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Yankees return Brad Meyers to Nats (updated)

The Yankees have returned right-handed pitcher Brad Meyers to the Nationals, according to reports out of New York. The Nats lost Meyers, 27, to the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft last winter. At that time, Meyers was expected to battle for a long-relief job in the Yankees’ bullpen during spring training, but he spent nearly the entire season on the disabled list because of

What type of market will there be for LaRoche’s services?

I forgot to mention this the other day, but early odds for who will win the 2013 World Series have been released. Not surprisingly, the Nationals find themselves toward the top of the list of favorites. Bovada has given the Nats 12-to-1 odds to win the World Series next season, putting them behind just the Tigers (6-to-1), Yankees (7-to-1) and Giants (10-to-1). The Rangers and

LaRoche wins his first Gold Glove (Desmond denied)

Within the baseball world, Adam LaRoche has always been considered one of the better defensive first basemen in the game. Now he has the hardware to prove it. It was announced tonight that LaRoche has won the first Rawlings Gold Glove of his career. It comes after a season in which he posted a .995 fielding percentage, made just seven errors and had a UZR

Can the Nationals’ infield defense be matched?

Somehow, I still have power this morning, which is a miracle. I heard the wind whistling through my windows last night and the rain pounding on my roof. My TV connection went out for a bit, but that’s the only damage which I can legitimately complain about so far. Hope the rest of you are just as lucky. Yesterday’s announcement that Adam LaRoche and Ian

LaRoche, Desmond finalists for Gold Gloves

Two Nationals players are in the mix for Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, which are presented annually to the best defensive players in both the American League and National League at every fielding position. First baseman Adam LaRoche and shortstop Ian Desmond have been selected as finalists for the awards, which will be handed out tomorrow night at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2. Neither player has previously

Let the offseason begin

If you’re reading this, that means that Hurricane Sandy hasn’t wiped out your power just yet. Let’s hope it stays that way. The chatter will never end regardless of what the calendar reads, but as of this morning, baseball is now over until the middle of February. Count me among those not ready for it to go. I was hoping the Tigers would put up

Looking at the rotation and the available starters on the market

When it comes to the back of their rotation, the Nationals have options. They could tender John Lannan a contract and go into spring training thinking he’ll take the No. 5 spot in their rotation. They could re-sign Edwin Jackson to a multi-year deal and go forward with him as one of their top five guys. They could also dip into the free agent market

A closer look at Zimmerman’s remarkable season (plus some spring training dates)

The Nationals have yet to release their full 2013 spring training schedule, but for those of you interested in getting a head start on your vacation planning, I’ve got some tentative dates courtesy of the Grapefruit League master schedule put together at SpringTrainingOnline.com. Here’s what’s listed so far. The Nats, of course, will play their home games at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla. Feb.

Zimmerman, Tracy undergo arthroscopic surgery

A pair of Nationals went under the knife today. Ryan Zimmerman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder, while infielder Chad Tracy had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Both players are expected to be ready for the start of spring training. Both surgeries were performed by the Nationals’ team doctor, Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center in D.C. I wonder if

What a healthy Wilson Ramos would mean for Kurt Suzuki

The previously unhittable Justin Verlander gets smacked around and sees his postseason ERA jump from 0.74 to 11.25? Barry Zito throws a gem in the World Series and then is relieved by Tim Lincecum? Pablo Sandoval joins Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols in elite World Series company? You never know what will happen in this game. We certainly didn’t know what the Nationals

Johnson named Sporting News NL Manager of the Year

Finally, some postseason recognition for the Nationals. Davey Johnson has been named National League Manager of the Year by The Sporting News. While this isn’t the official baseball-sanctioned award - which is voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and will be announced Nov. 13 - it’s the first of what could be several nice honors following the team’s best season since arriving

How will Storen respond? (plus AFL updates)

After two straight subpar outings to open his Arizona Fall League season, Nationals farmhand Ryan Perry pitched a gem yesterday. Perry threw four perfect innings for the Salt River Rafters, striking out four. The 6-foot-4 right-hander finished out the regular season on an absolute tear for Double-A Harrisburg after being converted to a starter, and could continue to creep his way back up the organizational

LaRoche a close second for Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year award

Yesterday, it was Bryce Harper who fell short of the Sporting News Rookie of the Year award. Today, it’s Adam LaRoche coming up just a few votes shy of the Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year honors. LaRoche was edged out by Giants catcher Buster Posey, who won the award by earning 31 votes to LaRoche’s 29. The voting was done by a panel

Then there were two

It wasn’t the tight, dramatic Game 7 that many, including myself, were hoping for. No, it certainly wasn’t that. The Giants crushed the Cardinals 9-0 in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series last night, giving them the NL pennant and perhaps giving Nationals fans a bit of a reason to smile. The Nats watched a 6-0 lead over St. Louis slip away in

