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Strasburg has strained right oblique

ATLANTA - Stephen Strasburg will leave the Nationals in Atlanta and fly back to D.C. after he was diagnosed with a strained right oblique, an injury that knocked him from tonight’s 3-2 Nats win after just two innings. It turns out that Strasburg has been feeling discomfort in the oblique for a few starts now, but while it had improved as he got deeper into

Clippard goes into, and out of, a massive jam (Nats win 3-2)

ATLANTA - The Nationals’ bullpen has put itself in a number of tough spots this season. Tyler Clippard might top the list with his effort tonight, but somehow, Clippard managed to right the ship and allow the Nats to keep clinging to a 3-2 lead after seven innings. Called upon to work the seventh and protect a two-run advantage after Craig Stammen had thrown 49

Strasburg leaves after two innings (with injury update)

ATLANTA - This can’t be good. Stephen Strasburg has been pulled from tonight’s game after just two innings with an apparent injury. Craig Stammen is now on to work the third inning for the Nationals, who will now have to deal with another injury issue, this one to their ace. Strasburg faced the minimum in the first inning tonight, getting a 4-6-3 double play off

Harper likely out through the weekend, could land on DL (with Werth update)

ATLANTA - The Nationals have played 11 games without Bryce Harper in the starting lineup this season and have gone 2-9 in those contests. They could now be without Harper for a more extended period. Harper is out of the Nats’ lineup for the fifth straight game with bursitis in his left knee, and because the condition hasn’t improved much over that five-day span, manager

Harper still out, Lombardozzi in left

ATLANTA - Bryce Harper is out of the Nationals lineup for the fifth straight game because of bursitis in his left knee, leaving manager Davey Johnson to again try and piece together an outfield alignment featuring multiple bench players and a batting order that includes multiple guys with batting averages below the Mendoza Line. Johnson has opted to sit Tyler Moore for tonight’s series opener

Turning to the ace

ATLANTA - Hello from lovely Atlanta, where you’ll have trouble finding a Pepsi anywhere and the tomahawk chop plays seemingly every 27 seconds at Turner Field. The Nationals open a big three-game set with the Braves tonight, and given that Davey Johnson’s boys come into this series already 5 1/2 games back of their first-place hosts, this could be a relatively big weekend, at least

Searching for change

The only time that the Nationals were at or below the .500 mark all of last year was four games into the season, when they were the owners of a 2-2 record. That’s not to suggest that the Nats’ ride in 2012 didn’t have some bumps along the way, because it definitely did. But one thing is certain - the first third of this year’s

Nats fall back to .500, know “it’s time to turn it on”

BALTIMORE - After a 2-0 loss to the Orioles,= in which his team managed just three hits and played some shaky defense, Nationals manager Davey Johnson didn’t have a whole lot to say. Johnson wasn’t by any means curt with reporters after tonight’s game, but he was brief when discussing the latest frustrating loss shouldered by his team, which now owns a .500 record. How

A much more tame start tonight (Nats lose 2-0)

BALTIMORE - Through the first five innings of last night’s ballgame, the Nationals had put up six runs and smacked eight hits. They’d slugged four home runs - three of which came off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman - and had a nice 6-2 lead. Through the first five innings tonight, the Nats have yet to score and they’ve managed just two hits off Orioles

Harper could return tomorrow, Werth likely to miss Atlanta series

BALTIMORE - Tonight will mark the fourth straight game that the Nationals have been without Bryce Harper and the 24th straight game they’ve been without Jayson Werth. The Nats don’t expect to be down two of their starting outfielders much longer, but there’s still some uncertainty surrounding when both Harper and Werth will be able to return to action. Manager Davey Johnson said today that

Tracy at first, LaRoche DHing

BALTIMORE - Davey Johnson will go with the same batting order as last night and make just one position change on the diamond, with the exception of the starting pitcher. Chad Tracy will play first base for the Nationals today, with Adam LaRoche getting a bit of a breather, serving as the designated hitter. The Nats will take their hacks against veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia,

Some of this, some of that

If you were surprised to see the Nationals blow a three-run lead in the late innings last night with Jordan Zimmermann on the mound and Tyler Clippard coming in behind him, well, you weren’t the only one. “It’s surprising in the sense that those games, traditionally, we’re going to win,” Clippard said. “We got a lead early and felt good about things. Jordan was throwing

Zimmermann, Clippard on the seventh-inning blow-up

BALTIMORE - Facing the Orioles, pitching in Camden Yards, things can get ugly in a hurry. Case in point: The seventh inning of tonight’s ballgame. A 6-3 Nationals’ lead became a 9-6 deficit seemingly in the blink of an eye. Jordan Zimmermann looked to be in good shape when the bottom of the seventh inning began, having thrown just 75 pitches to that point. You

Johnson: “That one hurt”

BALTIMORE - With Ryan Zimmerman having smacked three home runs and Jordan Zimmermann, the Nationals’ ace through the first two months of the season, on the mound, this ballgame looked well in control after five innings. The Nats held a 6-2 lead after five and had gotten into the Orioles’ bullpen, while Zimmermann - he of the 1.71 ERA entering tonight - still had plenty

Big O’s seventh, late offensive shutdown leads to Nats’ 9-6 loss

BALTIMORE - Through the first five innings tonight, the Nationals crushed four homers and put up six runs. Then the Orioles’ bats woke up and the Nats’ shut down. The Nats’ 6-2 lead, procured on the back of Ryan Zimmerman, disappeared in a hurry tonight. Despite having Jordan Zimmermann on the mound to start the game, the Nats allowed seven unanswered Orioles runs, six of

Zimmerman putting on a show in Charm City (Nats suddenly trail)

BALTIMORE - Have a night, Ryan Zimmerman. Have a night. Zimmerman has stepped into the batter’s box here at Camden Yards three times tonight. He’s launched three home runs. The first went out to left-center, a frozen rope in the first inning that got out of here in a hurry. The second was a high flyball to dead center in the fourth that flew well

Back-to-back homers on back-to-back nights (instant update)

BALTIMORE - If you were looking for some consistency out of the Nationals’ offense, you’ve gotten it over the last two days. Small sample size, sure. But it’s a step in the right direction. The Nats have smacked back-to-back homers for the second straight game, and their three solo home runs through the first four innings tonight have given them a 3-1 lead. Ryan Zimmerman

Notes on Espinosa’s return to the lineup and Werth’s rehab assignment

BALTIMORE - The Nationals’ starting second baseman tonight will be playing with a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder and a broken bone in his right wrist. Danny Espinosa came into spring training determined to play through the rotator cuff injury, insisting that after a winter of strength training focusing on the muscles around the rotator cuff, he could still be effective even with

Harper’s status uncertain for Atlanta

BALTIMORE - Bryce Harper has missed the Nationals’ last two games with bursitis in his left knee and will sit out at least these next two games against the Orioles, as well. But Harper’s time out of the Nats’ lineup might not end there. Manager Davey Johnson said today that Harper isn’t progressing as quickly as the Nats might have hoped, leaving his status for

Espinosa returns to lineup

BALTIMORE - After sitting for a week with a broken bone in his right wrist, Danny Espinosa will return to the Nats lineup tonight, facing right-hander Chris Tillman. He’ll bat ninth, with Chad Tracy picking up DH duties. Once again, Bryce Harper will be on the bench, battling bursitis in his left knee. For the Nats CF Denard Span RF Roger Bernadina 3B Ryan Zimmerman

Bringing the bats back

In his major league debut, Nathan Karns faced an Orioles squad that has smacked the most homers in the majors. In his second big league outing, Karns will get the Braves, the team with the second-most homers in the bigs. The 25-year-old right-hander isn’t exactly getting eased into action at this level, is he? Karns pitched pretty well last night in his first major league

Karns will get another start with Nats after solid debut (with Werth rehab note)

