Entries Listing

Ross shows no rust after layoff, carves up Cardinals

ST. LOUIS - He had thrown a grand total of two innings in the last 15 days. He hadn’t pitched at all in 10 days. And he was facing one of the toughest lineups in baseball. Potential recipe for disaster? Not for Joe Ross, who hadn’t been fazed by any situation he’d faced so far in the major leagues and wasn’t about to start now.

Nats clinch series with 6-1 win in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS - The Nationals have been coming to this version of Busch Stadium for a decade now, and there may be no ballpark in America that has been less welcoming to the club from Washington than this one. That storyline may finally be changing. With a 6-1 win over the Cardinals this afternoon, the Nationals have now won two in a row and clinched

Lineup busts out early vs. Garcia (Nats win 6-1)

ST. LOUIS - Dusty Baker faced Jaime Garcia countless times while managing the Reds, offering him plenty of opportunity to figure out how best to beat the Cardinals left-hander. “This guy knows how to pitch,” Baker said this morning before his Nationals faced Garcia at Busch Stadium. “You’ve got to get to him early.” Is a four-run top of the first early enough for you,

Baker on Ross, the bullpen and Murphy’s defense

ST. LOUIS - The skies have cleared, the field has been prepped and the starting pitchers have made their way to the bullpens to begin warming up. So it looks like we’ll have baseball on time this afternoon. They’ll just have to hope they get the full game in before the next wave of rain strikes sometime later. Could be a close call. It’s not

Game 23 lineups: Nats at Cardinals

ST. LOUIS - It’s been raining steadily here since late last night, and more is expected later today. But there does appear to be a potential window of opportunity for the Nationals and Cardinals to play the second game of their weekend series, in between the two cycles of precipitation. We’ll see. If and when they do play, Joe Ross will be on the mound

Strasburg dominates late to improve to 4-0 for first time

ST. LOUIS - Take a snapshot of Stephen Strasburg’s first trip through the Cardinals lineup last night and you find a whole lot of hard-hit balls, four of them landing for hits, leading to a pair of runs. Take a snapshot of Strasburg’s second trip through that lineup and you find better results, though still a couple of hits including his third double surrendered in

Taylor, Espinosa lead Nationals out of scoring funk

ST. LOUIS - Michael A. Taylor insisted he had no idea how many innings the Nationals had gone without scoring, but he - like everyone else on the roster - knew it had been awhile. So when he was presented with an opportunity to do something about it, Taylor put an end to that streak and set the Nationals on their way to a 5-4

Nats open tough road trip with 5-4 victory in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS - The Nationals picked a good time to start hitting again. And Stephen Strasburg picked a good time to mow down one of baseball’s tougher lineups. Behind a four-run explosion in the top of the fourth and seven strong innings from Strasburg, the Nats opened their toughest road trip of the season on a positive note. They pulled off a 5-4 victory over

Taylor homers, Cards strike back vs. Strasburg (Nats win 5-4)

ST. LOUIS - What better way for a Nationals lineup struggling to score runs to open a 10-game road trip than with a home run from the very first batter to step to the plate on this daunting swing through the Midwest? If only the rest of the lineup was able to follow Michael A. Taylor’s lead with some more production. Taylor’s opposite-field homer on

Harper disappointed in Gordon but doesn’t want batting title

ST. LOUIS - Bryce Harper said Dee Gordon’s 80-game suspension after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs is “definitely a disappointment,” but the Nationals star insisted he shouldn’t now be considered the reining NL batting champ because of Gordon’s actions. Harper lost the batting title to Gordon on the final day of the 2015 season, ultimately falling short by three percentage points. He blames his

Game 22 lineups: Nats at Cardinals

ST. LOUIS - Hello from the Gateway City, where the biggest event in town this weekend isn’t the Nationals-Cardinals series but the FIRST Championship, a national robotics competition that has left the downtown area overrun with thousands of teenagers who are infinitely smarter than you or I will ever be. While these kids are creating artificially intelligent robots, we’re sitting in a ballpark obsessing over

Thursday morning Q&A from D.C.

