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Strasburg leaves game due to “heat-related issues” (Nats lose 7-5)

The 104-degree heat in Atlanta got the better of Stephen Strasburg today. The Nationals ace was pulled from today’s game after just three innings due to what the team is calling “heat-related issues.” Strasburg was really laboring this afternoon and clearly wasn’t himself. He walked four hitters and needed 67 pitches to get through his three frames. The righty’s final line: three innings, three runs,

Lineups with Strasburg on the mound

The Nationals look to improve to 6-1 on the season against the Braves, and 5-0 at Turner Field, as they send Stephen Strasburg to the mound today. Here’s manager Davey Johnson’s lineup for today: 2B Danny Espinosa CF Bryce Harper 3B Ryan Zimmerman RF Michael Morse 1B Adam LaRoche SS Ian Desmond LF Tyler Moore C Jesus Flores P Stephen Strasburg For the Braves: CF

Morse starting to come around

This is starting to look like the Michael Morse we saw last season. It took a few weeks to find him, but that’s to be expected. Given how long Morse was out with that strained lat and given how little time he had on a rehab appearance before returning to the Nationals’ lineup, it was bound to take a bit for him to find his

Lineups in Atlanta

Left-hander Ross Detwiler, (4-3, 3.09 ERA) will take the mound tonight, looking to beat the division-rival Braves. Atlanta is second in the NL East, 3 1/2 games behind the Nats. For Atlanta, righty Randall Delgado will take the mound. He’s 4-8 with a 4.52 ERA on the season. The Nationals are hoping their bats will stay hot at Turner Field. In their last series, a

The Chien-Ming Wang situation

In sports, anything can happen on any given night. There are no certainties. Still, you have to wonder if the Nationals feel like they let an opportunity slip away by winning just two out of their four games against the Rockies, a team with the third-worst record in baseball. Of the four starting pitchers the Rockies sent to the mound during this series, one was

Rockies win offensive battle, split series with Nats

The Nationals trailed 7-0 after two innings. We’re now tied 9-9 in the bottom of the fifth. The way I see it, we can take three main things out of what we’ve seen over these last three games: Coors Field is a fun place for hitters to spend their time, the Nationals’ offense has potential to do some big things the rest of this season

Coors Field doesn’t like Edwin Jackson (updated)

As I mentioned earlier, Edwin Jackson hasn’t been treated so well at Coors Field over the course of his career. Jackson entered today having allowed 21 earned runs over 12 innings at the Rockies’ home park, good for a 15.75 ERA. Those numbers have gotten worse early in today’s ballgame. Significantly worse. Jackson received a rude welcome by Rockies hitters, who touched him up for

Nats, Rockies lineups for series finale

Facing yet another left-handed starting pitcher, Davey Johnson’s lineup looks much the same as it has the last three days. Adam LaRoche returns to the lineup today after a day off, as does Jesus Flores. Tyler Moore remains in there in left field, hitting seventh. This will be the fourth straight lefty starter the Rockies will send to the mound this series. Today’s Colorado starter

Plenty of positives to peruse

The Nationals only scored two runs after the fourth inning last night. Boy, this offense stinks. Get it together, guys. What can we take out of yesterday’s 11-5 thumping of the Rockies? Plenty, and not just that the Rockies are not very good at baseball. Tyler Moore sure looks like he’ll be hanging around the big leagues for a while, and manager Davey Johnson told

The runs, they keep on comin’ (Nats win 11-5)

Is it possible for the Nationals to play the rest of their games in Coors Field? Or at the very least, can they work something out with the league office to allow them to face the Rockies every night? Seriously, this is getting ridiculous. The laser show that began last night has continued today. The Nats lead the Rockies 9-1 through four innings. They’ve hit

DeRosa in left, Moore at first

For the first time since April 24, Mark DeRosa will be in the Nationals’ starting lineup. DeRosa will get the start in left field and hit sixth tonight against Rockies left-hander Edwar Cabrera, who will make his major league debut tonight. Cabrera was called up from Double-A to start today. Adam LaRoche will get the day off today, with Tyler Moore starting at first base.

Looking at Harper’s struggles and some All-Star numbers

Is it a little strange to anyone that the team with the best record in the National League doesn’t have a single position player in the top three in All-Star voting as his respective position? Obviously, the Nationals’ pitching is what has carried them to a 42-30 record and a 3.5-game lead in the NL East. That goes without saying at this point. Stephen Strasburg

Ryan Zimmerman starting to resemble Ryan Zimmerman

What do you think was going through Jordan Zimmermann’s mind as he watched the Nationals pull away from the Rockies and pile up a season-high 12 runs and franchise-record-tying 21 hits last night? “Guys ... stop ... save some of that for me, please?” That’s just a guess. Zimmermann would take 12 runs of support over a span of four starts, much less one. Here’s

An offensive explosion in Colorado (Nats win 12-5)

I guess the Nationals were getting a little tired of everyone talking about how much their offense stinks. They’ve exploded for 12 runs and 16 hits tonight, and have only played six innings. The most runs the Nats had scored in a game this season prior to tonight was nine. They’d already matched that total by the end of the fifth inning. Every hitter in

Nationals lineup remains the same

The Nationals have averaged just 2.5 runs over their last 10 games. Despite the offensive slump, Davey Johnson is sticking with the same lineup tonight that he’s used recently against left-handed starters. Washington will face Rockies lefty Christian Friedrich tonight, he of the 4-4 record and 5.65 ERA. Friedrich has gotten the loss in each his last three starts. Yet again, the Nats will get

Offense looking a bit offensive

Remember that six-game winning streak the Nationals compiled by sweeping the Red Sox and Blue Jays on the road? Since then, the Nats have won just three of 10 games. In those 10 games, they’ve scored an average of 2.5 runs per contest. And that includes a game where they played 14 innings. When your offense is performing that poorly, it doesn’t matter how good

Strasburg gives up lead after hitting Scutaro in head

Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals held a 2-1 lead over the Rockies entering the bottom of the sixth inning. Strasburg gave up a leadoff triple to Dexter Fowler. He then drilled Marco Scutaro in the head with a first-pitch, 95 mph fastball. After staying on the ground for a few seconds, Scutaro got up and talked things over with a trainer. He left the game,

Nationals lineup in the Mile High City

Stephen Strasburg (9-1, 2.46 ERA) will oppose Jeff Francis (0-1, 8.56 ERA) tonight at Coors Field. The difference in those stat lines jumps out at you just a bit, doesn’t it? Francis’ numbers this season aren’t exactly what you’d call impressive, but the veteran lefty did allow just one earned run his last time out against the Phillies. The Rockies are currently working with a

Every game’s a close one, plus DeRosa update (DeRosa activated, Nady to DL)

Manager Davey Johnson said on Saturday that Mark DeRosa was mere days away from returning to the Nationals after a lengthy absence due to a left oblique strain. The veteran infielder’s return could end up being today. DeRosa’s rehab assignment with Single-A Potomac has ended and the Nationals could decide to activate him before tonight’s game at Colorado. If DeRosa is added to the 25-man

Looking back on a tough five-week span

Lost in the late-inning dramatics of yesterday’s 2-1 loss to the Orioles might be the performance of Ross Detwiler, who worked five shutout innings before giving way to the bullpen. It was Detwiler’s first start in nearly a month, and he battled through an inconsistent strike zone and some fatigue late in his outing to give the Nationals a strong effort. “I’ve got to tip

