 0.96 WHIP and a 24/7 strikeout to walk ratio. He’s

Quite a way to notch a first major league RBI (another miss in Miami)

It might not be the sexiest way to drive in a run, but true baseball fans will love the way Corey Brown recorded his first major league RBI tonight. With Ian Desmond sprinting down the third-base line toward the plate with one out, Brown was called on to square around and convert a suicide squeeze. He got a 1-1 changeup from Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez

Komatsu returns, Tracy won’t for a while

The Nationals are getting back outfielder Erik Komatsu, the 2011 Rule 5 pick who had stints with the Cardinals and Twins this season. Komatsu has been assigned to Triple-A Syracuse. The 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Brewers in exchange for Jerry Hairston Jr. last summer, was selected by the Cardinals at the Rule 5 draft during the Winter Meetings. Komatsu was subsequently let

Solano activated, Espinosa gets a day off

The Nationals have officially called up catcher Jhonatan Solano from Triple-A Syracuse, giving them a third catcher on the 25-man roster and providing some insurance in case Jesus Flores isn’t able to return from a hamstring injury as quickly as hoped. Solano, who batted .250 with two doubles, two RBIs and eight runs scored in 13 games with Syracuse this season, will wear No. 23.

Looking back on a wild holiday weekend

No, I’m not talking about my trip to Vegas, which was lots of fun but will not be discussed in this space. I can tell you that I’m back on the East Coast in one piece, sunburn-free and with more money than when I left. So that’s all good news. Not much went down Nationals-wise while I was away, unless you count an injury to

Moore optioned to Syracuse, Solano to be recalled

The Nationals made a roster move after today’s 5-3 loss to the Miami Marlins, optioning first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore to Triple-A Syracuse. They are expected to recall catcher Jhonatan Solano from Syracuse before Tuesday’s game to serve share duties with catcher Carlos Maldonado, who went 0-for-4 in today’s defeat. The only other catcher on the active roster is Jesus Flores, who left Sunday’s game with

Nats drop opener in Miami

Jordan Zimmermann hit his first career home run and Ryan Zimmerman added a two-run double, but the Nationals fell 5-3 to the Miami Marlins on Monday, ending their winning streak at three games. Zimmermann lasted six innings, yielding four runs on eight hits. He walked none and struck out four. Since starting the season 3-1, Zimmermann has gone 2-4 in his last six starts. His

Who says pitchers can’t hit? (Nats trail 5-3 after seven)

What is it with Nationals starting pitchers with a bat in their hands? Jordan Zimmermann became the latest starting hurler to homer, crushing a Carlos Zambrano pitch to left-center for a 1-0 lead over the Marlins in the third inning. It was his first career homer. Last night, you’ll recall, Gio Gonzalez - who only had to wield a bat in anger in a rare

Maldonado in for Flores as Nats open series in Miami (updated)

The Nationals get their first look at brand-new Marlins Park in Miami today, after playing an ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” game in Atlanta last night. It’s a quick turnaround made easier by the fact that Memorial Day dawns with the Nats in first place in the NL East. The only change in today’s lineup is the presence of catcher Carlos Maldonado instead of Jesus Flores

Gonzalez, hot bats help Nats break out brooms

Even as the Nationals were winning at a first-place pace, their quiet bats were a mild concern into early May. The Nats scored at least five runs just seven times in their first 31 games, riding their pitching to a 19-12 start. Since then, Washington has scored five or more 10 times in 16 contests with the latest offensive outburst carrying the team to a

Wang to rotation, Detwiler to bullpen

After last night’s game, Davey Johnson told reporters in Atlanta that Chien-Ming Wang will move into the Nationals’ rotation and Ross Detwiler will shift to the bullpen. Wang has made one relief appearance this season after missing nearly all of the first two months because of a strained hamstring. The 32-year-old allowed one run in three innings Friday at Atlanta. He is scheduled to start

Lombardozzi leading off, Gonzalez starting as Nats seek sweep

Steve Lombardozzi is back in the Nationals’ lineup after not playing Saturday, earning his fifth start in eight contests. Lombardozzi owns a team-best .310 batting average to go with eight runs and five RBIs. Gio Gonzalez is on the mound as the Nats look to close out a sweep of the Braves. Gonzalez can overtake Stephen Strasburg for the team strikeouts lead. The left-hander has

Another crack at Komatsu?

The Nationals lamented losing outfielder Erik Komatsu to the Cardinals in the Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings in Dallas, posturing that he was an important piece of organizational depth. Now, they might have another crack at reacquiring the 24-year-old, who came to Washington from the Brewers in exchange for utility man Jerry Hairston Jr., last July 30. This morning, the Twins designated Komatsu

Strasburg so-so, Tracy hurt as Nats best Braves

Stephen Strasburg wasn’t at his best and pinch-hitting ace Chad Tracy hurt himself on the same play he drove in the eventual winning run. But that might’ve been the extent of the negative for the Nationals in Saturday’s series-clinching 8-4 win over the Braves in Atlanta. Every Nats starter other than Tyler Moore had at least a hit with Danny Espinosa’s three-run homer being the

Moore back in Nats lineup, Strasburg on the hill

For the first time since last Sunday, Tyler Moore is back in the Nationals’ lineup, batting seventh and playing left field. Moore hasn’t touched the field since starting the Nats’ series-ending rout of the Orioles. Moore has been with the Nationals since being called up April 29, but has been seldom used. Today marks just his fifth start and 12th appearance overall. The 25-year-old utility

Lombardozzi capitalizing on increased role

Not so slowly, Steve Lombardozzi’s story is becoming more than a feel-good local angle. As Lombardozzi continues to perform, his role with the Nationals appears to be increasing. The Maryland native was back in the lineup Friday in Atlanta, leading off and playing left field for his third start in four games and fourth in six contests. He had started just 13 of the team’s

A big night for Detwiler (with note)

Ross Detwiler’s first six outings of this season were about as good as the Nationals could have hoped for when they named the lefty their No. 5 starter at the end of spring training. Over those six starts, Detwiler pitched to a 2.10 ERA, posted a 1.02 WHIP by allowing just 35 baserunners in 34 1/3 innings, and held opponents to just a .208 average

Still harping on Harper

You know what’s fun? Being around opposing team’s reporters and members of the national media and hearing them discuss Bryce Harper. Those of us who watch the 19-year-old play every day are accustomed to his speed, power, baseball awareness (most of the time) and hustle. Those who haven’t witnessed Harper in action as much are wowed by what they see even on days when the

Harper discusses facing Hamels a second time around

PHILADELPHIA - Bryce Harper was asked after tonight’s game whether he got the feeling early on that his old buddy Cole Hamels was going to keep the Nationals off-balance all night. “Um, me personally, no,” Harper said. “But maybe for everybody else, I guess. I felt good against him.” Harper went 1-for-3 with a single and a walk against Hamels tonight, but it was his

Johnson talks after Nats’ 4-1 loss

PHILADELPHIA - After a bit of a shaky start, Edwin Jackson settled down and ended up allowing just three runs over seven innings in tonight’s loss to the Phillies. Jackson just got out-pitched by Cole Hamels, who held Nationals hitters in check for a second straight start. “I thought Edwin pitched a damn good ballgame, we just couldn’t get nothing going against Hamels,” manager Davey

Nats can’t solve Hamels, fall to Phillies 4-1

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals have won 10 series this season. They still only have one sweep, and that was of the two-game variety. For the ninth time this season, the Nationals entered a series finale with a chance to earn a sweep and came up short. They lost to the Phillies 4-1, with Cole Hamels again cruising through an outing against Nats hitters. He held

No hits for Nats through five (a blown chance in the sixth)

PHILADELPHIA - While Cole Hamels’ actual outing against the Nationals back on May 6 might have gotten overlooked because of the Bryce Harper plunking, the Phillies lefty dominated Nats’ hitters that day, allowing just one run and five hits over eight innings. Hamels has continued that dominance tonight. The Nats have yet to record a hit off Hamels through five innings, and they’ve been set

Morse continues to make progress, plus updates on Lidge, Storen, DeRosa

PHILADELPHIA - Nationals players aren’t the only ones dealing with injuries. Their manager is, too. Davey Johnson has been battling a toe injury which originally came about back in his football playing days, but has cropped up recently. He’s going to see a toe specialist in Baltimore during the Nats’ off-day, but scoffed when asked if there’s a chance of him missing any games. “I’m

