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Williams on Harper’s return, Desmond’s knock, Zimmerman’s defense after 7-3 win

Bryce Harper returned after more than two months on the disabled list and singled, took an extra base, drove in a run, scored a run and made two aggressive, on-the-money throws. Ryan Zimmerman went back to third base for the first time since April 12 and made a dynamite play on a line drive, turning it into a double play. He also went 3-for-4 with

Zimmerman back to third base, Rendon back to second, Harper hitting sixth

The speculation can now end. Bryce Harper is back from the disabled list, and as we’ve speculated in recent days, that has left Ryan Zimmerman moving back to third base and Anthony Rendon back to second base. Matt Williams’ first lineup with Harper back from the DL is out, and in terms of positions, it’s exactly how it looked on opening day, starting pitcher notwithstanding.

Harper set to return tonight (activation official, Cedeno optioned)

Finally. For the first time since the seventh inning on opening day, the Nationals will have their full roster in place today, when Bryce Harper is activated from the disabled list. Harper played in just 22 games this season before tearing a ligament in his left thumb when sliding into third base on a triple. He’s missed the Nats’ last 57 games, but tonight, he’ll

At the halfway point

You know what’s weird? Having a Sunday off. Sundays are never days off in the baseball world. The only times I’ve had a Sunday off since I started covering the Nationals in 2012 were when football was on my television. I have futbol on my television today, but no football. I’ll get past it. With yesterday’s doubleheader against the Cubs now in the books, the

LaRoche gives Nats early lead in Game 2 (Nats win 7-2)

Coming into tonight’s game, the Nationals needed to win in order to return to D.C. with a series split as well as a winning road trip. Apparently nobody told Adam LaRoche that Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija was on the mound. LaRoche hit his 11th homer of the season to give the Nats a 1-0 lead in the second inning. The homer was just the sixth

Gonzalez, Rendon and Span discuss Nats’ win in Game 1 (with Game 2 lineups)

CHICAGO - You already heard from Matt Williams after the Nationals’ 3-0 win over the Cubs. Now, let’s hear from the players. Here are postgame reactions from the clubhouse: Gio Gonzalez On if he’s starting to feel more like himself each start after a month on the DL: “Yeah absolutely. From the last start to this start, it’s just building confidence and velocity. Today it

Williams meets the media after Nats’ 3-0 win over Cubs

CHICAGO - Game 1 went as the Nationals had hoped. Now, with a win in game two of today’s split doubleheader with the Cubs, the Nats can head home with a series split and a winning road trip. Thanks to Gio Gonzalez’s seven strong innings, Anthony Rendon’s three-hit ballgame and Denard Span’s tremendous defensive work out in center field, the Nats earned a 3-0 victory

Gonzalez, Beeler dueling in Cubs rookie’s debut (Nats win 3-0)

Cubs rookie Dallas Beeler doesn’t look at all intimidated going up against a first-place club in his major league debut. The 25-year-old right-hander has matched Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez zero for zero in the early going at Wrigley Field. Beeler has held the Nats to one hit through three scoreless innings, striking out three and walking none. Gonzalez has posted an identical line, throwing 40

Williams expects Harper to return Monday or sometime next week, discusses plan

Bryce Harper’s rehab has progressed to the point that he played nine innings in center field Friday for Double-A Harrisburg. With the outfielder’s rehab from torn ligaments in his left thumb nearing completion, manager Matt Williams is optimistic that barring a setback this weekend, Harper could be back with the Nationals on Monday, or soon after. “Yeah, I feel good about it. We’ll have to

Werth, Ramos, Espinosa sit for Game 1 of doubleheader

CHICAGO - The Nationals lineup for the first game of today’s doubleheader doesn’t include Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos or Danny Espinosa. Nate McLouth will man right field for the Nats in the day game, Jose Lobaton will be behind the plate, and Kevin Frandsen will play second. Gio Gonzalez will make his third start since coming back off the disabled list. His last time out,

Hearing from Williams, Roark and Blevins after 7-2 loss (Hill optioned, Cedeno coming up)

CHICAGO - The Nationals couldn’t manage much offense against Cubs starter Jason Hammel, and Chicago put up 12 hits on Tanner Roark and Jerry Blevins, scoring seven runs and taking a 7-2 win in the second game of this four-game series. The Cubs have now taken the first two games, and the Nats will need to sweep the doubleheader tomorrow in order to head home

Nats strike first, Cubs answer quickly for lead (Nats lose 7-2)

The Nationals didn’t need long to take their first lead of the series in Chicago. After going three up, three down in the first, Adam LaRoche led off the second with a single and Ryan Zimmerman doubled to left off Jason Hammel to give the Nats a 1-0 advantage over the Cubs. Zimmerman reached third on the throw and Wilson Ramos walked to put runners

Williams on Desmond’s low average, gauging shortstop’s need for rest

In some regards, Ian Desmond is having his best season to date. With 14 homers and 46 RBIs in 77 games, the Nationals shortstop is on pace to break career highs of 25 homers (2011) and 80 RBIs (2013). But Desmond is also having perhaps his worst year in some regards. His .237 batting average and .292 on-base percentage are career lows. He also has

Roark pitching close to home, lineups for matinee at Wrigley

CHICAGO - Tanner Roark, a native of Wilmington, Ill., will have a huge cheering section at Wrigley Field this afternoon when he makes his first career start close to home. He made one relief appearance in Chicago last season, earning the decision in the Nats’ 11-6 win there on Aug. 21, 2013. But now he gets to the be the Nationals’ featured pitcher in front

