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Rotation riding high

Teams can win games any number of ways during the regular season. You can have a high-powered offense, one that lives by the home run. You can be aggressive on the basepaths, putting pressure on the opposing defense by taking extra bases. You can have a strong defensive club, one that makes all the routine plays and has a way of stealing a few outs,

Start times announced (kind of) for NLDS

Major League Baseball has announced start times for the early Division Series games, and while we don’t know exactly when the Nationals will play their first postseason game, we now have a better idea. If the Pirates win the National League wild card Game on Wednesday, Game 1 of the NLDS at Nationals Park will start at 12:07 p.m. on Friday. If the Giants win

A storybook ending to the regular season (Zimmermann named NL Player of the Week)

A no-hitter is thrown by the pitcher, so he gets most of the attention for his well-deserved accomplishment. Jordan Zimmermann’s name is plastered everywhere across the sports landscape today - newspapers, Web sites, national highlight shows. The right-hander pitched a gem yesterday, recorded the first no-hitter in Nationals history, and did it in grand fashion, on the final day of the regular season. But everyone

Williams, Ramos, Souza react to Zimmermann’s no-hitter

The regular season finale belonged to Jordan Zimmermann. A day that was supposed to be about getting the Nationals’ regulars a couple of at-bats and then making sure they finished the season healthy suddenly turned into a, ‘There’s no way he could actually do this, right?’ afternoon for a starting pitcher who hadn’t appeared in a game in eight days and had been drilled on

Zimmerman in left, Werth on bench in regular season finale

We have reached the final game of the regular season. With Ryan Zimmerman getting the start in left field, Bryce Harper will shift to right field and Jayson Werth will get the afternoon off. Jordan Zimmermann is making his first start since Sept. 20 after being struck on the back of his right shoulder in Miami. The Nationals want to make sure Zimmermann is OK

Williams on Strasburg and more after Nats’ 5-1 win

Stephen Strasburg will go into the playoffs riding quite a hot streak. He’s not unlike his ballclub as a whole, in that regard. Strasburg threw six scoreless innings today, allowing just two hits, walking a batter and striking out seven in picking up his 14th win of the season in the Nationals’ 5-1 victory over the Marlins. This gives Strasburg 20 consecutive scoreless innings over

Matt Williams discusses Ryan Zimmerman’s health, potential playoff role

Since returning to the Nationals after suffering a right hamstring tear on July 22, Ryan Zimmerman has been a much-valued presence in the lineup and off the bench. The veteran offers versatility as he can play third base and left field, where he has made all three of his starts since his return. In his six games since his return, Zimmerman has posted a slash

Zimmerman out as most Nats regulars start vs. Marlins

Ryan Zimmerman is the only Nationals regular not in the lineup for this afternoon’s game against the Marlins. Zimmerman played in each of the club’s four games over the last two days, starting the first game of each doubleheader. With Zimmerman opening the day on the bench, Asdrubal Cabrera is at second with Anthony Rendon at third and Bryce Harper in left field. Williams is

Only two more left until the focus shifts to postseason ball

It cannot be easy playing four games in two days. Heck, all I did was sit around and watch four games in two days and talk about it on TV a bit, and I’m exhausted right now. I can’t imagine how the players or coaches feel after going through that physical and mental wringer. It cannot be easy, especially at this point in the season,

Williams discusses Nats’ 15-7 loss

The Nationals concluded their four-game-in-two-day stretch tonight by getting pounded by the Marlins 15-7, but that means nothing. Matt Williams’ ball club had already clinched home-field advantage through the National League side of the playoffs earlier today by way of their 4-0 win over Miami, so the nightcap was meaningless from a standings perspective. The Nats got in their work, got a couple regulars some

Williams on Fister’s Game 1 performance (with Game 2 lineups)

With Doug Fister’s complete-game shutout against the Marlins in Game 1 of the doubleheader, the Nationals secured home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs. Fister threw 104 pitches, 77 for strikes, allowed just three hits, walked none and struck out nine. It was the seventh complete game of Fister’s career and his 16th win of the season, which is a career-high. Here is what manager

Span returns to lineup in Game 1 against Marlins

Denard Span is in the starting lineup for the first time since leaving Tuesday’s game early with a scraped knee. Span left in the third inning after making a diving catch to end the inning against the Mets. Ryan Zimmerman will get the start in left field with Bryce Harper moving over to right. Right-hander Doug Fister seeks his career-high 16th win of the season.