The thinking coming into tonight was that regardless of how Nathan Karns pitched in his major league debut today, he would most likely be heading back to Double-A Harrisburg after the outing was over. But with Ross Detwiler still feeling some tightness in his right oblique/back and Karns putting up a solid performance in his first big league start, the Nationals have opted to keep

Bench guys provide a boost (Nats win 9-3)

The Nationals have been waiting for Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina to come around and provide some of the offensive firepower that they showed last season, when the two reserve outfielders combined for 15 homers and hit a collective .279. Coming into today, Moore and Bernadina had just one home run on the season between them and were batting a collective .138. That all changed

Karns is off and running (Karns through four)

After a rain delay of 1 hour, 21 minutes, Nathan Karns stepped on the mound at Nationals Park for the first time. It couldn’t have been easy for the 25-year-old to have waited for his major league debut to begin while rain poured down here in D.C. He had to be jacked up as all get-out, but the wait is now over. If Karns was

For Karns, a big test on a big stage

If you’re a fan of watching talented, young pitchers test themselves against some of the best hitters in baseball - and who isn’t, really - you might want to clear your schedule around 7:05 p.m. tonight. Tonight’s Orioles-Nationals game will give us a battle of two hard-throwing, fresh-faced right-handers who probably have trouble convincing bartenders that their IDs are legitimate and weren’t crafted by some

Hearing from Johnson, Gonzalez, Suzuki and Zimmerman after Nats loss

It’s tough to win games when you score two runs and go 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Yet again, the Nationals’ offense was unable to get the job done, failing to capitalize on their eight hits (four of which were for extra bases) in today’s 6-2 loss to the Orioles. “That’s been kinda our M.O.,” manager Davey Johnson said. “But we’re showing signs of

Nats calling up Nathan Karns to start tomorrow, Cedeno sent down

Needing a guy to start tomorrow in place of the injured Ross Detwiler and without many attractive options at the Triple-A level, the Nationals have decided to call up right-hander Nathan Karns from Double-A Harrisburg. Karns will make his major league debut at Nationals Park against the Orioles tomorrow night. To make room for him on the active roster, left-hander Xavier Cedeno, who was called

O’s pounding out hits, Nats failing to deliver (Nats lose 6-2)

Both the Orioles and Nationals have blown plenty of chances with runners in scoring position today. The difference in the ballgame so far is that the Nats have done almost nothing with their opportunities, and while the O’s have stranded their share of runners, they’ve been productive enough when scoring chances have presented themselves. Midway through the eighth, the Nats trail their neighbors to the

Maya clears waivers, assigned to Triple-A (Gonzalez done)

After a very brief stint with the Nationals and a couple of days on the waiver wire, Yunesky Maya will be heading back to Triple-A Syracuse. The Nationals have announced that Maya has cleared waivers and will be assigned to Triple-A. The 31-year-old right-hander will slot back into Syracuse’s rotation. The Nats called Maya up May 21, and he allowed a two-run walk-off homer to

Injury updates on Espinosa, Werth, Ramos (plus notes on tomorrow’s starter)

Davey Johnson joked today that the Nationals’ roster is starting to resemble a M*A*S*H unit. It’s not far off. Reporters met with Nationals medical director Dr. Wiemi Douoguih and head trainer Lee Kuntz for about eight minutes earlier this afternoon, getting briefed on the latest medical details involving Bryce Harper, Danny Espinosa, Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos. You already know what’s going on with Harper,

Harper dealing with bursitis in knee, will get rest

The good news for the Nationals and Bryce Harper is that an MRI has revealed that there is no structural issue with Harper’s sore left knee. The bad news is that Harper has bursitis in the knee and will need to rest the knee to avoid further damage. Harper is out of the lineup today against the Orioles and there’s a good chance he’ll sit

Harper out of Nats lineup (plus O’s lineup)

After leaving yesterday’s game in the seventh inning with a sore left knee, Bryce Harper is out of the Nationals lineup for today’s series opener against the Orioles. Harper aggravated the knee injury sliding into first and second base head-first in the first inning of yesterday’s 6-1 win over the Phillies. He initially injured the knee colliding with the right field wall in Dodger Stadium

As the roster turns

Raise your hand if you expected the following players to have made an appearance on the Nationals’ active roster by the end of May: Yunesky Maya, Fernando Abad, Jeff Kobernus, Eury Perez and Xavier Cedeno. Stop being silly. Put your hand down. All teams have to deal with injuries over the course of a season. It’s a part of sports, and it tests the all-important

Johnson, Strasburg speak after Nats’ 6-1 win over Phillies

Bryce Harper aggravated his bruised left knee and expects to deal with the injury the rest of this season. Ross Detwiler will need to land on the disabled list with a strained oblique and won’t be able to make Tuesday’s start. “Other than that,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said with a smile, “it was a great day.” The Nats got eight tremendous innings from Stephen

Harper feels knee injury will linger all season, expects to keep playing

The violent collision between Bryce Harper and the right field wall at Dodger Stadium won’t just affect Harper in the short-term. It seems it will pose at least somewhat of a problem for the reigning National League Rookie of the Year throughout the remainder of this season. Harper has been held out of the starting lineup in four of the Nationals’ last 12 games, and

Detwiler going on DL, Harper ailing, Cedeno coming up (updated with quotes)

The injuries continue to mount for the Nationals. Davey Johnson revealed after today’s game that left-hander Ross Detwiler, who hasn’t started since May 15 because of a right oblique strain, will need to land on the disabled list after feeling tightness in the oblique while working out today. “He went out and was doing some running and playing catch and complained,” Johnson said. “Whereas it’s

Nats break it open in the seventh (Nats win 6-1)

After six more innings of offensive futility, the Nationals have broken open this ballgame with a monster five-run seventh inning that has given them a 5-0 lead and will allow Stephen Strasburg quite a cushion to work with as he takes the mound for the eighth. The Nats had managed just three hits off Cole Hamels entering the seventh inning, but a few well-placed hits

Strasburg, Hamels locked in a duel (Strasburg absolutely dealing)

The type of battle we’re getting between Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels could be one we’ll see many times for years to come. Strasburg and Hamels have both thrown four scoreless innings today, with each allowing just two hits. Hamels has six strikeouts to this point, while Strasburg has four. Both teams have put two runners in scoring position thus far, but neither has done

Harper and Hamels meet again, plus other notes and quotes

It was a little over a year ago that Cole Hamels decided to welcome Bryce Harper to the major leagues in his own special way - by drilling Harper in the back with a 93 mph fastball. Harper took his lumps like a champ, merely turning away and jogging to first base, never turning to look at Hamels, and then responded by stealing home later

Solano behind plate, Strasburg on mound for Nats (with Phillies lineup)

The Nationals have Stephen Strasburg on the mound looking to keep a run of strong starts going in today’s series finale against the Phillies. Strasburg, who has allowed just two earned runs in 20 innings over his last three starts, will be throwing to backup catcher Jhonatan Solano for the day game after a night game. Manager Davey Johnson thought about giving Jeff Kobernus a

Johnson discusses Storen’s struggles, Nats’ loss

The Nationals dropped a 5-3 ballgame to the Phillies tonight, but it was evident from the way Davey Johnson spoke after tonight’s game that his main concern wasn’t the ballgame, but the ongoing struggles of Drew Storen. Storen allowed two runs in the eighth inning tonight, leaving him with the loss and bumping his ERA up to 5.21 on the season. That number can drop

Drew Storen: “It’s gonna be fixed”

Drew Storen is used to coming into ballgames and dominating, facing just a few hitters and then walking off the mound having completed a successful day’s work. Storen wasn’t able to do so in tonight’s 5-3 loss to the Phillies and, unfortunately for the Nationals, those dominating, quick innings have been fewer and farther between from Storen as of late. Called upon to work the

Another interesting early call to the bullpen (Nats lose 5-3)