Trying to fight through the fog

CHICAGO - A couple of times in the middle innings of last night’s game at Wrigley Field, I felt like a popup was hit in my general direction on the far side of the first base dugout down the right field line. I looked up toward the sky to try and locate the ball to get a feel for how close it might be to

Hearing from Williams, Span, Stammen and Fister after Nats’ 5-3 loss

CHICAGO - Yet again, the Nationals battled back from a deficit, finding a way to even the score with the Cubs after trailing 3-0 in the fourth inning tonight. Three Nats runs in the seventh tied the ballgame, but the tie was short-lived, as the Cubs immediately responded with two runs off Craig Stammen in the bottom of the seventh and held on for a

Fister, Wood off to strong starts (Nats lose 5-3)

We’re through three innings in Chicago and the Cubs and Nationals have managed just four hits. Maybe it’s because they can barely see the ball crossing the plate. In a city known for its extreme weather, a dense fog has planted itself in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, leaving conditions increasingly tough to battle. Still, with less than full visibility, both teams have had

Ramos to approach latest return with caution

The third time’s the charm. At least, that’s what Wilson Ramos is hoping. After missing the team’s last 14 games with a strained right hamstring - his second significant absence this season due to injury - the Nationals catcher was activated earlier today, and is ready to put a stop-and-start beginning to the 2014 season behind him. “Yeah, it feels good,” Ramos said of his

Ramos comes off DL, Leon optioned (with lineups)

CHICAGO - As expected, catcher Wilson Ramos has been activated off the disabled list today, with catcher Sandy Leon being optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Ramos on the 25-man roster. Ramos, who missed the last 14 games with a strained right hamstring, played four games on a rehab assignment, split between Double-A Harrisburg and high Single-A Potomac. In those games, Ramos went

Ramos set to return, Desmond defends his teammates

CHICAGO - The reinforcements keep on coming. You could certainly claim that the Nationals haven’t yet had their full roster in place this season. Doug Fister began the 2014 campaign on the disabled list, Wilson Ramos landed there after playing just seven innings in the season opener, and Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper have also missed extended stretches. But the Nats are now slowly getting

Desmond on scrum with Gomez, Strasburg on struggles, Hill on debut

Stephen Strasburg’s struggles and Taylor Hill’s major league debut in Wednesday’s series-ending 9-2 loss to the Brewers were overshadowed by a few tense moments after the eighth inning. The eighth had ended on a double play where Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez, after being hit by a Hill pitch, slid hard into Kevin Frandsen at second trying to break it up. Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond didn’t like

Williams discusses Nats’ 9-2 loss to Brewers

Manager Matt Williams provided reporters with his thoughts on Stephen Strasburg’s rough start, rookie Taylor Hill’s first outing and the dustup between Ian Desmond and Carlos Gomez following the Nationals’ 9-2 loss to the Brewers. Strasburg fell to 6-6 with perhaps his worst start of the season. Hill saved the bullpen by pitching the final 3 1/3 innings and cooler heads prevailed after Desmond and

Williams on roster move, Ramos, Harper, Saturday doubleheader

Coming off Tuesday’s 16-inning win in Milwaukee, the Nationals certainly didn’t have a quiet morning leading up to this afternoon’s series finale at Miller Park. The Nats needed seven relievers to cover 10 innings in last night’s victory, so a move to add an arm to the bullpen was a near-certainty. So Washington called up right-handed pitching prospect Taylor Hill from Triple-A Syracuse and designated

Taylor Hill on callup: “It’s definitely a dream come true”

Taylor Hill’s breakthrough with Triple=A Syracuse and the Nationals’ need for length in their bullpen following last night’s 16-inning game has landed the 25-year-old in the major leagues for the first time. Hill is having a tremendous first full season at Triple-A, tying for the International League lead with a 1.92 ERA, leading the IL with 93 2/3 innings and ranking second with a 0.99

Nats call up Hill, designate Dobbs for assignment (plus two other moves, lineups)

MILWAUKEE - The Nationals have officially called up right-handed pitching prospect Taylor Hill from Triple-A Syracuse, and designated infielder Greg Dobbs for assignment to make room on the 40- and 25-man rosters. The Nats have 10 days to release, trade or outright Dobbs to the minors. Hill, 25, will be making his first appearance in the majors and will be available in relief today. On

On last night and today

MILWAUKEE - While still getting over the fact that we very nearly saw Adam LaRoche pitch last night ... What a ballgame that was at Miller Park last night and into this morning. In addition to some idiot sliding down Bernie Brewer’s slide, we had 16 hard-fought, drama-filled innings between two division-leading clubs. The Nationals trailed 2-1 going to the eighth, but Anthony Rendon knotted

Wiliams recaps Nats’ thrilling 4-2, 16-inning win

MILWAUKEE - That ballgame have enough for ya? Tremendous pitching, sparkling defensive plays, gutty efforts from guys on both ballclubs. It was one of those games you hate to see one team lose. Fortunately for the Nationals, they weren’t that one team tonight. The Nats pulled out a 4-2, 16-inning win over the Brewers tonight, and they got contributions from throughout the roster. Anthony Rendon

Nats grab early lead in Milwaukee (Zimmerman homers in 16th, Nats win 4-2)

The Nationals wasted no time scoring against the Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo. Denard Span singled to right field for the Nats’ first hit of the night. With Anthony Rendon batting, Span stole his 13th bag of the season. Span then went to third on Rendon’s single and scored on Jayson Werth’s RBI groundout to give the Nats a 1-0 lead. Gallardo has allowed just two runs