Williams on Gonzalez’s stellar outing and various injuries after 3-0 win

A long day ends with a win, one that trims the Nationals’ magic number to clinch the best record in the National League to one. Gio Gonzalez threw seven stellar, scoreless innings, striking out a career-high 12, leading the Nats to a 3-0 win over the Mets. Anthony Rendon went 2-for-3 with an RBI and the Nats did enough to get to Zack Wheeler the

Williams, Zimmerman recap Nats’ 7-4 loss (Game 2 lineups)

The Nationals are busy trying to clinch the top seed in the National League postseason. Ryan Zimmerman is just trying to get back to full strength. Zimmerman - playing in just his second game since July 23 - played seven innings Thursday, going 1-for-4 and scoring a run in the Nationals’ 7-4 loss to the Mets. The final score wasn’t what Zimmerman or the Nationals

Nats turn to Treinen in Game 1 vs. Mets

Following last night’s postponement, the Nationals will have a slightly different lineup. Michael A. Taylor will lead off and get the start in center field, with Denard Span still out with a scraped right knee. Ryan Zimmerman is starting in left field for the first time since Saturday. Jayson Werth will also sit out Game 1 of the doubleheader and Bryce Harper will start in

Span sits, Zimmerman in left, Harper in center

As expected, Nationals center fielder Denard Span is getting today off. And as expected, Ryan Zimmerman is back in the lineup. Span will rest tonight after banging and scraping his knee on the warning track while making a sliding catch last night. That will free up a spot for Zimmerman to return to the lineup after getting the last three days off. Zimmerman will play

Some of this, some of that

Back on July 29, the Nationals held a half-game lead over the Braves atop the National League East. As of this morning, that division lead is now 16 1/2 games, which if the season finished today would rank as the fifth-most lopsided NL East division title since 1969 and the most lopsided since 2002. Yup, in less than a two-month window, the Nats have gained

Williams on Span’s injury and more after 4-2 win

Nationals fans surely held their breath when they saw Denard Span get removed for a pinch-hitter in the third inning after making a remarkable, tumbling grab to end the top of the third, but the good news - on top of the 4-2 Washington win tonight - is that Span doesn’t appear to have suffered a serious injury. Manager Matt Williams said after tonight’s win

Zimmerman, Rendon out of lineup against Mets

Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon both get a night off as the Nationals open a three-game series against the Mets tonight. Zimmerman, who also sat out Sunday’s game, was originally scheduled to start at third base today. But since he felt soreness in his hamstring on Saturday, manager Matt Williams wants him to go through a workout today. Rendon sits for the second time in

Looking at Roark’s role come the postseason

Tanner Roark will get the ball today for his 31st start of the season, and should he happen to work 7 2/3 or more innings, he’ll top the 200-inning mark for the 2014 campaign, a milestone for many pitchers. Roark has posted a 2.85 ERA this season, which only ranks 17th among qualified major league starters. No big deal. He has an ERA-plus (which is

Is Soriano pitching himself off the playoff roster?

Is deposed Nationals closer Rafael Soriano pitching himself off the playoff roster for the National League Division Series? Two weeks ago, when Soriano was removed from ninth-inning duties after a terrible stretch since the All-Star break, I’d have told you no (in fact, I wrote that in response to several regular commenters on our blogs). The reasons were simple: Soriano had a track record, the

Nats return home with lots on their side (Perez assigned to Yankees)

When the Nationals’ team plane landed at Dulles Airport last night following the team’s long 11-game road trip, there was a sign waiting for them on the tarmac. “Congrats NL East Champs,” it read. When the team buses pulled up to Nationals Park about an hour later, there were a bunch of visitors waiting for them. A group of probably close to 100 fans had

Clubhouse chatter after Nats finish 9-2 road trip with 2-1 win

There were a few tense minutes while Marlins hitters were crushing balls with authority in the ninth inning, but Rafael Soriano worked his way around a leadoff pinch-hit double by Reed Johnson and finished off a 2-1 Nationals win Sunday afternoon with his 32nd save. The Nats end their final regular season road trip with a 9-2 record and have upped the win count to

Strasburg exits in seventh with 2-0 lead (Nats win 2-1)

We’re through three innings of scoreless baseball at Marlins Park. Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg has looked strong, even though he’s battled an inconsistent strike zone by home plate umpire Paul Schrieber. Strasburg has allowed one hit, walked two, struck out three and benefited from a pair of double plays. The Nats have three singles off right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who has walked none and fanned three.

