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G. Gonzalez leads Nats to another spanking of World Series champs

Over the last two nights, the Nationals have outscored the defending World Series champion Cardinals 18-1. A dormant offense has come alive. The top-notch starting pitching has returned, as have the smiles. Tonight, it was Gio Gonzalez wearing the smile for the Nats. To be truthful, Gonzalez always wears the smile, but tonight it was well-earned. The lefty threw the first shutout of his career,

A tale of two pitchers (G. Gonzalez tosses a complete game in 10-0 win)

Adam Wainwright, who as I mentioned earlier had pitched to a 1.74 ERA and gone 6-1 over his last eight starts, didn’t make it out of the third inning tonight. Gio Gonzalez, on the other hand, didn’t allow a baserunner through his first three innings of work. The Nationals lead 6-0 after three, and frankly, the Cardinals are lucky that margin isn’t even more lopsided.

Johnson, Rizzo discuss Rodriguez surgery (plus notes on Lannan, DeRosa, Wang)

Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez and 2012 first-round pick Lucas Giolito both underwent elbow surgeries today. Can the team get some kind of buy one, get one free deal here? Giolito underwent Tommy John surgery out in L.A., with the procedure performed by Dr. Lewis Youcm. Rodriguez, meanwhile, went to New York to have Nationals orthopedist Dr. Wiemi Douoguih remove a bone spur from his right

Rodriguez undergoes elbow surgery, Johnson announces three call-ups

Davey Johnson made a bit of a surprise announcement during this afternoon’s pregame session: Henry Rodriguez underwent elbow surgery today to remove a loose body. Rodriguez, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 2 with a lower back strain, was found to have spurring and a fairly large bone chip in his elbow, Johnson said. “The elbow was in a lot worse shape

Nationals lineup against red-hot Wainwright

The 1-7 spots in the Nationals’ lineup remain the same as the Nats prepare to take on Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright. Kurt Suzuki returns to the lineup behind the plate with his buddy, Gio Gonzalez, taking the mound tonight. Gonzalez is 4-0 with a 3.22 ERA in seven starts against the National League Central this season. Wainwright is 13-10 with a 3.63 ERA this season,

Werth, Harper an atypical but effective top two in the order

Edwin Jackson wasn’t the only veteran Nationals starter to pitch a gem last night. John Lannan got in on that action, as well, and the lefty, who is still down at Triple-A Syracuse for now, is showing that he’s more than ready to join the Nats once they’re ready to call on him. For the second straight start, Lannan delivered a complete-game shutout, holding Charlotte

Clubhouse quotes from a host of Nats

Edwin Jackson’s overall season statistics won’t blow you away. He’s 8-9 with a 3.53 ERA over 158 innings of work. That’s pretty solid, especially for a team’s fourth starter, but not spectacular. Jackson has had a few outings this season, however, in which he shows how special a pitcher he can be. Tonight was one of those outings, one of the times when Jackson reminds

Johnson discusses Jackson’s sterling performance in 8-1 win

It didn’t matter that Edwin Jackson was facing a Cardinals team which came into tonight leading the National League in batting average and runs scored. It made no difference that he was taking on a St. Louis lineup which had six batters hitting at least .300 and three guys in the top 10 in the NL in batting. Jackson couldn’t be stopped. He spun eight

Harper stays hot, Jackson dominating (Nats roll to 8-1 win)

Bryce Harper is starting to look like the Bryce Harper we saw in May and June. The 19-year-old is turning on pitches inside, staying short and quick to the ball and squaring it up on the barrel. Harper crushed a two-run homer into the Nationals’ bullpen in right in the first inning tonight, giving the Nats a 2-0 lead and giving the rookie outfielder his

Johnson: Strasburg likely has two to three starts left

As the Nationals were flying back from Miami last night, Davey Johnson had a brief chat with Stephen Strasburg. “You’ve got a few more to go,” Johnson told his ace, in an effort to reassure Strasburg that his next start won’t be his last. Johnson said today that Strasburg will make two to three more starts this season, meaning his final outing of 2012 will

Storen progressing and coming up big, even if it’s not in the ninth

As could be expected, Drew Storen has had a few hiccups since coming back from elbow surgery, which wiped out his entire first half of the season. A little over two weeks ago, Storen gave up four runs and registered just a single out in an outing against the Giants, turning a 2-1 Nationals deficit into a 6-1 ballgame. Since then, however, Storen has really

Nats, Cardinals lineups for series opener

Jesus Flores is behind the plate for the Nationals tonight as they kick off a four-game set with the Cardinals, while St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina has returned to the lineup after missing one game with upper-body strains resulting from a violent home plate collision. A night after Kurt Suzuki hit his first homer as a National, he’ll back Flores up. Neither catcher has faced

Right back on track

It wasn’t easy. It also wasn’t easy on the blood pressure. Regardless, the Nationals found a way to end their five-game losing streak last night. Let’s tuck the panic meter back into the garage for a while. Toss away the stress balls. Pick up the shredded box scores from the last few games that were flung all over the living room floor. The Nationals’ 8-4

Harper ejected, even though he shouldn’t have been

Bryce Harper crushed two home runs tonight and the Nationals pulled out a big 8-4 win over the Marlins to snap a losing skid. Unfortunately, I fear that the one play tonight which will generate much of the national attention was Harper getting ejected in the top of the ninth inning. Harper grounded into a double play with no outs in the ninth, and the

A much-needed offensive outburst (Nats win a big one)

The Nationals didn’t have a hit off Jacob Turner their first time through the order. The second time through, the Nats did some damage. Finally. The Nats put up a four-spot in the fourth inning, giving Ross Detwiler a 4-0 buffer and finally giving them a lead. Bryce Harper’s two-run home run to right (his 13th homer of the season) got the party started, but

Wednesday’s Nats, Marlins lineups

Davey Johnson has his regulars back and healthy, so he’ll run them out there. The Nationals were held scoreless yesterday and managed just five hits, but Johnson will keep his lineup the same for tonight’s game against the Marlins. The Nats will take their hacks against 21-year-old right-hander Jacob Turner, making his second start for the Marlins since coming over from the Tigers in the

Detwiler looks to snap the skid

One more game, then it’s home sweet home. Who knew a little five-game road trip could seem so long? The plane ride back to D.C. after tonight’s game will seem a heck of a lot shorter if the Nationals can pick up a win tonight. The 25 guys in the clubhouse would like nothing more than to snap this skid and walk into Nats Park

The slide reaches five

For the first time in a while, the Nationals wake up this morning no longer possessing the best record in baseball. That mark now belongs to the Reds. More importantly, however, Washington’s lead in the National League East has been cut to four games thanks to yesterday’s 9-0 shellacking at the hands of the Marlins and Atlanta’s win over the Padres. No, it wasn’t a

A couple of streaks snapped for Strasburg (Nats drop fifth straight)

Stephen Strasburg entered tonight’s game having not allowed a run to the Marlins in 18 innings this season. He also entered tonight having not allowed a first-inning run in 16 straight starts, which was the longest active streak in the majors, according to Elias. Both of those streaks quickly were rendered moot this evening, as the Marlins jumped on Strasburg for two runs in the

Both Desmond and Morse return to Nats lineup (with Marlins lineup)

The Nationals will get a jolt to their lineup as they look to snap a four-game losing streak tonight. Both Ian Desmond and Michael Morse will return after missing almost the entirety of the Nats’ recent three-game series with the Phillies due to injuries. Desmond (strained right hamstring) technically appeared in Sunday’s game when he was announced as a pinch-hitter, but that was just a