Harper comes in third in Sporting News Rookie of the Year voting

Major League Baseball’s official Rookie of the Year award, voted on by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, won’t be announced until Nov. 12. The Sporting News has announced the results of its own Rookie of the Year award, however. Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley will take home that honor, with Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper finishing third in the voting. Reds infielder Todd Frazier

Clippard’s stock rose, but so will his price tag

Maybe the Giants are this year’s Cardinals. Two straight San Francisco victories over St. Louis in win-or-go-home situations have forced the National League Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 tonight. That’s now five victories in must-win spots for the Giants during this postseason, which brings back memories of the high-wire act the Cardinals walked during their 2011 World Series run. The Giants will stay

Some more on Moore

Tyler Moore’s role for next year is very much uncertain. He could become the Nationals’ everyday first baseman. He could become their everyday left fielder. He could be a right-handed bat off the bench. He could even be a trade candidate, if the Nats re-sign Adam LaRoche and other teams in need of some power come calling. Very little regarding Moore is clear at this

Taking a look at the next wave of talent

After putting away the Nationals in the National League Division Series, the Cardinals are showing no signs of slowing down. Last night saw St. Louis crush the Giants 8-3 to move within a win of the World Series. Adam Wainwright bounced back from his rough start in Game 5 of the NLDS, in which he allowed those six early runs, to surrender just a single

Examining Desmond’s remarkable turnaround

Coming into spring training, was there any player on the Nationals roster who had more riding on this season from an individual perspective than Ian Desmond? Sure, guys like Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche felt the need to put up bounceback campaigns after really tough 2011 seasons. But they were proven big leaguers who simply were coming off a down year. Yeah, Ross Detwiler’s emergence

Carroll, Maldonado elect free agency

Outfielder Brett Carroll and catcher Carlos Maldonado, two players who spent the bulk of the 2012 season with Triple-A Syracuse but had brief stints with the Nationals, have filed for free agency. Carroll was on the Nationals’ opening day roster and appeared in five games before being designated for assignment. The 30-year-old went 0-for-2 with two runs scored with the Nats and batted .250 with

A ton of options at the corners

I mentioned yesterday that if the Nationals want their 2013 roster to closely resemble their 2012 roster, they can make that happen. Re-sign Adam LaRoche this offseason, opt not to add a center fielder via free agency or a trade and keep Michael Morse in left. Bing, bang, boom, you’ve got the exact same outfield and infield alignment that we saw this season. Of course,

A look at the Nationals’ roster entering the offseason

I’ve got some good news if you were a fan of the makeup of the 2012 Washington Nationals: There’s a very good chance that the 2013 Nationals won’t look a heck of a lot different than they did this season when the Nats went on a run to their first National League East title. The Nats enter the offseason with only two players who were

Reflecting on the happier moments from the 2012 campaign

Has any of the sting worn off yet? Have the past two days done anything to help alleviate the pit in the bottom of your stomach, or will that still be there for a little while? I’ll admit, it was a little strange watching Game 1 of the National League Championship Series from my couch yesterday instead of being in a cramped press box covering

Building off the heartbreak

One of the moments from the postgame scene after Friday’s loss that I won’t forget for quite a while was catcher Kurt Suzuki, who had just finished talking to a group of reporters, slowly walking away from his locker. Suzuki seemed unsure of where to go or what exactly to do. He turned to infielder Chad Tracy and quietly said what everyone in the Nationals’

DeRosa not ready to hang ‘em up just yet

A number of Mark DeRosa’s teammates have said he’d make a great manager one day. DeRosa is a baseball man through and through, can relate to players regardless of their age or position and has a sense of humor which allows him to bring levity to tough situations. But DeRosa doesn’t think he’s ready to stop playing just yet. The 37-year-old hit just .188 in

Rizzo on the loss, Strasburg and his message for Storen (plus a thank you)

I just got home from Nationals Park a few minutes ago, and wanted to post some quotes from Nats general manager Mike Rizzo before hitting the pillow for the next 3 1/2 weeks. Before I share Rizzo’s postgame comments, though, I wanted to say thank you to all of you who read my work here on MASNsports.com, commented, interacted with me on Twitter or in

LaRoche, Jackson both say they’d like to return

Adam LaRoche has a $10 million mutual option for next season, which he’s sure to decline in search of a more lucrative deal. Edwin Jackson is set to become a free agent yet again. The Nationals’ 2012 season just ended, and ended in stunning fashion. But general manager Mike Rizzo and his staff have been preparing for the offseason for about three or four weeks,

Storen tries to deal with a blown save he’ll never forget

Drew Storen stood in front of his locker wearing his grey undershirt with red sleeves. He looked at the floor, paced around the Nationals clubhouse a bit, then came back to his locker. Veteran infielder Mark DeRosa walked over and gave Storen a hug and a few words of encouragement. Starter Gio Gonzalez followed, as did general manager Mike Rizzo. Storen stared at the ground

Storen blows lead in ninth (Nats lose an absolute stunner, are eliminated)