Davey Johnson acknowledges that he often pulls his starters a little earlier than he should, for any number of reasons. Tonight, Dan Haren got the early hook and, in a 3-3 game, it’s fair to question Johnson’s decision. Haren had thrown just 88 pitches on the night, surrendered four hits and struck out 10 over six strong innings. His velocity was still holding steady, his

Back-to-back pitches, back-to-back homers off Haren (updated)

It’s been a strange first two innings for Dan Haren tonight. With the exception of two pitches, Haren has been absolutely dominant thus far. He’s struck out five through two innings, using all his pitches effectively. He struck out four Phillies in a row at one point, using a different pitch to put away each hitter. Haren got Freddy Galvis with a curveball, Michael Young

Johnson going the superstitious route, searching for bullpen consistency

Hoping to change the Nationals’ offensive mojo, Davey Johnson opted to stop shaving recently, leaving the Nats’ skipper with a short gray beard. The Nats responded by putting up five runs in a win over the Phillies last night. Johnson had planned to shave after the hits and runs started coming, but his players convinced him to leave the whiskers for the time being. Johnson

Detwiler cleared to make Tuesday start vs. Orioles

Ross Detwiler’s bullpen session this afternoon was pretty similar to the left-hander’s standard mound work in between starts, except he threw a little bit harder than normal and he had a few more pairs of eyes watching him than he would under most circumstances. Reporters gazed out from the press box high atop Nationals Park this afternoon as Detwiler toed the rubber in the Nats’

Nats’ roster moves official, plus lineups

The Nationals have made it official, selecting the contract of infielder/outfielder Jeff Kobernus from Triple-A Syracuse and designating right-hander Yunesky Maya for assignment. Yes, Kobernus’ position was listed on the official team press release as “infielder/outfielder”. The 2009 second-round pick is a career-long infielder, but he’s seen action in the outfield in 28 games for Syracuse this season. In parts of five minor-league seasons (2009-2013),

Maya heads out, bench boys hoping to heat up

Was it seriously 53 degrees at first pitch last night on the Friday before Memorial Day? Just want to make sure I’m remembering things correctly and I didn’t just wake up from some kind of sick dream. In case you missed it last night, the Nationals will be making a roster move today, selecting the contract of infielder Jeff Kobernus from Triple-A Syracuse and designating

Hearing from Johnson, Moore and Lombardozzi after Nats’ 5-2 win

When reporters pointed out to Davey Johnson before today’s game that it looked like he was sporting a few days’ worth of facial hair growth, the Nationals manager joked that he wasn’t going to shave until the Nats started hitting. After the Nats put up five runs in a 5-2 win over the Phillies, Johnson told a couple of his players that he thought it

Maya to be DFA, Kobernus coming up

With the Nationals already working with a short bench and Danny Espinosa needing to sit at least two to three days (and possibly much more than that) with a broken bone in his right wrist, the Nats decided to add another position player to their 25-man roster. Infielder Jeff Kobernus will have his contract selected from Triple-A before tomorrow’s game, manager Davey Johnson announced after

Mr. Consistency strikes again (Nats win 5-2)

Ten times this season, Jordan Zimmermann has toed the rubber for the Nationals. In nine of those 10 starts, Zimmermann has allowed two or fewer runs. In the one outlier, he allowed a whopping three runs, and that was in a complete-game victory over the Marlins. Eight of the 10 times Zimmermann has gotten a start this season, he’s worked at least seven innings. He’s

Plenty of missed opportunities for the home squad tonight (Nats jump on top)

The Nationals have had no trouble getting runners on base against Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick, who has issued three hits and four walks through the first four innings. The problem has been converting those baserunners into runs. It’s a 2-1 Phillies lead here at Nats Park heading to the bottom of the fifth inning, despite the fact that Jordan Zimmermann has outpitched Kendrick, for the

Roster move coming tomorrow, plus more Espinosa talk

We now know that Danny Espinosa has been playing for the last five-plus weeks with a broken right wrist. Espinosa says that he won’t use the injury as an excuse for his poor hitting this season - he has a .163/.196/.291 slash line over 39 games played - but he did say that the wrist felt “stiff” when he was hitting left-handed and it affecting

Danny Espinosa has broken bone in right wrist

The Nationals got some news today that is both surprising and in some ways not unexpected: Danny Espinosa has been playing with a broken right wrist for more than five weeks. Espinosa initially injured the wrist on April 14, when he was drilled on the right wrist by a pitch from Atlanta’s Paul Maholm. After initial X-rays on the wrist came back negative, Espinosa was

Lombardozzi playing second, Suzuki hitting sixth

Steve Lombardozzi is playing second and hitting eighth for the Nationals today in their series opener against the Phillies, as Danny Espinosa gets a day off. Kurt Suzuki, who normally hits eighth for the Nats, has been bumped up to the No. 6 spot in the order, with the struggling Tyler Moore hitting seventh. The Nats will face right-hander Kyle Kendrick today, he of the

Mattheus won’t need surgery, expected to miss around six weeks

Nationals reliever Ryan Mattheus won’t need surgery to repair a broken bone in his right hand, but he will likely miss around six weeks as he recovers from the injury, according to a team source. Mattheus broke his right (pitching) hand after a rough appearance against the Padres on Sunday when he punched a locker in frustration. He told reporters he wasn’t aware the hand

Nats welcome Phillies to town after a (successful) Night At The Park

A little over 12 hours after touching down in D.C. following a lengthy 10-day road trip out west, the bulk of the Nationals’ players and coaches made their way to Nationals Park last night, not for a game but to support their teammate and a great cause. Ryan Zimmerman’s fourth annual “A Night At The Park” was held at Nats Park last night, with nearly

A hodgepodge of random notes and numbers

Tonight is Ryan Zimmerman’s fourth annual “A Night At The Park” event, held at Nationals Park and hosted by Zimmerman’s ziMS Foundation, which is dedicated to the treatment and ultimate cure of multiple sclerosis. Zimmerman’s mother, Cheryl, was diagnosed with MS in 1995, and Zimmerman founded ziMS shortly after reaching the majors in 2005. Third Eye Blind will be performing at the tonight’s event, and

Heaping some praise on Harper

Bryce Harper felt he lost the Nationals the game two nights ago when he let Gregor Blanco’s fly ball get over his head, allowing the game-tying run to score with two outs in the ninth inning. You can certainly argue that Harper’s play on that fly ball was merely one of many factors that led to the Nats blowing Tuesday night’s game, but there’s no

Gonzalez hands a lead over to the ‘pen (Nats pick up a monster win in extras)

The last two times the Nationals have handed their bullpen a lead in the late innings, that lead has disappeared and extra innings have been needed. Gio Gonzalez has given everything he had today, throwing 116 pitches over 7 1/3 scoreless innings, and now he’ll hope the Nats bullpen can lock down a win. It’s 1-0 Nats, with Bryce Harper’s solo homer in the sixth

The beat goes on (Harper goes yard)

The first ball the Nationals hit out of the infield today came off the bat of their pitcher, Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s line shot up the middle in the third inning also got the Nats in the hit column for the first time today. That’s where this offense is at right now. The Nationals’ 1-8 hitters are 0-for-9 with a walk and five strikeouts in the

Desmond hitting cleanup in West Coast finale

The Nationals will happily put a cap on their rocky 10-game West Coast road trip today when they face the Giants in the finale of this three-game set. Manager Davey Johnson has tweaked his lineup again, moving Ian Desmond into the cleanup spot and bumping Adam LaRoche down to the No. 5 hole in the order against Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Tyler Moore will play

Sifting through another game the Nats would like to forget

I was thinking about writing another “Taking the good with the bad” blog post this morning, but I realized there wasn’t enough good to match up with all the bad we saw last night in the Nationals’ 4-2 loss to the Giants. On the same night that the Braves tied their game in the bottom of the ninth inning and then won it with a

We go to extras as Nats blow another save (Nats lose 4-2 in 10 innings)

The Nationals were a strike away from putting an end to their two-game funk and giving Stephen Strasburg his third win of the season. Instead, we keep playing. Rafael Soriano blew his third save of the season, and second in as many chances, with Gregor Blanco’s RBI triple with two outs in the bottom of the ninth plating Andres Torres and knotting this game, 2-2.