Nats must play better ball, plain and simple

The Nationals gained more of a buffer on the Braves without even stepping on a field yesterday, as the Padres shut out Atlanta 3-0 to make Washington’s lead in the National League East a full five games and six in the loss column. Don’t look now, but the Braves have dropped seven of their last 10 contests. I wonder if they’re starting to get as

Lannan heating up, Phils looming down the stretch

John Lannan is starting to heat up at the right time. The expected replacement for Stephen Strasburg in the Nationals rotation (once Strasburg is shut down) was named the International League Player of the Week for August 20-26. Lannan, who has spent nearly this entire season with Triple-A Syracuse, threw a complete-game, three-hit shutout Saturday in a 1-0 win over Gwinnett. The left-hander threw just

Addressing a few key topics after a weekend to forget

If it’s not too painful, let’s take a little time to nibble on some leftovers from this weekend’s three-game sweep in Philadelphia. Settle in. Grab some coffee. There are a few topics to discuss. Topic No. 1: Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson met after yesterday’s game and Johnson was heard getting a bit heated during the discussion in his office, shouting, “You come down and

Werth, LaRoche own up to baserunning gaffe

PHILADELPHIA - Both Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche took full responsibility for their share of the baserunning error in the seventh inning of today’s 4-1 loss to the Phillies, an error which turned a promising Nationals rally into just a one-run inning. The veterans both thought LaRoche’s fly ball to right had left the yard and let up on the gas, Werth casually jogging into

Johnson sees no need for team meeting after 4-1 loss

PHILADELPHIA - Davey Johnson didn’t hold a team meeting following today’s 4-1 loss to the Phillies, the Nationals’ fourth straight defeat. With his team still holding the best record in baseball, Johnson didn’t feel it was necessary. He did, however, have a closed-door discussion with general manager Mike Rizzo following the game which got heated at one point. Some shouting could be heard from Johnson’s

Baserunning blunder costs Nats (swept away in Philadelphia)

PHILADELPHIA - Adam LaRoche thought his fly ball was out. Jayson Werth did, too. Heck, much of the stadium probably thought that LaRoche’s deep fly to right had bounced off a seat or something before caroming back into the playing field. Turns out, it hadn’t. The ball had bounced off the very top of a metal railing atop the scoreboard, a railing which is in

First team to score wins? (Phillies lead 4-0)

PHILADELPHIA - The way Jordan Zimmermann and Cliff Lee have been dealing today, the first team to finally get on the board might just take this series finale. We’re scoreless through 4 1/2 innings today, and neither team has really threatened much thus far. Tyler Moore’s one-out double in the top of the fifth has provided the lone runner in scoring position for either team.

Espinosa leading off as Nats face Lee (plus brief Morse, Desmond updates)

PHILADELPHIA - Cliff Lee has one more win than Orioles first baseman Chris Davis this season. He has two more wins than you and I. Baseball is such a strange game. Lee leads the majors in strikeout-to-walk ratio and his 3.78 ERA is far from awful. But his record this season is just 2-7, an incredibly bizarre mark this late in the season for a

Nats far from concerned over three-game mini-skid

PHILADELPHIA - Look out, everyone. The Nationals have lost three games in a row. The best team in baseball is starting to fall apart. “Three! Ugh. We’re ready to quit,” Ryan Zimmerman said last night, tongue firmly planted in cheek. “Everything’s going to go into shambles.” In all seriousness, from the reaction of many fans on Twitter last night, you’d think the Nationals’ season was

Johnson talks after Nats’ 4-2 loss

PHILADELPHIA - For the second time in as many nights, the Nationals fell behind the Phillies early, battled back in the middle innings, allowed a big insurance run in the eighth and dropped a game to their division rivals. This one was a 4-2 loss which saw Gio Gonzalez allow three runs over six innings. The key tally was a sixth-inning solo home run off

Another shaky start, another knock by Lombardozzi (another loss to Phils)

PHILADELPHIA - For the second straight night, a Nationals starter got hit around pretty good in the first inning but rebounded to keep his team in the ballgame. For seemingly the 10th time this month, Steve Lombardozzi delivered a big hit in the fifth, tying this game at 2-2. The Nats fell in an early hole when Gio Gonzalez allowed four of the first five

Johnson talks injuries, Harper, Dodgers trade

PHILADELPHIA - Davey Johnson said last night that he planned to give Ian Desmond the weekend off to let him deal with his strained right hamstring before hopefully having him back against the Marlins on Tuesday. The same likely goes for Michael Morse, who is dealing with some tenderness in his right hand after getting hit by a pitch last night. If Morse doesn’t play

Morse, Desmond missing from Nationals lineup

PHILADELPHIA - There’s no Michael Morse or Ian Desmond in the Nationals lineup against the Phillies tonight. Here’s the batting order that will face Roy Halladay at 7:05 p.m.: 2B Steve Lombardozzi CF Bryce Harper 3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B Adam LaRoche RF Jayson Werth LF Roger Bernadina SS Danny Espinosa C Kurt Suzuki P Gio Gonzalez Morse, who was removed from last night’s game after

To Johnson, winning the division is the only option

PHILADELPHIA - When Major League Baseball made the decision to add another wild card in each league this year, most fans and baseball analysts came out in support of the idea. The decision would create more excitement over the final weeks of the season, people said, keeping more teams in the playoff picture deep into September and creating the possibility for added dramatic finishes. Davey

Johnson on Espinosa’s stolen base attempt, plus notes

PHILADELPHIA - The injuries to Michael Morse and Ian Desmond left the Nationals a little shorthanded against the Phillies tonight. But they weren’t about to blame their 4-2 loss on their missing cleanup hitter and All-Star shortstop. “It changes the game a little bit,” manager Davey Johnson said. “But we had the right guys up at the right time, just didn’t get it done.” “At

Morse has a bad bruise, Desmond has a hamstring strain

PHILADELPHIA - The bad news is the Nationals’ run of injuries continues. The good news is that neither Michael Morse nor Ian Desmond should be out of the Nationals’ lineup all that long. X-rays on Morse’s hand came back negative after the Nationals’ outfielder got hit on the right hand by a Kyle Kendrick pitch in the first inning of tonight’s game. The injury looked

Nats can’t touch Kendrick (Nats lose 4-2)

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals just can’t seem to solve Kyle Kendrick this season. Against teams who don’t wear a Curly W on their helmets, Kendrick has been average at best, making 15 starts and pitching to a 4.52 ERA. In starts against the Nationals, Kendrick has put up a 1.50 ERA over 18 innings. The Phillies right-hander has now made three starts against the Nats

Morse leaves game after hit-by-pitch, Giolito having Tommy John (updated)

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals’ offense has been clicking on all cylinders lately, largely thanks to the fact that they finally had all their players healthy. That’s suddenly not the case anymore. Ian Desmond was scratched from tonight’s game (albeit for precautionary reasons) because of a right knee injury, and less than 10 minutes after first pitch, Michael Morse had to leave after being hit in

Nats extend Tracy’s contract through 2013 (with quotes); Desmond scratched

PHILADELPHIA - Rewarding one of their most productive bench bats this season, the Nationals have extended the contract of veteran infielder Chad Tracy through the 2013 season. Tracy signed a minor league deal with the Nats this winter after playing the 2011 season in Japan. The 32-year-old battled for a roster spot in camp and admitted that if he hadn’t made the Nationals’ 25-man roster,