Strasburg feels “great”, Johnson expects no Hamels/Harper carryover

PHILADELPHIA - Stephen Stasburg threw a bullpen session earlier today at Citizens Bank Park, and all went well. The Nationals’ ace felt no effects from his last outing, in which he was pulled after five innings due to fatigue, and said he felt “great” during today’s mound session. He will make his next planned start, this Saturday against the Braves. Strasburg thinks that if he

Zimmerman back in Nats lineup

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals have a two-game sweep over the Marlins, but have yet to register a three-game sweep this season. They’ve got yet another shot tonight. Ryan Zimmerman, who sat out last night with shoulder soreness, returns to the Nationals lineup, playing third base. Here are the lineups for tonight’s game: For the Nationals: 2B Danny Espinosa RF Bryce Harper 3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B

Munching on a few mid-afternoon stats

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals will go for the sweep of the Phillies tonight when Edwin Jackson opposes Cole Hamels, but even before tonight’s game, Washington has already locked up another series win, its 10th of the season. Of those 10 series wins, six have come on the road. How much better is this Nats team on the road than the 2011 version? Last season, the

Harper shows not just skill, but smarts

PHILADELPHIA - Cole Hamels will take the hill for the Phillies in the series finale against the Nationals later tonight. I’m pretty sure if Hamels hits anyone this time, he’ll remember to say the pitch just got away from him. Just a hunch. We all know about Bryce Harper’s immense skill and the intensity with which he plays the game. Those are aspects the phenom

Final notes, quotes from Johnson, Zimmermann, Desmond

PHILADELPHIA - Roy Halladay had gone 11-0 in his last 13 starts against the Nationals/Expos prior to tonight. Jordan Zimmermann entered tonight 0-3 in four career outings against the Phillies. Those scripts got flipped. Davey Johnson likes the line he got from Zimmermann tonight - six innings, seven hits, one run, two walks and two strikeouts - but he doesn’t like how much of an

Clippard: “It was a good feeling. I haven’t had that for a while”

PHILADELPHIA - In Tyler Clippard’s career as a reliever, he’s worked some intense seventh innings and a bunch of crucial eighth innings, where he’s had runners on base and needed to battle out of key jams. But according to Clippard, tonight’s 1-2-3 ninth inning was more nerve-rattling than any situation he’s been in recently. “A lot more adrenaline, a lot more nervousness,” a smiling Clippard

Zimmerman battling shoulder soreness, will play tomorrow

PHILADELPHIA - Ryan Zimmerman was scratched from tonight’s game against the Phillies because of soreness in his right shoulder - the same shoulder which sent him to the disabled list late in April when it became inflamed. But both Zimmerman and his manager say the soreness is nothing to worry about. During batting practice before tonight’s contest, Zimmerman had a conversation with manager Davey Johnson

For once, Nats smack around Halladay (Nats beat Phillies 5-2)

PHILADELPHIA - Roy Halladay normally dominates the Nationals. I mean dominates them. Coming into today, Halladay was 11-0 with a 2.09 ERA in his last 13 starts against Montreal/Washington. Today has been a different story, however. The Nats have struck for five runs and eight hits off Halladay through five innings, and hold a 5-1 lead over the Phillies as we go to the sixth.

Clippard on closer’s role: “I want it bad” (plus Chien-Ming Wang notes)

PHILADELPHIA - You’ve got to appreciate Tyler Clippard’s honesty. Asked how he’d feel about being given a shot at the closer’s role, the 27-year-old righty didn’t mince words. “I want it bad,” Clippard said today. “I’ve been fighting for the opportunity for three years now. I feel like I’ve been over-stepped a few times along the way for the opportunity to get those saves, for

Zimmerman scratched from lineup, Tracy to play third

PHILADELPHIA - Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been scratched from today’s Nationals lineup less than an hour before first pitch. When it rains, it pours. The scratch was a “manager’s decision”, according to a Nationals spokesman, who said that Zimmerman will be available to pinch hit. Chad Tracy will take Zimmerman’s place in the lineup straight up, meaning he’ll play third and hit third. This

Nats will go with a closer-by-committee

PHILADELPHIA - Henry Rodriguez will not be closing ballgames for the Nationals for the near future. Manager Davey Johnson announced today that he’s going to go with a closer-by-committee going forward, and will use Rodriguez - who has struggled in save situations of late - in spots where there is less pressure riding on him. “Henry has been great,” Johnson said. “(Lately), he’s been not

Lombardozzi gets second straight start in left

PHILADELPHIA - For the second straight day, Steve Lombardozzi will start in left field for the Nationals and will hit out of the leadoff spot. Danny Espinosa again will hit in the six-hole and play second. Jordan Zimmermann gets the ball for the Nats tonight. The righty is 2-4 this season with a 2.58 ERA. This will be the second time Zimmermann has faced the

Chien-Ming Wang activated, Mattheus placed on DL

PHILADELPHIA - After a lengthy rehab process, Chien-Ming Wang has made it back to the majors. The Nationals have activated Wang off the disabled list and placed reliever Ryan Mattheus on the 15-day DL, retroactive to May 21, with a plantar fascia strain in his left foot. Wang will slide into the bullpen and serve as a long reliever. The right-hander will work on a

Examining the closer candidates

PHILADELPHIA - Now that Davey Johnson is at the very least considering other options when it comes to the closer’s role, it’s probably worthwhile for us to take a look at the guys the Nationals’ skipper has to work with. Henry Rodriguez’s struggles have caused Johnson to look for alternatives in save situations, and while the Nationals don’t have an obvious backup plan at this

Desmond provides pop, Mattheus awaits further word on injured foot

PHILADELPHIA - Last season, in 154 games, Ian Desmond hit eight home runs. In 2010, also in the span of 154 games, Desmond jacked 10 homers. This season, in just 41 games, the Nationals’ shortstop already has seven home runs, tied with Adam LaRoche for most on the team. What’s the reason for his newfound power stroke? Possibly his baby boy. “I think daddy strength,”

Johnson on closer role: “I’m looking at alternatives”

PHILADELPHIA - Davey Johnson has stood by Henry Rodriguez through his three blown saves, handfuls of wild pitches and bunches of baserunners allowed. But after tonight’s performance, in which Rodriguez was pulled after putting the tying runners in scoring position and throwing two wild pitches over 1/3 of an inning, Johnson finally said he’s considering a change when it comes to the closer role. “I’m

Nats escape with 2-1 win over Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - Breathe, Nats fans. Facing a Phillies team which came into tonight having won seven of its last 10, scoring 4.9 runs per game over that span, the Nationals’ pitching staff did the trick yet again. But that’s not to say it wasn’t interesting. Gio Gonzalez pitched six shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing just three hits. Craig Stammen delivered two monster frames

The Ian and Gio show (plus a Gonzalez strikeout note and more)

PHILADELPHIA - Ian Desmond has provided the offense. And despite a quickly rising pitch count, Gio Gonzalez has done the job on the mound. The Nationals have a 2-0 lead after four innings thanks to a solo home run and RBI single by Desmond and a really sharp start by Gonzalez, who has struck out eight Phillies hitters. Desmond is now 5-for-8 with four RBIs

Harper excited for Philly debut, plus Lidge and Morse updates

PHILADELPHIA - There’s a slight drizzle coming down here at Citizens Bank Park, but it looks like we’ll likely avoid any heavy stuff and should be able to get tonight’s game in. Unless I just jinxed it, and the sky suddenly opens up, which will probably happen. Bryce Harper will get his first taste of Philadelphia tonight, and the Nationals’ outfielder says he’s legitimately excited

Strasburg will make his next start, Mattheus has foot injury

PHILADELPHIA - If Stephen Strasburg taking part in a game of Ultimate Frisbee on the field at Citizens Bank Park wasn’t indication enough that the Nationals’ ace is feeling just fine health-wise, manager Davey Johnson confirmed today that his ace came out of yesterday’s start OK. Johnson said he wasn’t really concerned about Strasburg’s status, and he doesn’t expect there to be any lingering effects