Coming out swinging (here comes the bullpen)

After notching just three hits all of last night, the Nationals have three hits and two runs through their first inning tonight. The Nats have handed Stephen Strasburg an early 2-0 lead over the Giants, with Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond both tallying RBI doubles off Giants right-hander Matt Cain. Denard Span got it all started with a hot-shot single up the middle and, after

Harper bumped up to No. 2 spot in lineup, Espinosa returns

Davey Johnson has been searching for a serviceable No. 2 hitter ever since Jayson Werth needed to be moved out of that spot and then landed on the disabled list. Instead of continuing to rotate guys with paltry on-base percentages and minimal power production into the two-hole, Johnson has decided to just bump everyone up a spot. Bryce Harper will hit second tonight, marking the

What to expect from the two new relievers (roster moves official)

The Nationals will have two new faces in their bullpen tonight when they take on the Giants in game two of this three-game set in San Francisco. Well, one of the faces will be new. To those who have followed the Nats for a few years now, the other should be familiar. Right-hander Yunesky Maya and left-hander Fernando Abad will be activated by the Nats

Another hit, and not in a good way

The frustration is building. And it’s not being put to a productive use. As if yesterday’s 8-0 loss wasn’t enough, a loss that dropped the Nationals to a 23-22 on the season, manager Davey Johnson told reporters after the beatdown at the hands of the Giants that reliever Ryan Mattheus, one of the Nats’ key setup guys, broke his right hand Sunday evening when he

Nats smoked out west again (Mattheus to DL; Abad, Maya coming up)

Sunday’s game was pretty ugly. This one rivaled it. The Nationals dropped a 13-4 decision to the Padres on Sunday and followed that up with an 8-0 blowout loss to the Giants tonight in the first game of a three-game set. Zach Duke gets stuck with the loss after allowing four runs over 3 1/3 innings in a spot start, but he was far from

Duke done in the fourth (updated again)

Making his first big league start since July 10, 2011, Zach Duke could go just 3 1/3 innings tonight, and as we go to the fifth inning, Duke and the Nationals trail the Giants 5-0. Duke didn’t pitch incredibly poorly tonight, allowing just one extra-base hit in his spot start, but the Giants just base-hit him to death. They put up seven hits on Duke,

Harper returns, Espinosa, Suzuki sit (with Giants lineup)

Tonight’s Nationals lineup will feature Bryce Harper. It will not feature Danny Espinosa or Kurt Suzuki. Harper returns to the Nats lineup after missing the last two games with a sore left knee, an injury suffered during his collision with the right field wall in Dodger Stadium a week ago. The 20-year-old will return to his normal No. 3 spot in the order and will

Deciding on Duke (plus some interesting catching numbers)

I came across this interesting numbers breakdown on Bloomberg Sports earlier today that shows the best and worst catchers in the league this season when it comes to framing pitches. Kurt Suzuki found his way into the top three in two categories, and they’re not good ones. According to Bloomberg’s numbers (ranking catchers who have been on the receiving end of at least 1,000 strikes

Still waiting for things to turn

The first quarter of the Nationals’ 2013 season has been marked by some pretty dramatic inconsistencies. Their record currently at a decent but disappointing 23-21. The Nationals have had stretches where it looked like they were ready to put it all together and begin playing to their potential, like during their five-game winning streak two weeks ago. The vibe in the clubhouse would begin to

LaRoche and Zimmerman continue to rake (Nats lose 13-4)

For as ice cold as Adam LaRoche was a few weeks ago, he’s that scorching hot right now. LaRoche is on a 16-game hitting streak, with his seventh-inning RBI single extending that run. During those 16 games, LaRoche is hitting .382 with four home runs and 12 RBIs. His on-base percentage is .462. Yeah, that would qualify as being on fire. He’s not the only

A rocky start (and a rocky fifth inning)

Six Nationals have come to the plate so far today. All six have been retired by Padres starter Andrew Cashner. Eleven Padres hitters have come to the plate thus far. Five reached base off Dan Haren, and three came around to score. The Nats trail the Padres 3-0 in the finale of this four-game set, which doesn’t bode well for Davey Johnson’s club, given the

Harper, Desmond out of Nats lineup

After a couple days out of town, I’m back in action. Who missed me? Thanks to the MASNsports.com crew for filling in for me recently. Looks like I missed a couple impressive pitching performances. Anyway, enough about me and on to the stuff that matters. Bryce Harper is out of the Nationals lineup again today, missing his second straight contest with a bruised left knee.

Checking in on Anthony Rendon

When guys get a stint in the big leagues and then head back to the minors, it’s easy to forget about them. You don’t see a guy every day, don’t get a chance to watch him perform, you lose track of him a bit. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. Anthony Rendon is playing well enough back at Double-A Harrisburg that it’s worth

Adding to the list of walking wounded

Just as Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth appear to be closing in on a return to action, the Nationals have to deal with two more players making their way into the training room. Manager Davey Johnson told reporters last night that catcher Wilson Ramos reinjured his left hamstring in the Nats’ 3-1 loss to the Dodgers, and left-hander Ross Detwiler had back spasms knock him

Ramos likely back to DL with hamstring injury; back spasms for Detwiler

Wilson Ramos is heading back to the disabled list yet again. Manager Davey Johnson told reporters in Los Angeles that Ramos injured his left hamstring in tonight’s 3-1 loss to the Dodgers, the same hamstring that Ramos strained back in April. The Nationals’ opening day catcher missed 15 games with the hamstring injury the first time around. He returned to action April 30 in Atlanta

Ramos, Detwiler both leave game with apparent injuries (Nats lose 3-1)

The Nationals have lost both members of their battery to apparent injuries in the fourth inning. Wilson Ramos came out after singling with two outs in the top of the fourth. Ross Detwiler also made his way down into the Nats’ clubhouse with a trainer by his side, his night done after just three innings of work. I’ll start the injury-filled blog with notes on

Bats staying quiet, Detwiler laboring a bit

The Nationals last scored a run in the fifth inning Monday night. Since then, they’ve gone 16 scoreless frames. Yeah, for the bulk of those innings they’ve faced Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, two of the top arms in the majors. But there haven’t been many quality at-bats during that 16-inning stretch, and the results have shown. The Nats trail 2-0 after three innings tonight,

Harper out of Nats lineup again

The Nationals will have to play another day without Bryce Harper. Harper, the Nats’ leader in pretty much every major offensive statistical category, is out of the lineup for the second straight day after colliding with the right field wall Monday night. The collision left Harper with a bruised knee and shoulder, and he’ll get another day to rest those - among other - ailments.