Suzuki, Desmond both in Nats lineup

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals kick off a brief five-game road trip tonight against the Phillies, who come into this three-game set riding a bit of an emotional high after last night’s walk-off win over the Reds. The Cincinnati loss puts the Nats three games up on the Reds in the loss column for the best record in baseball. The Nats also got some help from

Revisiting a couple of criticized spring predictions

Before the start of the 2012 season, a late-August series between the Nationals and Phillies at Citizens Bank Park might have sounded like a highly dramatic divisional clash. Instead, this upcoming three-game series in the City of Brotherly Love will pit a first-place team against one which sits 19 1/2 games back in the National League East. Given the Phillies’ issues this season and the

Detwiler’s importance down the stretch

Ross Detwiler went 5 1/3 innings yesterday, allowing two runs in a loss to the Braves. For much of the first four innings, however, Detwiler was on point. He was locating his fastball, pounding the zone and using his two-seamer to let Braves hitters beat the ball into the ground. After the game, Davey Johnson expressed a desire to see Detwiler mix in his off-speed

How to handle Harper’s struggles

Before last night’s series finale against the Braves, the Nationals presented Braves third baseman Chipper Jones with some going-away presents. Yesterday marked the future Hall of Fame third baseman’s final game at Nationals Park before he steps away from the game, so the Nats put together a video tribute which was played on the Jumbotron and held a presentation in which Ryan Zimmerman, Mark DeRosa,

Injury updates on Desmond, Suzuki; plus Harper quotes

Ian Desmond scared the heck out of his manager and 29,111 fans in attendance at Nats Park tonight when the Nationals’ All-Star shortstop came up limping mid-way through his sprint down the first base line in the eighth inning. Desmond appeared shaken up for a minute, then strangely shook off whatever was bugging him and convinced Davey Johnson and a team trainer that he was

Johnson discusses Nats’ 5-1 loss to Braves

Braves starter Kris Medlen, who threw seven shutout innings tonight in a win over the Nationals, was a switch-hitting shortstop back in his days at Santa Ana Community College. The Braves drafted him as a pitcher, one who now has a 1.86 ERA this season following tonight’s game. “Wish they’d have kept him as a shortstop,” Davey Johnson said after tonight’s game. Medlen and Ross

Nats drop series finale 5-1

A sweep would’ve meant a nice eight-game lead in the division. Instead, the Nationals will have to settle for taking two out of three and holding a six-game lead over the Braves. The Nats dropped the series finale 5-1 tonight, allowing the Braves to leave town with a bit of momentum when they entered today staring down a possible three-game sweep. If you’re Nationals manager

Harper’s rough stretch carries over into the field (a rally falls apart)

It’s no secret that Bryce Harper has been struggling at the plate recently. Last night, Harper notched the dreaded Golden Sombrero, striking out all four times he came to the plate. Tonight, he’s gone 0-for-2 with a weak ground ball and a pop up. But through his offensive issues the last couple months, Harper has still managed to play strong defense, getting good reads on

Mapping out the Strasburg timetable (we’re underway)

At the risk of this blog becoming all Stephen Strasburg, all the time, I wanted to pass along some quotes from Davey Johnson which set a bit of a rough timetable for when the Nationals might shut down their ace right-hander. Because of off-days down the stretch, Johnson said that the Nationals will only need an extra starter (we’re talking about you, John Lannan) for

Nats lineup for series finale vs. Braves

We’ve got a battle of promising 26-year-old hurlers in the series finale between the Nationals and Braves. The Nats will take their hacks at right-hander Kris Medlen, who has torn it up for the Braves since moving into the rotation July 31. He’s 3-0 in his four starts this season, and hasn’t allowed more than one run in any of those four outings. His last

Strasburg still feeling strong, Nats shooting for a sweep

After last night’s outing, Stephen Strasburg has now thrown 145 1/3 innings this season, nearly 22 more than he’s put up in either of his two prior professional seasons. Is the hard-throwing right-hander starting to tire at all? If you watched him work last night, you can probably guess the answer. “No, it’s a tribute to the program that I’ve been on,” Strasburg said. “It’s

More Strasburg stuff, plus quotes on Flores, Clippard

As you might imagine, Stephen Strasburg was the talk of the Nationals’ clubhouse after this one. “He was totally locked in tonight,” catcher Jesus Flores said. “I love it. He was hitting my spots. We were pitching a lot inside to those guys and then the breaking ball was so effective to them that they (were) pretty much swinging at everything.” “He was on,” shortstop

Strasburg, Johnson recap the ace’s stellar start

If tonight’s rain delay had lasted longer than an hour, Davey Johnson said he was going to pull Stephen Strasburg from the game. That was the “drop-dead” point for Strasburg, as far as the Nationals’ skipper was concerned. I guess it’s a good thing the delay was just 51 minutes. Strasburg stepped back on the mound after the rain delay, which hit Nats Park in

Rain or no rain, Strasburg is dealing (Nats take two in a row from Braves)

Prior to the rain delay, which hit in the third inning, Stephen Strasburg had struck out four hitters over 2 2/3 innings, much of that in the pouring rain. He sat around for 51 minutes as the tarp sat on the infield, but that time away from the mound didn’t slow him down. If anything, Strasburg came back from the delay even stronger than before.

Another rain delay at Nats Park (Strasburg on mound as game resumes)

Mother nature is trying to work her way into the National League East pennant race. For the third straight day, we’ve got a rain delay at Nationals Park. Sunday’s delay lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours, last night’s game was delayed 56 minutes and now we’ll have to wait and see how long we’re stuck with the tarp on the field today. The delay started at

Why not alter Strasburg’s throwing schedule? Here’s why...

Another Stephen Strasburg start, more questions about The Shutdown. They’ve become expected at this point. Death, taxes, lengthy rain delays at Nats Park and questions about the Nationals’ decision to go into the playoffs with Strasburg watching from the dugout. I’ve had numerous conversations, dating all the way back to spring training, with people both within and outside the organization about the reason why the

Chipper out of Braves lineup vs. Strasburg

The Nationals won’t have to deal with Chipper Jones tonight, as the future Hall of Fame third baseman is out of the Braves lineup. The 40-year-old Jones played all 13 innings last night, but won’t be starting against Stephen Strasburg in Game 2 of this big division series. Jones went 1-for-5 with a walk last night. He came into this series with three homers in

The emotional swing between a thrilling win and a frustrating loss

Think a postgame entry and a morning entry is enough to encapsulate all that happened at 1500 S. Capitol St. last night? Think again. I’ve got more. Those of us who haven’t played major league baseball don’t know how it feels to win a big 13-inning game over a division opponent in the midst of a pennant race. We don’t know how it feels to

Digesting the details from last night

Remember that 11-inning game on July 20, in which the Nationals jumped on top of the Braves 9-0 only to blow the lead and fall in extras 11-10? Of course you do. How could you possibly wipe that disaster out of your memory bank? Is it possible last night’s 5-4 13-inning Nationals win was even wackier? Thanks to my four hours of sleep, I’m too

Recapping Nationals’ weird, wild 13-inning win

The final play of tonight’s (or should I say, last night’s) ballgame epitomized how strange the contest was as a whole. We had a 56-minute rain delay. The Nationals scored four runs in the first inning, then didn’t score again for another 12 frames. The major league leader in ERA, Jordan Zimmermann, had an outing which tied for the shortest of his season and in

Desmond’s up there, ready to party (Nats win in 13th)

Back in spring training, Ian Desmond was being interviewed during a game that was airing on MASN, and reporters were down in the clubhouse as Desmond was talking on air. The Nationals shortstop was asked about his tendency to swing at the first pitch of an at-bat, to which he replied, “Yeah, I’m just up there ready to party.” That phrase can certainly apply to

Rizzo discusses Lucas Giolito’s latest setback (we’re under way in D.C.)