Williams rests handful of regulars for finale against Marlins

MIAMI - What do Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos have in common? They’re all on the bench for this afternoon’s finale of a four-game series against the Marlins. Manager Matt Williams is taking advantage of his team’s early clinching of the National League East to rest a significant portion of his starting nine. The Nationals are going for their

Williams on Zimmerman, Zimmermann and more after 3-2 win

MIAMI - Ryan Zimmerman returned from a nearly two-month absence and delivered two hits, including a triple. Jordan Zimmermann got drilled by a comebacker in his pitching shoulder but still delivered six strong innings. Denard Span faced a tough lefty with two outs and a runner in scoring position in a big spot, and delivered the game-winning hit. The Nationals keep on rolling. Zimmerman went

Williams says Zimmerman will play left first, then move to first and third bases

Nationals manager Matt Williams says Ryan Zimmerman will start in left field, then move on to first base and third base sometime next week as he resumes meaningful games for the first time since July 22, when a right hamstring injury sent him to the disabled list for 55 games. The goal: to get Zimmerman back up to speed over the regular season’s final nine

Zimmerman is back, ready to contribute to stretch drive

Ryan Zimmerman is back from the disabled list after missing 55 games with a right hamstring strain. He’s ready to do whatever he can to contribute to the Nationals over the last nine days of the regular season. What, exactly, that will be remains to be seen. “I won’t be 100 percent until next year, but I’m good enough, I think, to contribute,” he told

Nats activate Ryan Zimmerman (plus lineups)

MIAMI - The Nationals have officially reinstated third baseman Ryan Zimmerman from the 15-day disabled list this afternoon. Zimmerman missed 55 games with a severe right hamstring strain he suffered on July 22 at Colorado. That and a fractured right thumb have limited him to 53 games this season. Zimmerman has hit .282 with a .345 on-base percentage, a .456 slugging percentage, 24 extra-base hits

Whole again

MIAMI - Not every team is this lucky. Most aren’t. The Nationals have been through loads of injuries this season. They’ve twice lost Ryan Zimmerman for long stretches. Bryce Harper was out two months. Wilson Ramos had two stints on the DL. Doug Fister missed the first five weeks of the season. Gio Gonzalez lost a month due to a shoulder issue. Adam LaRoche missed

Williams speaks after Nats’ 3-2 win

MIAMI - The strong stretch of starting pitching continued tonight, and another victory came largely as a result. Doug Fister allowed just two runs over 6 2/3 innings, turning in yet another quality start, and Adam LaRoche helped provide most of the offense with a towering two-run homer in the first inning to lead the Nationals to a 3-2 win over the Marlins. Fister didn’t

LaRoche’s 25th homer gives Nats early 2-0 lead (Nats win 3-2)

Adam LaRoche has his 25th home run of the season and the Nationals have a 2-0 first-inning lead over the Marlins. Jayson Werth drew a two-out walk off Miami righty Tom Koehler and LaRoche crushed a 3-2 fastball into the upper deck in right field. Ian Desmond then tripled, but was stranded at third when Bryce Harper skied out to right. MASN cameras showed Ryan

Zimmerman heading to Miami, could be activated Saturday

Ryan Zimmerman cleared another hurdle today playing in the fall instructional league in Viera, Fla. He played seven innings in left field, got eight at-bats and hit a home run. The report was so positive that the Nationals will have Zimmerman, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring since July 23, scrap the planned final day of his rehabilitation

LaRoche returns to lineup

MIAMI - After sitting out the last two games with a sore back, first baseman Adam LaRoche is back in the lineup. With LaRoche returning, the Nationals will play their first game with all of the starting position players since clinching the National League East title on Tuesday. Doug Fister is seeking his 15th win of the season. Fister has made just two starts in

Gonzalez locking in as postseason approaches

MIAMI - Last night, pitching in his hometown for just the second time in his career, and first time since 2012, Gio Gonzalez kept the ball rolling in the right direction. The Nationals left-hander twirled seven innings, allowing just two runs on six hits. He struck out five and walked none, marking the second time in a three-start span that he hasn’t issued a base-on-balls.

Williams recaps Nats’ 6-2 win over Marlins

MIAMI - Can’t get much more of a well-rounded win than tonight’s victory over the Marlins. Gio Gonzalez threw seven strong innings, allowing just two runs, seven Nationals had at least one hit, the defense was solid and the baserunning was aggressive and smart in a 6-2 win over Miami. Gonzalez continued his string of solid outings by pitching well in his hometown in front

Updates on LaRoche and Zimmerman

Last night, none of the Nationals’ regular starters played in the team’s 3-1 loss to the Braves. Manager Matt Williams indicated most, if not all of the starters would return to the lineup tonight as the Nats begin a four-game series with the Marlins. First baseman Adam LaRoche is the lone starter that will be on the bench tonight. According to Williams, LaRoche is still

LaRoche remains out of lineup

MIAMI - Yesterday, Nationals manager Matt Williams hinted that most of the regular starters would return to the lineup. He didn’t lie. All of the regulars are playing tonight except for first baseman Adam LaRoche, who will sit out his second straight game. LaRoche has been battling a tight back the last couple of weeks. Kevin Frandsen will take LaRoche’s spot at first base. With