Zimmerman has painkilling shot, hopes to avoid DL stint

If you were wondering what allowed Ryan Zimmerman to finally look like Ryan Zimmerman today, there’s an answer to that. For the first time in quite a while, Zimmerman wasn’t playing with discomfort in his right shoulder. Before today’s game, Zimmerman received a painkilling shot in the shoulder. It was a trial run of sorts. The Nationals were hoping to find something which would allow

Nats bullpen finally serves one up

The Nationals’ relievers have been spectacular this season. Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett and Craig Stammen - to name a few - have performed as well as they have at any point in their careers. But given the number of tight ballgames the Nationals have played and one-run leads their bullpen has had to protect, finishes like today’s will happen. Burnett, who came into the ballgame

Detwiler back with a bang (Nationals lose 2-1)

Remember what Ross Detwiler looked like for the first month of the season? If you’re watching today’s game, you sure do. Making his first start in nearly a month, Detwiler has found his old form. He’s thrown five shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out three. Detwiler did get into some trouble a few times this afternoon, loading the bases in the fourth

Storen reacts to news he’ll work in set-up role

Last night, Davey Johnson announced that when Drew Storen is activated after his rehab stint, he’ll likely work out of a set-up role with Tyler Clippard remaining the Nationals’ closer. Today, Storen reacted to that news. “It’s fine. He’s supporting the guys that have gotten this team where it’s at,” Storen said. “Tyler’s been that guy, and he’s been that guy for the two to

Zimmerman remains in Nationals lineup for finale against O’s

For at least another day, Ryan Zimmerman will stay in the Nationals lineup, hitting third and playing third. Zimmerman and manager Davey Johnson said last night that the third baseman might have to land on the DL and receive a cortisone shot because of inflammation in his right shoulder, but he’ll be out on the field today as the Nats look to take their rubber

When Storen returns, Clippard likely remaining the closer

What seemed like a nice, quiet 3-1 Nationals win turned into a lot more shortly after the game. We learned Ryan Zimmerman might need to get another cortisone shot in his inflamed right shoulder and could land on the disabled list. And, we also learned that even when Drew Storen returns to the Nationals, he’s unlikely to take over the closer’s role that he’s held

Ryan Zimmerman could be heading back to DL

It’s been clear for a while now that Ryan Zimmerman’s not healthy. He’s just too good a hitter to be batting .218 with three home runs on the season. After tonight’s 3-1 Nationals win, both Zimmerman and manager Davey Johnson acknowledged that the shoulder inflammation, which landed Zimmerman on the disabled list back in late April, is still a problem, and it might be something

No no-no for Jackson (Nats win 3-1)

The first 12 Orioles hitters that stepped to the plate tonight were all set down by Edwin Jackson. I’m no expert, but I believe if Jackson had retired the next 15 batters he saw, that would have been kind of a big deal. Instead, the perfect game and no-hitter both were blown up in the span of three hitters in the fifth inning. Adam Jones

DeRosa could return in next couple days

How does a player who’s on a rehab assignment get in touch with his manager to find out when he’ll be back in the majors? In Mark DeRosa’s case, he shoots his skipper an email. DeRosa, who is currently rehabbing from a strained left oblique at Single-A Potomac, punched up a few lines that told his manager he’s feeling great after two games. He then

Johnson unwilling to address managerial future

Davey Johnson’s had some entertaining press conferences lately. The ones during the Tampa Bay series certainly qualify, with Johnson calling Rays manager Joe Maddon a “weird wuss,” a “guru” and telling him to read the rule book after the GloveGate incident with Joel Peralta. Today, Johnson took a playful jab at 49-year-old hurler Jamie Moyer, who was granted his release this afternoon by the Orioles.

Zimmerman stays in three-spot in Nats lineup

Davey Johnson admitted last night that he’s given some thought to moving Ryan Zimmerman down in the order given his struggles this season. But Johnson said he planned to keep the .222-hitting Zimmerman in the three-spot in the lineup for now. That familiar three-hole is where Zimmerman remains today. The Nationals are going with their right-handed-heavy lineup today against Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who is

The one-year anniversary of a shocking decision

A year ago today, Jim Riggleman decided he’d had enough. The then-Nationals manager wanted to have his contract option for the 2012 season picked up. He was tired of working under one-year contracts and having to worry about his future. He wanted some sort of long-term security, even if another year was as long as that security would get at the time. His team had

Zimmermann the tough-luck loser yet again

Jordan Zimmermann entered tonight getting just 3.2 runs of offensive support when he’s been in the ballgame this season. That total was the sixth-lowest in the National League. It got lower tonight. The Nationals were able to give Zimmermann just one run to work with here in Baltimore, largely due to the dominant effort put up by Orioles starter Jason Hammel. They couldn’t get much

Helpless against Hammel

The Nationals were able to get to Jason Hammel a bit on May 19, plating four runs off the Orioles’ righty over 5 1/3 innings. Hammel still took the win that day, even though it was one of the few games this season when he wasn’t really on his game. Hammel was on his game tonight, that’s for sure. The Nats managed just one run

Zimmerman’s struggles continue, Desmond’s hustle continues (updated)

Boy, Ryan Zimmerman is in a bad way right now. The third baseman has gone 0-for-2 so far tonight, grounding out to short in the first and striking out looking in the fourth. His average now sits at a lowly .224, the lowest it’s been since May 9. Zimmerman has struck out in four of his last six at-bats, three of them looking. He went

Mooneyham signed, Storen happy with throwing session (first pitch set for 8 p.m.)

Davey Johnson sat down in the visitor’s dugout at Camden Yards and cracked a big smile. “This looks familiar,” Johnson said. “Little different angle from here.” The Nationals’ skipper seemed legitimately happy to be back in Baltimore, shaking hands with Jim Palmer and Rick Dempsey and soaking in the atmosphere at the park he once managed in. Johnson will also be happy to know that

Nats lineup vs. Orioles, Hammel

The Nationals will take on Orioles righty Jason Hammel tonight from Camden Yards. That is, if the weather allows it. Here’s the Nats lineup: LF Steve Lombardozzi CF Bryce Harper 3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B Adam LaRoche DH Michael Morse SS Ian Desmond 2B Danny Espinosa RF Roger Bernadina C Jesus Flores P Jordan Zimmermann

Johnson back in Baltimore (plus rehab updates)

Making his second rehab appearance for Triple-A Syracuse last night, Henry Rodriguez walked two batters but worked a scoreless ninth inning in the Chiefs’ win over Pawtucket. This comes after Rodriguez delivered a scoreless frame for Syracuse on Tuesday, but tossed a pitch to the backstop. The control issues will need to get worked out at some point before Rodriguez works meaningful, high-leverage innings for

Some of this, some of that

Check out this quote from Danny Espinosa last night when asked about how manager Davey Johnson has stuck by him this season despite his lengthy slump. “I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t have stuck with me that long,” Espinosa said, “so it feels awesome to know that Davey’s got my back.” Yet another reason why guys love playing for Davey Johnson. Espinosa’s numbers from

Postgame thoughts from Espinosa, Mattheus, Desmond

Danny Espinosa isn’t going to lie. When the Rays intentionally walked Adam LaRoche to get to the Nats second baseman with two outs in the sixth inning, he took it as a bit of a smack in the face. “I definitely take it personally in the sense that I want to get ‘em,” Espinosa said. “I want to make ‘em pay for what they’re doing.