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo confirmed that 2012 first-round pick Lucas Giolito will be heading to Los Angeles to see renowned orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum after suffering a setback in his return from an elbow injury. Giolito appeared in a game with the Gulf Coast League Nationals last Tuesday, his first outing in the Nats organization, allowing one run and two hits over two innings.

Previewing the pitching (plus Giolito update and lineups)

I guess it’s fitting that for a series which could play a major role in determining the National League East champion, we’ll get three pretty strong pitching matchups. Tonight, Jordan Zimmermann (9-7, 2.38 ERA) and veteran Braves right-hander Tim Hudson (12-4, 3.59 ERA) will kick things off. Zimmermann hasn’t faced the Braves yet this season, but he’s 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA in three career

Bring on the Braves

Do the Mets really have to leave town? Is there any way they can hang around a bit longer? Can someone divert their train back to D.C. and have them play a few more games at Nats Park? If Davey Johnson promises not to have Johan Santana cover the gold patch on his glove, is the lefty willing to throw a few more times against

Harper could be snapping out of his skid

Prior to Friday’s game against the Mets, Bryce Harper had been hitting just .171 since the All-Star break with an OPS of .501. He was getting pitched tough, with opposing hurlers giving him lots of soft stuff away and very few pitches in that he could turn on. But Harper also seemed to be swinging with less authority at the plate, often making off-balance contact

Johnson talks after another Nats series win

Today wasn’t what you might consider a typical Gio Gonzalez outing. In four of his last five starts, Gonzalez had worked into at least the seventh inning, and he’d only failed to go six innings once since the All-Star break. Today, he went just 5 2/3 frames, allowing nine baserunners. Still, he managed to work out of trouble and give up just a single run,

With a shot to extend division lead, Nats jump on Hefner (Nats win 5-2)

The Braves lost to the Dodgers earlier today in a game which was not disrupted by rain. Those lucky bums. That loss means if the Nationals are able to take the rubber game against the Mets today, they’ll enter their big three-game series with Atlanta with a five-game division lead. So far, so good. The Nats have a 4-0 lead over the Mets and starter

Back on bench, Lombardozzi trying to stay sharp (we’re finally under way)

There’s a monster storm heading towards Nationals Park, one which looks like it might play a factor both in what time the game begins and how long we’re stuck here this afternoon. The Nationals and Mets have mutual off-days on Aug. 27 and Sept. 13, but with this being the Mets’ last visit to D.C. this season, they’ll do all they can to get this

No day off for Desmond, Werth

Davey Johnson had said he planned on giving both Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth the day off for today’s rubber game against the Mets. That’s not happening. Both Desmond and Werth are in today’s Nationals lineup. I’d be interested to hear the reasoning for Johnson’s change of heart. I have a hard time believing that last night’s shutout loss to the Mets factored in at

Jackson brilliant, but it’s not enough

When your pitcher goes out and dominates the opposition the way Edwin Jackson dominated the Mets tonight, you’d like to see that guy get rewarded with a win. That didn’t happen, which will eat at the Nationals’ hitters a little bit. “That’s about as good as we’ve seen him,” Adam LaRoche said of Jackson. “Sucks to waste it like that.” Entering tonight’s game, the Nationals

Johnson discusses a tough 2-0 loss

Earlier this season, Edwin Jackson pitched a complete game, allowing just one run. He then struck out eight and allowed just one run in eight innings against the Orioles in late June and threw seven shutout innings against the Brewers last month. But in Davey Johnson’s mind, tonight was as good as Jackson has been all season. “That was probably the most dominant I’ve seen

Whole lot of zeros on the board (Nats lose 2-0)

Remember that entry a couple hours ago where I wrote about how effective the Nationals’ offense has been since the All-Star break? Call me Mr. Jinx. The Nationals have been shut out through five innings tonight, as Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese has cut through the Washington order with relative ease. The Nats threatened in the first when Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman delivered back-to-back one-out

New team-wide offensive approach netting positive results

Bryce Harper is getting a day off today, but he’s not the only Nationals starter who will be out of the lineup during this series with the Mets. Davey Johnson has already decided that he’s planning on resting Ian Desmond tomorrow. He’ll go with his “pre-Desmond infield” of Danny Espinosa at short and Steve Lombardozzi at second, but he’s yet to inform Desmond about this

Harper gets a day off, Moore in left

As Davey Johnson mentioned last night, Bryce Harper will get today off, with Tyler Moore sliding in to play left field and hit seventh. Harper smacked his 11th home run of the season last night, but Johnson is giving his rookie outfielder a day to rest while also giving his other rookie outfielder - Moore - a chance to stay fresh with some at-bats against

The sounds of a playoff push, the signs of a potent lineup

Get this: When Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse have both been in the starting lineup this season, the Nationals are 44-21 (.677). That’s a 110-win pace. Not too shabby. Given the way things have been going lately, the Nats could seemingly win 110 games and still end up taking the National League East by a slim margin. While Washington has won 11 of its last

Postgame thoughts from Werth, Desmond

As pumped up as Michael Morse was after his grand slam in the fourth inning tonight - and he was plenty pumped up - his teammates were just as animated. Guys gave him high fives, low fives, pats on the helmet. They pushed him out of the dugout for a curtain call, tossed bubble game at him and messed with his hair. You can tell

Johnson talks after Nats 6-4 win

Michael Morse wasn’t in the clubhouse postgame to talk about his monster grand slam which gave the Nationals a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning, but his manager talked about it for him. In Davey Johnson’s mind, that grand slam was just another big moment in what’s been a really hot stretch for Morse over the last couple weeks. “Michael Morse, he had a rough

Morse’s grand slam sends Nats Park into a frenzy (Nats win again)

Johan Santana retired the first nine Nationals he faced tonight. He then gave up hits to the next four Nats hitters. The fourth left the ballpark, giving the Nationals their first grand slam of the season. Michael Morse crushed a 1-1 fastball over the scoreboard in right-center, turning a 2-0 Nats deficit into a 4-2 Nats lead and sending what looks like a nearly sold

Now healthy, Nats lineup looks dangerous

With all the injured guys the Nationals have had return to the lineup lately, Davey Johnson is getting a little greedy. “Where the heck is Willy Ramos? Let’s get him up here, too,” Johnson joked today. “Everybody seems to healing well. Might as well get him.” Johnson won’t get his top catcher back until spring training at the earliest, but he does have the seven

Desmond discusses his return, Johnson hopes Izturis clears waivers

For the first time in nearly a month, Ian Desmond finds his name back in the Nationals’ lineup for tonight’s game against the Mets. The Nats obviously would have preferred Desmond never landed on the DL with a torn left oblique, but given the 19-6 record they put up without him, Desmond joked that he wasn’t missed too much. “They got better (without me),” the

Werth leading off, Desmond sixth, Detwiler takes the hill

For the first time this season, the Nationals will have Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper in the same lineup. This is more along the lines of what we were expecting back in spring. Werth will hit leadoff for Davey Johnson today, while Desmond is back in the sixth spot in the order. Ross Detwiler will