Drew Storen was handed a 7-5 lead in the ninth inning, but the Nationals’ 25-year-old closer allowed four runs to give the Cardinals a 9-7 lead heading to the bottom of the ninth. Storen allowed a double to Carlos Beltran leading off the ninth, then retired the next two Cardinals hitters and got two strikes on Yadier Molina to bring the Nationals to within a

Gonzalez nearly implodes in the fifth (Suzuki adds a huge insurance run)

It looked like Gio Gonzalez was on cruise control. He’d faced just one over the minimum through the first three innings, had struck out four and was having no trouble pounding the zone with both his fastball and dazzling curve. Then the Game 1 Gio Gonzalez returned. We remember that Gio Gonzalez - the one who couldn’t find the strike zone, handed out walks to

Nats deliver a haymaker right off the bat (another follows in the third)

The Nationals needed just seven pitches to send the Nats Park crowd into a frenzy and to deliver a massive body blow to the Cardinals. Adam Wainwright, who struck out 10 and gave up just a single run in his Game 1 outing against the Nats, gave up a double to Jayson Werth to open the bottom of the first, a shot ripped down the

Jackson available in ‘pen, Zimmermann would start Game 1 of NLCS

If the Nationals win tonight and get their way to the National League Championship Series, Jordan Zimmermann will get the ball for Game 1. Nats manager Davey Johnson said today that Zimmermann would be his guy to open the NLCS on Sunday, this after working a perfect inning of relief yesterday and striking out all three hitters he faced. Like Zimmermann yesterday, Edwin Jackson will

No changes in Nats lineup for Game 5

The Nationals have announced their lineup for the decisive Game 5 of the National League Division Series, and it’s the same one that’s faced the Cardinals throughout the series. Well, save for the starting pitcher - Gio Gonzalez, in this case. For the Nationals against the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright: RF - Jayson Werth CF - Bryce Harper 3B - Ryan Zimmerman 1B - Adam LaRoche

Looking at Game 5 by the numbers

A few Nationals players said after Wednesday’s Game 3 loss that if they could just force a Game 5, they felt like they had the advantage. Gio Gonzalez, a 21-game winner this season who posted a 1.35 ERA in his final six regular season starts, would take the mound for the Nats in that Game 5 with a chance to pitch them to the National

Leftovers from one of the most thrilling games of the year

Before yesterday’s must-win Game 4, reliever Michael Gonzalez, one of the Nationals’ veteran leaders, walked past Jayson Werth and asked him how he was feeling. “I said, ‘I feel like I want to play tomorrow,’ ” Werth said. “And we get that chance.” They sure do. The Nationals will play a Game 5 tonight in prime time, a decisive game that will send either them

The start the Nats needed and the speech that got them started

When Ross Detwiler reached for his phone after tonight’s game, he had 83 text messages waiting for him. Good thing he won’t be needed to pitch for at least another few days. His fingers might be numb for a while if he plans on getting back to everyone. Detwiler took the mound tonight needing to pitch the game of his life. He did just that.

The walk-off homer through the eyes of the guy who hit it

What does Jayson Werth remember about his game-winning, walk-off home run off Lance Lynn in the bottom of the ninth inning, a homer which gave the Nationals new life in the best-of-five National League Division Series and let them play one more day? Not a whole lot. “It’s almost like I blacked out,” Werth said after the game. “A Will Ferrell moment.” The pieces Werth

Johnson discusses a thrilling Game 4 walk-off win

I don’t know where to begin. I’ll get to quotes from the walk-off hero, the starting pitcher who threw the game of his life with the pressure of an entire organization on his shoulders and all the other guys who contributed in between. First, here’s Davey Johnson. The Nationals skipper said both after last night’s blowout loss and before today’s must-win Game 4 that he

An interesting decision brings Zimmermann on (Werth wins it with a walk-off)

With the game tied 1-1 after six innings and Ross Detwiler done for the day after a stellar outing in the biggest game of his life, Nationals manager Davey Johnson has made an interesting decision. Instead of going to his bullpen and calling on Ryan Mattheus, Craig Stammen or one of his other right-handed relievers to work the seventh, Johnson is going to Jordan Zimmmermann,

A reason to cheer and a tie ballgame (a heck of an effort from Detwiler)

Finally, this crowd had something to cheer about. More than 45,000 fans waited for a reason to explode all game yesterday. The Cardinals took a lead in the top of the first, piled on in the second and then never looked back. The largest crowd in Nationals Park history never got a chance to let loose. They sure did in the second inning today, when

Johnson on Nats’ must-win mindset, Espinosa’s approach

This is it. As Jayson Werth said yesterday, the Nationals have one game to play and one game to win. The Nats’ backs are against the wall today, but they’re ready to go out and fight. Mark DeRosa said he planned to give his teammates a bit of a pep talk today, telling them to enjoy the moment and play with a sense of urgency.