Since I’ll be in the air on the way to St. Louis tomorrow morning, and since I won’t be at today’s game at Nationals Park (Byron Kerr is your man on the scene for the series finale against the Phillies), I figure we’d bump up this week’s Q&A by a day. The week started off with one of the craziest victories in Nationals history: their

Despite struggles, Baker insists lineup “is gonna hit”

It’s easy to start worrying about a lineup’s overall deficiencies on a night like this, when a journeyman pitcher holds it to two hits (one of them a bunt single) and doesn’t let a man so much as reach scoring position after the second inning. But the Nationals’ 3-0 loss to the Phillies wasn’t entirely an aberration. There have been issues with this lineup almost

Gonzalez, Hellickson locked in pitchers’ duel (Nats lose 3-0)

The good news: Gio Gonzalez continues to pitch like a new man. The bad news: His Nationals teammates are making Jeremy Hellickson look just as good so far tonight. Both Gonzalez and Hellickson have posted dueling zeroes for four innings, turning a chilly Wednesday night at Nationals Park into a bit of a surprising pitchers’ duel between the Nats and Phillies. Gonzalez set the tone

Why Solis made most sense for Nats bullpen right now

When Matt Belisle strained his right calf in the eighth inning last night, the Nationals knew they needed to summon a reinforcement for their bullpen, and they immediately placed a call to Triple-A Syracuse to give that new pitcher as much opportunity as possible to get on a plane to Washington in time for tonight’s game against the Phillies. The name of that reinforcement, though,

Belisle lands on DL with strained calf, Solis recalled

Unable to wait and see how severe Matt Belisle’s calf injury is, with more fresh arms needed for their bullpen tonight, the Nationals have placed the veteran right-hander on the 15-day disabled list and recalled lefty Sammy Solis from Triple-A Syracuse. Solis will be in uniform and available out of the Nationals bullpen for tonight’s game against the Phillies, giving manager Dusty Baker a much-needed

Game 20 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the early season has been Gio Gonzalez, who has been absolutely dominant through his first three starts. There’s the obvious (1.42 ERA) but more impressive is his 20-to-4 strikeout-to-walk rate. Is this a sign of what we can expect all year, or has the left-hander simply taken advantage of some weak lineups? It’s still too early to say for

Harper stays patient as teams intentionally walk him

Every time Bryce Harper does something that seems straight out of a video game, we wonder the same question: Will there ever come a point where opposing teams simply don’t give the young slugger any opportunity to swing the bat in any situation of consequence? We got a bit of a taste last night what that would be like, when the Phillies walked Harper three

Scherzer again trying to figure out how to fix what ails him

Max Scherzer is annoyed, but he’s not upset. He’s not pitching the way he has and knows he can, but he doesn’t believe he needs to completely overhaul everything to get himself back in form. “Everything is not broke,” the Nationals right-hander said following tonight’s 4-3 loss to the Phillies. “This isn’t a time where you just beat everything around and throw your glove around.

Scherzer’s early troubles crop up again (Nats lose 4-3)

The first inning continues not to sit well with Max Scherzer, who once again tonight dug the Nationals into an early hole. On the heels of a shaky start in Miami five days ago, Scherzer took the mound tonight at Nationals Park and two batters later found himself trailing by two runs. He walked Phillies leadoff man Odubel Herrera on four pitches, then served up

Ramos placed on bereavement list, Severino called up

The Nationals have placed Wilson Ramos on the bereavement list following the death of his grandfather, Jesus Campos, leaving the club without its No. 1 catcher for at least the next three games. Ramos informed manager Dusty Baker of the news this morning and made plans to leave town. He is expected to rejoin the team early in its upcoming road trip. “I talked to

Game 19 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

This should be Joe Ross’ turn in the Nationals rotation, but the club decided to be cautious with the young right-hander’s blister and skip his turn (made possible by yesterday’s off-day). So it’ll be Max Scherzer, still on normal rest, taking the mound for tonight’s series opener against the Phillies. Scherzer is coming off a ragged start in Miami in which he was tagged for

Does the Nats’ red-hot start this season foreshadow anything?