Desmond activated, Izturis DFA

The Nationals have activated shortstop Ian Desmond from the disabled list today, a move which shouldn’t surprise anyone. To make room for Desmond on the 25-man roster, the Nats have designated infielder Cesar Izturis for assignment, a move which, well, surprises me. Izturis only was with the Nationals for nine games after they claimed him off waivers from the Brewers. In that time, he was

An overlooked angle of the Strasburg shutdown discussion

Will Ian Desmond make his grand return to the Nationals tonight as the team opens a series against the Mets? We’ll have to see. As you know, Desmond took part in a simulated game yesterday, and if he feels good today, the All-Star shortstop could find his name back in the lineup tonight after missing 25 games with a left oblique injury. Chien-Ming Wang resumed

Leaving the comfort of the road

The Nationals come back home from a lengthy 10-game road trip happy to see their families and excited to return to their home clubhouse. No team will ever say it would prefer to play its games on the road. That just won’t happen. But the Nats sure play like a team that doesn’t mind hitting the road for a while. They’re a remarkable 41-23 on

Balanced offensive attack knocks out Lincecum (Nats close road trip with 6-4 win)

The days when Tim Lincecum was nearly unhittable seem oh so long ago. The two-time National League Cy Young Award winner went just four innings today, allowing eight hits and four runs before being yanked from the game. The Nationals hit Lincecum hard, notching three extra-base hits off him, including Danny Espinosa’s long two-run homer to center which broke a 2-2 tie and gave the

Morse returns to Nationals lineup in finale vs. Giants (with Giants lineup)

It’s taken a while, but the Nationals have finally posted their lineup for this afternoon’s 3:45 p.m. finale at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Michael Morse, who sat out last night’s game after jamming his right thumb Monday night, is back in left field. Here’s Davey Johnson’s batting order against San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum: 2B Steve Lombardozzi CF Bryce Harper 3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B Adam

The Strasburg window in 2012 is closing

You might have heard by now that Stephen Strasburg’s innings will be limited this season. If you haven’t, flip on one of the talking-head shows on the national networks. I’m sure you can find some intelligent, thought-provoking discussion on the topic there. Does my sarcastic tone jump off the screen at you? Good. Strasburg has thrown 133 1/3 innings this season. Despite some of the

Another late night, a much different outcome (with Desmond note)

Of course Jordan Zimmermann would be the Nationals starter to see his team put up 14 runs and 21 hits the night before he takes the mound only to watch the Nationals record just a single run and five hits the night he starts. Only Jordan Zimmermann. The righty’s run support has been better lately, but I can’t help but wonder if he was jokingly

They’re dueling in the Bay area (Nats lose 6-1)

Now this is more along the lines of what we were expecting this series. Yesterday’s anticipated pitcher’s duel was anything but. Today’s has actually come to fruition. Jordan Zimmermann and Madison Bumgarner are locked in quite a battle through five innings at AT&T Park, and Bumgarner’s Giants lead 1-0 as we go to the sixth. The Nationals have managed very little off Bumgarner; they’ve notched

Werth in Nats lineup, Morse not

Jayson Werth was scratched from yesterday’s lineup due to a sore right ankle. He underwent an MRI on the ankle today, but apparently everything checked out just fine. Werth is back in the Nationals lineup for tonight, hitting fourth and playing right field. While Werth will take his hacks against Giants starter Madison Bumgarner, Michael Morse will not. Morse was pulled from yesterday’s game in

“The Shark” attacks

The way Roger Bernadina has been playing the last couple months, it’s a shame the Nationals have nowhere to put him in their starting lineup. With Michael Morse raking again and Jayson Werth back from a broken wrist, Bernadina has lost out on some playing time. But it doesn’t seem to matter to the 28-year-old outfielder from Curacao, who is playing at the highest level

That’s what you call a beatdown (Rendon promoted to Harrisburg)

I got a text message from a buddy during the fifth inning of last night’s beatdown in San Francisco. “This is a turnover or two away from becoming an interesting football game,” he said. At least the 49ers were able to register a safety to avoid a shutout at the hands of the Skins. That would’ve been embarrassing for Jim Harbaugh (I mean, Bruce Bochy)

Nats smack around one of baseball’s top pitchers (Nats win 14-2)

Ryan Vogelsong came into tonight’s game as the National League ERA leader. He had gone all season - 21 starts - without allowing a run in the first inning. He hadn’t given up more than four runs in any outing this year and had allowed one earned run or fewer in four of his last five starts. Then the Nationals rolled into San Francisco and

Werth scratched due to right ankle soreness

Less than an hour prior to first pitch, the Nationals have announced that Jayson Werth has been scratched from tonight’s lineup due to right ankle soreness. With right-hander Ryan Vogelsong on the mound for the Giants, Roger Bernadina will slide into the starting lineup in left, with Bryce Harper playing center and Michael Morse sliding over from left field to right. This is the second

Lombardozzi leading off, G. Gonzalez on mound (with Giants lineup)

The Nationals begin a three-game series with the San Francisco Giants tonight. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will take the mound for the Nats and will be opposed by Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong. Jayson Werth is batting sixth and playing right field. Since being activated from the 15-day disabled list on August 2, Werth is batting .400 with five RBIs. For the Nats: 2B Steve Lombardozzi CF

Showing some love to a quartet of relievers

When you have three legitimate aces on your team, it’s easy to see how other hurlers can get overlooked. Jordan Zimmermann is having a career year, and is starting to turn heads nationally as a result. Gio Gonzalez’s effectiveness on the mound and personality off of it have made him a media and fan favorite. Stephen Strasburg, well, I think I could move to the

Some of this, some of that

Yesterday marked the first time in Kurt Suzuki’s Nationals career that he experienced a loss. I hope the guy made it through the night OK. After eight straight wins to kick off his tenure as a Nat, Suzuki and his new teammates were on the losing end of things yesterday in Arizona. They battled back from a 7-0 deficit to make things interesting in the

Not the best showing in the desert (Nats lose 7-4)

After taking the first two games in Arizona, the Nationals are getting pushed around by the Diamondbacks in the series finale. Boy, are they ever. It’s 7-0 after five innings, as the Diamondbacks are outplaying their opposition in all possible phases. Ross Detwiler didn’t make it out of the fifth inning, allowing five runs (four earned) over 4 2/3. He only gave up three hits,

Werth getting a day off (with D’backs lineup)

Jayson Werth has been raking lately. Today, he’ll be sitting. Werth is getting a day off today, and Davey Johnson has decided to slot in Tyler Moore in the outfield along with Bryce Harper and Michael Morse. Ross Detwiler is on the mound for the Nationals today, looking to continue his recent run of strong starts. For the Nats: SS Danny Espinosa CF Bryce Harper

Finding new ways to keep on winning

They’re now 28 games over .500. The winning streak is now at eight, with the last six of those games coming on the road. The Washington Nationals are red-hot, folks. It doesn’t matter if they fall behind by three runs early. Doesn’t matter if their starter gives up five runs in less than six innings. These Nationals seem to keep finding new ways to win.