Taking the good with the bad

I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news. Let’s start with the positive stuff, shall we? There’s a decent chance the Nationals won’t have to face Clayton Kershaw again this season. After what we saw from Kershaw last night, I’m sure the Nats’ hitters are good with that. If the Nats do see the 2011 National League Cy Young Award winner again

An early missed opportunity might loom large (Nats lose 2-0)

It’s not often you can put up a crooked number against Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers left-hander came into today with a 1.62 ERA on the season, having allowed more than two earned runs in just two of his eight starts in 2013. The Nationals had a chance to get to Kershaw early on in tonight’s game, when they loaded the bases with two outs. Kershaw

Harper out of Nats’ lineup after yesterday’s wall collision (Span out, too)

Not surprisingly, Bryce Harper is out of the Nationals’ lineup the day after crashing face-first into the right field wall at Dodger Stadium, a collision that left him with a bruised knee and shoulder, as well as 11 stitches in his chin. Harper will miss his third game in the last five days. He sat out last Friday and Saturday’s games against the Cubs after

On Harper and his all-in, all-the-time mentality

What is it about Bryce Harper that has allowed him to have so much success at such a young age? Well, he’s immensely talented, of course. At 20, Harper can do things on a baseball field that many players with a decade’s worth of experience cannot dream of doing. Beyond that, however, is Harper’s work ethic, his drive, his desire to give his all in

Zimmermann keeps rolling as Nats beat Dodgers 6-2

Eight starts, seven victories, a 1.69 ERA. Jordan Zimmermann keeps on rolling. Zimmermann went 7 2/3 innings tonight, allowing two runs on nine hits, striking out five and walking none as the Nationals beat the Dodgers 6-2 in the first game of a three-game set. He’s now 7-1 on the season. The main concern coming out of this game, however, is the health of Bryce

11 stitches, bruises, but no concussion after Harper collides with wall

Scary moment out in Los Angeles, as Bryce Harper left tonight’s game against the Dodgers after colliding face-first with the right field fence. Harper was chasing a deep fly ball hit by A.J. Ellis, and lost track of where he was in relation to the wall. As the ball came down over his head, Harper turned and went face-first into the wall, colliding with the

Zimmerman and Zimmermann remain hot (the lead increases)

That headline would have been a heck of a lot smoother if Ryan Zimmerman and Jordan Zimmermann would just get together and agree to have their last names spelled the same way. Make it happen, fellas. Do it for the sake of my headlines, if nothing else. The Zimmerman(n) boys have helped the Nationals to an early 4-0 lead over the Dodgers after three innings.

Lombardozzi in left for second straight game

The Nationals kick off a 10-game West Coast road trip with a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with the MASN broadcast beginning at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time with “Nats Xtra” pregame. Jordan Zimmermann pitches for the Nationals and will be opposed by the Dodgers’ Josh Beckett. The two right-handers have had distinctly different seasons: Zimmermann is 6-1 with a 1.59 ERA, while Beckett is

Breaking down the bench blues

As productive as the Nationals bench was last season - with Chad Tracy, Roger Bernadina, Tyler Moore and Steve Lombardozzi coming through with countless pinch-hits in clutch spots and getting significant playing time in the place of a few injured starters - that group has been pretty quiet through the first six weeks of the 2013 campaign. In 51 pinch-hit opportunities this season, Nationals hitters

Looking for the offense to heat up out west

After going 3-2 on their brief homestand, the Nationals packed the bags and took off for the west coast, where they’ll play 10 games in 10 days. First is a stop in Los Angeles for three against the Dodgers, who shockingly have started the season 15-21 and are currently last in the National League West. Yup, the team with the $216 million payroll sits behind

Johnson discusses decision to pull Gonzalez after seven

It’s hard to see any moment in this afternoon’s 2-1 Nationals loss looming larger than Davey Johnson’s decision to pinch hit for Gio Gonzalez leading off the bottom of the seventh inning. The Nationals held a 1-0 lead at the time, and Gonzalez had thrown seven scoreless innings, needing just 86 pitches to do so. He still appeared to have plenty left in the tank,

An interesting call to the bullpen (Nats lose 2-1)

Davey Johnson jokingly calls himself “Captain Hook” because of his quick calls to the bullpen. We got another Captain Hook sighting at Nationals Park this afternoon. Johnson decided to go to his bench with Gio Gonzalez set to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning. Gonzalez had thrown just 86 pitches through seven scoreless innings, and he had bounced back from a shaky sixth

Four perfect innings for Gio Gonzalez (Cubs finally notch a hit in sixth)

Like Stephen Strasburg yesterday, Gio Gonzalez has been dominant through four innings today. We’ll see if things go better for Gonzalez the rest of the way out than they did for Strasburg, who melted down in the fifth. Gonzalez has been perfect through four, retiring all 12 Cubs hitters he’s seen, with three strikeouts. He’s thrown just 43 pitches thus far, 29 for strikes. The

Duke still adjusting to inconsistent workload

A very happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, especially my own, who is as good as they get, in my book. Players will be wearing pink cleats, wristbands, batting gloves and arm sleeves and using pink bats today in support of breast cancer awareness, and all baseballs used across Major League Baseball today will have pink stitches. Bryce Harper will even use

Harper returns to Nats lineup, Lombardozzi playing left

After two days out of the Nationals lineup, Bryce Harper is back in there today, playing right field and hitting third. Harper had a minor surgical procedure Thursday night to remove an ingrown toenail on his left big toe, and he missed the Nats’ last two games as he recovered from the operation. He returns for the finale of the Nats’ three-game series with the

Hearing from Strasburg, Zimmerman and Desmond

Stephen Strasburg retired 12 of the first 13 hitters he faced today. He then retired just one of his last eight hitters before being pulled after five innings of work. Strasburg started off dominant, then faded after Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing error with two outs in the fifth inning. Following that error, Strasburg walked the Cubs’ No. 8 hitter, Darwin Barney, who came into today hitting

Johnson talks Strasburg’s drop-off after 8-2 loss

For a while, it looked like this afternoon’s outing was going to be Stephen Strasburg’s best of the season. Through his first 4 2/3 innings, he’d allowed just two Cubs baserunners and had struck out seven. He was mowing hitters down with a fastball that topped out at 98 mph and worked in dazzling off-speed pitches. By the time the fifth inning ended, Strasburg had

It all falls apart in the fifth (Nats lose 8-2)

Boy, did things turn in a hurry. Stephen Strasburg was working on an absolute gem this afternoon, having held the Cubs to just one hit over his first four innings of work, striking out seven and needing just 53 pitches to get through those four dominant frames. Then in the fifth, after a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error prolonged the inning, it all fell apart for

Nine up, nine down for a locked-in Strasburg (no no-no today)

It’s only been three innings, but this has already far and away been the most locked in Stephen Strasburg has looked all season. Strasburg is through three innings, having retired all nine Cubs hitters he’s faced. He’s struck out five (four of which have been swinging) and allowed just one ball to be hit out of the infield. After starting the game with three straight

Harper out of Nats lineup for second straight day

The Nationals had hoped that Bryce Harper would be able to return to the lineup today after having minor surgery on Thursday night to remove an ingrown toenail. Instead, Harper is out of the Nats’ lineup for the second straight game. Manager Davey Johnson said this afternoon that Harper’s big toe is still sore after having an ingrown portion of the nail removed two days

Nats place Werth on DL, call up Perez (updated with quotes)

Jayson Werth hasn’t played since May 2 because of a right hamstring strain, and the Nationals finally needed to make use of his roster spot. The Nats officially placed Werth on the 15-day disabled list today, retroactive to May 3, and called outfielder Eury Perez up from Triple-A Syracuse. Werth is batting .260 with four homers, 10 RBIs and 17 runs in 27 games this

Slowly but surely, defensive numbers trending upward

Not only has Ian Desmond been productive this season, he’s also been clutch. According to Elias, all five of Desmond’s home runs this season have given the Nationals the lead. Last night, it was a two-run shot in the fourth that broke open a 2-2 tie and led the Nats to a 7-2 win. Desmond now has 19 extra-base hits this season, tops among all

Desmond talks near-cycle, Werth talks trip to DL

There have only been two cycles in Nationals history. Brad Wilkerson and Cristian Guzman delivered those, and Wilkerson’s wasn’t even the main story that day, because it came in the first Nationals win after the team relocated to D.C. Ian Desmond had a shot to join that club today, as he delivered a single, home run and double in his first three at-bats of the

Johnson discusses Nats’ 7-3 win (with Werth and Harper updates)