Lineup remains the same, Zimmermann available in relief

The Nationals’ lineup will remain the same for today’s must-win Game 4 of the best-of-five National League Division Series. Davey Johnson will not make tweaks to his batting order today, despite Danny Espinosa’s struggles and the offense’s recent issues driving in runs. “Going right with what we had yesterday,” Johnson said. “Going to have a little better outcome.” Jordan Zimmermann will be available in relief

Strasburg or no Strasburg, Nats not playing well enough to win

I hated myself for being so tired last night that I passed out before the end of the Tigers-A’s game. When did I get so old that regardless of how tired I was (and man, was I tired), I couldn’t fight through it and watch late-night postseason baseball? C’mon, Kolko, get it together. This is what I get, I guess. I miss a thrilling ninth-inning

Readying for a must-win

It’s clear at this point what has to be done. “Kind of got our backs up against the wall now,” Adam LaRoche said calmly after today’s game. “It’s a must-win tomorrow.” The Nationals played great baseball for much of the regular season. They finished with the best record in the majors, earned the top seed in the National League and set themselves up for a

Hearing from the hitters after another rough day at the plate

It was a very quiet Nationals clubhouse following today’s 8-0 loss to the Cardinals. It might take a few hours to get past this one, given the way the Nats were dominated in their home park in the much-anticipated first playoff game in D.C. in 79 years. Not only did the Nationals’ pitchers fail to do much to contain a dangerous St. Louis offense, the

Davey Johnson: “We’re not out of this by a long shot”

Over the last two games, the Nationals have been outscored 20-4. They’ve gone from being in control of the series after a Game 1 win at St. Louis to being on the ropes and one loss from booking tee times. Things have turned for the worse in a hurry. But Davey Johnson’s been here before. He knows he’s got a talented group and he’s not

A common theme is emerging (Nats routed in Game 3)

For the series, the Nationals have left 27 runners on base and gone 3-for-23 with runners in scoring position. They’ve left at least one runner on in every inning so far today, and have stranded runners in scoring position in four of the five frames. In the fifth, they left the bases loaded when Michael Morse flied out to end the inning. Edwin Jackson won’t

Jackson in trouble early (Nationals missing offensive opportunities)

For the second straight game, a Nationals starter has fallen behind big before the end of the second inning. On Monday, it was Jordan Zimmermann putting the Nats in a 4-1 hole after two innings. Today, it’s Edwin Jackson who has allowed four runs in the first two frames, leaving the Nats trailing 4-0. Jackson retired the first two hitters he faced to start the

Nats will be tested by Carpenter

Chris Carpenter missed nearly the entire regular season after having a bizarre surgery to remove a rib, and he threw just 17 innings over his three starts prior to the playoffs. But the Cardinals won’t put any limit on their veteran right-hander today as he pitches in Game 3 of the best-of-five National League Division Series. “We plan on going in and just watch him

Nats, Cards lineups for NLDS Game 3

Today’s Nationals and Cardinals lineups look exactly the same as the ones we saw in the first two games of the National League Division Series - with the exception, of course, of new pitchers. The Nationals will send Edwin Jackson to the mound for Game 3. He’ll oppose Cardinals righty Chris Carpenter, who made only three regular season starts this season but is the franchise’s

The wait is over

Anything going on today? Anyone got any afternoon plans? Myself, I’m thinking about just going back to sleep and hitting the links a little later on. Maybe I’ll stop by Bed Bath & Beyond. I don’t know; I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time. What’s that? Today will mark the first big league postseason game in D.C. in 79 years, a sellout

Which Edwin Jackson will we see?

There’s plenty to have our eyes on tomorrow. Chris Carpenter is starting for St. Louis despite making just three regular season appearances this season. The Nationals are trying to improve on their .188 average with runners in scoring position in this series. Washington appears practically unable to touch Cardinals flame-throwing rookie reliever Trevor Rosenthal (whose stuff Bryce Harper referred to today as “fuego”). It all

Meeting with the manager, plus some ballpark tweaks

Nationals Park has undergone some minor playoff renovations while we’ve been gone. There are new banners gracing the top of each dugout - one that reads “#Natitude” on the visitors’ dugout, and another that reads “October Natitude” on top of the Nationals’ dugout. The MLB Postseason logo has been painted onto the grass down the first- and third-base lines, and bunting has been added to

Start times set for NLDS Games 4 and 5

Major League Baseball has announced the start times for Games 4 and 5 of the National League Division Series between the Nationals and Cardinals, and the schedule will bring the Sun Monster into play on Thursday. Game 4 is currently set to begin at 4:07 p.m., on Thursday, although it could be moved back an hour to 5:07 p.m., if the Tigers-Athletics series has ended

Nats starting to need more from the starters

ST. LOUIS - After three days in chilly Missouri, it’s back to the DMV. I’m waiting at my gate for a 7:45 a.m. CT flight, which should get me back home just in time to shower, hop in my car and head to Nationals Park for today’s optional workout and media availability. The Nats got home late last night and will take the field today,