A slow start, a nice comeback (Nats win 6-5)

After a slow start, the Nationals have stormed back to take the lead over the Diamondbacks thanks to a monster fifth inning. Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse and Jesus Flores all delivered run-scoring hits in the fifth, with Zimmerman’s single plating two. That five-run inning turned a 4-1 Nats deficit into a 6-4 Washington lead. Seven Nationals hitters reached in the fifth, knocking Diamondbacks

Werth leading off, Harper takes seat again (with D’backs lineup)

After a 9-1 rout of the Diamondbacks last night, the Nationals will send Edwin Jackson to the mound, who is looking to even his record at 7-7. He’ll face Wade Miley, who is 12-7 with a 2.85 ERA. Bryce Harper will sit for the second time in the last three days. The rookie is hitting just .173 since the All-Star break, which has dropped his

It’s Werth looking at the numbers

Since coming back from a broken wrist on August 2, Jayson Werth has done a little bit of everything. He’s gotten on base in big spots, setting the table for his teammates. He’s put together his power stroke, showing he hasn’t lost the form he displayed early in the season before his injury forced him to miss 75 games. He’s added even more stability to

A beatdown on the way to No. 70

After a four-day stretch which featured three absolute nailbiters against the worst team in the majors, you’ve got to believe last night’s 9-1 throttling of the Diamondbacks was highly appreciated in the Nationals dugout. The Nats smacked 11 hits, seven for extra bases. They held the D’backs to just three hits all night, including one through the first eight innings. They went 4-for-11 with runners

Bring on the bullpens (Nats three-hit D’backs)

We’ll be getting a heavy dose of both the Nationals and Diamondbacks bullpens tonight. Stephen Strasburg and Trevor Cahill have both thrown well tonight, but through five innings, each starter has a pitch count in the 90s. Strasburg has tossed 93 pitches, while Cahill has needed 92 to get through his five frames. Strasburg might very well be done before reaching the sixth, and if

Harper back in Nats lineup (with D’backs lineup)

After getting a day off yesterday, Bryce Harper is back in the Nationals lineup for tonight’s series opener against Diamondbacks. Stephen Strasburg will face off against D’backs righty Trevor Cahill, who is 9-9 with a 3.76 ERA this season. Michael Morse will hit fifth, but instead of looking to extend his hitting streak to 19 games, he’ll try and boost that hitting streak to eight.

Starting to really hit their stride

Michael Morse’s first home run last night was measured at 434 feet by hittrackeronline.com. Call me shocked the thing wasn’t projected to travel at least 460 feet. That ball was crushed. It registers as Morse’s second-longest homer of the season, apparently not even coming all that close to his mammoth 465-foot blast back at Nats Park on July 20. Outside the Mid-Atlantic region, you probably

Zimmermann back in the saddle again (Nats sweep Astros)

Hey, the game’s in Texas; I figured I should toss a country reference in there. After struggling a bit (and getting some bad breaks) in his last outing, Jordan Zimmermann is back to his dominant self tonight down in Houston. Zimmermann has cruised through five innings, allowing just two hits and striking out nine. He has a 2-0 lead going to the sixth. The righty

Harper getting a mental break (with lineups)

Davey Johnson suggested last night that he would probably give Bryce Harper a day off today, and that’s what he’s done. Mired in a slump, which has seen him hit just .176 since the All-Star break, Harper is not in the Nationals lineup today. The rookie outfielder also made an ill-advised throw in the ninth inning last night, allowing the Astros to put the potential

Looking a few months, and a few hours, ahead

Major League Baseball has officially released its 2012 postseason schedule, and hopefully I can pass along a few of the key dates without being considered a jinx. Since I plan on taking full credit if the Nationals make the playoffs this season (I come aboard and look how quickly things turn!), I’ll certainly be the one to blame if things go south for the Nationals

Talking umpiring and positive signs from G. Gonzalez

It’s never a good thing when an umpire becomes a hot topic of discussion. Umpires are a lot like long snappers in football - you only really hear about them when they’ve made a mistake. Unfortunately, Angel Hernandez’s name was brought up a lot last night. Hernandez, who isn’t shy about putting his stamp on a game, called two balks from behind home plate and

The series just keeps getting weirder (Gonzalez carries Nats to 4-3 win)

We’ve had a sacrifice bunt which scored a runner from first and left the bunter standing on third base. We’ve had a leaping catch against the wall in left-center which was one of the best grabs you’ll see all season. We’ve had a sacrifice fly called back because the pitcher was called for a balk, scoring a run. We’ve had two extra-inning games in consecutive

Werth returns to Nats lineup (with Astros lineup)

Outfielder Jayson Werth returns to tonight’s lineup after sitting out last night’s 12-inning win with tightness in his legs. Kurt Suzuki is also back in the lineup and will catch left-hander Gio Gonzalez as he aims for his 14th victory. Suzuki and Gonzalez were teammates out in Oakland, and the two batterymates will reunite tonight. For the Nats: 2B Steve Lombardozzi CF Bryce Harper 3B

Reliving Bernadina’s 12th-inning heroics

Tyler Clippard owes Roger Bernadina a big, juicy steak. Or 12. If not for Bernadina’s dazzling defense, we’d be talking about how Clippard had blown four saves since the All-Star break, including two in as many nights. Instead, Clippard gets his 23rd save of the season thanks to a scoreless 12th inning. Looks pretty nice in the box score. I know Mike Trout’s home run-robbing

Another dandy from Detwiler (Bernadina’s ridiculous catch saves the day)

After spinning a gem his last time out, Ross Detwiler has delivered another stellar outing through six innings tonight. Outside of a two-run homer served up to Ben Francisco in the first inning, Detwiler has been nearly unhittable, facing just two above the minimum over his last five innings of work. Overall, the Nationals lefty has surrendered just three hits and two walks over his

Werth, Suzuki not in Nats lineup (with Astros lineup)

Jayson Werth is out of the Nationals lineup for tonight’s game against the Astros, this after he had complained about some tightness in his legs during last night’s contest. Manager Davey Johnson pulled Werth in the eighth inning last night after his veteran outfielder had made it known that his legs were bothering him a bit. Since coming off the disabled list last Thursday, Werth

Focusing on the fastball

For some time now, manager Davey Johnson and pitching coach Steve McCatty have been trying to get Nationals pitchers to throw more fastballs. Work off that pitch, they say. Establish the fastball, throw it for strikes, get ahead in counts and then mix in your off-speed stuff. It’s a tried-and-true formula, one that forces hitters to put the ball in play, keeps pitch counts low

A win is a win is a win

It sure wasn’t pretty. No, it wasn’t that. The Nationals played an Astros team last night that now is 4-31 (yes, 4-31!) in its last 35 games. They outhit the Astros 14-6, but scored just one more run than their hosts. Washington relievers combined to allow nine baserunners over 5 2/3 innings. The Nats gave up four more stolen bases without catching a runner trying

Middle of Nats’ order packs a punch (Nats win an 11-inning slopfest)

Through 5 1/2 innings tonight, the Nationals’ 3-5 hitters have combined to go 6-for-10 with four RBIs. This is what happens when you finally have your big guns healthy and producing. The Nats have a 4-1 lead over the Astros so far tonight. Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth have smacked around Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, and Edwin Jackson has thrown four

Nats, Astros lineups for opener in Houston

The Nationals begin a four-game series with the worst team in the majors, the Astros, tonight from Minute Maid Park. Obviously, nothing is guaranteed in this game, but this would seem to be a nice chance for the Nats to rattle off a few wins and put a little more distance between themselves and their National League competition. The Astros have gone just 2-17 in