Nationals claim shortstop Florimon off waivers from Twins

MIAMI - The Nationals added some organizational depth at shortstop this afternoon, claiming Pedro Florimon off waivers from the Twins. The 25-year-old Florimon batted .092 (7-for-76) with one RBI in 33 games for the Twins this season and played 85 games at Triple-A Rochester, where he hit 257 with four homers and 29 RBIs. The switch-hitter came up through the Orioles organization before being claimed

Taking note of the Nats’ pitching depth

MIAMI - I had a conversation with a couple of fellow Nationals reporters yesterday evening after watching Blake Treinen carve through the Braves lineup over five scoreless innings. The topic was initially raised by The Post’s Adam Kilgore, and got a few of us chatting. The main point in the conversation was this: Every team in the league would love a pitcher who can throw

Hearing from Williams, Treinen and Souza after Nats’ 3-1 loss

The Nationals fell short in their quest to sweep the Braves, but they do leave Atlanta with a National League East title in their hands. Washington finished the season series against Atlanta with an 8-11 record. Tonight, rookie pitcher Blake Treinen pitched five scoreless innings, but the Nats fell to the Braves 3-1. The lone Nats run came on Steven Souza Jr.’s first major league

We’re scoreless in Atlanta (Nats fall 3-1)

Well, we have a pitchers’ duel in Atlanta. Nationals rookie Blake Treinen and Atlanta starter Alex Wood have each thrown three scoreless innings. Wood has allowed one hit, a single to Danny Espinosa, and has struck out five. Treinen has given up three hits and struck out two. Before the game, manager Matt Williams said Treinen is expected to throw between 60 and 70 pitches.

Williams on resting players and Zimmerman’s progress

Manager Matt Williams is fielding a noticeably different lineup tonight as the Nationals try to sweep the Braves in Atlanta. He wanted to rest all of his regular starters one night after clinching the National League East title, but Williams anticipates that most of his position players will be back in the lineup tomorrow night in Miami. “There’s a long way to go yet. It’s

Williams empties bench for Braves finale

ATLANTA - Now that the Nationals have wrapped up the division title, their starters get to take a break tonight at Turner Field. Manager Matt Williams is emptying his bench with none of the Nats regulars in the lineup. That includes left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who was scheduled to pitch tonight against the Braves. Right-hander Blake Treinen will start instead as the Nats go for the

A day later, a few things that stand out in my mind

ATLANTA - I still smell like beer. I’ve showered twice, shampooed, shampooed, conditioned, conditioned. It just doesn’t seem to go away. What a night the Nationals got to enjoy in Atlanta. They clinched their second National League East title in the last three years, did it with a whopping 12 games left in the season and did it on their top rival’s field. I feel

A well-earned division title

ATLANTA - It took many hard-fought nights, many comebacks, many sacrifices and many hours of work. And tonight, it all paid off in the form of a 2014 National League East championship. For the second time in three seasons, the Nationals have won the NL East, and they’ve done it with 12 games still remaining in the regular season. A dominant second half combined with

Reaction during NL East postgame celebration

ATLANTA - With a 3-0 win over the Braves, the Nationals clinched their second National League East title in three years. Here is some postgame reaction from the clubhouse. Manager Matt Williams On whether he imagined this being possible: “With this team, I could imagine, yeah. I know there was a lot of hard work along the way. There was some trials and tribulations, too,

Nats clinch NL East with 3-0 win over Braves

Neither the Nationals nor the Braves have found a way to break through against tonight’s starters at Turner Field, as the game remains scoreless in the fourth. Tanner Roark has allowed two hits, walked none and struck out three in three innings. He has thrown 41 pitches, 28 for strikes. Denard Span, Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Roark each singled for the Nats, who have

Williams on Zimmerman, Harper and possibly clinching in Atlanta

The magic number is down to two and the Nationals are in position to wrap up their second National League East title in three seasons tonight on their archrival’s turf. The club has gotten there with a day-by-day approach, refusing to look too far ahead. Even with clinching such a realistic possibility, manager Matt Williams still isn’t ready to do more than dance around the

Harper returns to lineup

ATLANTA - The Nationals can clinch their second National League East title in three seasons tonight with a win against the Braves. Bryce Harper is back in the lineup after leaving Monday night’s game in the fourth inning with lightheadedness. Tanner Roark will take the mound for the Nats. He is 1-0 with a 2.10 ERA in four starts against the Braves. Roark will face