Ian Desmond led the charge in the Nationals’ 7-3 win over the Cubs tonight, going 3-for-4, coming up a triple shy of the cycle and notching three RBIs. According to Davey Johnson, this offensive outburst came after Desmond noticed he’d made an unintentional adjustment that might have been affecting his timing at the plate. Desmond told Johnson that he noticed he’d moved up in the

Detwiler leaves in line for the win (Nats beat Cubs 7-3)

If you needed another example of why wins are a flawed stat for pitchers, take a look at Ross Detwiler. The guy leaves his start tonight with a 2.53 ERA on the season, and if tonight’s score holds, this will mark just his second win in seven starts. Detwiler exited tonight’s game after 6 2/3 innings of work, having scattered eight hits and allowed just

Suzuki getting the job done on both sides of the ball (Nats break it open)

Kurt Suzuki gave the Nationals the lead in the bottom of the second and then made a tremendous play a half-inning later to ensure the Cubs didn’t grab the lead right back. Up with two on and two outs in the second, Suzuki smoked a Jeff Samardzija fastball off the right-center field wall. Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa both came around to score, giving the

Injuries leaving Nats depleted in opener vs. Cubs (with lineups)

With Jayson Werth heading to the disabled list and Bryce Harper out after having minor surgery to get rid of an ingrown toenail, the Nationals are two outfielders short tonight. That will leave Roger Bernadina starting in right field and Tyler Moore starting in left. Bernadina is hitting .129 on the season. Moore is batting .163. Ryan Zimmerman will move back up to his familiar

Werth heading to DL, Harper out after minor foot operation (updated)

It looks like Jayson Werth will need to land on the disabled list, after all. Werth hasn’t played since May 2 against the Braves because of a tight right hamstring, and all along, the Nationals have felt that Werth would need just a few days off and then would be able to return to the lineup. The veteran outfielder suffered a bit of a setback

Soriano quietly taking care of business

The Nationals’ No. 4 and 5 hitters are starting to put it together. Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-4 with an RBI yesterday, bumping his average up to .239 on the season. Adam LaRoche added two hits and an RBI yesterday, as well, and he’s now getting closer to the Mendoza line, hitting .196 on the season. Over his last six games, LaRoche is 9-for-17 (.529) with

Johnson discusses Nats’ 5-4 win, mini-sweep

This little two-game series between the Nationals and Tigers was billed by some as a potential World Series preview. It’s just two games in May, of course. But the Nationals played two pretty smooth ballgames the last two days, picking up wins over the reigning American League champions in each despite a comeback effort today by Detroit. The Nats held a 5-1 lead after two

Nats teeing off on Fister (Nats win 5-4)

The rain is picking up at Nationals Park, but so is the Nats’ offensive production. The Nats have put up five runs and seven hits off Tigers starter Doug Fister through two innings. Fister has retired just six of the 15 batters he’s faced. This is the same Doug Fister who hadn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his previous six starts this

A few successful starts under his belt, Haren settling in

Following his last start here at Nationals Park, a win over the Reds on April 27 in which he allowed two runs and struck out five over six innings, Dan Haren said he finally felt like part of the team. In some ways, it was just a light-hearted comment that made reporters chuckle. In other ways, it was evidence of what Haren has needed to

Werth to miss fifth straight game, Bernadina in left (updated)

Jayson Werth is out of the Nationals’ lineup for a fifth straight game with a tight right hamstring. Bryce Harper will play right field again in Werth’s absence, and Roger Bernadina will man left field this afternoon against the Tigers. Nationals manager Davey Johnson said that an MRI on Werth’s hamstring looked good upon first glance, but team medical director Dr. Wiemi Douoguih will give

As consistent as they come

Let’s have fun with some numbers for a bit. Factoring in his outing last night in a win against the Tigers, Jordan Zimmermann has a 1.59 ERA this season, which ranks fourth in the majors behind just Matt Harvey, Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander. Pretty good company, if you ask me. Zimmermann has a 0.82 WHIP, which ranks third in the bigs, and his six

Johnson discusses Nats’ 3-1 win (Werth to get MRI)

Another fantastic pitching performance from Jordan Zimmermann, another homer from Bryce Harper and another save notched by Rafael Soriano. The Nationals picked up a 3-1 win over the Tigers tonight, with Zimmermann leading the way yet again. Despite pitching on six days’ rest and dealing with a 57-minute rain delay before first pitch, Zimmermann allowed just one run over seven innings against a Tigers team

The stellar starts keep coming from Jordan Zimmermann (Nats win 3-1)

OK, so it wasn’t a complete-game one-hitter. He didn’t allow just two baserunners over eight innings. But Jordan Zimmermann turned in another gem tonight, and he did it against arguably the most dangerous offensive team in baseball. Zimmermann went seven innings, allowing just one run on seven hits. He walked two, struck out eight and lowered his ERA to 1.59. Over his last three starts,

Zimmermann’s streak comes to an end (Harper homers)

Miguel Cabrera’s incredibly impressive start to the season continues. Jordan Zimmermann’s incredibly impressive scoreless innings streak comes to an end. The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning on Cabrera’s RBI single to left, scoring Torii Hunter. Cabrera now has 37 RBIs on the season, best in the majors, and he’s now batting .387, also tops in the big leagues.

The latest update on Jayson Werth (we’re under way)

Congratulations go out to Nationals hitting coach Rick Eckstein and his wife Caroline, as the couple welcomed the birth of their first child, a girl named Isabelle. Manager Davey Johnson reports that both mother and baby are doing well, and the Nats should have their hitting coach in the dugout for tonight’s game against the Tigers. That is, if tonight’s game gets played. The tarp

Nationals reverse rainout ticket policy (updated)

After getting some pushback from fans, the Nationals have announced that they’ve reverted to their previous rainout ticket policy and will allow all fans who purchased tickets to Tuesday night’s postponed game against the Tigers the option to exchange their tickets for any remaining regular or value home game this season, subject to availability. Following Tuesday night’s rainout, the Nationals had initially sent a release

Werth still out of Nats lineup

It’s perfectly dry and sunny here at Nationals Park at the moment, but I had to dodge some huge rain drops on my drive to the stadium a bit ago. The radar for tonight shows mostly clear skies around first pitch, but there are also patches of rain that could swoop through. Let’s hope for the best as the Nationals and Tigers try and get

Some of this, some of that

File this in the “things you don’t see every day” department: Braves closer Craig Kimbrel allowed back-to-back home runs in the ninth inning last night against the Reds, leading to a 5-4 Atlanta loss. Kimbrel allowed just three home runs all of last season, surrendered just seven total earned runs and blew three saves in 45 chances. This season, the flame-throwing right-hander has already allowed

Harper discusses lack of fine, plus some post-postponement quotes

Bryce Harper got word from the Major League Baseball office that he hasn’t been fined for Sunday’s incident in which he was ejected in the first inning after arguing a call with third base umpire John Hirschbeck. Hirschbeck ejected Harper after he determined that the Nationals’ outfielder “slammed” his bat and helmet to the ground. You can see one look at the exchange between Harper

Tigers-Nats game postponed, to be made up Thursday (with Harper note)

Tonight’s Tigers-Nationals game has been postponed due to inclement weather and will be made up Thursday at 4:05 p.m. It’s not currently raining here at Nationals Park, but a strong cell is supposed to come through the D.C. area tonight. Rather than starting tonight’s game and having both teams use their starting pitcher only to then go into a delay, the game has been pre-emptively

Zimmermann gets another test tonight (Werth still out)

The tarp is on the field at Nationals Park and the raindrops are coming down sideways at a pretty rapid rate. I have absolutely no inside information on whether tonight’s game will be played. Reporters just scan the forecast on Weather.com like the rest of you. But I can tell you that the forecast doesn’t look great. That’s about the extent of my meteorology knowledge

More on Harper and a tough matchup ahead

At the risk of continuing the conversation about Bryce Harper’s ejection for yet another day and annoying the heck out of those who want to move on, here’s a view of the incident that I hadn’t yet seen. This view shows Harper as he “slammed” his bat and helmet to the ground. I put “slammed” in quotes because that’s the term that third base umpire