Nationals sign four international free agents

In addition to the news that the Nationals picked up veteran middle infielder Cesar Izturis today, the team also announced the signing of four international free agents: right-handed pitcher Ramses Rosario and outfielders Aldrem Corredor, Darryl Florentino and Luis Guzman. Rosario, Corredor and Florentino are all listed as 16 years old. No age was announced for Guzman. Rosario checks in at 6-foot-3, 175 lbs. and

Nats acquire Cesar Izturis, DeRosa lands on DL (Severino DFA)

With Ian Desmond likely out a couple more weeks with an oblique tear and Mark DeRosa battling a left abdominal injury, the Nationals bolstered their middle infield depth today by acquiring Cesar Izturis from the Brewers. The Izturis acquisition was on a straight waiver claim, meaning the Nationals won’t be giving up any players in return for the 32-year-old middle infielder. They will be responsible

The continued evolution of an ace

In his third at-bat yesterday, Bryce Harper struck out swinging at an off-speed pitch for the second time on the day. Clearly frustrated with himself, Harper slammed the barrel of his bat on home plate, breaking the piece of lumber down the middle and causing Marlins catcher John Buck to flinch. When Harper came to the plate for his next at-bat, he quickly apologized to

After a long road back, Storen notches first save

With Stephen Strasburg throwing a strong six innings and Drew Storen notching the save, today’s game could have easily been one which was played in the final month of the 2011 season. “That was a little bit reminiscent of last year,” Davey Johnson said with a smile as he sat down to talk with reporters. The main difference, of course, is that the 2012 Nationals

LaRoche, Strasburg just keep on raking (Nats win 4-1)

Adam LaRoche now has 71 RBIs on the season, increasing his lead among National League first basemen. Stephen Strasburg now has seven RBIs on the season, increasing his lead among all major league pitchers. From an outsider’s perspective, it might be an unlikely offensive duo which has driven in the Nationals’ four runs so far today, but those who have watched the Nats this season

Reveling in a fantastic atmosphere

Even this morning, more than 12 hours after last night’s dramatic six-run eighth inning, which lifted the Nationals to a 10-7 comeback win, the atmosphere in Nats Park was the talk of the home clubhouse. “That was as loud as I’ve ever heard it, no doubt,” said reliever Ryan Mattheus, who picked up his fourth win of the season last night. A crowd of 33,449

Nats lineup for finale vs. Marlins

For today’s series finale against Miami’s Ricky Nolasco, the Nationals have Bryce Harper in center, Jayson Werth in right and Jesus Flores catching Stephen Strasburg. For the Nationals: 2B Steve Lombardozzi CF Bryce Harper 3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B Adam LaRoche LF Michael Morse RF Jayson Werth SS Danny Espinosa C Jesus Flores P Stephen Strasburg

A clubhouse full of smiles

I guess Kurt Suzuki picked a decent game to make his Nationals debut. The Nats’ new starting catcher went 0-for-4 today, but that didn’t stop him from soaking up every moment of the postgame atmosphere in the clubhouse after the 10-7 win. “This is awesome!” he said. Pretty much everyone in the Nats’ clubhouse acknowledged that the team came out a bit flat tonight, and

Johnson discusses Nats’ big comeback win

The Nationals didn’t play great baseball through the first seven innings of tonight’s game. They made three errors, they got a sub-par outing from Jordan Zimmermann (by his standards, at least), they allowed two more stolen bases and they got minimal offense from guys not named Adam LaRoche. Davey Johnson’s group trailed 6-4 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Then, seemingly

An offensive explosion in the eighth puts Nats on top (Nats win 10-7)

What looked like another tough loss to a less-than-star-studded Marlins lineup has turned into what will likely be a huge comeback win. The Nationals can thank a six-run eighth inning, with all six runs scoring with two outs, for the thrilling comeback. Back-to-back RBI singles by Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore tied the game for the Nats in the eighth. But they weren’t done yet.

A rare rocky outing for Zimmermann (LaRoche stays red hot)

Jordan Zimmermann came into today having gone at least six innings in all 21 of his outings this season. He had allowed either one or zero earned runs in his last seven starts. He had surrendered five hits or fewer in each of his last five outings. Tonight, with Zimmermann working on six days of rest, all those streaks came to an end. The Nationals

Johnson talks Flores’ role, Zimmermann’s health (Leon optioned)

The Nationals announced today that they’ve optioned catcher Sandy Leon to Triple-A Syracuse, making room for Kurt Suzuki on the 25-man roster. Leon batted .250 (7-for-28) with two doubles, two RBI, three walks and two runs scored in 10 games with the Nats this season. Jesus Flores claimed after the second game of last night’s doubleheader that he hadn’t yet heard about the Nationals acquiring

Hearing from the Nationals’ new starting catcher

As reporters chatted with Kurt Suzuki in the clubhouse this afternoon, the Nationals’ new starting catcher learned exactly what type of team he was joining. About 20 feet across the room, Mark DeRosa had grabbed the mic of the new karaoke machine in his locker and was serving as an emcee of sorts, introducing everyone that walked by. He made up a nickname for certain

Suzuki to start his first game with Nationals (with Marlins lineup)

New Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki is in the starting lineup for tonight’s game against the Marlins. The 28-year-old will catch Jordan Zimmermann and hit seventh. For the Nats: SS Danny Espinosa RF Bryce Harper 3B Ryan Zimmerman LF Michael Morse 1B Adam LaRoche CF Jayson Werth C Kurt Suzuki 2B Steve Lombardozzi P Jordan Zimmermann For the Marlins: LF Bryan Petersen RF Scott Cousins SS

Notes and quotes on a slow Saturday

After the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader, Adam LaRoche summed things up as only Adam LaRoche can. “It could’ve been better, but we’re all still alive after that, so we’ll get them tomorrow,” LaRoche said. The Nationals might have split the two games with the Marlins yesterday, but LaRoche is right - at least no one died on the field. That’s always a plus. Splitting

Flores taken aback by Suzuki trade

Today’s roster move of the day which surprises absolutely no one: The Nationals optioned John Lannan back to Triple-A Syracuse following today’s doubleheader. Lannan was added as the 26th man on the roster due to a new rule which gives teams an extra player for doubleheaders. The Nationals will be making another roster move shortly. This one apparently did surprise someone. Word of today’s trade

One All-Star outpitched by another

Gio Gonzalez was good tonight. Very good. Facing the Marlins in the second game of today’s doubleheader, the Nationals lefty thought he might’ve had the best stuff he’s had all season. He worked eight innings, going deeper into a game than he had all season. He struck out ten, marking the third time this season that he’s reached the double-digit K mark. Still, he ended

Marlins basehit Gonzalez to death in sixth (Nats lose game two, 5-2)

Gio Gonzalez was cruising right along through the first five innings of tonight’s game against the Marlins. He’d given up just two hits, faced only one over the minimum and had registered five strikeouts. Gonzalez had a 1-0 lead going into the sixth, and seemingly in the blink of an eye, trailed 3-1. The Marlins notched five singles in a six-batter span in the sixth

Game 1 thoughts from the skipper and starter

Twice now, John Lannan has been brought up from Triple-A to start one half of a Nationals doubleheader. Twice now, Lannan has gotten off to a slow start but earned a win. The lefty allowed five baserunners in the first two innings of the Nats 7-4 win over the Marlins, then shut Miami down for the next four frames. He got into a bit more

Nats bite the Hand that fed them (Nats win game one 7-4)