One win away

ATLANTA - Anyone living in the Atlanta area have a pair of ski goggles that they aren’t planning on using tonight or tomorrow? Asking for myself. Boy, could this be a big night for baseball in the DMV. Both the Nationals and Orioles have a chance to clinch their respective division titles tonight, with the Nats just needing to take one of the two remaining

Williams speaks after Nats beat Braves 4-2, cut magic number to two

ATLANTA - The magic number is now two. A win here at Turner Field tomorrow or Wednesday and the Nationals are division champs. The Nats cut that magic number in half tonight, beating Atlanta 4-2 in a game that turned really tight late. Washington took a 4-0 lead to the ninth, but Rafael Soriano allowed two runs and Drew Storen needed to come in with

Span stakes Nats to 1-0 lead in third (Nats survive scare for 4-2 win)

The Nationals have drawn first blood in tonight’s game against the Braves. In the third, Wilson Ramos drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a sac bunt by Stephen Strasburg and scored on Denard Span’s two-out double to right. It’s 1-0 Nationals heading to the bottom of the third. Update: Left fielder Bryce Harper is out of the game in the top of the

Zimmerman arrives in Viera, LaRoche reacts to being named award finalist

Ryan Zimmerman has reported to the Nationals’ fall instructional league camp in Viera, Fla., and was scheduled to undergo a full workout today. The next step in Zimmerman’s rehabilitation from the right hamstring strain that has kept him sidelined since July 23 will be three innings in the field in a simulated game Tuesday. Because instructional league games have not begun, the Nationals will schedule

Nats open series in Atlanta with Strasburg on hill (plus an honor for LaRoche)

ATLANTA - The Nationals open their final three-game series at Turner Field - barring an unlikely late-season run by the Braves to secure one of the National League wild cards - with right-hander Stephen Strasburg on the mound. Strasburg hasn’t traditionally fared well here - he’s 1-3 with a 6.99 ERA in seven career starts. But he’ll try for his 12th victory while making his

Some fun could be had in Atlanta (with postseason ticket update)

Turner Field has been a house of horrors for the Nationals over the last couple of years. Within the next three days, the Nats could find themselves storming the mound at Turner Field, popping bottles in the visitors clubhouse and punching their playoff ticket at their top rival’s expense on the Braves’ home turf. Following this weekend’s activity, in which the Nats took three of

Ramos homers, Zimmermann gets 12th win as Nats blank Mets; magic number at four

Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann isn’t dominating. He’s had to work out of trouble in two of three innings today. But he’s through three frames against the Mets and the game is still a scoreless tie. After a 1-2-3 first, Zimmermann allowed a one-out triple to Wilmer Flores, who got a break when center fielder Denard Span dove and missed his drive to left-center. But Flores

Zimmermann gets ball in finale against Mets

Jordan Zimmermann gets the ball for the Nationals in this afternoon’s finale of a four-game series against the Mets. A win gets the Nats the series victory, and the right-hander hasn’t lost since July 11, going 5-0 in the 10 starts since. Against the Mets this season, Zimmermann is 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA and the Nats have won all three of his starts. Third

Some Nationals notes for Sunday brunch

The magic number for the Nationals to clinch their second National League East title in three seasons sits at six entering today’s finale of a four-game series with the Mets at Citi Field. It would be nice if they could clinch at home - remember the raucous celebration in 2012? - but it’s looking more and more like you’ll need to make plane and hotel

Williams outlines plans for Zimmerman at instructional league

We now know what plans the Nationals have for Ryan Zimmerman. Manager Matt Williams told reporters before Saturday’s game at Citi Field that Zimmerman, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 23 with a right hamstring strain, will report to Viera, Fla., on Monday for a workout with the team’s fall instructional league squad. After Monday’s workout, Zimmerman will begin a carefully

Some pregame Nationals notes

Nationals right-hander Doug Fister has feasted on the Mets during his career, going 3-0 with a 0.44 ERA in three career starts against them. At Citi Field, he’s 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA. In September/October (the two months are grouped together as one for statistical purposes, just March/April are), Fister has 16 victories in his career. That’s his most for any month. He’s got 11

Saturday’s Nationals-Mets lineups

It’s rainy and cool at Citi Field, where the Nationals are scheduled to play the third of four games this evening against the Mets. Game time is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. on MASN HD. According to Weather Bug, there’s a 40 percent change of precipitation at 7 p.m. in Flushing, N.Y., which rises to 60 percent at 8 p.m. and drops to 50 percent by

Mets take early lead (Nats fall 4-3)

The Mets took advantage of Gio Gonzalez’s early first inning troubles. Gonzalez allowed a leadoff single to Mets’ left fielder Eric Young Jr., hit Juan Lagares with a pitch, and with one out, walked Lucas Duda. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud followed with a bases-clearing double to give the Mets a 3-0 lead after one inning. With two runs scored, Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos dropped the ball