Johnson talks after Nats take the series from Rays

After the top of the sixth inning, Davey Johnson walked up to Gio Gonzalez and told him he was done for the night. The Nationals’ starter wasn’t thrilled with that decision. “Gio worked up a big anger on me,” Johnson said with a smile. “And once we got the runs to go ahead, he forgave me.” The Rays had tied things up at 2-2 in

Espinosa comes through in the clutch (Nats win 5-2)

Danny Espinosa has gotten a handful of big hits this season. Not many of them have come when he’s been hitting left-handed. The dramatic difference in Espinosa’s lefty/righty splits has been well-documented, but tonight, the Nationals second baseman came through with a monster hit in the sixth inning, plating two runs with a double to right. And the go-ahead knock came from the left side

Peralta suspended, Storen to face hitters tomorrow

The Major League Baseball league office has spoken. Joel Peralta has been suspended eight games for having an illegal substance in his glove Tuesday night. The Rays reliever will appeal the suspension, meaning he’s still available to be used tonight in the series finale against the Nationals. Peralta faced two hitters last night and retired them both. Keeping on the reliever topic, Nats closer Drew

Detwiler, Wang react to rotation change

Ross Detwiler was minding his business before yesterday’s game when pitching coach Steve McCatty approached him. McCatty had some news. Detwiler was being reinserted into the Nationals’ rotation. “Hey, this is what’s going to happen,” Detwiler recalls McCatty saying. “Be aggressive.” That last word - aggressive - might be the key for the left-hander now that he finds himself back in the starting rotation. In

Nady back in lineup, Moore at first (Meyer to play in Futures Game)

Facing Rays lefty Matt Moore, Xavier Nady is back in the Nationals’ lineup tonight, playing left field and hitting seventh. The veteran outfielder will look to improve his .143 average on the season. Adam LaRoche will also get a day off, with the right-handed hitting Tyler Moore starting at first base. LaRoche has been nursing an oblique issue for much of the season and also

Don’t call him the stopper, but that’s what he is

Stephen Strasburg doesn’t want to be referred to as the Nationals’ stopper. He’s not a fan of that term. Strasburg isn’t interested in being painted as the top dog on the Nats’ pitching staff, the guy that bails the team out of trouble or stops losing streaks in their tracks. He would prefer to just be labeled one of the guys, one piece of an

Playing within the rules, using strategy to your advantage

The whole messy affair with Rays reliever Joel Peralta’s ejection for toting a glove loaded with pine tar to the mound Tuesday night just won’t go away. The subject has been debated for two days now and an interesting war of words between Rays skipper Joe Maddon and Nationals manager Davey Johnson, two renowned baseball scholars, has only fanned the flames. Major League Baseball shares

Nats lean on their “true No. 1” yet again

Stephen Strasburg’s outing tonight started in a somewhat bizarre fashion. As the Nationals ace was preparing to step onto the mound and throw his first pitch to the Rays’ Desmond Jennings, home plate umpire Jeff Nelson came walking out to the mound. After all that went on yesterday with GloveGate, Strasburg assumed that Nelson was going to check his glove for a foreign substance. Turns

Clinging to a late-inning lead (Nats win 3-2)

As Joel Peralta starts to get loose in the Rays bullpen ... Yes. That’s actually happening. Peralta still hasn’t been suspended yet, and is eligible to pitch tonight. I’m sure his glove is squeaky clean. The Nationals have a 3-2 lead as we go to the eighth inning, even though they haven’t recorded a hit since the first. Washington struck for three runs on three

Rizzo supports Johnson’s decision to have Peralta checked (plus game update)

In this entry, I’ll have quotes from the Nationals general manager, who responded to quotes from the Rays manager, who responded to quotes from the Nationals manager, who responded to quotes from the Rays manager. GloveGate just keeps on going. Shortly after Rays skipper Joe Maddon came down on the Nationals (again), saying that if he was a player, he’d think twice before signing with

Detwiler back in the rotation, Wang to the ‘pen

Less than a month ago, Ross Detwiler was bumped from the Nationals’ starting rotation after three straight rocky starts. Now, Detwiler finds himself back in the rotation after four straight rocky starts from Chien-Ming Wang. After taking a bit of a verbal swing at Rays manager Joe Maddon this afternoon, Nats manager Davey Johnson announced that Wang will be moved to the bullpen, while Detwiler

Davey Johnson makes rotation move, fires back at Joe Maddon

Davey Johnson’s 15-minute pregame session with reporters this afternoon sure didn’t lack substance. Johnson announced that Chien-Ming Wang will be moved to the bullpen and Ross Detwiler will be inserted into the rotation. He also took aim at Rays manager Joe Maddon, who last night called out Johnson for having Joel Peralta’s glove inspected on suspicion of Peralta using a foreign substance. Maddon called Johnson’s

Nats lineup vs. Rays rookie Chris Archer

In his first major league start, Rays right-hander Chris Archer will get tossed right into a potentially volatile situation. After last night’s GloveGate, tensions might be high tonight as the Nationals and Rays meet up in game two of this three-game series. Archer was called up from Triple-A to start tonight after Tampa Bay’s original starter, Jeremy Hellickson, was scratched because of a shoulder injury.

About last night

Too bad nothing exciting went down in last night’s 5-4 Nationals loss to the Rays. All we had was a Nats starter (a two-time 19-game winner, mind you) pitch his way firmly onto the rotation bubble, his competition for the No. 5 starting spot dominant in relief, a former Nationals pitcher get called out as a cheater by someone on his old team, and the

Nats react to Peralta’s pine tar incident

You’ve seen the quotes from the Rays’ side about the Joel Peralta ejection due to illegal use of pine tar, courtesy of MASNsports.com’s Pete Kerzel. Now let’s hear from the Nationals. Manager Davey Johnson said postgame that he had gotten word from people within the organization that Peralta (who pitched for the Nats in 2010) is fond of putting pine tar in his glove, which

Perceived breach of etiquette by Nationals infuriates Rays’ Maddon

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon opened his postgame session with reporters after Tuesday night’s 5-4 Rays victory over the Nationals - a game in which one of his relief pitchers, ex-Nat Joel Peralta, was ejected after umpires discovered pine tar in his glove - with a zinger that was equal parts tone-setter and a no-doubt-about-it retaliatory verbal punch at the losing team for what Maddon

Johnson will wait to make decision on Chien-Ming Wang

I’ve got plenty on the whole bizarre Joel Peralta pine tar incident coming up in a bit, with reactions from both the Nationals and the Rays. First, let’s get to Chien-Ming Wang, who delivered another poor outing tonight and has a 6.62 ERA and 2.26 WHIP since joining the rotation. Wang has now made four starts this season. None have been all that impressive, and

Rays’ Peralta ejected for “foreign substance” on glove (Nats lose 5-4)

Weird, wild stuff is happening here in D.C. as we get ready to start the eighth inning of a 5-4 ballgame. Rays reliever Joel Peralta, who pitched for the Nationals during the 2010 season, was ejected for having an “illegal substance” on or in his glove. The ejection happened before Peralta threw a single pitch in the eighth inning. All four umpires came out to

Chien-Ming Wang’s future now in doubt (Morse has his first homer)

With Chien-Ming Wang putting up three straight sub-par starts entering tonight, this might have been a statement game of sorts for the veteran right-hander. This wasn’t the statement he was hoping to make. Wang got smacked around by the Rays tonight, and was pulled after just 3 1/3 innings. He allowed five runs on seven hits, gave up three extra-base hits, walked three batters (including

Johnson tells Zimmerman, Morse to relax and “just go play”

After Sunday’s game, a game in which Michael Morse went 0-for-4 at the plate, dropping his average to .211, he approached manager Davey Johnson and asked to be dropped in the batting order. “I’m killing the team,” Morse told Johnson. “No, you’re not killing the team,” the Nats’ manager replied. “You’re going to be fine. You’ll be carrying us in a minute. I’m not worried.