As much as we’ve focused recently on some of the Nationals’ most impressive individual performances so far this season, let’s not forget about the bigger picture. This is a team sport, after all, so really nothing matters more than the team’s record, no matter who is contributing to that and in what manner. The Nationals, as a team, have been fantastic to date in 2016.

Expect greatness from Harper, but don’t forget to appreciate it

Bryce Harper has done some remarkable things so far this season, but here’s perhaps the most remarkable thing he’s done: He’s been so good that we probably aren’t fully appreciating just how good he’s been. Think of it this way: Were you surprised at all when Harper stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth yesterday at Nationals Park as a pinch-hitter, his

How Harper helped Heisey hit his first career walk-off homer

He had done it at Triple-A late last summer. And he had done it in Viera, Fla., earlier this spring. So maybe it was only a matter of time before Chris Heisey hit his first career walk-off homer in a major league game. “I’m kind of knocking them all out here in a short period of time,” he said with a laugh. “It was definitely

How the Nats won “the craziest” game they’d ever seen

Dusty Baker had played, coached or managed in precisely 4,405 major league games before what figured to be a run-of-the-mill series finale between the Nationals and Twins. Chris Speier has been involved in some capacity since 1971, with a few breaks scattered in there. Davey Lopes is 70 and hasn’t missed a season since he was a rookie with the Dodgers during the Nixon administration.

First-inning success continues even without Harper (Nats win in 16)

No Bryce Harper? No problem for the Nationals, who continue to produce in the first inning even without their MVP slugger. Matt den Dekker, subbing in right field to give Harper his first day off this season, opened the bottom of the first this afternoon with a homer into the right field bullpen, giving the Nationals a quick lead on the Twins. den Dekker, who

Why Harper sits today and why Scherzer starts Tuesday (updated)

Bryce Harper is out of the Nationals lineup today for the first time this season, but don’t start worrying about the MVP’s health or any other ulterior motive for his absence. Manager Dusty Baker planned all along to sit Harper for his team’s series finale against the Twins. Harper did appear to slightly tweak his ankle Saturday chasing down a foul ball in right field,

Game 18 lineups: Nats vs. Twins

It’s an absolutely gorgeous Sunday here in the District, where the Nationals wrap up their interleague series with the Twins, seeking the weekend sweep and a 14-4 record that would match the 2012 Nats for the best 18-game start in franchise history. Obviously, there’s a very long way to go (and much tougher competition to face) but things worked out pretty well after that previous

Friday morning Q&A from D.C.

The Nationals are back home from a 4-3 road trip that very easily could have been better than that. Remember, they lost Sunday’s finale in Philadelphia on Jonathan Papelbon’s blown save, then they lost what looked like a favorable matchup yesterday (Max Scherzer vs. Tom Koehler) in Miami. That said, the Nats still return home with an 11-4 record, comfortably in first place in the

Scherzer out of sync on “flat” day for Nationals

MIAMI - Max Scherzer returned to the dugout after the second inning this afternoon, four runs already having crossed the plate against him, said a few words to Mike Maddux and then headed down the tunnel toward the clubhouse with his pitching coach for a few minutes, trying to figure out what exactly was going wrong in this game against the Marlins. When Scherzer returned

Nats fall to Marlins 5-1 to split series

MIAMI - When Bryce Harper launched his latest in a torrid string of home runs in the top of the first inning this afternoon, the Nationals had every reason to be optimistic about the early tone of their series finale against the Marlins. But when Max Scherzer took the mound for the bottom of the first and promptly served up a towering, three-run shot to

Harper homers again, but Scherzer labors (Nats lose 5-1)

MIAMI - Bryce Harper took Tom Koehler deep yet again. Unfortunately for the Nationals, somebody took Max Scherzer deep yet again, too, leaving them in an early hole and leaving Scherzer in a heap of trouble. Harper blasted a solo home run off Koehler in the top of the first inning of this afternoon’s series finale at Marlins Park, sending the first pitch he saw

Werth sits, Taylor drops to seventh, Ross could miss start

MIAMI - Jayson Werth is out of the lineup for the Nationals’ series finale against the Marlins, though that was planned before the veteran left fielder felt tightness in his left hamstring and had to depart last night’s game in the fifth inning. Both Werth and manager Dusty Baker continue to downplay the injury as minor and don’t expect him to miss any significant time.