Nats and Mets lineups

The Nationals will continue their four-game series with the Mets tonight. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will face right-hander Dillon Gee. Gonzalez is 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 11 starts against the Mets, while Gee is 7-4 with a 3.41 ERA in 13 starts against the Nats. First baseman Adam LaRoche is 6-for-28 in his career with three home runs against Gee. For the Nationals CF

Rendon, Desmond return to lineup for Mets opener (with MLB postseason schedule)

The flu-like symptoms that caused third baseman Anthony Rendon to miss yesterday’s game against the Braves are apparently no longer an issue, and he’s back in the Nationals lineup for today’s opener of a four-game series at Citi Field against the Mets. Ditto for shortstop Ian Desmond, who sat out yesterday’s contest after leaving Tuesday’s game early with tightness in his back. Tanner Roark (12-10,

Williams recaps Nats’ 6-2 loss to Braves

There won’t be a sweep, but the Nationals will head out on their 11-game road trip with an eight-game lead over the Braves, needing a combination of Nats wins or Atlanta losses equaling 10 to clinch the National League East. Matt Williams’ team might very well return home with the division crown locked up. Today, the Nats dropped a 6-2 ballgame to Atlanta, with Aaron

Desmond, Rendon out of Nationals lineup

The Nationals go for a sweep of the Braves this afternoon at Nationals Park, but their lineup will have a markedly different look. Shortstop Ian Desmond, who left last night’s game with back tightness, is out today. He’ll be replaced at short by Danny Espinosa. Third baseman Anthony Rendon is getting a day off to deal with a flu-like illness, with Kevin Frandsen taking over

Taking a peek at the postseason picture

I saw a graphic on one of the national sports highlight shows last night that listed the teams in the National League wild card race. There were the Giants, holding the top spot, four games clear of the Pirates, who would earn the second wild card if the season ended today. A couple of the teams chasing them: the Braves, now 1 1/2 games back

Williams recaps win after Nats up division lead to nine games (Desmond update)

The Nationals’ division lead is now nine games, the largest it’s been since baseball came back to D.C. in 2005 You can pretty much lock up the National League East, folks. Matt Williams’ ballclub took another game from the Braves tonight, this one by a 6-4 score, their fifth win in their last seven games against Atlanta. This win locked up a third straight series

Zimmermann set to face Braves

Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann will try to win his fifth consecutive decision when the Nationals attempt to take an important September series from the Atlanta Braves tonight at Nationals Park. Zimmermann is 4-0 in nine starts since his last loss, a 6-2 defeat in Philadelphia on July 11. He’s 4-0 with a 2.75 ERA in nine second-half starts. He will be opposed by right-hander Ervin Santana.

With expanded rosters, Williams not afraid to play the match-ups

The team goal is always most important in professional sports. Personal accomplishments are cool and all, but at the end of the day, players will tell you that batting titles, Gold Gloves and other individual achievements don’t mean nearly as much if the team hasn’t had success. Professional athletes are still proud, competitive people, however. They want to be put in situations where they can

Williams on Fister, Storen and more after Nats’ 2-1 win over Braves

The division lead is up to eight. The magic number is down to 12. Things continue to look up for the Nationals. Doug Fister went seven scoreless innings, the Nationals managed just enough offense on Ian Desmond’s RBI single and Anthony Rendon’s run-scoring fielder’s choice, and Drew Storen struck out the side in a dominant ninth to give the Nats a 2-1 win over the

LaRoche named NL co-Player of the Week, plus lineups

Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche, along with Giants catcher Buster Posey have been named the National League co-Players of the Week. LaRoche hit .333 (5-for-15) with a .421 on-base percentage, and a 1.133 slugging percentage in five games (four starts) last week. Four of LaRoche’s five hits were home runs. He also drove in 10 runs and walked three times. LaRoche is the third Nationals

Nats announce 2015 schedule

The Nationals released their 2015 schedule this afternoon, and it will begin and end with the Mets. The Nats start 2015 at home on Monday, April 6 against the Mets and end it on Oct. 4 at Citi Field in New York. Washington opens the season by playing National League East foes in 26 of its first 32 contests through May 10, before finishing the

A chance to bury the Braves

A seven-game lead (eight in the loss column) with 21 games remaining in the regular season is pretty safe. The Nationals are certainly aware of this, despite their day-at-a-time focus. Baseball Prospectus is giving the Nats a 98.6 percent chance to win the National League East. FanGraphs puts it at a 99.6 percent chance. It would take a miracle for the Braves to overtake the