Werth possibly ahead of schedule in rehab (plus plenty of injury updates)

It’s now been more than six weeks since Jayson Werth broke his left wrist while trying to make a sliding catch in a game against the Phillies. The initial timetable on Werth’s return was set around 12 weeks, but doctors thought that because they had operated on the outfielder’s wrist so quickly after the injury, he might be able to cut as much as three

Moore starts in left against Rays (Rodriguez begins rehab assignment)

Facing Rays left-hander David Price, Davey Johnson will send out what’s become his typical lineup against lefties. Danny Espinosa will lead off, Michael Morse will hit cleanup and Adam LaRoche will be bumped down to the No. 5 spot. In addition, Tyler Moore will start in left field, hitting seventh. Here’s how the lineup will look tonight: 2B Danny Espinosa CF Bryce Harper 3B Ryan

Nationals ink catcher Hill to minor league deal

In an effort to bolster their once deep organizational pool at catcher, the Nationals have signed veteran backstop Koyie Hill to a minor league contract. He will report to Triple-A Syracuse. The 33-year-old Hill became a free agent Monday when he refused an outright assignment by the Cubs to Triple-A Iowa. The Nationals are thin in healthy backstops with Wilson Ramos (season-ending knee surgery), Sandy

It doesn’t get any easier

I can’t believe I’m actually asking this question right now, but is there a better starting pitcher in baseball as of today than R.A. Dickey? The guy who spent time with four organizations over a five-year span from 2006-2010, the guy who two years ago started the season in Triple-A, the guy who throws a knuckleball for God’s sake, is the pitcher who no one

New-look bullpen continues to impress

Remember when, coming out of spring training, the Nationals used Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez as their two ninth-inning arms out of the bullpen? Those days seem so long ago, don’t they? With Drew Storen on the disabled list, Davey Johnson had Lidge and Rodriguez working the back-ends of his “A” and “B” bullpens. Things worked out well at first, as Lidge recorded two saves

What can we take out of the weekend?

Well, I think it’s fair to say this weekend didn’t go exactly as the Nationals had hoped. Coming off six straight road wins over American League East teams, the Nats returned home with a chance to make a statement against another red-hot division leader, one with plenty of talent and experience on the big stage. Instead, it was the visiting Yankees who made the statement.

Johnson concerned about Zimmerman, middle of the order

In his opening remarks to the media after today’s 4-1 loss to the Yankees, manager Davey Johnson cut right to the chase. He’s starting to get worried about the prolonged slump Ryan Zimmerman has been in all season. “Only thing that really concerns me - we’ve got to get Zim going,” Johnson said. “Need to get Zim in a happy place.” Johnson’s remarks come after

Swept away by the pinstripes

The much-anticipated battle of first-place teams at Nats Park this weekend turned out to be a complete dud for the Nationals. The Yankees punctuated a dominating weekend in the nation’s capital with a 4-1 win today, finishing off a three-game sweep. This marks the third time the Nats have been swept this season, and the first of those sweeps which has come at home. Ivan

Another quality start, another deficit

In this series, the Nationals have thrice gotten six strong innings from their starter. Gio Gonzalez allowed three runs over six-plus frames on Friday, Jordan Zimmermann also allowed three runs in six innings yesterday, and today, Edwin Jackson gave up just two runs in six. All three times, the starter has left the game in line for the loss. Today, Jackson gives way to Tom

Lidge designated for assignment, Mattheus activated

Coming off a lengthy game yesterday and with Brad Lidge’s ERA at 9.64, the Nationals have decided to make a move. The 35-year-old Lidge has been designated for assignment, while reliever Ryan Mattheus has been reinstated from the 15-day DL. “The 14-inning game last night forced us to make a bullpen roster move,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “Brad wasn’t performing very well. He was

Roster move coming (with Nats lineup)

The Nationals will be making a roster move before today’s series finale against the Yankees. Reliever Ryan Mattheus is listed on the lineup card among the available relievers for today’s game. Mattheus will need to be activated off the disabled list, which he’s been on due to plantar fasciitis since late May. Brad Lidge, who has allowed five runs over the last two days, is

A quick turnaround

I’d like to start by wishing a Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, especially my dad, who currently gets his baseball fix by working as an usher at Nats Park. When it was clear my career as a baseball player wasn’t going to take off, (strangely enough, there isn’t much of a need for scrawny infielders with an average glove and no

Another rough outing for Lidge

Bryce Harper declined to talk to reporters after his 0-for-7, five-strikeout performance. It was a rough day for the rookie, almost certainly the roughest of his brief major league career. It was also a rough day for reliever Brad Lidge, who has been stuck with two really poor stat lines so far in this series. Last night, Lidge allowed three runs over one-third of an

Nats discuss apparent blown call in eighth inning

In the eighth inning of today’s 14-inning marathon, the Nationals nearly took the lead. In fact, it sure looked like they did take the lead. Two batters after Ian Desmond’s two-out home run tied the game in the eighth, Tyler Moore came burning around third base, heading for home on Adam LaRoche’s pinch-hit single to right. Just as Yankees catcher Russell Martin received a throw

Desmond wipes the slate clean in the eighth (Nats fall in 14 innings)

Andy Pettitte leaves, and things start turning for the Nationals. Old Man Pettitte went seven strong innings, allowing just two runs and striking out six, and he left with a 3-2 lead. Three batters after Pettitte exited, the game was tied. Ian Desmond’s 10th home run of the season has knotted this contest at 3-3. He took a 2-2 pitch from Cory Wade and demolished

Flores flexes his muscles (Zimmermann on the hook for the loss)

The actor who played Steve Urkel on “Family Matters” - Jaleel White - threw out the first pitch before today’s ballgame. He fired a strike in on the outer half. Must’ve actually been Stefan Urquelle sneaking onto the mound without anyone noticing. The Nats lead 2-1 midway through the fourth inning thanks to a two-RBI double by Jesus Flores. But this wasn’t your standard two-RBI

Despite apparent injury, Desmond batting fifth (LaRoche rests)

We’re under two hours until today’s first pitch. Why has the Nationals’ lineup still not been posted yet? Another injury, that’s why. Trainers are currently looking at shortstop Ian Desmond, who has been battling what manager Davey Johnson referred to as “one of those side injuries.” Sounds like yet another oblique issue, something which has also plagued Adam LaRoche and Mark DeRosa this season and

Things don’t break Nats’ way in crucial seventh inning

If you didn’t catch tonight’s game, you might check the box score and think the Yankees demolished the Nationals in the opener of their much-anticipated three-game series. The Nats don’t feel that was the case. “It wasn’t like we got crushed tonight,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “The score probably says so, but we were in the game. Just like I said, a couple mistakes.” Some

Bats go quiet in 7-2 loss to Yankees

Over the last six innings of tonight’s game, the Nationals struck out nine times and had just three runners reach base. Their play in the first three frames wasn’t nearly enough to carry that type of offensive shutdown. Eighteen of the last 21 Nats hitters to come to the plate tonight were retired while the Yankees rode a four-run seventh inning to a 7-2 win.