Heading home and heating up

PITTSBURGH - I’ve managed to make it through a two-city road trip without losing my cell phone charger, which for me is a remarkable feat. I’m quite proud of myself, if you couldn’t already tell. The Nationals have reason to be proud of themselves, as well. They finish this road trip, one which started with two more tough losses to the Braves, by winning four

Hearing from Espinosa, Moore, Gonzalez and more after Nats’ 6-2 win

PITTSBURGH - Seven batters into today’s game, the Nationals looked to be heading for a disastrous conclusion to their seven-game road trip. Bryce Harper had already been ejected. Gio Gonzalez’s first pitch of the game had been crushed into the left field seats by Starling Marte, giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Ryan Zimmerman committed his fifth throwing error of the season. Gonzalez had the

Comments from Hirschbeck, Johnson, Harper on Harper’s ejection

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals beat the Pirates 6-2 this afternoon, taking two of three from Pittsburgh and wrapping up a winning road trip. Danny Espinosa drove in three, Tyler Moore hit a three-run homer in the eighth and Gio Gonzalez bounced back from a rough first inning to throw six solid innings. The highlight we’ll see all over the national TV highlight reels tonight, however,

Moore makes the Bucs pay (Nats win 6-2)

PITTSBURGH - Given the way Adam LaRoche has been swinging the bat the last few days, and the way Tyler Moore has struggled to put the bat on the ball the last couple days, you can’t really blame the Pirates for intentionally walking LaRoche to get to Moore with first base open in the top of the eighth inning. Just like yesterday, Moore was off

Bryce Harper ejected in first inning (Gonzalez battles through six)

PITTSBURGH - Bryce Harper’s second career ejection came just 14 pitches into this afternoon’s ballgame. With two outs in the top of the first, Harper tried to check his swing on a two-strike curveball from Wandy Rodriguez. Third base umpire John Hirschbeck rung Harper up, and Harper threw his hands up in the air in frustration. Hirschbeck then imitated Harper’s reaction, throwing his hands up

Werth joins the untuck club, updates his health

PITTSBURGH - The untuck club is slowly gaining members. Rafael Soriano’s trademark post-save celebration of untucking his jersey from his pants on the field is picking up traction in the Nationals clubhouse. And Jayson Werth is the latest to get in on the action. Ian Desmond followed Soriano’s lead by violently untucking his jersey after a Soriano save in Atlanta. Following that game, Desmond tried

Span back in Nats lineup, Ramos starts again

PITTSBURGH - After missing yesterday’s game with a sore right ankle/foot, Denard Span has returned to the Nationals lineup for this afternoon’s series finale at PNC Park. Span nearly fell to the ground when he woke up yesterday morning, the pain in his lower ankle area having intensified overnight. He got a day of rest yesterday and woke up this morning feeling much better. He’ll

A step in the right direction

PITTSBURGH - OK, so the Nationals stranded 11 runners, went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and gave up four runs on two Pirates homers off Stephen Strasburg in yesterday’s win. But let’s look at the positives. The Nats twice came from behind to tie yesterday’s game. They put 15 runners on base, thanks to six hits, six walks and three hit batters. They got

Zimmerman, LaRoche steal one from Pirates

PITTSBURGH - Standing in the batter’s box with the score tied, Ryan Zimmerman on second and Adam LaRoche at first in the top of the ninth inning, Tyler Moore figured he’d need a base hit to drop somewhere for Zimmerman to come around with the go-ahead run. “I would have thought those were the last two guys who were going to steal,” Moore said after

Johnson discusses Nats’ 5-4 win

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals now have a 1.000 winning percentage after Davey Johnson-called team meetings this season. And his players are going to give him a little crap about it. Jordan Zimmermann approached Johnson following today’s 5-4 win over the Pirates and shot a one-liner at his skipper. “Same time tomorrow?” Zimmermann quipped. Following his session with reporters, Johnson walked by Ian Desmond’s locker. “Meeting

Knotted up late in Pittsburgh (Nats win 5-4)

PITTSBURGH - Stephen Strasburg gave the Nationals seven solid if not spectacular innings, and we’re still tied 4-4 heading to the ninth here in Pittsburgh. The Nats have gone 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and have left 10 on base. Seven of those 10 have been in innings 6-8. At least they’re getting guys on and giving themselves chances to drive runners in, however.

Strasburg attacking but trailing (a missed opportunity for Moore)

PITTSBURGH - Through three innings, Stephen Strasburg has looked strong and healthy. He’s been attacking hitters, throwing his fastball 94-96 mph and not showing any signs of the irritation in his forearm that led him to shake his throwing arm consistently during his last outing. Strasburg and the Nationals also trail 2-1 after three innings. After setting down six straight hitters, with two swinging strikeouts

Davey Johnson holds closed-door team meeting (with Span update)

PITTSBURGH - Davey Johnson held a closed-door team meeting this afternoon in the visitors’ clubhouse at PNC Park. Before he did so, however, the 70-year-old Johnson went into the batting cage in the tunnel - sans batting gloves, as always - and took about 40 swings, more than he had in decades and so many that he left the cage with a blister on his

Span out of Nats lineup, Espinosa leading off

PITTSBURGH - A day after fouling a ball off his right ankle, Denard Span is out of the Nationals’ lineup. Danny Espinosa will move into the leadoff spot for this afternoon’s 4:05 p.m. game against the Pirates, and Roger Bernadina will play center with Span out. Span had a bandage on his right ankle, directly above the top of his foot, after last night’s game.

Not scoring many runs, not getting many breaks

PITTSBURGH - Since some of you might have missed the stats I shared last night on Andrew McCutchen’s dominance against the Nationals, I feel the need to pass them along again. Sorry. While it might sting to look at these numbers, they’re so ridiculous that I feel like they have to be shared. In 24 career games against the Nats, McCutchen is batting .456 (41-for-89)

Reactions from Detwiler, LaRoche and Zimmerman after 3-1 Nats loss

PITTSBURGH - Ross Detwiler didn’t get smacked all over PNC Park tonight. He allowed three runs and six hits over five innings. Far from a terrible outing, but not good enough for a win. Part of that falls on Detwiler, part of it falls on the Nationals’ offense, which managed very little off A.J. Burnett, Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli in the Nats’ 3-1 loss.

Johnson: “We just need to man up”

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals struck out 14 times in tonight’s 3-1 loss to the Pirates. Seven of those 14 were looking. They scored one run, marking the 11th time in 13 games that they’ve had three or fewer runners cross the plate. They’re currently sixth-worst in the majors in runs scored. This is a Nationals club that feels it has the talent to be one

Don’t pitch to Andrew McCutchen (Nats lose 3-1)

PITTSBURGH - Get ready for some offensive numbers that will wow you. They might also make you shake your head in disgust. Over 24 career games against the Nationals, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen is now batting .455 with 11 home runs and 22 RBIs. McCutchen has gone 2-for-2 tonight with a solo home run and a single, accounting for the lone Pirates run off

Zimmerman discusses his throwing, injury history

PITTSBURGH - After going without seeing live pitching for 13 days while sidelined with a strained left hamstring, Ryan Zimmerman made a one-day rehab appearance with high Single-A Potomac on Thursday, getting three at-bats and playing six innings in the field. It wasn’t a lengthy rehab assignment, by any means, but Zimmerman thinks he accomplished all he needed to during that one day with the

Werth likely to miss weekend series (with notes on Harper, Espinosa, LaRoche)

PITTSBURGH - Tonight’s game will mark the third in the last four days that Jayson Werth has needed to sit out due to injury. Werth will likely miss the Nationals’ next two games, as well. Manager Davey Johnson said that Werth’s tight right hamstring will probably keep him out of the Nationals lineup through the end of the three-game series against the Pirates that starts