Zimmermann looks to keep rolling in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE - Jordan Zimmermann starts at Miller Park tonight with a chance to extend a run of tremendous starts. The Nationals right-hander has allowed three runs in 32 innings for a miniscule 0.84 ERA over his last four starts. He has struck out 27 and walked three while holding opponents to a .153 average and .383 OPS. Despite that, he’s just 2-2 in those four

Rotation, bullpen both working at an elite level

MILWAUKEE - After shutting out the Brewers - the team with the fourth-most runs scored in the major leagues - last night, the Nationals now have the top team ERA in the bigs. Through their first 75 games, the Nats have a 3.00 ERA as a team. And if you prefer more advanced metrics that determine the quality of a pitching staff, consider this: the

Knorr and Williams on the 3-0 win and the skipper’s ejection

MILWAUKEE - Reporters didn’t just get to meet with manager Matt Williams after tonight’s 3-0 Nationals win. We also got to meet with bench coach Randy Knorr, who took over the managerial duties in the bottom of the second inning after Williams’ first career ejection as a big league skipper. Williams was tossed by home plate umpire Mark Wegner for arguing balls and strikes, leaving

Williams gets first ejection of managerial career (Nats blank Brewers 3-0)

Matt Williams won’t be around to watch the remainder of the Nationals’ first game of a seven-game road trip. Between the top and bottom halves of the second inning, Williams was ejected after a prolonged and animated discussion with home plate umpire Mark Wegner over his interpretation of the strike zone in an inning during which the Nationals loaded the bases with none out -

Zimmerman feels good after taking grounders at third base

Ryan Zimmerman was back at third base during pregame drills before the opener of a three-game series against the Brewers at Miller Park, and said he felt good after taking 15-20 ground balls at his former position. “This is the first time I’ve thrown in - I don’t know, probably since I don’t remember. ... It’s been a while, just because there’s been no reason,”

Desmond, Werth in Nats lineup at Brewers

MILWAUKEE - After Sunday’s game, Nationals manager Matt Williams indicated that he hoped to give shortstop Ian Desmond and right fielder Jayson Werth a day off in the near future, but it won’t be today. Both Desmond and Werth are starting tonight as the Nats open a series against the National League-leading Brewers at Miller Park. Williams had noted that Desmond seems worn down. The

Back on the road with a jolt of momentum

MILWAUKEE - The Nationals wake up this morning in first place in the National League East, 1 1/2 games up on the Braves, right where they were prior to the four-game set with Atlanta over the last handful of days. Looking at the standings, it’s as if those four games with the Braves never happened. But they did, and while the Nats just earned a

Roark on mound for series finale vs. Braves (plus lineups)

The Nationals are fielding the majority of their regular lineup with a chance to split their four-game series with the Braves this afternoon. The only change from yesterday is Sandy Leon starting behind the plate a day game after a night game. Right-hander Tanner Roark is on the mound looking to continue an extended run of strong pitching. The 27-year-old hasn’t surrendered more than three

Williams updates Harper rehab, Ramos heading on rehab assignment and more

While multiple reports, including one on this very website, have said that Bryce Harper will head out on a rehab assignment Monday to Single-A Potomac as he works back from a torn ligament in his left thumb, Nationals manager Matt Williams wasn’t able to confirm those reports this afternoon. “At some point during the next road trip, he’ll go out,” Williams said. That could be

Harper to begin rehab assignment Monday (plus lineups)

Bryce Harper will begin a rehab assignment Monday at Single-A Potomac, a source confirmed this afternoon. Harper had said he likely wants to play seven to nine rehab games. The news of Harper being cleared to begin rehab was first reported by Ken Rosenthal. The Nationals outfielder has been on the disabled list since April 26 as he recovered from surgery to repair a torn

Trying to pull positives from the defeat

There were some positives in last night’s ballgame that the Nationals pointed to in the late hours of Friday night after their 13 innings with the Braves were through. They had come back to tie the game in the ninth inning against Craig Kimbrel, arguably the top closer in the majors, a guy who has a 1.25 ERA and 113 saves since the start of

Williams recaps Nats’ 6-4, 13-inning loss to Braves

It sure felt like the Nationals were poised to put up another dramatic comeback win when Anthony Rendon ripped a game-tying, two-run homer off Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Nationals Park crowd went nuts, the home dugout was filled with smiles and fist-pounds, and for the first time in this series, the Nats had momentum on their side. But that

Nats lineup for Game 2 vs. Braves

The Nationals are looking to get back in the win column tonight after dropping last night’s series opener to the Braves. Tonight’s starter, Stephen Strasburg, has recorded 11 consecutive quality starts. For the Nats: CF Denard Span 3B Anthony Rendon RF Jayson Werth 1B Adam LaRoche LF Ryan Zimmerman SS Ian Desmond 2B Danny Espinosa C Jose Lobaton RHP Stephen Strasburg

Trying to find a reason for the troubles against Atlanta

The Nationals came into this four-game series against the Braves having won 12 of their last 16 games. They sent Jordan Zimmermann, a guy who had allowed just one run in his last 26 innings, to the mound last night. The Braves entered the series losers of 13 of their previous 21. They had just gotten swept by the Phillies in Atlanta, and were playing

Williams speaks after Nats’ 3-0 loss to Braves

After putting up six runs in each of their last two games against the Astros, the Nationals managed just three hits in a 3-0 loss to the Braves tonight, pushing Atlanta back to within 1/2 a game of Washington in the National League East and adding to the Nats’ issues against their top division rival. Two of the Nats’ three hits today were of the