Lombardozzi in left, leading off

PHILADELPHIA - Here is the lineup for Game 1 against the Phillies. Steve Lombardozzi will be leading off for the Nats. Gio Gonzalez (5-1, 2.22 ERA) will take the mound. For the Nats: Steve Lombardozzi LF Bryce Harper RF Ryan Zimmerman 3B Adam LaRoche 1B Ian Desmond SS Danny Espinosa 2B Rick Ankiel CF Jesus Flores C Gio Gonzalez P

Strasburg appears OK, plus other notes from Philly

PHILADELPHIA - This is my first time in Citizens Bank Park in a working capacity, and man, this place is nice. The press box is pretty spiffy and the park just has a nice intimate feel to it. I’ll stop complimenting a division rival, I promise. For anyone concerned about Stephen Strasburg after yesterday’s health scare, you can probably stop worrying. Strasburg was out on

Espinosa gives his take on his high strikeout numbers

Making his first start in the leadoff spot this season during yesterday’s win over the Orioles, Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa went 2-for-5 with a two-run home run, a double and two runs scored. For the most part, it was a successful day for Espinosa, whose low offensive numbers have been a hot topic so far this season. But manager Davey Johnson saw something in

Heading out of D.C. on a high note

Who’s ready for Philly? Bryce Harper is. And he hopes the City of Brotherly Love is ready for him, as well. “Hopefully, I get a couple boos,” Harper said, when asked what type of reception he expects in Philadelphia tonight. “That’d be awesome. I’m excited to get up there and play and hopefully they don’t throw any batteries at me.” If it happens (and let’s

Strasburg’s homer the talk of the clubhouse

Here was Stephen Strasburg’s day today: he allowed three runs in his first two innings, struck out eight overall, retired the last 10 hitters he faced, went 2-for-2 at the plate with his first major league home run, and was pulled after his manager learned he might not be completely healthy. Just another day at the park. We’ve discussed the health situation, so let’s move

Strasburg pulled after five innings because of health concerns

A group of reporters sat in the press conference room at Nationals Park ready to ask manager Davey Johnson about Stephen Strasburg hitting his first major league home run and bouncing back from a slow start to post five strong innings in today’s win over the Orioles. Instead, we ended up asking Johnson a whole lot of questions about Strasburg’s health. Johnson revealed that Strasburg

Nats avoid sweep with impressive 9-3 win

The Nationals were completely outplayed through the first two innings of today’s game. Stephen Strasburg looked rattled, Washington had made multiple defensive miscues and yet again fell behind the Orioles, this time by a score of 3-0. Then the Nats flipped the switch, and they didn’t look back. From the third inning on, the Nats outscored the O’s 9-0, outhit them 11-2 and went on

Yup, Stephen Strasburg went yard (updated)

No, that’s not a typo. Stephen Strasburg has hit the first home run of his major league career. And boy, did Nats Park ever explode when the ball landed in the visitors bullpen in left-center field. Strasburg took an 0-2 curveball from Wei-Yin Chen and dropped the barrel to it, sending it out and bringing another near-capacity crowd to its feet. The 23-year-old hurler took

Ugly start for Strasburg, Nats (but they battle back)

Safe to say this isn’t how Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals wanted to open up their series finale against the Orioles as they try to avoid a sweep. The Nats trail 3-0 in the second inning after a rocky top of the first for Strasburg and an all-around sloppy performance by Washington in the second. Strasburg gave up three hard-hit balls in the first and

Talking leadoff spot, Wang’s rehab start and Beltway Battle

Yes, the Nationals will have a guy with 48 strikeouts - tied for fourth-most in the majors - and a .291 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot today. If Ian Desmond isn’t a traditional leadoff guy, Danny Espinosa is even less so. Espinosa did hit a ball really hard during his pinch-hitting appearance last night, so there’s that. We’ll see if a move to the

Espinosa hitting leadoff

Yesterday’s Nationals lineup had success with second baseman Steve Lombardozzi hitting in the leadoff spot. Today, Davey Johnson will again put his second baseman atop the lineup. Today, though, it’s Danny Espinosa, who will get the start at second. Ian Desmond will hit fifth for the second consecutive day. The Nats will face O’s lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who has gotten off to a great start,

In defeat, offense puts up a good fight

What a great atmosphere we had here at Nationals Park tonight, as 42,331 packed the yard to catch an exciting game between two surprisingly successful teams early in the season. Tonight was actually the second-largest crowd in the history of Nats Park, yet, despite that fact, it wasn’t even a sellout. Those on hand watched the Nationals fall behind big early and then scratch their

Detwiler: “It was just terrible”

Ever honest after a poor performance, Ross Detwiler put full responsibility on himself for the Nationals’ 6-5 loss to the Orioles tonight. “I mean, give up six in five innings? That’s awful,” Detwiler said. “Put the team in a hole early and they did a great job trying to dig out and it was just too much, really.” Detwiler allowed nine hits (a season high)

Over capacity with room to spare

When is a sellout not a sellout? How about Saturday night, when the nationally televised Orioles-Nationals game drew 42,331 to Nationals Park? Despite exceeding the stadium’s listed capacity of 41,487 (see page 122 of the team’s 2012 media guide), the throng that saw the middle game of the first “Battle of the Beltways” inteleague series this season won’t go down in the record books as

Not quite enough

When you fall behind 6-0, you’re asking a lot of your offense. You’re asking even more when that group has scored the third-fewest runs of any offense in baseball this year. The Nationals lost to the Orioles 6-5 tonight, marking their third-straight defeat and giving them just their third series loss of the season. It wasn’t for a lack of effort. Ross Detwiler allowed six

Chippin’ away at a big deficit (updated)

Ross Detwiler put the Nationals in a hole. They’re slowly working their way out of it. The Orioles came through with six runs off Detwiler in just five innings, and jumped out to a 6-0 lead after four and a half. Detwiler allowed 10 baserunners in his time on the mound tonight (nine hits, one walk) and wasn’t fooling anyone all outing. Two of those

Rizzo talks Wang decision and offensive woes (plus game update)

By now, you know that when Chien-Ming Wang returns from his rehab assignment, he’s likely to slide into the Nationals’ bullpen, with Ross Detwiler remaining in the rotation. That news was passed along by manager Davey Johnson, but general manager Mike Rizzo also discussed the decision this evening, saying Wang is completely healthy and nearly ready to return. “He’s pitching today and we’ll see how

Johnson senses “a little frustration” in Espinosa

Davey Johnson stood by Danny Espinosa through the second baseman’s second-half slide last season and has done so through his rough start to the 2012 campaign, as well. But today, Johnson is giving Espinosa the day off. Why? Johnson has seen the 25-year-old start to get a bit frustrated recently, and didn’t want him carrying that into tonight’s game. A prime example of that frustration

Johnson: Detwiler likely to stay in rotation, Wang probably to bullpen

Over the course of his major league career, Chien-Ming Wang has made just five relief appearances. That number is likely to increase. Manager Davey Johnson said today that when Wang returns to the Nationals after he’s wrapped up his rehab stint, the 32-year-old right-hander will probably be used out of the bullpen, with Ross Detwiler holding onto the No. 5 spot in the Nats’ rotation.