Game 15 lineups: Nats at Marlins

MIAMI - Hello one last time from Marlins Park, where the roof actually is open as I type this. (Don’t worry, it’ll be closed up in time for first pitch at 1:10 p.m. Wouldn’t want to play a ballgame in, you know, sunlight, would you?) The Nationals and Marlins wrap up their four-game series, with the Nats looking to win three out of four and

More on Papelbon, Harper, Taylor and Werth

MIAMI - Some leftover thoughts and observations to bridge the gap between last night’s 3-1 victory and this afternoon’s series finale at Marlins Park ... * Yusmeiro Petit got most of the attention last night, and deservedly so for his four innings of relief after Joe Ross departed with a blister on his middle finger. But let’s not overlook the rest of the Nationals bullpen,

After Ross’ early departure, Petit saves Nationals bullpen

MIAMI - It’s a thankless job, one that rarely places a guy in position to be the star of a ballgame. Yusmeiro Petit has made a good living out of long relief, though, and nobody takes more pride in doing that job well than the 31-year-old right-hander. So when he does get the rare opportunity to make a difference like he did tonight during the

Jayson Werth departs game with tight hamstring

MIAMI - Jayson Werth departed tonight’s game at Marlins Park in the fifth inning with left hamstring tightness, an injury both the veteran left fielder and his manager downplayed as minor. “I’m fine,” Werth said as he walked out of the Nationals clubhouse following a 3-1 victory over Miami. “I’ll be fine.” Neither Werth nor manager Dusty Baker specified how exactly the injury occurred, but

Nationals grind out workmanlike 3-1 win over Marlins

MIAMI - They lost their starting pitcher after two innings, then their starting left fielder after four innings. No matter, the Nationals still went about their business and beat the Marlins 3-1 tonight, thanks to some early clutch hits and some impressive relief work. Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper each delivered two-out RBI doubles to stake Joe Ross to an early lead, but the right-hander

Ross departs after two innings with blister (Werth out, too)

MIAMI - Joe Ross departed his start tonight against the Marlins after two scoreless innings after a blister developed on his right middle finger, the Nationals announced. Ross showed no obvious ill effects of the blister during his abbreviated, 33-pitch outing. He allowed one hit, one walk and hit one batter, but never let a Miami runner reach second base. Ross was allowed to hit

Revere begins running, taking light swings

MIAMI - Ben Revere has begun running and taking light swings, his first baseball-related activities since straining his right oblique muscle on opening day 2 1/2 weeks ago. Revere, who suffered the injury on his very first swing with the Nationals, ran in the outfield at Marlins Park this afternoon, then also took some light, right-handed swings in the cage to test his side. He

Game 14 lineups: Nats at Marlins

MIAMI - Two trends to watch tonight as the Nationals face the Marlins in the third of this four-game series under the roof: Can Joe Ross continue the rotation’s dominant start to the season, and can this lineup continue to thrive against left-handed pitching? We’ll start with Ross, who has been lights-out through his first two starts of the season (2-0, 0.61 ERA, .160 opponents’

With dominant start to 2016, Strasburg putting it all together

MIAMI - Stephen Strasburg was utterly dominant last night against the Marlins, tossing eight innings of scoreless, three-hit ball. This, however, shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone who has watched Strasburg pitch so far in 2016. He’s now 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA, after all. But, if you’ve really been paying attention to Strasburg for a while, you still shouldn’t be surprised by