Werth out of Nats lineup, Espinosa and Zimmerman return

PITTSBURGH - As expected, Jayson Werth is out of the Nationals’ lineup tonight a day after tweaking his hamstring in the fourth inning of the Nats’ win over the Braves. Werth left the game after four innings and was replaced by Roger Bernadina in right field. The Nats don’t think that Werth will need to land on the DL, but he’ll get at least today

Zimmerman reinstated, Rendon optioned to Double-A

PITTSBURGH - It’s official - the Nationals have reinstated third baseman Ryan Zimmerman from the 15-day disabled list and optioned Anthony Rendon to Double-A Harrisburg. Zimmerman had been on the disabled list since April 18 with a left hamstring strain. He missed 14 games. His rehab stint was a short one. Zimmerman appeared in just one game with high-A Potomac, getting three at-bats and going

Rendon returns to the minors, but does so with valuable new experience

PITTSBURGH - With Ryan Zimmerman ready to come off the disabled list today after missing the last 15 days with a hamstring strain, Anthony Rendon’s first taste of the major leagues has come to an end. Rendon will return to Double-A Harrisburg’s roster today, going back to the long bus rides and cramped clubhouses that minor league ball offers. But he’ll go back with eight

Leaving Atlanta on a positive note

ATLANTA - In case you missed the final out of last night’s 3-1 Nationals win, you missed a postgame celebration that’s starting to grow in popularity. For years now, Rafael Soriano has untucked his jersey after notching a save. Last night, MASN’s cameras caught Ian Desmond doing the same. Turns out, Desmond has been joining in on Soriano’s trademark postgame move all season after the

Hearing from Haren after his best start as a National

ATLANTA - If you’ve read any of Dan Haren’s quotes following a start or seen his postgame interviews on MASN, you’ve probably noticed that Haren is as self-aware and honest a player as you’ll find in the majors. If Haren stinks, he’ll tell you he stinks. If he needs to stop messing around and throw more strikes, he’ll say so. Tonight, following his eight-inning gem

Johnson talks after Nats pick up a satisfying split (with Werth update)

ATLANTA - Two nights ago, after an 8-1 Nationals loss, Davey Johnson started his postgame session with reporters by asking whether he really needed to discuss another defeat at the hands of the Braves. Tonight, Johnson was more than happy to talk about the Nats’ second win over Atlanta in as many nights. “That was fun,” a smiling Johnson said to open his postgame press

A heck of an outing from Haren (Nats win 3-1, salvage a split)

ATLANTA - After four starts to begin the season that ranged from average to ugly, Dan Haren might be turning a corner. Haren has been tremendous tonight, throwing seven frames of one-run ball against the Braves, allowing just three hits and striking out three. Perhaps even more remarkable than the pitching line has been Haren’s efficiency. He’s needed just 69 pitches to get through his

An early lead and a crisp Dan Haren (Werth leaves game in fifth)

ATLANTA - The Nationals have now retired 29 of the last 30 Braves hitters to come to the plate. Dan Haren has faced just one over the minimum through three crisp innings tonight. Strangely enough, the only batter to reach base during this 30-batter stretch was tonight’s Braves starter, Kris Medlen, who Haren walked on five pitches. Outside of that meeting with Medlen, Haren’s been

Harper, Werth in Nats’ lineup (updated with quotes, injury updates)

ATLANTA -- We’re still waiting for the Nationals’ official lineup, but both Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth are set to take batting practice, and barring any setbacks, they’ll be in the Nats’ starting nine. Harper suffered a nasty bruise on his left side after colliding with the right field wall Tuesday and he needed to leave last night’s game in the sixth inning after a

Still waiting on Nats’ lineup

ATLANTA - We’re still waiting to see whether Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth will find their way into the Nationals’ lineup for tonight’s series finale against the Braves. The lineup has not yet been posted, likely because team trainers are evaluating one or both of the Nats’ ailing outfielders. Harper left last night’s game following a check swing in a sixth-inning at-bat. He was diagnosed

List of league’s elite starters might grow one name longer

ATLANTA - When Kurt Suzuki came over to the Nationals in the middle of last season after a trade with Oakland, there was one pitcher he was especially excited to work with. He had seen plenty of highlights of Stephen Strasburg on TV and had an idea what to expect from the Nationals’ ace. He had already caught Gio Gonzalez when the left-hander was with

Another Zimmermann gem snaps Nats’ mini-funk (with Werth note)

ATLANTA - Twice already this season, Jordan Zimmermann has taken the mound with the Nationals riding a three-game mini losing streak and gotten things back on track. Tonight, it was eight stellar, two-hit innings from Zimmermann that propelled the Nats to a 2-0 win over the Braves, their first victory against Atlanta in their last 10 tries. “We needed that one bad and he went

Harper diagnosed with bad bruise on left side

ATLANTA - The medical update on Bryce Harper is one that should allow Nationals fans to breathe easy, even if Harper had trouble breathing for a couple of seconds after a sixth-inning check-swing. Harper, who left tonight’s game midway through the sixth after grounding out to first base, was diagnosed with a bad bruise on his left side, manager Davey Johnson said following tonight’s 2-0

Bryce Harper leaves game with apparent injury (Nats win 2-0)

ATLANTA - This is just about the last thing the Nationals needed right now. Bryce Harper has been removed from tonight’s game in the middle of the sixth inning with an apparent injury. Roger Bernadina has taken over for Harper in right field. Harper suffered a bad bruise up on his left side last night when he collided with the right field wall attempting to

Desmond enjoying the cleanup spot

ATLANTA - In 487 career major league games played, tonight is the first time that Ian Desmond has hit cleanup. Talking with reporters about it before the game, Desmond downplayed the significance of his place in the order, joking that he hit cleanup two days ago - when he came up fourth in the fourth inning. Jokes notwithstanding, Desmond seems to be having a decent

The latest injury updates on Werth and Zimmerman (updated)

ATLANTA - There was a bit of a scary moment here at Turner Field this afternoon, when a stadium worker named Reuben collapsed with an apparent heart attack. Nationals head trainer Lee Kuntz and training assistant John Hsu rushed to the man’s aid and revived him. Word is that Reuben is recovering in a local hospital now. Good on Kuntz and Hsu for rushing to

Espinosa on his struggles: “I know I’m way better than that”

ATLANTA - Danny Espinosa showed up at Turner Field this afternoon, took a look at the Nationals’ lineup card and didn’t see his name in the starting lineup. Instead, Steve Lombardozzi was written in with the number “4” next to his name, indicating Lombardozzi will start at second base tonight. “Haven’t been playing well, got benched,” Espinosa said at his locker earlier today. “I guess

Lombardozzi in, Werth out, Desmond hitting cleanup

ATLANTA - As promised, Davey Johnson has made a few changes to tonight’s starting lineup. Danny Espinosa has been benched tonight in favor of Steve Lombardozzi, who will start at second base and hit second. Jayson Werth will miss his second straight game with a sore ankle/hamstring cramps, with Tyler Moore taking over in left and Bryce Harper manning right field. Ian Desmond will hit

Lombardozzi to start at second base for rest of Braves series (with Werth note)

ATLANTA - Danny Espinosa struggled offensively during the month of April, batting .173 with a .212 on-base percentage. When the Nationals open their May schedule tonight against the Braves, Steve Lombardozzi will be their starting second baseman and Espinosa will be on the bench. Nats manager Davey Johnson said during an appearance on 106.7 The Fan this morning that he plans to start Lombardozzi at

Offense not living up to its billing

ATLANTA - The good news for the Nationals, maybe some of the only good news they’ve got going right now, is that Jordan Zimmermann will be taking the ball tonight as the Nats look to finally pick up a win over the Braves and snap a three-game losing streak. Is there anyone else the Nats would rather have on the mound right now than Zimmermann,

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