Hearing from Storen, Gonzalez, LaRoche and Hairston after win over Phillies

The Nationals salvaged their series against the Phillies with a 3-2 win on Sunday. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez outdueled fellow southpaw Cole Hamels for the win. The offense was powered by two solo home runs from Adam LaRoche and a sacrifice fly from Scott Hairston. Drew Storen also earned his second save of the season after working a perfect ninth inning. The win could not have

Williams meets with the media after 3-2 win over Phillies

With one victory today, the Nationals avoided a sweep by the Phillies, extended their lead in the National League East to seven games, trimmed their magic number to 14 and got some momentum back on their side before a three-game series against the Braves starts tomorrow. Not a bad day at the office. The Nats got six strong innings from Gio Gonzalez today, were led

Early miscues hurt Nats (Nats win 3-2)

Well, things are off to an interesting start this afternoon at Nationals Park. With one out in the top of the first, Grady Sizemore singled to center fielder Denard Span. With two outs, Marlon Byrd singled on a line drive to Span, which scored Sizemore. Byrd was able to advance to third following throwing errors by Span and third baseman Anthony Rendon. The Phillies lead

Hairston gets start in left against Hamels

The Nationals will try salvage the series against the Phillies this afternoon and end a two-game losing streak. Left-handers Gio Gonzalez and Cole Hamels will square off on the mound. With Hamels starting, Bryce Harper is out of the lineup and Scott Hairston is starting in his place. Hairston is a .392 hitter with five doubles, five home runs and nine RBIs in his career

Williams discusses Nats’ 3-1 loss

A.J. Burnett kept his successful streak against the Nationals going, and the Phillies kept on rolling. Burnett allowed just one run over seven innings in the Phillies’ 3-1 win this afternoon, giving him just his third win since June 20. All three of those wins have come against the Nats. The Phillies, meanwhile, earned their fifth series win in their last six sets. The last-place

Rendon’s triple-digit runs total has impressed Williams

With three runs scored in Friday night’s loss, Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon now has 101 for the season and has retaken the major league lead in that category from Minnesota’s Brian Dozier (100). Rendon is only the fourth player in team history to eclipse the 100-run mark in a season, joining Alfonso Soriano (119 in 2006), Ryan Zimmerman (110 in 2009) and Nick Johnson

Nats recall outfielder Michael A. Taylor, right-hander Ryan Mattheus (with lineups)

The Nationals expanded their roster further this afternoon, recalling outfielder Michael A. Taylor and reliever Ryan Mattheus from Triple-A Syracuse Taylor, 23, is back with the Nationals for the second time this season after hitting .304 with a .390 on-base percentage and a .526 slugging percentage in 110 games with Double-A Harrisburg and Syracuse. After recording 17 doubles, two triples, 22 home runs, 61 RBIs

On the Soriano decision

Prior to the All-Star break, Rafael Soriano punched up a 0.97 ERA in 37 games. He recorded 22 saves in 24 chances, had an opponents’ batting average of .153 and had a WHIP of 0.81. He was simply one of the best relievers in the majors. Since the All-Star break, Soriano has a 6.98 ERA in 21 games. He’s recorded just nine saves in 14

Williams on closer situation: “We need to address it”

Rafael Soriano has struggled since the All-Star break. And after tonight’s blown save, Matt Williams said he’s considering a change at closer. Soriano allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning tonight, blowing his fifth save in 14 chances since the break. He has a 6.98 ERA in 21 games in that span, and this blown save tonight contributed to a 9-8 Nationals loss in

Nats recall infielder/outfielder Jeff Kobernus (plus lineups)

The Nationals have added another player to their roster. Infielder/outfielder Jeff Kobernus has been recalled from Triple-A Syracuse. This is Kobernus’ first stint with the Nats in 2014; he previously appeared in 24 games for the club in 2013. Kobernus missed some time this season after fracturing his left hand in early April, but returned on June 25. Kobernus played in 73 minor league games,

Back at home, Strasburg looks to keep on rolling

After Stephen Strasburg’s last outing, a start in which he allowed just one run over 7 2/3 innings, striking out eight and walking zero, manager Matt Williams said it was the best he thought he had seen Strasburg all season. Williams added that it was “probably the most important” outing for Strasburg, as well. His rationale for that statement was that Strasburg had posted back-to-back

Takeaways from the thriller in L.A.