Inside the Nationals’ historic home run barrage

MIAMI - The first home run was a laser off Jayson Werth’s bat, a line drive that made a beeline for the gaudy sculpture that sits beyond the fence in left-center at Marlins Park and required some deft work by stadium workers to retrieve. (“Did it lodge in one of the dolphins?” Werth asked later.) The second home run came before anyone could point out

Nats break pitchers’ duel with four-homer seventh

MIAMI - What for six innings was shaping up to be a classic pitchers’ duel between Stephen Strasburg and Adam Conley instead turned into the most dramatic barrage of home runs the Nationals have ever hit during a stunning top of the seventh that propelled them to a 7-0 thumping of the Marlins. Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman all homered during

Strasburg, Conley duel in Miami (Nats win 7-0)

MIAMI - Stephen Strasburg’s early season mastery is continuing early on tonight at Marlins Park, but Adam Conley is matching his counterpart pitch-for-pitch, leading to a scoreless game through four innings. He put one man on base in each of his first three innings, but Strasburg kept the Marlins from stringing together anything remotely resembling a rally. He pitched around a two-out walk of Christian

Why it may be awhile before Nats promote Trea Turner

MIAMI - Trea Turner’s red-hot start to the season has ignited one of the biggest hot-button topics facing the Nationals early in 2016: When will the organization promote the young infielder to the majors? The answer to that question, though, is more complicated than it might appear at first glance. And it involves matters beyond his actual playing performance at Triple-A Syracuse. Turner was named

Game 13 lineups: Nats at Marlins

MIAMI - The Nationals tonight find themselves in a position they have not yet faced this season: Trying to halt a losing streak. OK, so it’s only a two-game losing streak, but this is new ground for them in 2016. The good news: They’ve got Stephen Strasburg on the mound and they’ll get a rare opportunity to bat against a left-hander. Strasburg is seeking his

Baker not enjoying results of replay challenges so far

MIAMI - Dusty Baker wasn’t worried the game had changed at all during his two-year hiatus between managerial gigs. Well, except for one new wrinkle: expanded instant replay. Baker acknowledged that baseball’s new challenge system (instituted in 2014 shortly after he was fired by the Reds) would take some getting used to, especially for a man who spent nearly five decades as a big league

Little things add up in Nats’ loss to Marlins

MIAMI - There was no one singular moment that defined the Nationals’ 6-1 loss in the opener of a four-game series at Marlins Park. But compile a list of small moments throughout the 2 hour, 43 minute affair, and you’ll wind up with a detailed account of a ballgame that might have looked far different than it did. Like Christian Yelich’s hard grounder that squirted

Roark digs early hole, can’t escape in 6-1 loss to Marlins

MIAMI - The Nationals’ plan of attack going into tonight’s game against Jose Fernandez was to try to build up the young ace’s pitch count and force the Marlins to turn to their bullpen. In that regard, the Nationals did exactly as they hoped. They worked the count against Fernandez and ultimately knocked him out of the game after only six innings thanks to an

Marlins get to Roark early again (Nationals lose 6-1)

MIAMI - Something about the sight of Marlins batters in the first inning doesn’t seem to agree with Tanner Roark, who for the second time in this brief season dug the Nationals into an early hole against Miami. The Marlins scored three runs in the first off Roark, then added another in the second to take a 4-0 lead for ace Jose Fernandez in tonight’s

Baker sees encouraging signs from struggling regulars

MIAMI - The numbers aren’t pretty. Two full weeks into the season, three members of the Nationals’ everyday lineup - Michael A. Taylor, Jayson Werth and Danny Espinosa - are sporting batting averages under .172 and on-base percentages under .290. Manager Dusty Baker, though, has seen encouraging signs from all three and is committed to each remaining in the lineup and in his current role

Bryce Harper is named co-NL Player of the Week

MIAMI - Bryce Harper’s weekend power surge in Philadelphia earned him his first official honor of 2016 - though he’ll have to share with a fellow All-Star. Harper was named co-National League Player of the Week this afternoon along with Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, the league office unable to deem one slugger’s performance over the last seven days more dominant than the other. Harper