Nationals lineup for series opener against Braves

The Nationals will trot a hot pitcher out to the mound for the opener of their four-game series against the Braves. Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who will oppose Braves righty and Annapolis native Gavin Floyd, has allowed only one run in his past 26 innings. On the year, Zimmermann is 5-3 with a 2.98 ERA. Here’s the Nationals lineup: CF Denard Span 3B Anthony Rendon RF

In come the Braves

If you happened to miss last night’s Nationals win over the Astros, and didn’t see right fielder Jayson Werth’s tag-avoiding, pop-up-short-of-the-bag slide into second base, I highly suggest you check this out: Your browser does not support iframes. Werth said he knew he was going to be out as he went into his slide, so he switched into self-preservation mode. Somehow, it worked. “I think

Williams meets with the media after Nats’ 6-5 win over Astros

Coming into this two-game series with the Astros, the Nationals were 9-1 against Houston since the start of the 2012 season. We can make now that 11-1. The Nats swept this two-game set, tonight earning a 6-5 win in a bit of a back-and-forth ballgame. In Gio Gonzalez’s first start back off the disabled list, the Nats took a 2-0 lead after three, but the

Aggressive Nats grab 1-0 lead in first (Nats rally for 6-5 win)

We’re off and running at Nationals Park, and the Nationals have a 1-0 lead after the opening inning. And when I say running, I mean running - to the tune of three stolen bases in the first inning. Denard Span got the first, although it took a video replay challenge by manager Matt Williams to make it official, and Anthony Rendon swiped a pair. Span

Gonzalez returns, Lobaton sits in Astros finale

The Nationals end a two-game series against the Astros tonight, sending left-hander Gio Gonzalez to the mound in hopes of finishing off a sweep. Gonzalez was activated off the 15-day disabled list today after spending time on the shelf with left shoulder inflammation. He’ll have most of the Nats’ regular lineup behind him, the lone exception being his batterymate. Sandy Leon will catch Gonzalez. For

Yet again, Desmond rebounds from slow defensive start

Over Ian Desmond’s first 20 games played this season, he made a whopping eight errors in just 66 chances. His fielding percentage three weeks into the season was .879, and Desmond admitted at the time that he was getting frustrated by all the miscues, even saying that stretch was comparable to other “dark places defensively” that he’d been in earlier in his career. “The errors

Williams discusses Nats’ 6-5 win (Cedeno optioned to Triple-A)

After closing out their 10-game road trip on a four-game losing streak, the Nationals got back in the win column tonight, jumping out to a 6-1 lead over the Astros and hanging on for a 6-5 victory. Anthony Rendon had two doubles and drove in three, Ryan Zimmerman had two doubles and drove in two, and Tanner Roark picks up his sixth win of the

Nats take early lead in first inning (Nats win 6-5)

Well, that didn’t take long. After scoring a combined four runs over the last four games, the Nationals scored two runs in the first inning against Astros starter Dallas Keuchel. Anthony Rendon doubled home Denard Span to give the Nats a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Ryan Zimmerman doubled home Rendon. Tanner Roark will certainly enjoy an early cushion. Update: Back-to-back RBI doubles from Zimmerman

Williams provides updates on Harper, Gonzalez and Ramos

Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper took swings in the batting cage with both hands this afternoon for the first time since tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb on April 26. Manager Matt Williams told the media prior to tonight’s game against the Astros that Harper is a taking a positive step in his rehab program. “Today was the first time with two

Span back in Nats lineup vs. Astros

As the Nationals play their first home game following a 10-game road trip, Denard Span returns to the lineup after sitting out Sunday’s game with a tight back. Span will also be looking to get on track, as the Nats center fielder has gone 0-for-18 over his last five games. Tanner Roark will be on the mound opposite Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who is 6-1

Examining the offense

In the nine games prior to the Nationals’ current four-game losing streak, the offense came to life in a big way. The Nats slugged 36 extra-base hits in those nine contests (eight homers, three triples and 25 doubles). They hit .265 as a team with a .338 on-base percentage and .442 slugging percentage. They averaged 5.67 runs per game. Combine that offensive punch with the

A roller coaster of a road trip followed by a big homestand

Home, sweet home. Finally. That 10-day road trip felt quite a bit longer, with long flights, three stops and lots of momentum swings for the Nationals along the way. The Nats went into this trip hoping to go on a bit of a run, get hot and carry some momentum back home into a big week, which features a four-game series against the Braves. They

Nats limp home after 5-5 road trek on four-game skid

So much for momentum. The Nationals finished off a 5-5 road trip this afternoon with a 5-2 loss to the Cardinals, who have taken 12 of the last 14 regular season games between the teams. It’s Washington’s fourth straight loss after starting the trek 5-2 through San Diego and San Francisco. Doug Fister saw a streak of five straight wins halted, Ryan Zimmerman made a

Another Adams homer, another Nats deficit (Cards win 5-2)

The Nationals had the bases loaded with one out in the second, and failed to push a run across in a scoreless tie. In the bottom half of the inning, they paid for it. Allen Craig singled up the middle and Matt Adams launched a two-run homer to right off Doug Fister. Yes, the same Adams who homered on Friday and Saturday. That’s three games

Zimmerman makes first career start at first base (Span scratched)