Desmond’s suggestion sparked Johnson’s reworked batting order

So how did Nationals manager Davey Johnson arrive at the notion of moving leadoff hitter Ian Desmond to the No. 5 spot in Saturday’s lineup, while bumping Bryce Harper, who had been hitting fifth, into the two-hole? Partly out of need to inject some life into a batting order that’s been struggling to produce offense and partly because the change was suggested to him by

Maldonado gets start, Desmond hitting fifth, day off for Espinosa

Carlos Maldonado gets his first start since being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to replace the injured Sandy Leon, but tonight’s Nationals lineup against the Orioles also includes some other surprising shuffling. Shortstop Ian Desmond gets his first shot at the five-hole this season, with Steve Lombardozzi hitting leadoff and playing second base. This isn’t the first time Desmond has hit fifth - he did so

Situational hitting still an issue as Nats struggle offensively

At times during the Nationals’ 2-1 loss to the O’s last night, it almost seemed like there was a hint of desperation coming from Washington’s offense. After getting nothing done offensively through the first four innings, Davey Johnson called for a hit-and-run with one out in the fifth. Nothing wrong with that, except the hit-and-run came with the pitcher - Edwin Jackson - at the

Mattheus on the home run, Espinosa on the botched bunt

Ryan Mattheus gave up a deep fly ball off the bat of J.J. Hardy to begin the top of the 11th, and when center fielder Rick Ankiel tracked it down at the wall in front of the 402-foot sign, it looked like Mattheus might have escaped his one mistake in the inning. But then Nick Markakis took a slider that stayed down and in, and

Johnson discusses Nats’ 2-1 extra-inning loss

As he sat down at the podium for his postgame press conference, Davey Johnson said what all Nationals fans are probably feeling tonight. “Well, that was a tough one,” Johnson said. The Nats battled with the O’s over 11 innings, but the frustrating part of the night was the 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Washington had opportunities but just couldn’t get guys in, and

More fantastic pitching, more low-scoring ballgames (Nats lose in 11, 2-1)

With the exception of his complete-game, two-hitter back on April 14 against the Reds, Edwin Jackson delivered his finest performance as a National tonight. Jackson was sensational through eight innings, allowing just one run on five hits with one walk and eight strikeouts. After allowing a run in the first inning, Jackson set down 19 of the 23 Orioles he faced and needed just 95

Morse to head to Viera on Monday (the run of Ks continues)

After taking some swings off a tee and doing more throwing from about 50-60 feet today, Michael Morse has taken another step toward participating in games of some kind. Those games might come as soon as Monday. Manager Davey Johnson said today that Morse will head down to the Nationals’ complex in Viera, Fla., when the Nats begin their road trip on Monday. Morse will

The time Davey Johnson saved Frank Robinson from drowning

As a guy who has been around baseball for 50 years, Davey Johnson’s always good for a story. Today, he shared a hilarious one. Johnson - who resigned as Orioles manager after the 1997 season - is set to face the O’s for the first time in a regular season game, and opened up about his time in Baltimore, both as a player and a

Nats lineup to open Battle of the Beltways

Starting tonight, the Nationals will play 33 consecutive games against teams from either the American League East or National League East. Good thing none of those teams are any good. Oh, wait... The Nats will face Orioles righty Jake Arrieta today, a guy who has started 2-4 with a 5.21 ERA. Here are the lineups for both teams: For the Nationals SS Ian Desmond LF

Battling with the Birds (April 22 rainout rescheduled)

It’s kind of a shame that the Nationals weren’t able to stay atop the National League East through the end of last night’s action. It would have been fun to have two first-place teams battling it out this weekend in the Battle of the Beltways. We’ve sure had two last-place teams battling it out in this matchup enough times. The Nats (23-15) welcome the Orioles

Strikeouts mount as Nats fall to McDonald, Pirates

For five innings, James McDonald overpowered the Nationals, his mid-90s fastball and dazzling curve holding them without a hit. In the sixth, the Nats finally were able to figure the Pirates starter out, touching McDonald for three extra-base hits and three runs. But it just wasn’t quite enough. “We had a chance. We came back,” manager Davey Johnson said. “The other guy pitched a heck

Nats can’t wait to get McCutchen out of D.C.

If there happens to be any issues with the Pirates’ team charter, delaying tonight’s flight to Detroit, I’m pretty sure the Nationals would be willing to pay for a commercial ticket for Andrew McCutchen. At this point, I think they’ll do whatever it takes to get the guy out of D.C. McCutchen has worn out the Nationals in his career, and that didn’t change today.

Comeback bid comes up short

Down 4-0 in the sixth inning and getting no-hit, the Nationals woke up and pounded out three runs to make it a ballgame and chase Pirates starter James McDonald. They just couldn’t do quite enough to get over that final hump to even things up or take the lead. The Nats missed out on a couple late opportunities, leaving a runner stranded at third to

There goes the no-hitter... and the shutout

Remember when James McDonald had a no-hitter through five innings? That seems so long ago. McDonald, who had a perfect game through four innings and had struck out 10 through five, had a disastrous sixth inning, allowing three runs on four hits. He got pulled from the game with two outs in the sixth, ending an outing which had started in dominating fashion. Jesus Flores

McDonald dominant; McCutchen, Barajas continue to kill Nats

Andrew McCutchen entered today hitting .439 in 23 career games against the Nationals. Rod Barajas came into tonight’s game batting just .188 on the season, but was the one who smacked the walk-off two-run home run off Henry Rodriguez last week. Both guys continued terrorizing the Nats tonight. McCutchen smacked a solo homer off Jordan Zimmermann in the first inning to put the Pirates up

DeRosa making progress in oblique rehab

You already know that Michael Morse is progressing in his rehab and is closing in on a return to action. We can file Mark DeRosa into that same category. DeRosa, who went on the disabled list April 29 with a left oblique injury, took dry swings, played catch and did some running today, all at about 50-60 percent. He still isn’t ready to come off

Morse could return earlier than expected

The Nationals had been targeting June 8 for Michael Morse’s return to the lineup. That will be the start of road interleague games for the team, which would allow Morse to slide in as the Nats’ designated hitter and give his strained lat - which had been bothering him when he threw - more time to recover before he needed to return to the outfield.

Lineups for Thursday’s Pirates-Nats matchup

Jordan Zimmermann is on the mound tonight for the Nationals, who are looking to sweep the brief two-game series from Pittsburgh. Zimmermann is seeking his second victory in a row after dropping his previous two starts. For the Nationals: Ian Desmond SS Roger Bernadina LF Ryan Zimmerman 3B Adam LaRoche 1B Bryce Harper RF Danny Espinosa 2B Rick Ankiel CF Jesus Flores C Jordan Zimmermann

Nady trying to slowly lift himself from early-season funk

You look at Xavier Nady’s season numbers, and they’re still less than ideal. Far less than ideal. Nady is batting just .147, has a .489 OPS and has driven in only four runs in 68 at-bats. But if you look at the last few games, you’ll see that perhaps the Nationals’ veteran outfielder is slowly starting to trend upward. Nady now has home runs in

Standings, saves and strikeouts

If you’re the type who enjoys monitoring the division standings in May, you’ll be thrilled to know that the Nationals wake up this morning atop the National League East. Washington’s win over the Pirates last night coupled with the Braves’ loss to Miami puts the Nats a half-game ahead of Atlanta in the division. Who’s got the champagne? If you’re the type who enjoys keeping

For LaRoche, a milestone moment and another huge hit

Remember back a few months ago, when a large portion of the Nationals fan base was pushing for the team to sign Prince Fielder, a move which would have essentially kicked Adam LaRoche to the curb? Yeah, Davey Johnson does, too. And he’s plenty happy the Nats stuck with LaRoche. “He’s making that move look real good. That lack of move,” Johnson chuckled after tonight’s

LaRoche and Nady smack back-to-back jacks (Nats win 7-4)

The Nationals now have three solo home runs so far tonight, and if Bryce Harper’s blast in the first inning had traveled just a few more feet, that total would be four. After Ian Desmond went yard in the third, Adam LaRoche and Xavier Nady blasted back-to-back homers in the sixth, opening up a 4-1 Nats lead on Erik Bedard and the Pirates. Bedard had

Harper accomplishes another first

He might have missed out on notching his third home run in as many games by only a few feet, but Bryce Harper accomplished another first in the first inning tonight when he ripped a triple high off the wall in right-center. Harper seems to scratch something else off his major league to-do list pretty much every single night. Tonight it was the triple, which

Ramos done for the season, Morse feels “like a monkey riding a bike”

These days, the Nationals’ clubhouse isn’t the most pleasant of places. That has nothing to do with the team’s win-loss record, recent performance or the overall clubhouse atmosphere, which has been pretty cheery this season. It’s just that everywhere you turn, there are injured guys slowly trudging around. Today, Wilson Ramos awkwardly maneuvered through a hallway on crutches, just days after tearing his ACL. Fellow

Wang ready to return, open to coming out of the ‘pen

Chien-Ming Wang was back with the Nationals today, throwing a bullpen session under the watchful eye of pitching coach Steve McCatty and talking with some teammates in the Nats’ clubhouse. The veteran right-hander showed on Monday that he is nearing a return to the major leagues, working into the ninth inning in a rehab start with Triple-A Syracuse. Wang will now make at least one

Harper in center, Nady in right

As the Nationals welcome the Pirates to town tonight, Bryce Harper is in center field for the third time of his young career while also batting second. Outfielder Xavier Nady also starts for the first time since May 11 and Tyler Moore is in the starting lineup for the first time since May 9, batting seventh and patrolling left field. For the Nationals: SS Ian

Some of this, some of that

Is anyone else blown away by the fact that yesterday was just the second time in 25 career starts that Stephen Strasburg allowed more than three earned runs in a game? I still had trouble believing that was accurate, even after I had looked over all of Strasburg’s outings and then double-checked the numbers later on yesterday afternoon. That’s remarkable consistency out of the 23-year-old.