Game 12 lineups: Nats at Marlins

MIAMI - Hello from the one and only (and praise the deity of your preference for that) Marlins Park. Baseball’s biggest amusement park (albeit one that will be three-quarters empty all night) hosts the Nationals over the next four days to wrap up this season-opening stretch of 15 games against only three opponents (the Braves, Phillies and Marlins). The Nats split their rain-shortened series with

MLB partners with D.C. Grays to bring RBI program to town

It’s Jackie Robinson Day, which means every player and every coach in the major leagues today is wearing a nameless No. 42 jersey. All sorts of other honors are planned to commemorate the 69th anniversary of Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier, and all of them will deservedly receive plenty of attention. This annual occasion, though, also serves as a reminder that for all the progress

Friday morning Q&A from D.C.

This has been quite a way for the Nationals to open the season. Not only are they 7-1, matching both the franchise and D.C. records for the first eight games of a baseball season, but they’ve done it in impressive fashion. Bryce Harper has three homers already, including his 100th career blast yesterday (on a grand slam, to boot). Daniel Murphy is hitting .480 and

Seizing the moment once again, Harper joins the century club

Bryce Harper had all week to hit the 100th home run of his career. He could’ve done it Sunday against the Marlins against a pitcher he has owned (Tom Koehler). He could’ve done it Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday nights against the Braves, perhaps lofting a solo shot into the bleachers. He could’ve done it in any number of mundane ways. But that, of course, isn’t

Harper’s first grand slam is 100th career homer (Nats win 6-2)

Bryce Harper’s 100th career homer was as grand as they come. Harper launched his first major league grand slam this afternoon, blasting a 1-0 fastball from Julio Teheran in the bottom of the third off the fa├žade of the second deck in right-center at Nationals Park. That blast gave the Nationals a 4-1 lead over the Braves, a worthy development in its own right. That

Baker wants slumping Taylor to relax, show more patience

He was the hottest hitter on the roster all spring, arguably the hottest hitter in the Grapefruit League. But Michael A. Taylor is finding out now what so many have found out before him: Hitting in April isn’t the same as hitting in March. Taylor enters play today sporting a .138 batting average (4-for-29), with a .133 on-base percentage that’s actually lower (something possible only

Game 8 lineups: Nats vs. Braves

Rest easy, everybody: Stephen Strasburg is pitching today. After getting scratched from his scheduled start last night due to an illness that has plagued him for several days, Strasburg is good to go for this afternoon’s series finale against the Braves. That saves Dusty Baker from needing to turn to emergency starter Yusmeiro Petit and keeping his bullpen fresh, not only for this game but

Nationals feasting on early-season competition

First, the optimistic view on the Nationals so far this season: They’re 6-1, the best start in club history and one more victory shy of matching the best start in both franchise and D.C. baseball history. Now, the skeptical view of that accomplishment: They’ve gone 6-1 against the Marlins and Braves, who are currently a collective 3-12. OK, so maybe it would be wise not

Roark rides two-seamer to victory over Braves

It’s his bread-and-butter pitch, the kind of pitch that helped make him such a revelation in 2014 but also eluded him during his disappointing 2015. Well, it was back tonight, and if Tanner Roark can keep firing those comeback, two-seam fastballs over the inside corner to left-handed hitters ... well, the Nationals might just have themselves another frontline starter again this year. “That’s a tough

Drew, Werth homer to support Roark (Nats win 3-0)

Tanner Roark has been awfully sharp so far in his rescheduled start. Matt Wisler was equally as sharp for three innings, but then Stephen Drew and Jayson Werth took care of that and gave Roark and the Nationals the evening’s first lead. Drew’s solo homer in the bottom of the fourth (his first of the season) put the Nats up 1-0 on the Braves. Moments

Nats hope Strasburg pitches Thursday; Drew gets start at third

The Nationals are hoping Stephen Strasburg will feel well enough to start Thursday afternoon’s series finale against the Braves, trying to avoid burning up their bullpen as an alternative in case he’s not ready to return. Strasburg was scratched from tonight’s scheduled start due to an illness that has plagued him the last couple of days. Manager Dusty Baker said the outlook has looked better

Game 7 lineups: Nats vs. Braves

The Nationals have spent much of the last two weeks shuffling and then reshuffling their rotation, accounting for rainouts, scheduled off-days and other factors. Now they’ve had to reshuffle it again due to illness. Stephen Strasburg, who was scheduled to start tonight against the Braves, has been scratched because he’s not feeling well. So it’ll be Tanner Roark instead taking the mound at 7:05 p.m.