The Nationals will try to avoid the sweep today in St. Louis, sending right-hander Doug Fister to the mound. Fister is 5-0 with a 1.95 ERA in his last five starts. He’ll have a markedly different alignment supporting him, starting with third baseman-turned-left fielder Ryan Zimmerman, who is making his first career start at first base and batting cleanup. With left-hander Jaime Garcia pitching for

Nats grab early 1-0 lead against Cards, Miller (Nats fall 4-1)

Well, the Nationals won’t be blanked for a second consecutive game. Not only that, the run they scored gives them a lead before Stephen Strasburg throws his first pitch of the evening. With one out in the first, Anthony Rendon laced an opposite-field single to right, then scored from first standing up on Jayson Werth’s double to right. It’s 1-0 Nats as we head to

Strasburg takes hill against Cardinals (with lineups)

The Nationals are 5-3 on their current road trip, and send right-hander Stephen Strasburg to the mound today in St. Louis to try and snap a two-game losing streak. Strasburg is 6-4 with a 2.99 ERA, but he has a string of 10 straight starts in which he’s worked at least six innings. Six times in that span, he’s pitched at least seven innings. His

After uncharacteristic start, Zimmermann right back on track

ST. LOUIS - Sixteen days ago, on May 29, Jordan Zimmermann woke up the owner of a 4.07 ERA. Not awful by any means, but not the type of number we expect to see next to Zimmermann’s name on a stat sheet. He had just gotten a no-decision in a Nationals loss to the Marlins the previous night, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight

Hearing from Williams, Zimmermann and LaRoche after Nats’ 1-0 loss

ST. LOUIS - Jordan Zimmermann threw a 76-pitch complete game tonight, the fewest pitches thrown by a Nationals pitcher in a regulation complete game in team history. He allowed one run on three hits. He walked just one batter and struck out five. Yet, Zimmermann goes down as the losing pitcher tonight, after Lance Lynn and Trevor Rosenthal combined to blank the Nats on just

Gonzalez in line to return to rotation next week

Left-hander Gio Gonzalez is on track to return to the Nationals rotation next week, manager Matt Williams said during his pregame media session at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Gonzalez made his second rehab start for Single-A Potomac on Thursday as he works his way back from left shoulder inflammation, which has shelved him since May 18. Williams indicated the shoulder is doing well enough

Zimmermann looks to stay hot, notch first win vs. Cardinals

ST. LOUIS - Jordan Zimmermann has never beaten the Cardinals, going 0-4 with a 7.03 ERA in seven career starts against the boys from St. Louis. Today, he looks to change that and to also continue his recent strong stretch, which has seen him throw 18 straight scoreless innings. The Cardinals will give the ball to Lance Lynn today. Lynn held the Nationals to one

Treinen still winless, but that doesn’t tell the whole story

ST. LOUIS - In case you missed it, Gio Gonzalez went four innings at high Single-A Potomac last night, allowing one run on two hits with four walks and seven strikeouts in his second rehab start as the left-hander works back from left shoulder inflammation. Scheduled to throw five innings and around 80 pitches, Gonzalez tossed 79 pitches in four frames, and while the walks

Williams, Treinen and Frandsen speak after loss in San Francisco

Blake Treinen has appeared in eight games this season. He’s made four starts. He’s pitched to a 2.08 ERA. He has yet to earn a win. Although the 25-year-old rookie did not have his best stuff today, he battled through five innings and worked his way out of some tough jams. At the end of the afternoon, he left the game after five innings of

Nats down early in San Francisco (Nats lose 7-1)

Over his first three major league starts, right-hander Blake Treinen has pitched to a miniscule ERA of 1.78. However, he has yet to earn his first win in the majors, and is 0-2 on the season. If he wants to earn his first win today, he’ll need the Nationals to mount a comeback. After pitching a scoreless first inning, Treinen allowed two runs in the

Williams credits improved defense before series finale

Before today’s game in San Francisco, manager Matt Williams met with the media and discussed the Nationals’ improved defense before looking ahead to the finale. “I think guys have settled into the season a little more. It’s cold early, playing in cold weather is a factor, but I wanted to say it to you guys early and I believe it. I think it was a

Espinosa gets day off as Nats go for four-game sweep

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals are seeking a four-game sweep of the Giants. Although San Francisco had won five straight games before the Nats came to town, Matt Williams’ squad has been able to take the first three games of this series. Williams is giving Danny Espinosa the afternoon off. Kevin Frandsen will bat seventh and play second base. Blake Treinen (0-2, 1.78 ERA) will

On Zimmerman’s impressive play in left, and what the future holds

SAN FRANCISCO - As I’ve said in the past, I don’t put much stock in how the standings look in June, especially not when it comes to jockeying for a division lead when there are still around 100 games left on the schedule. That said, some people seem to really care about that sort of thing. For those people, here’s a link to the up-to-date

Williams discusses Zimmerman’s defensive gem and more after 6-2 win

SAN FRANCISCO - Five batters into tonight’s game, the Nationals led 3-0. They drew eight walks on the night and grinded out at-bats against a tough Giants pitching staff led tonight by Matt Cain. They got six-plus innings of two-run ball thrown by Tanner Roark - another quality start - and again leaned on their bullpen to lock down a close game in the late

Williams weighs in on Ramos’ injury and his workout regimen

Wilson Ramos will need seven to 10 days to recover from a right hamstring strain, so the Nationals have placed their oft-injured catcher on the 15-day disabled list and will suggest that he modifies his workout routine to incorporate more running in hopes of preventing future hamstring injuries. “He got an MRI this morning and officially it’s a Grade 1 strain of his hamstring,” manager