An uncomfortable outing for Strasburg, in multiple ways

As unusual as Stephen Strasburg’s start was today, with an eight-minute rain delay disrupting the first inning and the Nationals righty allowing the second-most runs of any start in his career, a bit of information revealed postgame might have been even more bizarre. According to manager Davey Johnson, Strasburg had some “hot stuff” get “misplaced” during his start, which contributed to his struggles on the

Not much to rave about in 6-1 loss

Bryce Harper hit his second home run in as many days. Yeah, that’s about all the positive stuff to report coming out of the Nationals’ 6-1 loss to the Padres this afternoon. The Nationals couldn’t get much of anything done against Padres starter Anthony Bass, who went eight strong innings in his best outing of the season, allowing just one run on five hits with

An abbreviated day for Strasburg (Harper homers again)

This didn’t look like the Stephen Strasburg we’ve seen much of this season. Strasburg, who entered today with a 1.64 ERA on the year, was clearly battling himself this afternoon against the Padres, stepping off the mound and taking deep breath after deep breath. He didn’t have his good stuff, allowing seven hits and four runs before seeing the bullpen door open to begin the

Strasburg in an early hole after brief rain delay (updated)

For about three minutes, Stephen Strasburg was forced to pitch in a downpour with the bases loaded and two outs in the first inning. Finally, home plate umpire and crew chief Brian Gorman called for a rain delay and brought the grounds crew onto the field. Nearly as soon as he did so, the rain all but stopped. The tarp never got rolled out, and

Catching up on things

Despite the initial forecast for today, it’s turned into a beautiful day at Nationals Park. The sun is beaming down right now, and the grounds crew is tending to the infield and taking squeegees to the outfield turf to spread out the water that accumulated overnight and into the morning. We might get some light rain later in the afternoon, but it appears the heavy

Maldonado activated, Ramos placed on 60-day DL (plus Nats lineup)

The Nationals have officially placed catcher Sandy Leon on the 15-day DL with a high right ankle sprain and selected catcher Carlos Maldonado from Triple-A Syracuse. Maldonado made it here in time for today’s game, although he might be a little bit worn out after making the late-night trip from Columbus, Ohio. To make room for Maldonado on the 40-man roster, the Nats have moved

Some bullpen bullet points

If you were wondering whether last night’s performance by Henry Rodriguez - in which the righty walked the bases loaded while leading by three runs in the ninth - changed Davey Johnson’s view on how Rodriguez will be used, the answer is a simple one. Nope. Within a five-minute press conference after last night’s game, Johnson referred to either himself or the Nationals as a

Harper on first home run: “Hopefully, it’s one of many”

With it being a Monday night and rain falling throughout the afternoon and into the evening, there wasn’t a huge crowd on hand at Nationals Park Monday. But in the third inning, when Bryce Harper bounded into the dugout after his first major league home run, those in attendance stayed on their feet, kept clapping and called for the 19-year-old rookie to take a bow.

Leon has high ankle sprain, Maldonado to be called up

A player’s major league debut is supposed to be a thrilling time in his life, a day he’ll never forget. Unfortunately, years from now, Sandy Leon will not look back too fondly on his first-ever game in the big leagues. Manager Davey Johnson announced after today’s game that Leon suffered a high right ankle sprain when he was run into at the plate by Padres

Nats win a wild one, 8-5

It was a wacky night in the nation’s capital. We had four errors (one of which scored a run), another Nationals catcher leave with an injury, a phenom hit his first major league home run, a journeyman hit a big pinch-hit homer and a total of 13 runs score in a game played between two of the worst offensive teams in baseball. In the end,

Rookie Leon helped off after injuring right leg (updated twice)

A cool moment - Bryce Harper’s first major league home run - is quickly trumped by a sad one. Nationals catcher Sandy Leon, making his major league debut tonight, was run into by Padres third baseman Chase Headley as Headley was trying to score from second on a fourth-inning single to right-center. Leon’s right leg got bent back, and he was clearly in pain after

Harper blasts his first career home run

The kid is in the home run column. It took Bryce Harper 15 games, but with no one on and two outs in the bottom of the third inning tonight, he smacked his first career major league homer to dead-center field, the ball rolling about a quarter of the way up the batter’s eye. The home run came on a 2-1 pitch from Padres righty

Wang to make at least one more rehab start

Even after going eight strong innings for Triple-A Syracuse in a rehab start earlier today, Chien-Ming Wang will not rejoin the Nationals just yet. Manager Davey Johnson said that Wang will make at least one more rehab outing before the Nats decide to activate him and have him join their rotation. “He should for sure get one more start down there, and then we’ll go

A plethora of injury updates on Morse, Werth, Storen, Lidge, DeRosa

I’ve got a ton of injury updates to pass along today, so I’ll jump right into it. According to manager Davey Johnson, left fielder Michael Morse threw from about 50-60 feet without any problem today, and Morse said he plans to take some dry swings tomorrow, meaning he won’t actually make contact with a ball. If Morse keeps progressing in his rehab from a strained

Johnson on Rodriguez: “As far as I’m concerned, he’s been great”

Given the two blown saves Henry Rodriguez has put up over his last four outings and the spectacular manner in which the Nationals’ closer has lost those games, manager Davey Johnson has been asked whether Rodriguez will continue to get the ball in save situations. He got that question after yesterday’s 9-6 loss, in which Rodriguez allowed a walk-off grand slam to Joey Votto, and

Leon to make major league debut vs. Padres

Sandy Leon will make his major league debut tonight as the Nationals host the Padres in the first game of a brief two-game series. He’ll catch and hit eighth. Weather permitting, the game begins at 7:05 p.m. Here’s the Padres lineup: CF Cameron Maybin RF Chris Denorfia LF Jesus Guzman 1B Yonder Alonso 3B Chase Headley C Nick Hundley 2B Orlando Hudson SS Jason Bartlett

Wang goes eight-plus innings in rehab start at Syracuse

It’s looking like Chien-Ming Wang is just about ready to return to the big leagues. Wang threw eight-plus innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Syracuse this afternoon, allowing four runs on 11 hits with a walk, a strikeout and a hit batter. The Chiefs beat Rochester 6-4 in a game that was aired on MLB Network. Wang had his heavy sinker working today, as

Oh, Henry

I’m not entirely sure how a guy can strike out the side on just 10 pitches in a save situation one night, looking absolutely locked-in and unhittable in the process, and then walk two, allow two hits and surrender a walk-off grand slam in a save situation the very next night. Henry Rodriguez entered both games with a one-run lead in the ninth inning. He

Two-out knocks put Nats on top (walk-off grand slam sinks Nats)

In the six games between the Nationals and Reds this season prior to today, Joey Votto had just one extra-base hit - a double back on April 15. Today, Votto has two home runs in as many at-bats. The 2010 National Leauge MVP has taken Edwin Jackson yard twice, but luckily for Jackson and the Nats, both longballs have been solo shots. Outside of Votto,

Sunday’s Nats-Reds lineups (first pitch set for 4:45 p.m.)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Davey Johnson is sticking with the same lineup he’s gone with the last few games, with Roger Bernadina hitting second and Bryce Harper hitting fifth. With Wilson Ramos going on the DL with a torn ACL, Jesus Flores slides into the starting lineup and will hit eighth. The Nationals will face Reds righty Bronson Arroyo, who is 2-1

Ramos has torn ACL, Nats call up Leon

The news is not good for Wilson Ramos. An MRI has revealed that Ramos has a torn ACL in his right knee, an injury which will likely sideline him for most, if not all, of this season. The Nationals have placed Ramos on the 15-day disabled list and called up catcher Sandy Leon from Double-A Harrisburg to back up Jesus Flores. Leon, who will wear