Strasburg scratched with illness, Roark starting vs. Braves

Stephen Strasburg has been scratched from tonight’s scheduled start against the Braves due to what the Nationals say is an illness. Tanner Roark will pitch in his place, starting a day earlier than originally planned. Strasburg was set to make his second start of the season, facing the same Atlanta lineup he beat one week ago with six innings of one-run ball. The right-hander appeared

Delayed debut no issue for dominant Gonzalez

The Nationals can’t say - with a straight face, at least - they knew with 100 percent certainty what they’d get out of Gio Gonzalez last night. Not in his season debut. Not a full 16 days removed from his last appearance on the mound. But when the left-hander navigated his way through a 13-pitch top of the first, they had reason to be optimistic.

Harper delivers in the clutch, propelling Nats to 5-1 record

It was cold, with a steady wind having been blowing in from left field all night. What remained of an already-sparse crowd of 18,378 was praying for something good to happen, for somebody to finally break through and post something other than a zero on the scoreboard for the first time all evening. And then, with one well-timed swing from Bryce Harper, everyone inside Nationals

Gonzalez sharp early despite long layoff (Nats win 2-1)

Making his first appearance of the regular season and his first appearance of any kind in 16 days, Gio Gonzalez took the mound tonight at Nationals Park not entirely knowing for sure what to expect. Three innings later, the left-hander has to be pleased with the results so far: nothing but zeros. Gonzalez’s season debut got off to a strong start, with only one hit

Nats backing up spring promise of aggressive baserunning

It’s one thing to say you’re going to be aggressive on the bases. Every team says that every spring. It’s another thing to actually back that up once the season begins, which the Nationals most definitely have done so far. Entering tonight’s game against the Braves, the Nationals have successfully stolen six bases, most in the National League and second-most in the majors (behind only

Game 6 lineups: Nats vs. Braves

The Nationals have a chance tonight to do something they’ve never done in their previous 11 years in the District, nor something any Washington ballclub has done in 65 years: start a season 5-1. With a win tonight over the Braves, the Nats would match the 1913 and 1953 Senators for the best six-game start to D.C. baseball history. No small achievement. In order to

Why Scherzer’s start was better than his final line suggests

This didn’t go down as one of Max Scherzer’s better starts as a National, and it won’t likely be included in any video montages of his 2016 season. But there’s something to be said for churning out six innings on a night when you didn’t have your best stuff. Especially when doing just that ultimately put your team in position to emerge victorious. “I thought

Balanced lineup delivers for Nats in latest win over Braves

There are going to be nights when the Nationals need to rely on Bryce Harper to carry the load, but they want those to be few and far between. They’d much rather be able to count on the depth of their lineup to produce on a consistent basis, leaving the reigning National League MVP to do his thing without having to do everything. In that

Bats pick up slack on night when Scherzer didn’t have best stuff

On a night when Max Scherzer didn’t have his best stuff, the Nationals knew right off the bat they’d need to score their share of runs to help out their surprisingly struggling ace. They managed to do just that, thanks to the continued early-season success of two key members of the heart of their lineup and a breakthrough performance from one of the members of

Slugfest breaks out in D.C. (Nats win 6-4)

When Max Scherzer retired the Braves’ first two batters of the evening, you couldn’t help but wonder if the right-hander might be setting the tone for a dominant night on the mound. Those thoughts very quickly disappeared amid a flurry of hits by Atlanta off the veteran ace. Scherzer was roughed up early by the Braves, surrendering two runs in the top of the first