Despite loss, Nats feel they did their job

ST. LOUIS - Bryce Harper, who is 1-for-10 with six strikeouts over his first two career postseason games, was asked after today’s game whether he feels like he’s overanxious at the plate or trying to do a bit too much. “You think I’m overanxious? You think so?” Harper asked the reporter, who responded in the affirmative. “Well, you should be our hitting coach.” Harper delivered

Hearing from Zimmermann, Stammen after a rough day for the pitchers

ST. LOUIS - It didn’t really matter who was on the mound for the Nationals today. Four of the seven Nats pitchers gave up at least a run. All but Ryan Mattheus allowed at least a baserunner. The Cardinals teed off this afternoon, jumping out big and not easing up. “They have a great lineup. It’s tough,” said Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann. “You get a

Johnson discusses Nats’ 12-4 loss in Game 2

ST. LOUIS - As I try and move past the fact that someone asked Davey Johnson postgame whether Stephen Strasburg, who is not on the Nationals’ roster for this series, can “offer something” in Games 3 or 4 ... The Nationals got hit around pretty hard today in St. Louis. They were touched up for 12 runs on 13 hits, seven of which went for

Series evened up as Nats lose 12-4 in Game 2

ST. LOUIS - The Nationals will head back to D.C. needing to win two out of three games at home. And they’ll do all they can to put the memory of this shellacking behind them. The Cardinals took Game 2 of the National League Division Series by a score of 12-4 today, evening the best-of-five series in what was close to a must-win game for

A similar script, except it’s flipped (a rookie mistake by Harper)

ST. LOUIS - The first two innings of this game have been an exact replica of the first two innings yesterday. Only this time, it’s the Cardinals with the wild left-handed starter with a pitch count over 50 and the Nationals missing the chance to put their opponent in a big early hole. Jordan Zimmermann got the Nats on the board in the second inning

LaRoche looking good against lefties

ST. LOUIS - The Nationals will face Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia today, something that might have spelled bad news for Adam LaRoche in the past. Traditionally a significantly better hitter against right-handed pitching, the left-handed hitting LaRoche has really improved against lefties this season. Not only did he hit .268 against lefties this season, but he also had 11 home runs and an .825 OPS

Zimmermann ready for the spotlight (Game 3 to start at 1 p.m.)

ST. LOUIS - Jordan Zimmermann isn’t going to try and trick himself into believing he’s been in a spot like this before. He pitched collegiately at the University of Wisconsin Stevens-Point, a Division III school, and while he threw in the 2007 College World Series in front of about 5,000 fans, he’s aware today’s start in Game 2 of the National League Division Series is

Johnson on Espinosa’s struggles, his improved bench

ST. LOUIS - Danny Espinosa battled a bone bruise in his left shoulder down the stretch this season, an injury that really put him in a rut at the plate. The Nationals’ second baseman got a cortisone shot on Sept. 17, and it helped him turn things around for a stretch, as he hit .400 over his next seven games. Over his final nine regular

Nats, Cards stick with same lineups, save for pitchers

ST. LOUIS - Except for the pitchers, the lineups for today’s Game 2 of the best-of-five National League Division Series at Busch Stadium are exactly the same as those from Game 1. Here’s the Nationals batting order that will face St. Louis’ Jaime Garcia: RF Jayson Werth CF Bryce Harper 3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B Adam LaRoche LF Michael Morse SS Ian Desmond 2B Danny Espinosa

A chance to break this thing open

ST. LOUIS - Just a couple days ago, there was talk that going on the road to start the postseason was a disadvantage for the Nationals. Instead of starting at home, the top-seeded Nats have their first two National League Division Series games here in St. Louis because of MLB’s scheduling quirks, and that was thought to be a negative. Some fans worried that if

Hearing from G. Gonzalez, Storen, Desmond and Werth

ST. LOUIS - Just to recap today’s ballgame for all those who were stuck in a cave somewhere all afternoon: National League Cy Young Award candidate Gio Gonzalez walked seven hitters, the Nationals struck out 13 times, left the bases loaded twice and made two errors in the final three innings. Oh, yeah, and they won 3-2. “I don’t really know how we won that

Inexperience meant nothing to Mattheus, Moore in big spots

ST. LOUIS - Remember all the talk about the vast difference in playoff experience in this National League Division Series? How the Cardinals had an edge over the Nationals because they’d been through all this before? How the Nats might be affected in big spots because of the added pressure that comes with late-inning, playoff situations? “It obviously didn’t affect us,” reliever Ryan Mattheus said

Johnson discusses Nats’ 3-2 comeback win

ST. LOUIS - Where to begin? The Nationals took us all on a ride this afternoon, battling their way to a 3-2 win over the Cardinals in Game 1 of the best-of-five National League Division Series, despite seven walks from starter Gio Gonzalez, 10 runners left on base, two errors and 13 strikeouts as an offense. This game was bizarre as could be. It all