Hamstring issue will send Ramos to DL

Wilson Ramos is headed to the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring problem. The Nationals catcher injured himself legging out a double Tuesday night in San Francisco. He was removed from the game as a precaution with right hamstring tightness, and told reporters at AT&T Park today that he was heading to the DL with a hamstring issue for the third time in two

Ramos out of Nats lineup (Giants scratch Sandoval)

SAN FRANCISCO - Catcher Wilson Ramos is out of the Nationals lineup one night after leaving Tuesday’s game because of right hamstring tightness. Jose Lobaton is behind the plate and just in case Ramos is completely unavailable, Kevin Frandsen is the Nats’ emergency catcher. Giants right-hander Matt Cain makes his second start off the disabled list and first since holding the Mets hitless through five

Even by the Bay, things keep rolling

SAN FRANCISCO - Yesterday afternoon, Jayson Werth received a text message from a longtime friend of his, someone who played baseball in college and knows the game well. The friend had been watching the Nationals lately, had seen them rattle off a bunch of wins, and had noticed the Nats go into San Francisco and dominate the Giants - the team with the best record

Ramos dealing with minor hamstring soreness, plus quotes after Nats’ 2-1 win

SAN FRANCISCO - Not only did the Nationals come away with a 2-1 win in a tremendous ballgame tonight at AT&T Park, they also got the best news possible on catcher Wilson Ramos, who left tonight’s game in the ninth inning with right hamstring tightness. Ramos said after the game that he doesn’t think the injury is anything serious, this after twice landing on the

Williams on Fister’s impact on rotation, Rendon’s possible return

Remember that groan-inducing split right-hander Doug Fister pulled out of his hip pocket in his last start against Philadelphia, the play that reminded people that Fister was a nimble first baseman in junior college? If Nationals manager Matt Williams has his way, you won’t be seeing it any more. While discussing Fister’s impact on the Nats rotation since his return from a lat injury this

Rendon returns to Nats lineup

SAN FRANCISCO - After missing three straight games with a right hand injury, Anthony Rendon is back in the Nationals lineup today for the second game of this four-game series against the Giants. Rendon injured the hand on a ground ball Friday night in San Diego. He left that game after five innings and sat out each of the last three days, but has progressed

On momentum and its impact (or lack thereof) going forward

SAN FRANCISCO - There’s an old saying in the baseball world. It goes: “Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.” The Nationals have won eight of their last 10. Over those 10 games, they’ve outscored their opponents 62-18. Their starters have delivered 10 straight quality starts, and in their last six games, Nats starters have struck out 47 and walked none, making them the first

Williams on Strasburg’s health and more after 9-2 win over Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - The Giants have been red-hot lately. The Nationals cooled them off a bit tonight. The Nats pounded out eight extra-base hits, plated nine runs and handed the Giants their most lopsided defeat of the season in a 9-2 loss. The nine runs the Nats scored were the most the Giants have allowed this season. Ian Desmond drove in a career-high five runs,

Desmond, Strasburg spark 9-2 rout of Giants

It didn’t take long for the Nationals to break on top at AT&T Park. Denard Span led off the first with a double to right off Ryan Vogelsong, took third on Kevin Frandsen’s groundout to second and scored when Jayson Werth doubled to left. The Nationals now turn to right-hander Stephen Strasburg to see if he can keep the Giants at bay. Strasburg entered the

Williams expects Rendon to return Tuesday

Anthony Rendon inched closer Monday to a return to the Nationals lineup. The third baseman hasn’t played since Friday night, when he took a Carlos Quentin grounder off his right hand, forcing his removal from the game. X-rays showed no fracture, but the hand has been swollen and tender. Rendon swung in the cage yesterday, but still reported some soreness, especially around the thumb area.

Nats meet up with old friend Morse in San Francisco

The Nationals reacquainted themselves with an old friend at AT&T Park on Monday, and there’s no question that Michael Morse - the slugging first baseman/outfielder who was one of the most popular players on the Nats’ 2012 playoff team - is also a big hit in San Francisco. The “May the Morse Be With You” t-shirts distributed by Hunter Pence and worn by his new

Rendon out of Nats lineup again (Zimmermann NL Player of the Week)

SAN FRANCISCO - Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon is out of the lineup for the third straight game after injuring his right hand on Friday against the Padres. Kevin Frandsen will play third and bat second again for the Nats. Also, right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was named the National League Player of the Week after throwing 17 consecutive scoreless innings. Zimmermann went 2-0, allowed seven hits,

A test awaits by the Bay

SAN FRANCISCO - Good morning from sunny San Francisco. What a terrible road trip this has been in terms of travel. Three days in San Diego, now four in San Fran. Just awful. The Nationals took care of business over the weekend, winning another series, their third straight, and bumping up into a first-place tie with the Braves and Marlins atop the National League East.