Nats trail despite another quality start from Gonzalez (updated)

It wasn’t one of Gio Gonzalez’s finest outings, but he leaves here in the seventh with his team trailing the Yankees just 2-1. Gonzalez battled his way through six-plus innings, leaving after throwing 109 pitches but holding the Yankees to just two runs over six. Both of those runs came in the third inning on back-to-back RBI singles by Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher. Neither

Johnson asking for more from his power hitters

Davey Johnson was asked during his pregame session with reporters about his experience facing the Yankees. “I have some good memories,” Johnson said. “I (also) have some bad memories of 12-year-olds reaching over the field and catching balls.” Ah, Jeffrey Maier. You continue to haunt those associated with the Orioles even today. On their last six-game road trip, the Nationals scored just over five runs

Harper squares off against the pinstripes

Nationals first-round pick Lucas Giolito is at Nats Park for the second straight day, talking with team officials and watching the Nats take batting practice from behind the cage. The 16th overall pick out of Harvard-Westlake School (Calif.) was at Ryan Zimmerman’s charity event at the stadium last night, but today, the 6-foot-6, 230-lb. right-hander is getting an up-close look at the Nats players in

LaRoche back in Nats lineup (plus your predictions)

Adam LaRoche got the day off on Wednesday for the final game of the Nationals’ six-game road trip after he fouled a ball off his right foot the night before. That opened the door for Tyler Moore’s two-home run, five-RBI performance in Wednesday’s win over the Blue Jays. Today, LaRoche returns to the Nats lineup for the series opener against the Yankees, and Moore returns

With the Yanks in town, what a fun weekend it should be

Two first-place teams. Two teams riding six-game winning streaks. Two teams with star power playing in front of what will almost certainly be sellout crowds every day. Yup, this three-game series should be plenty of fun. The Nationals host the Yankees this weekend in a series which will draw lots of attention across Major League Baseball. We won’t get Stephen Strasburg or CC Sabathia on

A (successful) Night at the Park

It started as just a simple idea, one which took shape during a conversation in the Zimmerman living room back in early 2006. Ryan Zimmerman, fresh off a season which saw him make his major league debut, wanted to start a foundation which would raise money to benefit the treatment and ultimate cure of Multiple Sclerosis, the debilitating disease which his mother Cheryl was diagnosed

Getting an opportunity to perform, Nats rookies up to the task

Of the four rookies on the Nationals roster, one is getting enough attention and media coverage to make your head spin. You have an idea which one I’m referring to? I know, that’s a clown question, bro. If you get into a conversation about the Nats these days, Bryce Harper is almost certainly the first name to come up. He finds his way into every

I’ll have some Moore, please (Nats lock up a 6-0 road trip)

Have yourself a day, Tyler Moore. Filling in for Adam LaRoche, who is getting his first day off since May 7, Moore not only notched his first career RBI with a two-run double to left in the second inning, he also recorded his first major league homer in the fourth inning. That was a two-run shot that made it a 4-2 game. But Moore wasn’t

Rare day off for LaRoche, Moore starts at first

For the first time since May 7, the last day of a four-game stretch in which he was sidelined by an oblique injury, Adam LaRoche is not in the Nationals’ lineup. LaRoche will get the day off today, while rookie Tyler Moore will make his first career start at first base. First base is Moore’s natural position, but he’s strictly played the outfield during his

So much for a super-tough stretch of the schedule

Remember when some felt this portion of the Nationals’ schedule was supposed to bring the team back down to earth a little bit? The Nats are now 22 games into a stretch which has them playing 32 straight contests against teams from either the National League East or American League East. So far in those games, the Nats are 14-8. They’ve won five straight on

Harper, Espinosa homer as Nats continue to roll (Nats win 4-2)

And the beat goes on. The Nationals just keep rolling over American League East teams, and they’re up over the Blue Jays 4-2 tonight thanks to homers from Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa. Harper’s blast was a solo shot in the third that was absolutely demolished, bouncing off the Blackberry sign in the second deck in right-center. It was Harper’s seventh homer on the season,

Nats sign 10 of top 14 picks (plus lineup)

The Nationals announced they have signed 10 of their first 14 picks from last week’s First-Year Player draft. They are second baseman Tony Renda (second round), outfielder Brandon Miller (fourth round), catcher Spencer Kieboom (fifth round), center fielder Hayden Jennings (sixth round), right-hander Derek Self (ninth round), catcher Craig Manuel (10th round), right-hander Brian Rauh (11th round), third baseman Carlos Lopez (12th round), left-hander Elliott

Let’s give Jackson a little love

Poor Roger Bernadina. A day after Davey Johnson starts talking about how he’s planning on giving Bernadina more playing time, the Nationals outfielder goes out and strains his right hamstring on a hustle play and needs to leave the game. And it happens the day before his birthday. Talk about tough luck. The Nats are hopeful that Bernadina’s hamstring is not severely strained and he’ll

Bernadina leaves with strained right hamstring (Nats rock Blue Jays)

The Nationals’ injury list keeps growing. This time it’s Roger Bernadina who will spend some time in the trainer’s room, this after suffering a strained right hamstring while running from first to third on a wild pitch in the fourth inning of tonight’s game. Bernadina slid head-first into third and immediately grimaced while asking the umpire for time. He got to his feet, hunched over

Danny Espinosa’s confounding left/right splits

When hitting right-handed, Danny Espinosa feels like he’s on top of the world. He’s locked in, is seeing the ball well and is doing some serious damage when he puts it in play. “I feel like no one can get me out,” Espinosa said this weekend. “I feel pretty good. I have a good approach up there. I know what I can hit, and I

Harper returns to Nats lineup, Bernadina starts again

Bryce Harper’s back kept him out of the starting lineup yesterday. Today, Harper and his back are back. The 19-year-old returns to the Nationals’ lineup today as Washington opens a three-game series against the Blue Jays. Tonight, they’ll face Toronto righty Brandon Morrow, who is off to a very strong start to the 2012 season, going 7-3 with a 2.90 ERA. Manager Davey Johnson said

Another example of how far the Nats have come

If you couldn’t tell by his actions in the ninth inning yesterday, when he was ejected with his team one strike away from being swept, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine wasn’t too pleased with the umpiring over the weekend. “I’ve got guys battling their butts off and it’s not right,” Valentine said after yesterday’s game. “Good umpires had a real bad series this series, a

Clippard: “They’re a good club. I think we’re better. I think we’re a lot better”

BOSTON - This has been a season where the Nationals have been able to make a number of statements to the baseball world. They’ve sat in first place in the very tough National League East for much of the season. They’ve won both of their series with the Phillies, the reigning five-time division champs. They’ve now moved to 12 games above-.500, rare territory for this

Bernadina’s poke, Harper’s jets provide game-winning run

BOSTON - Bryce Harper came to the plate with one out in the ninth, after having sat around for much of the afternoon. Not an ideal situation for a guy who has been an everyday player his entire life. What had the 19-year-old - who was getting the day off because of a tight back - been doing for the previous eight innings? “Just blowing

Bernadina’s ninth-inning knock gives Nats a Beantown sweep

BOSTON - He might not be able to lay down a sacrifice bunt in a key spot, but Roger Bernadina can rip a go-ahead, ninth-inning RBI double to break a tie and give the Nationals a 4-3 win. What an interesting ballplayer. Bernadina’s huge double off Alfredo Aceves with two outs in the ninth inning scored Bryce Harper from first and gave Washington a one-run

Looking lost against Lester (we’re all tied up)