The playoff newbies deliver (Nats win 3-2 in Game 1)

ST. LOUIS - These inexperienced Nationals seem to be faring just fine, huh? A half-inning after Ryan Mattheus gets out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam with just two pitches in his first career postseason appearance, pinch-hitter Tyler Moore delivers a two-out, two-run, go-ahead single in his first ever playoff at-bat. Mercy. Moore got to a 2-2 count against Cardinals lefty Marc Rzepczynski, got a fastball

Gonzalez settles down, Wainwright locks in (Mattheus pulls a magic act)

ST. LOUIS - In Gio Gonzalez’s first two innings, he threw 55 pitches, only 27 for strikes. He walked five and allowed two runs. Over his next two innings of work, Gonzalez threw 28 pitches, 19 for strikes. He was able to settle down, get ahead in the count and pound the strike zone. Gonzalez faced the minimum over his third and fourth innings of

Suzuki comes up big again (Gonzalez nearly melts down in the second)

ST. LOUIS - Remember this note for trivia question purposes: Kurt Suzuki drove in the first run in Nationals playoff history. General manager Mike Rizzo’s trade for Suzuki after the non-waiver trade deadline continues to pay major dividends. The catcher came through with a big two-out RBI single to left field in the second inning, bringing in Adam LaRoche to give the Nats a 1-0

Pregame chatter with the skipper

ST. LOUIS - During his pregame session with reporters late this morning, Davey Johnson was asked if he said anything to his team this afternoon leading up to the first playoff game in Nationals team history. “If I had a meeting, they’d think I’m panicking or something,” Johnson responded. Instead of having an organized team meeting, Johnson went around and said a few words to

Familiar lineup for NLDS Game 1 at St. Louis

ST. LOUIS - The Nationals have posted their lineup for Game 1 of the best-of-five National League Division Series against the Cardinals. It looks pretty familiar. RF Jayson Werth CF Bryce Harper 3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B Adam LaRoche LF Michael Morse SS Ian Desmond 2B Danny Espinosa C Kurt Suzuki P Gio Gonzalez Here is the Cardinals lineup that will face Gonzalez: CF Jon Jay

A scouting report on Wainwright, plus a tie-in to Strasburg

ST. LOUIS - I’m going to do my very best not to discuss Stephen Strasburg during the Nationals’ playoff run. The story, as Strasburg would tell you, is not about him right now. He’s been shut down, won’t pitch in the postseason and will spend his time during games watching from the bench. But as Strasburg looks out to the mound at Busch Stadium later

How much does experience matter? Depends who you ask

ST. LOUIS - This much seems clear after yesterday - those who have playoff experience seem to believe it’ll be a benefit during their current postseason run. Those who don’t, well, as you might expect, they don’t feel it’ll hurt them much. The contrast between the Nationals and Cardinals when it comes to postseason experience is pretty dramatic. Of the 25 guys on the Cardinals’

Nerves? What nerves?

ST. LOUIS - The Nationals watched last night’s National League wild card game, knowing they’d be facing the winner Sunday. Like the rest of us, they saw the controversial infield fly call, Atlanta fans covering the turf with beer cans, the do-over strike three that resulted in David Ross’ home run and the Braves’ 23-game winning streak in games started by Kris Medlen come to

Gio Gonzalez preparing for his “childhood dream”

ST. LOUIS - As Gio Gonzalez took a seat in the press conference room at Busch Stadium late this afternoon, he rubbed his upper arms and leaned down towards the microphone with a smile on his face. “I’m trembling right now,” he said. “It’s not my nerves, it’s just the cold.” Gonzalez will get the ball for the Nationals tomorrow afternoon for Game 1 of

Nats finalize NLDS roster, set their rotation

ST. LOUIS - Before stepping foot on the field at Busch Stadium for their full team workout, the Nationals finalized their roster for the National League Division Series. The roster hasn’t been filed with the league office, so it’s not official as of yet. Manager Davey Johnson commented - perhaps half-seriously and half-jokingly - that since the Nats hadn’t seen the Cardinals’ roster yet, they

Setting up shop at Busch Stadium

ST. LOUIS - Hello from Busch Stadium, where both the Nationals and Cardinals will spend today taking part in team workouts in advance of tomorrow’s NLDS opener between the two teams. They’ve done some quick work around here getting the stadium ready for playoff baseball. Bunting is hanging from the facade of all the different decks, (there’s bunting everywhere) and Major League Baseball’s postseason logo

Heading back to St. Louis

Sunday should be a pretty special day in D.C./Maryland sports. The Redskins play the Falcons at 1 p.m. The Ravens play the Chiefs, also at 1 p.m. The Nationals start their NLDS series with the Cardinals at 3:07 p.m. The Orioles open their ALDS set with the Yankees at 6:07 p.m. That’s a lot happening in one 12-hour span. And for the first time in

Nats to face Cardinals in NLDS (updated)