Zimmermann’s gem lands Nationals in three-way tie for division lead

There’s a three-way tie atop the National League East tonight, and the Nationals (32-29) can thank right-hander Jordan Zimmermann for delivering a dominating effort Sunday to help them into that trio with the Braves (32-29) and Marlins (33-30). Zimmermann struck out a career-high 12 in a 6-0 whitewashing of the Padres that provided the Nats with their third consecutive series victory. It was Zimmermann’s third

Desmond goes deep for 3-0 Nats lead (Zimmermann fans 12 in gem)

The Nationals took a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning at Petco Park on Sunday afternoon, parlaying a hustle double by Denard Span and a stolen base into a run-scoring groundout by Kevin Frandsen. In the second, Ian Desmond homered for the second straight game, again blasting a ball over the wall in center field for his team-leading 13th homer. It scored Ryan Zimmerman,

Rendon remains out of lineup with sore right hand

There’s both good news and bad news for the Nationals on the Anthony Rendon front. The good news is that Rendon hit in the cage Sunday morning, a positive development after he left Friday night’s game and missed Saturday’s contest after being hit in the right hand by a Carlos Quentin grounder. The fact that he could grip the bat and swing is a step

In defense of Rafael Soriano

SAN DIEGO - Rafael Soriano seems to be a lightning rod for criticism among Nationals fans. Now I’m not here to tell fans how to feel about players. If you want to have certain feelings about a certain player, you’re definitely entitled. It’s a free country. And a free blog. But I am going to use this post to defend Soriano. Going into last night’s

Williams discusses Nats’ 4-3 11-inning loss

SAN DIEGO - The Nationals were one out from locking up their third straight series win and picking up their fifth straight victory overall. Then Yonder Alonso connected on a 1-0 fastball from Rafael Soriano - a pitch that was supposed to be down and away but stayed over the heart of the plate - and tied the game in the bottom of the ninth.

Nats hope to get Rendon back Sunday, will wait on Gonzalez

The Nationals are hopeful that third baseman Anthony Rendon will return to the lineup Sunday after missing one game following his removal from Friday night’s contest after taking a Carlos Quentin grounder off his right hand. But the Nats will wait a little longer for left-hander Gio Gonzalez to be activated off the disabled list. He’ll get one more minor league rehabilitation start after being

Rendon out of lineup at Padres

SAN DIEGO - Anthony Rendon is out of the Nationals lineup Saturday night, one day after taking a Carlos Quentin grounder off his right hand. Rendon left the game after the fifth inning. Initial X-rays were negative and manager Matt Williams will surely provide an update before tonight’s game against right-hander Andrew Cashner and the Padres. Kevin Frandsen is playing third in Rendon’s place with

Nats draft Ryan Ripken, Cal’s son, in 15th round

SAN DIEGO - This will probably make you feel old. The Nationals have selected Ryan Ripken, Cal’s son, with their 15th-round pick in this year’s draft. The 6-foot-6 Ripken played at Indian River State College (Fla.) last year. The first baseman was taken by Washington with the 454th overall pick. He hit .321 with one homer and 24 RBIs in 42 games this season. Ripken

Roark just keeps getting the job done

SAN DIEGO - As pointed out by Nationals manager Matt Williams last night, right-hander Tanner Roark has now delivered nine quality starts in his 12 outings this season. A 75 percent quality start rate? Out of your No. 5 starter? Yeah, that’ll do. Roark has worked into the seventh inning seven times in those 12 starts. He’s allowed one earned run or fewer six times.

X-rays negative on Rendon’s hand, plus more from Nats’ 6-0 win

SAN DIEGO - First things first - before I pass along some postgame quotes from Matt Williams after tonight’s 6-0 Nationals win, here’s an update on Anthony Rendon, who left the game after the fifth inning. Rendon said that Carlos Quentin’s ground ball in the fourth inning, which hit him in the right hand, caused the hand to go numb initially. Rendon left the game

Birthday blast for Rendon (Roark crafts a gem, Nats win 6-0)

Anthony Rendon gave the Nationals an early boost in San Diego by celebrating his 24th birthday in style. The third baseman absolutely crushed a two-run shot to left-center in one of baseball’s biggest parks, giving the Nats a 2-0 lead with no outs in the first. Denard Span had drawn a leadoff walk from Padres right-hander Tyson Ross before scoring on Rendon’s ninth homer. That

Williams on Zimmerman in left and at third, Werth getting day off

Ryan Zimmerman’s transition to playing left field has been perhaps the most discussed Nationals topic over the last couple of weeks. Zimmerman has played three games in left, recording three putouts in as many chances. Manager Matt Williams spoke extensively about Zimmerman’s outfield play, his future defensive position and the possibility of playing third right now to give Anthony Rendon a day off. So how

Kline recaps second day of Nats’ draft

On the second day of the draft, which covered rounds three through 10, the Nationals added three pitchers, three outfielders, a catcher and a first baseman. In the third round, the Nats selected high school catcher Jakson Reetz. Washington then selected three college right-handers consecutively in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds - Robbie Dickey (Binn College), Drew Van Orden (Duke) and Austen Williams (Texas

Werth gets a day off

SAN DIEGO - Manager Matt Williams had been hoping to give Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth a day off for nearly two weeks now. He just needed to find the right time. Yesterday, with the Nationals having won four of their last five, Williams sat Desmond for the first time all season. Today, with the Nats coming off a sweep of the Phillies and facing

Some more draft talk and a road trip primer

SAN DIEGO - If it seems like the Nationals have taken a boatload of Scott Boras clients with first-round picks over the last handful of years, well, that’s because they have. Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer and Brian Goodwin are all Boras clients who were made Nats first-round selections in the previous five drafts. If it seems like the Nats have used

Williams looks ahead to tough road trip after Nats sweep Phillies

An announced crowed of 33,016 saw starting pitcher Doug Fister put on a show. The right-hander pitched seven innings, scattering four hits and surrendering two runs in the Nats’ 4-2 win over the Phillies. However, Fister also showcased his athleticism off the mound with some nice plays, including going into a full split at first base. “He’s a good athlete though. We saw him come