A win and a loss (Ramos heading to DL)

The Nationals beat the Reds 2-1 tonight, winning their third straight and securing yet another series win. Jordan Zimmermann delivered another fantastic start, striking out nine over seven one-run innings, lowering his ERA to 2.14. Danny Espinosa hit his second homer in as many ballgames, breaking a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning by crushing a ball over the wall in right and raising his

A tight one in the middle innings (Ramos injured)

Jordan Zimmermann is getting just 2.1 runs of support while he’s in the game this season, the third-lowest total in the majors. That number isn’t rising tonight. Zimmermann has done his job on the mound this evening, holding the Reds to just one run through five innings of work, but outside of a Wilson Ramos solo home run, the Nationals’ starter hasn’t gotten much offensive

Pregame thoughts on Harper, Gonzalez, Stammen

Those who are getting after Bryce Harper and calling his bat accident last night immature need to relax, in my opinion. Yeah, Harper’s 19 and still has some growing up to do. But this was a legitimate bit of misfortune and shouldn’t be overanalyzed. You see players spike their batting helmets and toss bats to the ground after striking out all the time. I bet

Harper in Nats lineup

A day after accidentally hitting himself in the face with a bat and opening a cut over his left eye, Bryce Harper is in the Nationals’ starting lineup. Tough kid. Manager Davey Johnson had suggested that Harper might need a couple days off after the bizarre wall-meet-bat, bat-meet-face incident yesterday, but the 19-year-old will be back in right field tonight, hopefully sans blood dripping down

Weekend at Bernie’s

With Jayson Werth out for a few months and general manager Mike Rizzo saying he’s not going to trade to acquire an outfielder for the short term, a few guys on the Nationals roster have an opportunity on their hands right now. There’s playing time to be had in left field, and it’s up to someone to earn it. Roger Bernadina, step on up. Bernadina

The bats come alive in Cincinnati (Nats win 7-3, plus Harper update)

The Nationals have scored in all four innings thus far tonight, have hit two home runs and lead the Reds 7-1 as we go to the top of the fifth. It’s fun to hit in the Great American Ballpark, all right. Washington got on top 3-0 in the top of the first inning on Roger Bernadina’s two-run home run and Adam LaRoche’s RBI double. Bernadina

Friday’s Nats, Reds lineups

How does Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips welcome the Nationals to town? By taking a dig at Bryce Harper on Twitter. Here’s what Phillips tweeted earlier today: “GoodAfternoon #Cincinnati... Today we host #BabeRuth & the @Nationals for a 3 game series at #GABP! See y’all there” That’s the second “Babe Ruth” reference we’ve heard in the last week. An unnamed Phillies player apparently made a

Having a very early Nationals MVP discussion

Yeah, 31 games in is a pretty arbitrary point to start having a team MVP discussion. I’m aware of that. But, hey, let’s have it anyway. We’re now five weeks into the season, and when you look over the Nationals roster, there are a number of guys who could be in the team MVP picture to this point. At least three of the Nats starters

He’s the ace for a reason

It sure is nice to have a pitcher who can take the mound with his team stuck on a three-game losing streak and promptly strike out 13, allowing just one earned run over six innings. That’s what aces are for. Stephen Strasburg picked the Nationals up last night, putting together yet another quality start - his seventh in as many outings this season - and

Strasburg must love the Pirates (Nats win 4-2)

I have a feeling most pitchers enjoy facing the Pirates. They’ve scored by far the fewest runs in the majors and are hitting just .227 as a team. Any pitcher would love to go against that group. Stephen Strasburg really, really loves to face Pittsburgh. Strasburg has struck out seven straight Bucs hitters, and has faced the minimum as we go to the fourth inning.

Bernadina hitting second, Espinosa hitting sixth

Davey Johnson has made a couple lineup changes, all right. The Nationals’ skipper has tweaked his batting order for tonight’s series finale against the Pirates, putting Roger Bernadina in the No. 2 spot and dropping Bryce Harper to fifth. Danny Espinosa will start at second base tonight and will protect Harper in the order, hitting sixth. This is now the fourth spot in the lineup

Playing the numbers

Over the Nationals’ last 16 games, they’ve gotten 15 quality starts. In that 16-game span, the Nats are 8-8. I’m not trying to pile on here, I’m just saying. Stuck on a three-game losing streak, the Nats send their ace to the mound tonight, looking to avoid getting swept by the Pirates. It’s a very small sample size, but Stephen Strasburg has allowed only one

Strikeout total rises as win total stays stagnant

What would you rather have first, the good news or the bad news? Let’s start with the positive stuff, just to kick the morning off right. Making his third rehab start since suffering a left hamstring injury back in spring training, Chien-Ming Wang went seven innings yesterday for Triple-A Syracuse, allowing two runs on eight hits and earning the win. Wang walked one, struck out

Blown chances plague Nats in 4-2 loss

You’d think the Nationals caught a break when Pirates starter Erik Bedard, who entered the game with a 2.65 ERA, was pulled after just an inning-plus due to a back injury. That left the Nats eight innings to battle against Pittsburgh’s bullpen. You’d think the Nats would have a decent shot at tying the game when they loaded the bases with just one out in

Wacky third inning puts Nats in a hole (instant update)

We had a strikeout of the pitcher, who then reached on a wild pitch. We had a ball deflect off Ross Detwiler and go for a single. We had a 5-2-6 putout in which a runner was tagged out trying to score. We had a runner score from second on an infield single. Yeah, it was a strange bottom of the third inning. The Pirates

Moore to start in left field, Harper to center

Those wanting Tyler Moore to get a shot at more playing time, here you go. Moore will start in left field and hit seventh for the Nationals in tonight’s game against the Pirates. It will be the rookie’s second major league start, both of which will have been in left. With the Nats facing a left-hander in Erik Bedard, Davey Johnson is going with a

Examining Espinosa’s offensive struggles

As managers go, Davey Johnson is a patient and trusting one. He believes in his players, giving them a chance to battle through slumps and hard times. It’s one of the reasons why guys love playing for him so much. They feel that if they start scuffling, their skipper will have their back. He won’t be quick to turn on them, won’t worry about being

Rodriguez’s blown save costs Nats

Adam LaRoche was all set up to be the hero tonight, as his two-run homer leading off the ninth - the 1,000th home run in Nationals team history - gave the Nats a 4-3 lead. Then Henry Rodriguez got the road jitters yet again. Rodriguez allowed a walk-off, two-run homer to Rod Barajas (a .141 hitter this season), giving the Pirates a shocking 5-4 win.

Jackson done after seven strong (Nats come back in ninth)

Outside of the two long solo homers allowed by Edwin Jackson tonight, he really delivered a strong outing. The Nationals starter went seven innings, allowing just the two solo shots to Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones in the fourth inning. He gave up just three Pirates hits, walked one and struck out five. The pitches to McCutchen and Jones were both demolished, but little else

Nats sign lefty Gonzalez to minor league deal

The Nationals are bringing on another Scott Boras client. Michael Gonzalez, a left-handed reliever who has spent nine seasons in the big leagues, has agreed to a minor league deal with the Nats, the team announced. Gonzalez will report to the Nationals’ Viera, Fla., complex. He has previously spent time with the Rangers, Orioles, Braves and Pirates, posting a career line of 17-21 with a

LaRoche returns, Harper will hit second

Both Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche return to the Nationals’ lineup tonight against the Pirates. And just in time, with Jayson Werth going to the DL. Take a look at Davey Johnson’s new 2-3-4 in the batting order. Bryce Harper takes over in the No. 2 spot and will play right field tonight. Here are the lineups for both teams: Nationals Ian Desmond, SS Bryce

Zimmerman activated, Werth to DL

The Nationals announced this afternoon that they have reinstated third baseman Ryan Zimmerman from the disabled list. Jayson Werth will, in essence, take Zimmerman’s place. Werth has been placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to May 7, after having surgery yesterday to repair a broken left wrist. The Nats’ right fielder is expected to return somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 weeks from now. This

And now we move on

Anyone else heard enough about that Phillies pitcher hitting that 19-year-old phenom? OK, good. We can talk about something else now. While tonight will mark the first game of many that the Nationals will play without right fielder Jayson Werth, they could very well be getting both Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche back in their lineup in Pittsburgh. We can be almost certain Zimmerman will