The Nationals are going to St. Louis. We think. In the first game of the new wild card era, the Cardinals beat the Braves 6-3, and will move on to the National League Division Series. They’ll host the Nats for Games 1 and 2, which will be held Sunday at 3:07 p.m. and Monday at 4:37 p.m., respectively. The topic that everyone will be discussing

Cortisone: The “magic shot” that has been crucial to Nats’ success

Throughout much of the first half of the season, Ryan Zimmerman wasn’t himself. Inflammation in the AC joint in his right shoulder sapped his bat speed and quickly increased his frustration level. After yet another 0-for-4 in a game against the Orioles on June 23, Zimmerman was hitting .218 and slugging a lowly .305. “I don’t miss fastballs like I’ve been missing fastballs,” Zimmerman said

Times for Games 1 and 2 of NLDS are set (with ump assignments)

Major League Baseball has announced the start times for the first two games of each Division Series. And the schedule they’ve gone with might leave some D.C. sports fans a little frustrated. The Nationals will start their first postseason game in team history (and the first playoff game in D.C. baseball history in 79 years) at 3:07 p.m. on Sunday. Monday’s Game 2 will start

Gonzalez takes home an award; could Harper be next?

The results of the National League Cy Young award voting won’t be released until the postseason has come to a close, but Gio Gonzalez has already earned himself some hardware. Gonzalez was named the winner of the 2012 Warren Spahn Award today, an award given out to the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball based on a pitcher’s wins, strikeouts and earned run average.

Now we wait

This is uncharted territory for the Washington Nationals. They’ve played 162 games, yet their season isn’t over. The goodbyes, tee times and trips to tropical locations will have to wait. For the first time in team history, there’s postseason baseball to be played. With yesterday’s action in the books, the playoff bracket is finally set, and those in Major League Baseball’s office can breathe a

Nats react to Teddy winning

Teddy Roosevelt winning the Presidents’ Race was the highlight of the afternoon for many Nationals fans. Ryan Zimmerman does not fit into that group of people. “I am so glad Teddy won so we can stop talking about Teddy,” an exasperated Zimmerman said after today’s 5-1 Nats win. “People get more excited for a mascot race than a game.” Zimmerman then gave a massive eye-roll

Rollins takes parting shot, plus Jackson, Morse notes

The Phillies wrapped up a .500 season today with a loss to the Nationals. The year didn’t go as the Phils had expected, as they relinquished the NL East crown and failed to record a winning record for the first time in 10 years. But Jimmy Rollins feels his team would have prevented the Nats from winning their first division title in team history if

Johnson OK after health scare

With two outs in the top of the seventh inning, someone popped out of the Nationals’ dugout, walked to the mound and got the ball from starter Edwin Jackson. That person wasn’t manager Davey Johnson, but bench coach Randy Knorr. My first thought at the time was that Johnson was just having Knorr handle the managerial duties late in the game, given that it was

Nats lock up top seed in National League (plus attendance notes)

Game 162 is in the books. All that’s left now is the postseason run. By way of this afternoon’s 5-1 win, the Nationals have earned the No. 1 seed in the National League and at least a tie for the best record in the majors. Even if the Reds win tonight, finishing in a tie with Washington with an identical 98-64 record, the Nats will

Riding a Teddy high, Nats crank up the offense (updated)

Yes, the losing streak is over. As my colleague Byron Kerr wrote, Teddy won the Presidents Race today. Print Byron’s story out. Frame it. Tell the grandkids about this moment one day. The crowd got all riled up by Teddy’s big victory, and apparently the players did, too. (Either that, or they just got better pitches to hit and put the barrel on them. One

Lannan still in play for postseason roster spot

It’s been widely assumed that the Nationals will go with a postseason rotation made up of Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler, though not necessarily in that order, as the starting pitching spots for Games 3 and 4 have yet to be determined. It’s possible, however, that John Lannan finds himself in the playoff rotation, as well. Lannan has gone 9-5 with

Nats lineup for Game 162

The bulk of the Nationals’ regulars are back in the starting lineup, while the two that started yesterday - Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche - are taking a seat for today’s regular season finale. The Nats have a magic number of one to clinch the top seed in the National League, giving them home-field advantage through the playoffs and setting them up to play the

LaRoche has another reason to celebrate

Adam LaRoche popped champagne with his teammates last night, celebrating the Nationals clinching the NL East division title. He didn’t exactly have any bubbly waiting for him in the clubhouse tonight after reaching 100 RBIs for the season, but he still took pride in a nice individual goal which he feels also symbolizes how effective the Nats have been offensively as a team. “It feels

Johnson discusses Nats’ 4-2 win, chance at top seed

Last night, a team made up of the Nationals’ regulars was held scoreless and managed just five hits in a 2-0 loss to the Phillies. Tonight, a lineup filled with bench players did the job in a 4-2 win. “How about that goon squad?” said manager Davey Johnson, calling the bench guys by their self-appointed nickname. “Told you they were tough.” A night after clinching