BOSTON - The Nationals have been punchless against Red Sox starter Jon Lester today, putting up just one run and three hits through six innings. Would things be different if Bryce Harper was in the lineup? We’ll never know. We do know that without their top hitter (it’s still a little unbelievable that a 19-year-old is the Nats’ best position player right now) the Nats

Harper battling back tightness, Nats insist he’s fine

BOSTON - He might not be thrilled about it - or happy about it at all - but Bryce Harper will be on the bench for today’s series finale against the Red Sox. Manager Davey Johnson has decided to give his 19-year-old outfielder a day off to ease some tightness in his back. Johnson had bench coach Randy Knorr and a trainer come to him

Harper gets first day off since call-up

BOSTON - Since getting called up to the majors on April 28, Bryce Harper had started all 37 games that the Nationals had played. That streak ends today. With the Nats looking to earn the sweep of the Red Sox, Harper will get the first day off of his major league career. Roger Bernadina will start in center, with Tyler Moore in left and Xavier

Middle infield duo excelling defensively

BOSTON - There was a time not too long ago when the Nationals’ middle infield defense was considered a liability. OK, their defense as a whole was a liability, with the team leading the majors in errors in both 2009 and 2010. But up the middle, the Nats struggled mightily. This season has been a different story. Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa have been exceptional

Johnson talks after Nats’ 4-2 win

BOSTON - For the ninth time this season, the Nationals put up five hits or fewer and still won. This is what happens when you have the level of starting pitching, and pitching in general, that the Nationals do. Gio Gonzalez and four Nats relievers combined to hold the potent Red Sox lineup in check today, allowing just two runs and five hits in a

Nats top Red Sox 4-2, earn another series win

BOSTON - Bench coach Randy Knorr joked before today’s game that the Nationals have rarely had a game this season where they’ve been leading big in the late innings and could calmly roll to a win. The 10-2 victories this season have been very few and very far between. A 4-2 win might put more strain on the bullpen - and the manager - but

More of the same from Gonzalez (Red Sox make it a ballgame)

BOSTON - In the second inning of today’s game, I looked down at the stat sheet beneath my scorebook here in the press box. Gio Gonzalez’s 2012 numbers jumped off the page and smacked me in the face. The lefty entered today with a 7-2 record and a 2.31 ERA on the season. I obviously knew Gonzalez has been exceptional this season. After all, he

Ankiel’s experience paying dividends with Nats’ phenoms

BOSTON - One of the Nationals’ team buses got stuck in some heavy traffic in downtown Boston today. It just so happened to be the bus carrying manager Davey Johnson. The skipper didn’t arrive at Fenway Park until sometime around 2:45, less than 90 minutes until first pitch. As a result, bench coach Randy Knorr handled today’s pregame session with reporters. What a treat that

Gonzalez on mound, Morse serving as DH

BOSTON - With right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound for Boston, Steve Lombardozzi is back in the leadoff spot. Gio Gonzalez (7-2, 2.31 ERA) will take the mound, and Michael Morse will DH for Game 2 at Fenway Park. Rick Ankiel will be in the starting lineup today, making the first time he’s gotten a start since May 29. For the Nationals: LF Steve Lombardozzi

About last night

For whatever reason, last night was as loose and joyous I’ve seen the Nationals’ clubhouse after a game this season. Maybe it was the fact that they had just thoroughly out-played one of baseball’s most tradition-rich organizations in that team’s own house. Maybe it was the manner in which the game was won, with the Nats shooting line drives all over Fenway Park and getting

First-place Nats overpower last-place Red Sox

If you had read that headline two years ago, would you have thought I was headed for a mental ward? How the tables have turned. All Stephen Strasburg did tonight was strike out 13 hitters over six innings of two-run ball, allowing just four hits and retiring 11 in a row at one stretch. All Bryce Harper did was go 3-for-5 with a home run,

A heck of a six innings for Strasburg (Nats beat Sox 7-4)

BOSTON - A career-high 119 pitches. A stretch of 11 straight hitters retired. A span of 12 outs in which 10 were strikeouts. A ridiculous 13 strikeouts in six innings. A K of Kevin Youkilis to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth. Yeah, it was an eventful evening for Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals’ ace put up a double-digit strikeout performance for the

A complete effort at the Fens

BOSTON - The Nationals seem to be enjoying their time in Beantown. Through four innings tonight, the Nats have six extra-base hits - five doubles (two of which are from Danny Espinosa) and a home run. They lead 6-2, having put up three runs in both the third and fourth innings, and seemingly everything Red Sox lefty Felix Doubront serves up is getting smoked out

Clippard officially named closer, Lidge to set up

BOSTON - File this in the “duh department,” but Tyler Clippard is the Nationals’ closer. That’s been perfectly clear considering the way manager Davey Johnson has handled his team’s save opportunities since he announced he was going to a closer-by-committee two-and-a-half weeks ago. The Nationals have had five save chances, and all have gone to Clippard. But today, for the first time, Johnson actually referred

Lineups from a damp Fenway Park

BOSTON - Literally as soon as I stepped foot in the press box at Fenway Park, the grounds crew pulled the tarp over the infield. I’m pretty excited to be here for this series (my first time at Fenway in a professional capacity), and I’m not going to let Mother Nature rain on my parade. Actually, they’re only calling for a brief thunderstorm here shortly

Shippin’ up to Boston

For whatever reason, the Nationals have no problem winning games early in series this season. Ten times this season, they’ve gone into the series finale with a chance to earn a sweep. Only once (not including a two-game, rain-shortened series win over Miami) have they actually brought out the brooms and finished the job. Kind of a quirky stat that is tough to explain, but

Arm slot an issue in Wang’s latest shaky outing

As Davey Johnson puts it, when Chien-Ming Wang is throwing from the correct arm slot, his stuff is “almost unhittable”. The problem was, Wang was rarely throwing from the proper arm slot today. As a result, he was very hittable. Wang allowed 12 baserunners (eight hits, three walks and a hit-by-pitch) during his 5 1/3 innings against the Mets today, and while he only gave

Harper nursing sore back, insists he’s fine

Bryce Harper gave Nationals fans a scare when he dropped to his knees following a failed attempt at a diving catch in the top of the ninth inning this afternoon. Manager Davey Johnson made things sound even scarier when he said that Harper has been nursing a tender back lately, and that there’s a chance the 19-year-old might need to miss tomorrow’s game at Boston

Another average outing for Wang (Nats manage five hits in 3-1 loss)

Since getting inserted into the Nationals’ starting rotation, Chien-Ming Wang has made two starts. Neither have been awful. Neither have been that good, either. Wang went 5 1/3 innings today against the Mets, allowing two runs on eight hits. The veteran righty walked three and struck out one, throwing 81 pitches, 54 for strikes. He tossed a 1-2-3 first inning, but things slowly went downhill

Lidge activated, Rodriguez lands on DL (Renda, Miller agree to terms)

Davey Johnson indicated in his pregame session with reporters that in addition to Tyler Moore being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse, another roster move might be on the way. That move was announced less than 20 minutes prior to today’s first pitch. Reliever Brad Lidge has been reinstated from the disabled list, while fellow reliever Henry Rodriguez has landed on the 15-day DL with a strained

The art of facing a knuckleballer, plus DeRosa, Lidge, Mattheus updates

The next wave of injured Nationals appears to be close to returning. Manager Davey Johnson said today that infielder Mark DeRosa, who has been sidelined since April 29 with a strained left oblique, has been cleared to go on a rehab assignment, likely at Single-A Potomac. The discomfort in the oblique is still lingering, but DeRosa’s going to try to play through it. “I’m going