Poor Brad Hand. Not only did the Marlins starter allow a whopping seven runs over 3 2/3 innings before being pulled from the first game of today’s doubleheader, he also teed up reporters in the press box, who fired off jokes playing on his last name. Things got out of Hand in the third inning. The Marlins Handed the Nationals a few runs today. Ozzie

Rizzo discusses the acquisition of Kurt Suzuki

The Nationals and Athletics had been discussing a trade centering around Kurt Suzuki in the days leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline, but they couldn’t get it all finalized before 4 p.m. struck on Tuesday afternoon. Once the trade was finally settled on by both teams and Suzuki cleared waivers, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo got his guy, a guy who he has thought

Nats trade for catcher Kurt Suzuki (Maldonado DFA)

Attempting to add a veteran presence to their thinned crop of catchers, the Nationals have acquired veteran backstop Kurt Suzuki from the Oakland Athletics for minor league catcher David Freitas. Suzuki, 28, is likely to replace Jesus Flores as the Nationals’ starting catcher. “He’s a No. 1 catcher,” said manager Davey Johnson, who managed Suzuki five years ago during qualifying for the 2008 Olympics. “I

Lannan called up, Harper gets a game off (Morse has stomach bug)

The Nationals have called up John Lannan to start the first game of today’s doubleheader against the Marlins. No corresponding roster move was necessary because of a new rule that allows teams to carry 26 players on the active roster for doubleheaders. Also, Bryce Harper is sitting out Game 1 with Jayson Werth starting in center field. For the Nationals: SS Danny Espinosa 2B Steve

The Adam LaRoche dilemma

Think about it for a second. So far this season, Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond have all spent time on the disabled list and have battled an injury for a fairly lengthy period of time. That’s nearly every member of the middle of the Nationals’ projected batting order. While his cohorts have been dinged up and out of the lineup, Adam

A long-awaited, and successful, return

In his first game in nearly three months, Jayson Werth went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a nice running catch in center field. “Like I never missed a step, really,” Werth said of his return to the majors. “It was good.” Werth broke his left wrist in a game against the Phillies back on May 6, an injury which required surgery, months of rehab and

The continued evolution of Ross Detwiler

Stephen Strasburg (April), Gio Gonzalez (May) and Jordan Zimmermann (July) have all now been named National League Pitcher of the Month this season. That leaves Ross Detwiler and Edwin Jackson as the only two Nationals starters yet to win the award. “I’ve got to beat Edwin to the punch, then,” Detwiler said after tonight’s 3-0 win over the Phillies. It’d be fair to say he’s

Big bats team up to put Nats on top (Nats shut out Phils 3-0)

Finally, the middle of the Nationals’ lineup looks like Davey Johnson thought it would back in spring training. Ryan Zimmerman is in the No. 3 spot, Michael Morse is hitting cleanup, Adam LaRoche is batting fifth, and Jayson Werth is back in there hitting sixth. And the Nationals are reaping the benefits of having their big hitters all healthy. Zimmerman, Morse, LaRoche and Werth are

Zimmermann named NL Pitcher of the Month

Despite battling some shoulder inflammation, which has made it tough for him to get loose before games, Jordan Zimmermann still pitched well enough in six July starts in order to earn National League Pitcher of the Month honors. Zimmermann becomes the third different Nationals starter to win the Pitcher of the Month award this season, joining Stephen Strasburg (April) and Gio Gonzalez (May). It’s time

Werth returns, Rodriguez to the DL (plus Nats lineup)

Less than three months after breaking his left wrist in a game against Cole Hamels and the Phillies, Jayson Werth is back in the Nationals’ lineup and will start in center field against Hamels and the Phillies. It all comes full circle. Manager Davey Johnson announced minutes ago that Werth has been activated off the 60-day disabled list. Reliever Henry Rodriguez will land on the

Werth could be activated today (updated)

Jayson Werth is in the clubhouse and it looks like he could be activated prior to tonight’s game. No move has been announced yet, but we’re waiting on word. Werth could return in time to face his former team before the Phillies leave town tonight. Update: Werth is currently shagging flies in center field during batting practice. Davey Johnson’s pregame session with reporters has been

Talking pitchers and baserunning

These days, you rarely ever see a pitcher involved in a play at the plate when he’s the guy barreling towards home trying to score. Teams seem to go out of their way to protect their hurlers, and that generally includes avoiding situations in which the pitcher might be forced to lay a shoulder into a catcher or somehow end up contorting his body in

A few bad pitches, a few missed opportunities

The Phillies hit so many balls hard off Edwin Jackson tonight that the Nationals starter initially thought he might have been tipping his pitches. After going back and watching some film, Jackson shot down that theory. He came away from that mini film session with a new idea of why he surrendered three home runs and gave up eight hits over 5 2/3 innings. “I

Bats absent in Nationals’ 3-2 loss

In the 18 innings played so far in this series, the Nationals have scored just two runs off Phillies pitching. Think they miss Ryan Zimmerman, who has been out of the starting lineup for both of these games because of a back injury? The Nats dropped their second straight contest to the rival Phils tonight, this one by a 3-2 score. Phillies starter Vance Worley

It’s a battle for Edwin Jackson (Nats trail late)

It hasn’t been the smoothest night for Edwin Jackson. He’s allowed 11 baserunners in five innings, surrendered three home runs and has needed 94 pitches to get himself through his five frames. Somehow, despite all that action on the bases and all the lengthy innings, Jackson has managed to give up just three runs this far. The Nationals trail 3-2 as we go to the

Werth campaigning to lead off upon his return (plus Strasburg, Harper notes)

Jayson Werth is back with Single-A Potomac as his rehab assignment appears to be entering its final stage. Werth will play center field and hit leadoff for the P-Nats tonight. He might want to get used to the leadoff spot before rejoining the Nationals, as there’s a chance Davey Johnson will slot him there once he’s back in the majors a few days from now.

R. Zimmerman plans to play tomorrow, J. Zimmermann to get an extra day of rest

Both Ryan Zimmerman and Jordan Zimmermann had red-hot months of July. Both guys have been battling ailments of some sort recently. Neither is thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman is out of the lineup today for the second straight day because of a tight back, which started bugging him on the Nationals’ recent road trip. The third baseman feels it was a combination of the

Zimmerman again missing, LaRoche returns to Nats lineup

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will miss his second straight game with a sore back when the Nationals host the Phillies at 7:05 p.m., though the Nats will welcome first baseman Adam LaRoche back from a sore back. Here’s the Nationals lineup: 2B Steve Lombardozzi RF Bryce Harper 3B Chad Tracy LF Michael Morse 1B Adam LaRoche SS Danny Espinosa CF Roger Bernadina C Jesus Flores

Recent slump has Harper a bit out of whack

Given his age and experience level, Bryce Harper’s rookie season has been pretty impressive. Harper has appeared in every game but one since his promotion to the big leagues and has found a way to make an impact on nearly all of them. Even when he isn’t hitting, he’s able to make highlight-reel defensive plays and put pressure on the defense with his full-throttle baserunning.

Strasburg knows his emotions must stay more even-keeled

The overwhelming theme of both Davey Johnson and Stephen Strasburg’s sessions with reporters after tonight’s game was that Strasburg needs to do a better job of managing his emotions when things aren’t going his way. Johnson commented that Strasburg “lost a little poise” tonight. Strasburg wasn’t about to disagree with that theory, acknowledging that after allowing a few runs early, he got a bit rattled

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