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

Werth out around 12 weeks after wrist surgery is deemed a success

Jayson Werth, who suffered a broken left wrist while diving for a ball in last night’s loss to the Phillies, was set to have surgery today, an industry source confirmed this afternoon. The surgery is expected to keep Werth out somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 weeks, which means the Nationals right fielder is not expected to return until August. Werth was examined by a

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

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

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

Diagnosis on Werth is broken left wrist

It was pretty clear even before the official diagnosis came in: Jayson Werth broke his left wrist tonight. The Nationals’ medical staff and manager Davey Johnson later confirmed what the highlights appeared to show. Werth broke his wrist while attempting to make a sliding catch in the sixth inning of tonight’s game. According to Johnson, the break was a clean one. There’s no timetable as

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

Jayson Werth leaves with apparent wrist injury

This doesn’t look good. Jayson Werth has left tonight’s game in the top of the sixth inning after injuring what looked like his left wrist when he tried to make a sliding catch of a Placido Polanco liner. The Nationals right fielder got his glove hand bent back while making a slide for the ball, and you could tell he immediately was in pain. Werth

Bryce Harper steals home (updated twice)

You want to hit Bryce Harper? OK, that’s fine. He’ll just sprint full-speed and go from first to third on a single to left and then steal home on a pickoff throw to first base. No big deal. The Nationals lead the Phillies 1-0 after one inning of play thanks to Harper’s remarkable display of hustle and want-to in the bottom of the first. Forget

Nats draw big, try out Ramos’ younger brother

Check out this gem from Ryan Zimmerman when asked about the strong crowds at Nationals Park for this weekend’s series against the Phillies. “I wouldn’t have come and watched us a couple years ago, either,” he said. “That’s the truth. Nobody wants to come watch a team that loses 100 games. “It’s their hard-earned money. It’s not easy to buy tickets now. As long as

MRI on LaRoche comes back clean, Zimmerman almost ready to return

I’ve got good news to pass along on the Nationals’ injured first and third basemen. Adam LaRoche got an MRI on his sore right oblique today and it came back clean. The oblique is not torn, which let LaRoche breathe easy. “Just a bruise, which is awesome news,” LaRoche said. “I was worried about that.” LaRoche got treatment and hit today, probably at about 50-60

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

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

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

Nationals fire on all cylinders in 7-1 victory

I hate to be the cynic, but every game I expect the Nationals’ starting pitcher to falter, not due to a lack of talent or anything sinister, it just simply has to happen some time. Fortunately, Nats fans, today was not that day. As he has done all season, Gio Gonzalez was dominant, stifling a Phillies lineup that mustered just four hits and one

Ramos’ defense starting to become a question mark (Werth delivers, Tracy too)

Wilson Ramos is regarded as an above-average defensive catcher. He’s got a strong arm, is usually sound when it comes to blocking balls in the dirt and has good overall fundamentals behind the plate. So far this season, however, Ramos’ defense has left something to be desired. Ramos could have made a grab on Jayson Werth’s throw to the plate in the fourth inning, but

Zimmerman expects to return Tuesday (plus a shameless plug)

You’ll have to pardon the lack of updates from me this morning - I’m co-hosting “Nats Xtra” today along with my MASNsports.com colleague Byron Kerr and will be multitasking throughout the day. Tune in to the pregame show starting at 12:30 p.m. and stick around postgame, as well, and you’ll see my ugly mug all over your TV screen. Should be fun. Wanted to pass

Nats lineup for Saturday’s matinee against Phillies

The Nationals were resilient Friday night against the Phillies, clawing out an 11-inning, 4-3 win against a key divisional foe. Their reward for such a victory? How about a 1 p.m. start time for Saturday. That’s just what we have here today as the Nats and Phillies will partake in a little day baseball with Gio Gonzalez getting the start for the home team. Vance

A good atmosphere, a better result

Davey Johnson likes to say that he doesn’t view any one game as more important than the rest. It’s a long season, and a game in May means just as much in the standings as a win in September. But the Nationals skipper also acknowledges that games against the Phillies have a little bit of a different vibe to them. The crowd is more animated,

Wild ride ends in 4-3 walk-off win

If the other 17 games between the Phillies and Nationals this season have anywhere close to as much excitement as the first, we should be in for quite a year. Tonight’s game featured just three umpires, a manager (Charlie Manuel) ejected in the first inning, the potential game-winning run (Rick Ankiel) thrown out at the plate, 11 innings, four errors, 14 Nats runners left on

Wang sharp, picks up victory in rehab start; Twins claim Komatsu

Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang allowed two runs - one earned - on three hits in six innings tonight on an injury rehabilitation start for Single-A Hagerstown against Rome, a Braves affiliate. Wang, who is on the disabled list and rehabbing a hamstring injury sustained in spring training, was scheduled to start Thursday night for Double-A Harrisburg. But he was scratched from the assignment after a lengthy

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

Johnson explains Moore’s lack of playing time (Strasburg touched up)

A seemingly large segment of the fan base has questioned - rather vocally, I might add - manager Davey Johnson’s decision to play Chad Tracy and Xavier Nady, among others, over power-hitting rookie Tyler Moore. For what it’s worth, handful of beat writers that cover the team have wondered why Moore hasn’t gotten more playing time since his promotion to the big leagues Sunday, as

Mariano Rivera’s injury causes Nats to ban “power shagging”

Gio Gonzalez turns into a kid during batting practice. He sprints around in the outfield, aggressively shagging fly balls and jumping in front of other pitchers to make acrobatic grabs. The normally reserved Stephen Strasburg even gets in on the act, as he tries to outposition Gonzalez for balls hit in his area. But Gonzalez and Strasburg - or any of the other Nats pitchers,

Johnson: “We’ve got an attitude, I don’t know about Natitude”

The first thing people attending tonight’s Phillies-Nationals game will notice when they grab their seat is that the stadium - for the weekend, at least - is no longer called Nationals Park. A giant banner above the scoreboard in right-center has been unfurled which reads: “Natitude Park”. The Nationals have made this series against the Phillies a center of their “Natitude” marketing campaign this season,

Nats get “good news” on Zimmerman, LaRoche in limbo

Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he got some “good news” today regarding third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who has been sidelined because of right shoulder inflammation. Zimmerman rigorously threw today and hit off a tee at about 75 percent force, Johnson said, and felt no discomfort. The 27-year-old will take part in batting practice tomorrow, and the Nats will see how he feels. Zimmerman is eligible

Friday night’s Nationals lineup

The Nationals open a three-game series against the Phillies tonight with a 7:05 p.m. game. Here’s Washington’s lineup for the opener, which pits Philadelphia’s Kyle Kendrick against the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg. Bryce Harper, who was moved to third in the lineup Thursday against the Diamondbacks, is back in the same spot in the batting order tonight. SS - Ian Desmond 3B - Steve Lombardozzi LF

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

LaRoche, Wang updates plus final clubhouse quotes

The Nationals expect Adam LaRoche to miss a couple days due to right oblique soreness, which the first baseman began feeling during Wednesday’s game after diving for a ball. LaRoche, who leads the Nationals in home runs and RBIs, says that the positive news is that team doctors don’t believe the muscle is torn. The negative news is that he’ll need to rest the oblique

Detwiler continues to make Nats’ brass look smart

Davey Johnson named Ross Detwiler tonight’s “star of the game” after the left-hander allowed just one run over 6 1/3 innings in the Nationals’ win over the Diamondbacks. Told of this development in the Nats’ clubhouse, Detwiler cracked a smile. “I got the star?” he said. “Really? Over Bryce? All right.” Bryce Harper might have driven in the game-winning run with an opposite-field double in

Nats swiftly dispose of D-backs in 2-1 win

With Ross Detwiler and Ian Kennedy both dealing tonight, this game moved along at a crisp pace. And thanks to their red-hot fifth starter (yeah, it’s still tough to believe Detwiler is really a fifth starter), the Nationals earned a second straight win over the Diamondbacks, this one by a 2-1 count. Detwiler went 6 1/3 innings, giving up just one run on three hits

No no-no for Detwiler, but lefty is cruising (updated twice)

I honestly feel like there’s a decent chance a Nationals starter throws a no-hitter this season. All five guys currently in the rotation have legit no-hit ability, and the way these guys keep one-upping each other, it almost seems like it’s only a matter of time until one of them finds a zone and holds an opponent hitless. That night won’t be tonight, however. Ross

Johnson on hitting Harper third: “Why not?”