An immature man’s pitching matchup (Moore addition official)

Being as immature as I am, I can’t help but chuckle at today’s pitching matchup, which features the Nationals’ Chien-Ming Wang against the Mets’ R.A. Dickey. Wang vs. Dickey. For all the marbles. It was an incredibly low-key morning, as players slowly trickled into the Nats’ clubhouse with their suits ready for the road trip which they’ll leave for after the game. Tyler Moore has

Nats’ 3-4-5 looking like a dangerous group

For much of the first two months of this season, the Nationals have been working without two of their key power hitters. Now, even though Jayson Werth is still sidelined, they’ve finally got Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse all healthy at the same time. And they know what that can mean for their outlook the rest of this season. “Oh, it’s a whole

Maldonado to DL, Moore returns to Nats

Manager Davey Johnson said after tonight’s game that the Nationals will place catcher Carlos Maldonado on the 15-day disabled list with a back injury and will call up outfielder/first baseman Tyler Moore from Triple-A Syracuse. Maldonado said that he’s having an issue with a muscle in the right side of his back, and described the injury as somewhat of a spasm. He has played in

Veteran trio has Nats on top of Mets (Nats never trail in 5-3 win)

After a stretch where it seemed like none of the Nationals’ middle-of-the-order hitters could get anything done at the plate, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse have done all the damage for the Nats tonight. The three veteran hitters are now a combined 5-for-8 with a walk, and they’ve delivered all four Washington RBIs. LaRoche got the scoring started in the first, drilling a

Tough bullpen decisions to come shortly (plus Maldonado injury note)

With the addition of Michael Gonzalez a couple days ago, the Nationals now have four lefties in their bullpen. It might not be that way for long, however. Both Brad Lidge and Ryan Mattheus are closing in on returns to the Nats, and when the righties are ready to come back, the team will need to make some tough decisions on how they want to

Final draft update (with Morse notes and quotes)

I’ll say it again - if draft experts handed out grades based on the quality of the names in a draft class, the Nationals would be getting stellar marks. They took Stanford left-hander Brett Mooneyham in the third round, Clemson catcher Spencer Kieboom in the fifth, Florida Southern catcher Austin Chubb in the 21st (is Chubb a great name for a catcher, or what?) and

Nats lineup vs. Hefner, Mets

Who would you rather face if you were the Nationals - Johan Santana, coming off a no-hitter his last time out, or Jeremy Hefner, making his third career start? Yeah, me too. Santana might have been a bit tired had he pitched tonight on normal rest, but if I’m Nats manager Davey Johnson, I’ll take a matchup with an unproven hurler over one with a

Harper’s play leaving teammates in awe

The list of superlatives that were used to describe Bryce Harper in the Nationals’ clubhouse late last night was a lengthy one. “He’s a man-child,” outfielder Michael Morse said. “He’s unbelievable.” “The kid’s a gamer,” said shortstop Ian Desmond. “He’s unbelievable. One of the best players I’ve ever seen, to be honest.” This all came after Harper delivered another big-time moment - his first career

Nats just wouldn’t give up in wild, wacky 12-inning affair

Well, this one was nuts. Twelve innings, 14 total pitchers used, three blown Mets leads in the eighth inning or later, countless misplayed balls (two in the bottom of the 10th by poor Jordany Valdespin), three wild pitches and the first walk-off hit by a teenager in nearly 24 years. It felt like it might never end, but it did. A thrilling - and exhausting

How ‘bout some bonus baseball? (Harper walks ‘em off in 12)

As if nine innings of tonight’s Nationals-Mets contest hasn’t been entertaining enough, we’re going to extras. The Nats and Mets are tied 4-4 after nine in an up-and-down game which saw both teams squander a lead in the late innings. After tying it in the eighth, Washington had a chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth when Roger Bernadina singled with two

Morse is on the board (we’re tied in the ninth)

In his 10th at-bat of the 2012 season, Michael Morse got into the hit column. Up in the bottom of the fourth, Morse roped a double to the opposite field in right-center and galloped into second base standing up. It was a vintage Morse swing and result, and had to feel nice for the big guy after going hitless in his first nine at-bats since

Your latest Drew Storen update (plus Lidge, DeRosa tidbits)

With the Nationals back in town for another few days before shipping up to Boston, reliever Drew Storen has rejoined the team to check in with team doctors and continue his throwing program. And believe me when I tell you, he’s thrilled to be back in D.C. and away from the heat he was dealing with while rehabbing at the Nats’ extended spring training complex

Mets-Nats lineups (plus fifth-, sixth-round picks)

The Nationals welcome the Mets to town for a three-game set starting today, and they’ll face starter Chris Young, making his season debut. Here are the lineups for both teams: For the Nationals LF Steve Lombardozzi CF Bryce Harper 3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B Adam LaRoche RF Michael Morse SS Ian Desmond 2B Danny Espinosa C Jesus Flores P Jordan Zimmermann For the Mets LF Kirk

Clippard quietly grabbing hold of closer’s job (Mooneyham, Miller go to Nats)

Since Davey Johnson announced that he was going with a closer-by-committee approach following Henry Rodriguez’s struggles in the ninth inning, the Nationals have had four save opportunities. Tyler Clippard has gotten all four of them. And he’s converted all four times. Johnson’s closer-by-committee has been more of a closer-by-Clippard so far, and it’s not hard to see why the Nationals skipper keeps going back to

Giolito pick draws rave reviews

After being selected by the Nationals in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft, I’m told Lucas Giolito received a congratulatory text message. That text was from none other than Bryce Harper. Quite a classy, veteran-like move by the 19-year-old former first-round pick, if you ask me, welcoming the 17-year-old Giolito to the organization. At right is a picture of Giolito taken last night

Rizzo on Giolito: “We felt the reward outweighed the risk”

Asked about an hour ago which major leaguer Lucas Giolito compares to, Nationals vice president of player personnel Roy Clark picked Phillies righty Roy Halladay. Then, Clark chuckled. “So we’d take that every year of the draft,” he said. “When he’s 100 percent, he goes top three,” scouting director Kris Kline said. “So it’s kind of a no-brainer.” The Nationals are thrilled they got Giolito

Nats take RHP Lucas Giolito at No. 16 overall

With the 16th pick in the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the Nationals went the pitching route, selecting right-hander Lucas Giolito, a high schooler out of Harvard-Westlake School (Ca.) Giolito was once considered the No. 1 prospect in this year’s draft class, but fell down the board due to injury concerns. The young right-hander had his senior season ended due to a sprained UCL in

Rizzo: Nats not necessarily focused on pitching in draft

In each of the last five years, the Nationals have owned a top-10 pick in the First-Year Player Draft. In 2009 and 2010, they held the top overall selection, and everyone and their mother knew that Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper would be the Nats’ picks in those two respective drafts. This year, there’s much less certainty when it comes to what the Nats might

Nats preparing for a different type of draft

The Nationals have an off-day on the schedule today, but for nearly everyone in the organization with the exception of the players, today is no day off. The First-Year Player Draft is tonight, making today Nats general manager Mike Rizzo’s favorite day of the year. He calls it his Super Bowl Sunday. This draft is very different for the Nationals than ones in seasons past,

Postgame thoughts from LaRoche, Zimmerman and Harper

Two rookies - Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper - went a combined 3-for-6 with two home runs and two walks today out of the top two spots in the Nationals’ lineup. The four guys behind them went a combined 0-for-16 with no walks and five strikeouts. Those issues eat at Adam LaRoche, one of the veterans who helped accumulate those poor numbers, especially given the