Hello, East Coast. Nice to see you again. The Nationals are back from their second-to-last road trip of the season, and boy, will they enjoy this day off. A cross-country flight after a 14-inning game meant an arrival in D.C. after 4 a.m., so the chance to rest up is much needed. I believe, in fact, that this is the Nats’ first off-day at home

Hearing from the clubhouse after Nats prevail in wild 14-inning marathon

If this was a preview of what we can expect in the postseason should the Dodgers and Nationals meet, well, sign me up. The Nats’ 8-5 victory in 14 innings had more twists and turns than Mulholland Drive. Based on the run-on reactions I saw on Twitter, fans were alternately emboldened with the hope that the Nats could pull off miracle after miracle or perilously

Williams charts Zimmerman’s progress, says LaRoche should be available Friday

Ryan Zimmerman is continuing the strengthening phase of his recovery from a torn right hamstring, and Nationals manager Matt Williams said Wednesday that the team would re-evaluate the next steps in the process once they return to D.C. on Friday for a six-game homestand against Philadelphia and Atlanta. “The last MRI was good,” Williams told reporters in Los Angeles before the Nats faced the Dodgers

Moore at first base in finale against Dodgers

LOS ANGELES - That sore back will cost Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche his second consecutive start. Tyler Moore is at first base for the finale of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium. LaRoche’s absence means shortstop Ian Desmond moves to the cleanup spot, with left fielder Bryce Harper hitting fifth. The Nats are hoping to take the series from the Dodgers, who are in

Harper on his battle with Kershaw

LOS ANGELES - Over the last few weeks, Bryce Harper has looked more like the guy he expects to be and the world expects to see. After missing two months with a torn ligament in his thumb, the Nationals cautioned that Harper wouldn’t return and be full-go right out of the gates. He needed a bit to get his timing back, to get his body

Williams meets the media after Nats’ 4-1 loss

LOS ANGELES - This just in: Clayton Kershaw is pretty good. Kershaw held the Nationals to just one run on three hits over eight stellar innings tonight, and his decision to go first-to-third on a single to center led to a key Dodgers rally in Los Angeles’ 4-1 win. Bryce Harper provided the lone Nats run of the night with a solo shot to right-center,

Williams updates LaRoche’s back, discusses facing Kershaw

Adam LaRoche’s back has landed him on the bench for the second time in seven games. After his bout with his back last week against the Phillies, LaRoche didn’t miss a game, pinch-hitting in the one contest he didn’t start, and then returning to the lineup the next five in a row before being removed from Monday’s game in the seventh because of tightness. LaRoche

LaRoche, Span get night off as Nats face Kershaw

LOS ANGELES - Adam LaRoche and Denard Span both get the day off with the Nationals facing Cy Young Award favorite Clayton Kershaw tonight at Dodger Stadium. LaRoche’s back has been bothering him and he’s considered day-to-day after leaving Monday’s game with tightness. Span isn’t in the lineup for the first time since Aug. 13. The Nats center fielder had played every inning of each

Some morning notes and quotes

LOS ANGELES - The division lead is back to seven games. Only 26 games remain on the Nationals’ schedule. You can do the math. The Nats’ magic number is now down to 19. When is it appropriate to start talking about what a division leader’s magic number is? I asked a fellow reporter that question last night. He said when the magic number dips below

Williams on the homer barrage, LaRoche’s back and more after 6-4 win

LOS ANGELES - The longball barrage continues. The Nationals pounded out four more homers tonight - this after hitting 40 home runs in August - and hung on to a shrinking lead late, taking the opener of a three-game series agains the Dodgers by a 6-4 final. Denard Span ripped two homers, giving him three in his last five games, and Jayson Werth and Asdrubal

Williams on call-ups: “You have more bullets”

While the “>Nationals get set to take on the Dodgers for a three-game series in Los Angeles, Matt Williams will get used to a more crowded clubhouse. September is here, allowing for expanded rosters. To kick off the month, the Nats added six players: right-hander Aaron Barrett, left-hander Xavier Cedeno, catcher Sandy Leon, first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore, outfielder Steven Souza Jr., and right-hander Blake Treinen.

Nationals continue West Coast swing in Los Angeles (with Dodgers lineup)

LOS ANGELES - September is here, meaning that rosters have expanded. The Nationals have taken advantage of the expansion already, calling up six players to join them here for the series opener vs. the Dodgers. The Nats are probably sad to see August go. They went 19-10 last month, outscoring opponents 135-95. Gio Gonzalez is on the mound tonight. In August, he pitched to a

Nats add six players to active roster

LOS ANGELES - The Nationals added six additional players to their roster prior to tonight’s game against the Dodgers. The club is taking advantage of Major League Baseball’s Sept. 1 40-man roster expansion. The Nats will add right-handers Aaron Barrett and Blake Treinen as well as left-hander Xavier Cedeno to the bullpen. Additionally, catcher Sandy Leon, first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore and outfielder Steven Souza Jr.

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