Davey Johnson was asked why he decided to write Bryce Harper’s name into the third spot in tonight’s lineup. His response was a simple one. “Why not?” Johnson said. The strange thing is that even though this is just Harper’s fifth major league game, given the way the 19-year-old has hit lately and the way the bulk of the Nats’ lineup has struggled around him,

LaRoche scratched with right oblique soreness

The Nationals’ most consistent hitter, the one who leads the team in home runs, RBIs and batting average (with a minimum 20 at-bats), has been scratched from tonight’s lineup. Just what this offense needed. First baseman Adam LaRoche will not start tonight due to right oblique soreness, leaving an even bigger hole in the middle of the Nats’ lineup. Jayson Werth will move up to

Bryce Harper bumped up to third in Nats’ order

After Bryce Harper went 3-for-4 with two doubles last night, manager Davey Johnson suggested that Harper might be deserving of a bump in the order. Harper got quite a bump, alright. The 19-year-old will hit third tonight against the Diamondbacks, this after hitting seventh in each of the first four games of his major league career. Harper is batting .385 with five hits in 13

Harping on Harper’s stellar night

As Davey Johnson recapped last night’s thrilling 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks during his postgame press conference, he started rattling off names of guys who had contributed to the walk-off victory. Johnson touched on starter Edwin Jackson, who didn’t have his best stuff but still kept his team in the game. He mentioned Ian Desmond, the hero, whose two-out homer in the ninth set off

Johnson: “We needed it, no doubt about it”

It’s incredibly early. We’re just one month into the season, and there are plenty more games to be played. But is it possible that coming off five straight losses, four of which were incredibly close, hard-fought defeats, that the Nationals needed a win like tonight’s? Is it reading too much into things to say that after struggling so mightily on offense the last week that

Desmond blasts Nats to 5-4 walk-off win

Down to their last out and staring a frustrating sixth straight loss in the face, the Nationals got help from their struggling leadoff hitter. Ian Desmond crushed a two-run, walk-off homer to left center off Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz, giving the Nationals a 5-4 win over Arizona. The Nats had chances to knot the game late, putting at least one runner on in the sixth,

Harper putting on a show in D.C. (Nats trail D’backs)

On a cool Wednesday night in which the Capitals might be stealing some attention away from Washington baseball, those at Nationals Park are getting the full Bryce Harper experience. In the second inning, Harper beat out an infield single on a slow roller, then was promptly picked off first base by Diamondbacks pitcher Joe Saunders. Some good, some bad. In the top of the fourth,

Quick-hit notes on Wang, DeRosa, Rodriguez

Chien-Ming Wang’s recovery from a strained left hamstring continues tomorrow when he makes a rehab start for Double-A Harrisburg. Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Wang is scheduled to go 5-6 innings and throw around 75 pitches tomorrow. The veteran right-hander will make this rehab outing and at least one more before the Nats consider activating him off the disabled list. Asked if he’s decided how

Strasburg named NL Pitcher of the Month

Three, or possibly even four, different Nationals starters could have legitimately won National League Pitcher of the Month honors and no one would have blinked an eye. Only one guy could actually take home the honor, however. And that guy is Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg has been named NL Pitcher of the Month after going 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA, 34 strikeouts and just six walks

Zimmerman not likely to return until Tuesday

It appears the Nationals are likely to be without Ryan Zimmerman for the entire series against the Phillies this weekend. Manager Davey Johnson said today that Zimmerman will hit off a tee on Friday, hit first time swinging a bat since going on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. There’s a chance Zimmerman could return on Sunday for the series finale against Philadelphia, but

Harper in center, Nady in left, Werth hitting third

With the Nationals facing another left-handed starter tonight, Rick Ankiel will take a seat and Bryce Harper will get the start in center field for manager Davey Johnson. This will be Harper’s second time playing center in his four major league games. Jayson Werth will hit in the No. 3 hole today, with Xavier Nady playing in left and hitting fifth. Tyler Moore again will

Storen pleased with rehab progress, thrilled with Harper addition

Drew Storen was a happy guy yesterday. Not only did he finally have all his teammates back in the Nationals clubhouse after their West Coast road trip, but the Nats closer is getting close to beginning a throwing program, which he expects to kick off in the next week or two. “I’m excited,” Storen said. “I need that back in my life.” Storen has been

Nats hitters know “something needs to change”

The Nationals are 0-3 with Bryce Harper in the lineup. That’s it; get the kid out of here. He’s a jinx. Unfortunately, the solutions to Washington’s losing streak aren’t that simple. The reasons for the five-game slide are easy to spot, however. The Nationals have now scored seven runs combined during their last five games. They’ve averaged five hits per game over that span, have

Johnson talks offense, Harper after Nats’ 5-1 loss

The Nationals are without Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman. We know this. But their lack of offense during their five-game losing streak is still surprising and disappointing, especially to the man writing out the starting lineup every day. “I feel like we got the hitters that can hit,” Johnson said. “(We’re) just not as aggressive as I’d like to see. Our one and two hitters

Nats fall again, drop 5-1 decision to Diamondbacks

For a few games last week, the Nationals were working on a string of consecutive scoreless innings thrown by their starting pitchers, a total which reached 25 frames. For most of tonight’s game, they were watching a different scoreless streak mount. And it wasn’t a good one. When Roger Bernadina crossed the plate in the eighth inning tonight, it broke a string of 17 straight

Harper hitless as Nats’ offensive woes continue (updated)

The Nationals have managed just two hits and a walk and have struck out five times through five scoreless innings. Here we go again. Washington has not scored in its last 15 innings, and yet again enters the late frames needing the bats to awaken as Davey Johnson’s group trails the Diamondbacks 2-0 in the middle of the sixth. Tonight, the Nats are making D’backs

Harper could move up in order, Rizzo OK with current roster

Davey Johnson was asked if he’s been impressed with how calm Bryce Harper has been in his first few days in the majors. “I wouldn’t call him calm. He’s energetic,” Johnson said, before cracking a smile. “I’m thinking about getting a PRP from him and getting some of that blood in me.” Not sure that’s exactly how the platelet rich plasma treatment works, but the

Relaxed Harper feels no pressure to stick in the majors

While today will be Bryce Harper’s official home debut, in some ways, yesterday was his true sporting debut in the nation’s capital. Harper used his off-day to go shopping in the D.C. area, and then went on a little tour of the Mall, checking out the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. Some fans noticed him walking by - “They saw the rat tail and

Harper back in left, hitting seventh

I tried posting the lineups from my iPhone a couple of hours ago, but apparently that failed miserably. So let’s try this again. Bryce Harper is hitting seventh again today, and he’s back in left field with Rick Ankiel playing center against Diamondbacks right-hander Trevor Cahill. Ankiel will hit third today, and Jayson Werth is back in the lineup hitting fifth after missing Sunday’s game

Pregame notes on Lidge, Moore, Espinosa, others

Plenty to pass along coming out of today’s pregame session with manager Davey Johnson, which came in a packed press conference room, filled with reporters who flocked to Nationals Park for Bryce Harper’s home debut. Johnson said that reliever Brad Lidge will be out around a month after having surgery in Philadelphia to repair a sports hernia. Infielder Mark DeRosa will be out “for sure

Komatsu could return to D.C.

Remember Erik Komatsu? The 24-year-old outfielder might be an option for the Nationals yet again. The Cardinals just designated Komatsu for assignment, and if he clears waivers, must be offered back to the Nationals. Komatsu was taken by the Cardinals from the Nationals in December’s Rule 5 draft. He was originally acquired by Washington last year from Milwaukee in the Jerry Hariston Jr. trade. There’s

Some of this, some of that

Think Danny Rosenbaum is almost ready for a promotion to Triple-A Syracuse? The 24-year-old lefty threw seven shutout innings for Double-A Harrisburg yesterday, allowing six hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Rosenbaum lowered his season ERA to 0.76 and now has gone his last three starts, spanning 23 innings, without allowing a run. In that time, he’s given up just 13 hits with two

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