Johnson talks Harper’s baserunning, Zimmerman’s struggles

Up with the Nationals trailing by a run in the fifth inning today, Bryce Harper smoked a ball high off the wall in right-center field. He could’ve come to a stop on second base, giving Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche a crack at bringing in the game-tying run. Instead, Harper made a turn for third and was gunned out on a strong relay throw from

Early hook for Gonzalez (Nats lose 3-2)

The National League Pitcher of the Month for May couldn’t get the job done in his first start of June. Gio Gonzalez wasn’t able to get out of the fifth inning today, getting pulled after allowing a two-run single to Jason Heyward with two outs in the fifth. Heyward’s knock put the Braves up 3-2 and forced manager Davey Johnson from the dugout. Craig Stammen

Lombardozzi, Harper get this thing started right

The first home run of Steve Lombardozzi’s major league career was a bomb. Lombardozzi, a wiry 23-year-old, crushed a Tommy Hanson fastball off the back of the wall in the Nationals’ bullpen in right field, giving the Nats a 1-0 lead. It was a cool moment for Lombardozzi, who came into the Nats’ dugout to a host of smiles and pats on the back from

G. Gonzalez, Harper earn NL honors

The Nationals keep piling up the hardware. Gio Gonzalez has been named the National League Pitcher of the Month for May, after going 5-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 32 innings last month. Bryce Harper joins Gonzalez on the MLB press release, as the 19-year-old was named NL Rookie of the Month. Harper hit .271 with four home runs and 10 RBIs

Nationals activate reliever Michael Gonzalez (updated with Rizzo comments)

The Nationals have selected the contract of left-handed reliever Michael Gonzalez from Triple-A Syracuse and optioned right-handed reliever Ryan Perry to Triple-A. Drew Storen has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Gonzalez on the 40-man roster. Storen’s stay on the DL is backdated to March 26, so this move will not affect the timetable for his return. The addition of

Nats, Braves Sunday lineups

Davey Johnson’s Sunday lineup looks exactly same as Saturday’s. Except Stephen Strasburg isn’t pitching again. That’d just be weird and uncalled for. Gio Gonzalez takes the hill for the Nationals, looking to improve on his 7-1 record. Gonzalez went 5-0 in May. He’ll try and carry that success into a new month and give the Nats a mini two-game sweep over the Braves. Here are

Morse appreciative of fans’ support in his return

When Michael Morse stepped to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the first inning today, he was focused on his approach in what would be his first at-bat of the 2012 season. The Nats were threatening, with two runners on base, and Morse was facing Braves starter Brandon Beachy, who came into today with a 1.77 ERA this season. This was not

Strasburg back on track after dominant effort against Braves

Notoriously hard on himself after a poor performance - or at least what he considers a poor performance - Stephen Strasburg has nothing to complain about today. Strasburg went seven scoreless innings, marking the first time in his career that he has worked seven shutout frames, allowing just four hits, striking out nine and earning his sixth win in the Nationals’ 2-0 victory over the

Nats roll over Braves - again

I feel like we’ve seen this type of win once or twice this season. A Nationals starter goes deep into the game, delivering a dominating outing, the offense provides just enough run support and the bullpen closes it down. All the familiar pieces were there in the Nats’ 2-0 win over the Braves this afternoon. Stephen Strasburg bounced back off three consecutive subpar outings (by

Locked in a pitchers’ duel (Strasburg done after seven)

We’ve got a fantastic pitchers’ duel here at Nats Park, with Stephen Strasburg and Brandon Beachy trading zeros and strikeouts. Beachy was the first to blink, allowing a solo home run to Jesus Flores leading off the fifth inning. It was the second homer of the season for Flores, and it gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Runs will be precious in this one, as

Why aren’t the Nats saving Strasburg’s innings for later this season?

Twice already this season, rainouts have allowed manager Davey Johnson the opportunity to skip Stephen Strasburg in the rotation. With Strasburg’s innings adding up and his team-imposed limit of somewhere around 160 innings this season looming, Johnson could choose to jump Strasburg in these situations and throw Gio Gonzalez on normal rest. That would allow him to save Strasburg’s innings for later in the season,

Lombardozzi leading off, Morse hitting fifth

Steve Lombardozzi wasn’t in the Nationals’ lineup yesterday. But after rain washed out the opener of this three-game series with the Braves, Lombardozzi is back in the leadoff spot and playing left field for Davey Johnson today. Michael Morse will hit fifth today against Braves righty Brandon Beachy, with the left-handed-hitting Adam LaRoche staying in the cleanup spot. Strangely, the Braves will hit Beachy eighth

Ramos will need two knee surgeries (plus Lidge, Mattheus updates)

The damage to Wilson Ramos’ shredded right knee is so severe, it turns out he’ll need two surgeries to fully repair it. Ramos recently underwent surgery on the meniscus in the knee, but doctors could not repair the torn ACL at this time. Manager Davey Johnson said doctors will need to wait to operate on the catcher’s ACL. Johnson said he fully expects Ramos to

Nats feel when they hit their stride, “it’s going to be a lot of fun”

We’re all plenty aware how much injuries have ravaged this Nationals team this season. But bring yourself back to April 4, the day before opening day, for a second. If I had told you back then that the Nationals would be without cleanup hitter Michael Morse and closer Drew Storen for 50 games (and counting, for Storen), face of the franchise Ryan Zimmerman for 17

Mattheus, DeRosa both closing in on a return

You already know all the details regarding outfielder Michael Morse and his return from what he said today was an injury to the teres major tendon around his right shoulder. Quickly, here are a handful of additional injury updates: Catcher Jesus Flores was in the lineup today and was set to play for the first time since suffering a hamstring strain Sunday. Flores said he

Nationals-Braves game postponed due to severe weather (updated)

Tonight’s game between the Nationals and Braves has been postponed due to severe weather in the area. Details on a makeup date have not yet been announced, but I will obviously pass them along as soon as I hear anything. Conditions in the area have been terrible tonight, and it’s been raining nearly nonstop for the last couple hours. There have been tornado warnings nearby,

Morse: “It’s better late to the party than never”

When Michael Morse first was scratched from the Nationals’ lineup just prior to a spring training game on March 6, the team diagnosed the injury as a strained lat, something which both the Nats and Morse thought would only keep the slugger out for a day or two. If someone had told Morse then that he would be out nearly three months because of the

It’s absolutely pouring at Nats Park

I feel bad for the tarp at Nationals Park. It’s getting absolutely pounded right now by a torrential downpour. The rain is falling, the wind is literally howling and the sky is a deep gray in all directions. At least we haven’t had a tornado touch down on the pitcher’s mound, though. Did I just jinx it? It’s looking like Michael Morse’s personal opening day

Morse activated and hitting fourth, Brown optioned

Michael Morse has been activated from the 15-day disabled list and is playing right field and hitting fourth. Outfielder Corey Brown has been optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Morse. Here is the Nationals’ lineup against the Braves: 2B Danny Espinosa CF Bryce Harper 3B Ryan Zimmerman RF Michael Morse 1B Adam LaRoche SS Ian Desmond LF Xavier Nady C Jesus Flores P

Back at home, with or without Morse

Following a nine-game road trip which seemed - to me, at least - to last a lot longer than a week and a half, the Nationals are finally back in the nation’s capital and in the comfort of their own clubhouse. The road trip might have ended, but the tough stretch of division opponents has not. The Nats will host the Braves for three games

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