A bullpen battle with an eye on the scoreboard (Nats win 4-2)

Both the Nationals and Phillies went into this game knowing they’d be relying on Johnny Wholestaff. In other words, we were going to see a whole host of relievers take the mound tonight. We’ve gotten just that so far. Tom Gorzelanny, coming out of the bullpen to spot-start for the Nats, went 3 2/3 innings, allowing one run and striking out five. B.J. Rosenberg, a

Gonzalez to pitch Game 1 in Division Series, Zimmermann to pitch Game 2

Despite all the madness that went on in the Nationals’ clubhouse last night, it looked good as new this afternoon. The only indication that gallons of champagne, beer, juice and water had been spilled everywhere just 16 hours earlier was the faint odor of beer. Clubhouse manager Mike Wallace stayed until 5:30 this morning cleaning up, and a cleaning crew worked through the night to

How’s this for a post-clinch Nats lineup?

Davey Johnson got hit with a champagne shower three times last night. After he got dried off from the first attack, Adam LaRoche ambushed Johnson and soaked him again. Johnson may not have loved it, but he took it in stride. “He got me good,” Johnson said. Then, rookie reliever Christian Garcia, a guy battling for a spot on the postseason roster, was gutsy enough

Gorzelanny starting tonight, bumping Gonzalez

Now that the Nationals have locked up the National League East title, they’re going about preparing for the postseason. Step one: sitting Gio Gonzalez. Davey Johnson has decided to rest Gonzalez, tonight’s scheduled starter, and will instead have left-handed reliever Tom Gorzelanny start against the Phillies. Gonzalez could have started tonight and thrown just a couple innings to stay fresh for a possible Game 1

So, what now?

There was one quote from last night’s celebration that I didn’t get around to dropping into any of my earlier entries, but wanted to make sure to pass along before the night fades away. The quote comes from Bryce Harper, who was asked about Stephen Strasburg’s role in getting the Nationals to the NL East title despite last taking the mound for the team on

A night to remember

As the Nationals sprayed champagne, beer, Gatorade, orange juice, water, baby powder, shaving cream and any other substance they could find last night, there was plenty of great stuff going on. On the MASN broadcast, Gio Gonzalez called principal owner Mark Lerner, whose foot is in a boot after recent surgery, “the pimp with the limp.” While on the field, Ryan Mattheus sprinted over to

Guys who have been through the lows react to the new high

Shortly after Gio Gonzalez dumped a beer on the head of the Nationals’ managing principal owner Ted Lerner, his son, Mark Lerner, stood on the field with players celebrating all around him, talking about what the NL East title meant to the organization after years of losing. “When Commissioner (Bud) Selig gave us the team, it was a big decision on his part,” Lerner said.

Some initial post-clinch reactions

There’s a ton to digest and type up after the Nationals clinched the National League East, setting off a wild celebration in the clubhouse and on the field tonight, and I’ll have plenty for you throughout the next couple hours and into tomorrow. For now, here are some quotes from the guys who got to do all the celebrating to hold you over, transcribed by

Nationals are NL East champions (Nats lose 2-0, but who cares?)

Ladies and gentlemen, the Washington Nationals are your 2012 National League East champions. It sure didn’t come easily. The Nats had lost nine of their last 16 games coming into tonight and are currently trailing the Phillies 2-0 in the ninth inning here in Washington. The division clincher came 250 miles away from D.C., as the Braves lost to the Pirates 2-1, giving the NL

A whole lot of nothing against Kyle Kendrick (we’re through seven)

Through five innings, the Nationals have not managed a single run and have put up just three base hits - all singles - off Kyle Kendrick. Kendrick, who the Nats lit up on Wednesday, has let just four balls out of the infield. Of the 15 outs he’s retired, 12 have been via the ground ball, and the Nationals’ best threat so far only came

Gunning for top seed, Johnson sticking with Suzuki

At the start of his afternoon press conference today, Davey Johnson was asked about the Orioles, his former team both as a player and a manager, clinching their first playoff spot since Johnson managed them in 1997. “It was great. Great,” Johnson said. “Beat the Yankees. Finish ahead of the Yankees.” Johnson then paused. “That’ll get you fired,” he said with a laugh. A couple

Suzuki gets 10th straight start

Kurt Suzuki has told manager Davey Johnson in the past that he has no problem starting every single game. Until the Nationals clinch the NL East title, Johnson is taking Suzuki up on his offer. Suzuki’s getting the start behind the plate for the 10th straight day, a very lengthy streak for a catcher. In the last nine games, Suzuki is batting .294 with a

Coming back home, still looking for the clincher

ST. LOUIS - Each of the last two days, I’d brought a bag containing a change of clothes with me to Busch Stadium. If the Nationals happened to clinch the division and I ended up with champagne all over my button down and pants, I didn’t want to then have to spend the next couple hours working while stinking like alcohol. My college friends can

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