Desmond gets a rare day off

Ian Desmond will not be in today’s starting lineup for the series finale agains the Phillies. Manager Matt Williams has been saying for the last several weeks that he wanted to give the Nationals shortstop a day off. Desmond has started all 57 of the Nats’ games this season. Danny Espinosa will slide over to shortstop while Anthony Rendon will get the start at second

A step in the right direction

In their last five contests, the Nationals have recorded four wins, giving them their best five-game stretch since April 25-May 2, when they won five of six. In this span, they’ve outscored their opponents by a whopping 24 runs (34 runs scored, 10 runs allowed). They’ve put up 19 extra-base hits. They’ve allowed just six earned runs and have seen their team ERA drop from

Hearing from Williams, Strasburg and Span after Nats’ 8-4 win

They had to sit through nearly a two-hour rain delay before they could finish it off, but the Nationals picked up their fourth win in their last five games and second straight over the Phillies tonight by an 8-4 margin. Stephen Strasburg outpitched A.J. Burnett to move to 5-4 on the season and 6-2 lifetime against the Phillies. The two right-handers both appeared locked in

Strasburg, Burnett matching zeros early (Nats win 8-4)

The matchup between Stephen Strasburg and A.J. Burnett shaped up to be the best of this Phillies-Nats series, and through three frames, it hasn’t disappointed. Strasburg and Burnett have matched zeros so far with both starters allowing two hits over three scoreless innings. Strasburg has struck four, walked none and thrown 42 pitches, 30 for strikes. Burnett has answered by striking out two, walking one

Williams on Harper: “I’d like to see him back by the first of July”

It’s still too early for Matt Williams and the Nationals to have an accurate read on when Bryce Harper will be able to return from a torn ligament in his left thumb. But Williams does have a target date in mind. The Nats manager would like to see Harper back by July 1. “He’s continuing to work with the therapist and do a little bit

Nats and Phillies lineups as Strasburg opposes Burnett

Not a bad pitching matchup for us tonight here at Nationals Park, as Stephen Strasburg will oppose Phillies righty A.J. Burnett. Strasburg hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 21 innings against the Phillies. He went 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA in two home starts against the Phils last season. Ryan Zimmerman is making his second big league start in left field tonight and

Zimmerman’s return impacts Nats lineup in more ways than one

Sure, it’s nice having a guy who was hitting .364/.405/.636 through the season’s first 10 games back in the lineup after more than seven weeks on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman returned last night, slugged two doubles, hit another ball to the warning track in right-center and didn’t look like he’d missed a beat after fracturing his right thumb less than two weeks into the

Williams on Zimmerman’s strong return, Zimmermann’s strong start in 7-0 win

Ryan Zimmerman returned to the Nationals lineup after more than seven weeks on the disabled list. Jordan Zimmermann returned to his peak form after a subpar month of May. A bunch of other Nats played a part in tonight’s 7-0 drubbing of the Phillies, but in many ways, tonight was the night of the Zimmerman(n)s. Or should we go with Zimmermen(n)? Playing his first big

A few thoughts about Zimmerman in left field

As much as I’m happy to have Ryan Zimmerman back with the Nationals after an extended stay on the disabled list with a fractured right thumb, I can’t get on board with the team’s decision to turn its former All-Star third baseman into a utlility man who will play a little third base, a little first base and a little left field. I think it’s

Zimmerman reinstated from DL, playing left field tonight; Moore optioned (with lineups)

After more than seven weeks on the disabled list, Ryan Zimmerman has been reinstated today, opening the door for him to return to the Nationals lineup and play left field for the first time in his major league career. Tyler Moore was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Zimmerman on the roster. Zimmerman hit .364 with a .405 on-base percentage and .636 slugging

On the current NL East layout, Zimmerman’s probable return and Zimmermann’s start

The Nationals wake up this morning in fourth place in the National League East. That’s a weird sentence to write. Sunday’s loss to the Rangers combined with yesterday’s off-day allowed the Mets (who have now won three in a row and seven of their last 10) to move percentage points above the Nats in the division. Still, the Nats, at 27-28 on the season and

Zimmerman could return tomorrow, Roark continuing to make a statement

In case you missed it yesterday, Ryan Zimmerman played his second straight game in left field for Single-A Potomac, going 2-for-4 and playing seven innings in left. He got three chances in the field and had the opportunity to get in some work as a baserunner and test out his legs, going first to third on a ball. He also got caught in a rundown

Williams recaps Nats’ 2-0 loss

Tanner Roark was pretty darn good today. Yu Darvish was better. Roark allowed one run over seven strong innings, scattering seven hits. His lone blemish in the run column came on a Leonys Martin solo homer in the seventh. That was all Darvish needed. The Rangers ace was spectacular, striking out 12 over eight scoreless innings, helping Texas salvage the finale of this three-game set.

Roark takes hill as Nats seek sweep of Rangers (updated)

The Nationals have scored 19 runs in the first two games of their series against the Rangers and send right-hander Tanner Roark to the mound in search of an interleague sweep this afternoon. But it won’t be easy. Texas ace Yu Darvish is 4-2 with a 2.35 ERA and brings so many pitches to the table that it took Nats manager Matt Williams about 30

On Rendon’s progression as a third baseman and how good he can be

First of all, before I get into some notes on Anthony Rendon’s defensive play at third base this season, I want to make sure to point out how much fun the Nationals Dream Gala was last night. The event itself - held this year at the new Marriott Marquis - was a great time, and all of the fans, viewers and readers that I had

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