Bryce Harper’s MVP plate discipline is carrying over into 2016

Among the many remarkable things he did last season en route to unanimous election as National League MVP, Bryce Harper’s ability not to get frustrated by opposing teams pitching around him stood out as a particularly impressive trait. Harper, who in his first three big league seasons could be prone to chasing pitches out of the zone, made a key adjustment in 2015 and began

Dusty Baker: Fans “need to love” Jonathan Papelbon

He has surrendered four hits in three innings. He served up a titanic home run on Sunday. He twice has been handed a lead of at least two runs and wound up letting the tying or go-ahead run step to the plate. None of which matters to Dusty Baker at the moment. The only stat the Nationals manager cares about relating to closer Jonathan Papelbon

Game 5 lineups: Nats vs. Braves

Hey, remember when the Braves were in the Nationals’ heads or something like that? It was only two years ago when it seemed like anything that could go wrong against Atlanta did go wrong. Well, that’s not so much the case anymore. Including their two-game sweep at Turner Field last week, the Nats have now won 20 of their last 27 games against the Braves,

How Joe Ross stifled Dee Gordon’s running game

Jayson Werth’s bloop single was big. So was Clint Robinson’s subsequent two-run single. Joe Ross’ seven strong innings on the mound put the Nationals in position to beat the Marlins yesterday. And then Blake Treinen’s perfect eighth and Jonathan Papelbon’s shaky-but-ultimately-effective ninth sealed the deal in the Nationals’ 4-2 victory. Here’s one seemingly small moment, though, that actually played a major role in this game.

After 0-for-13 opening slump, Werth delivers game-winning hit

The giant scoreboard in right-center showed it for all the world to see, but Jayson Werth didn’t need it spelled out in print. As he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh this afternoon, the bases loaded with teammates, Werth knew his batting average contained nothing but zeroes. “I’m aware,” the veteran outfielder said with a smirk an hour later in the

Early scoring chances missed (Nats win 4-2)

The Nationals are giving themselves plenty of chances to score runs. They just aren’t converting on many of those chances so far. Despite racking up five hits and two walks off Tom Koehler through the first three innings of today’s game, the Nats have scored just once, picking up on a theme they established during Thursday’s home-opener loss to the Marlins. The saving grace: Miami

Haphazard schedule throws wrench into Baker’s plans

The baseball schedule is a funny thing. The Nationals barely have been playing because of scheduled off-days and unscheduled rainouts, having taken the field only 12 times in the last 21 days. Now, though, they’re looking at a grueling stretch in which they’re scheduled to play 35 games in 36 days. With that in mind, manager Dusty Baker is trying to make plans to give

Game 4 lineups: Nats vs. Marlins

If it feels like it has been a while since the Nationals last played a ballgame, it has been. They had Friday off. Then yesterday’s game got rained/snowed/colded out. So it’s been nearly 72 hours since their last game, which in baseball terms is an eternity. In fact, the Nats have only played a ballgame in 12 of the last 21 days, thanks to rainouts

Next up for Harper: homer No. 100

There surely will be far greater milestones for Bryce Harper to achieve before his career is complete, but the reigning National League MVP has a chance tonight to reach a significant number along the way faster than almost anyone else in baseball history. Harper’s next home run will be the 100th of his career, no small achievement for a player with his limited experience. In

A modest proposal to try to get Werth and Taylor going

It’s only three games, and that caveat must be expressed before going any further. If the same results occurred over three games in May or June or August, you’d never bat an eyelash because it would be hidden among the player’s broader performance of the season. Now, having made that disclaimer, there’s no debating the Nationals’ biggest concern at this very early stage of the

Friday morning Q&A from D.C.

So ... anything worth talking about this morning? The Nationals’ season is only three games old, but there have been no shortage of compelling storylines already. There’s Ben Revere’s strained oblique on his very first swing as a National. There’s Bryce Harper’s two home runs, leaving him on the precipice of 100 for his young career. There’s Daniel Murphy’s impressive debut with his new team.

Exhausted lineup can’t take advantage of scoring chances

The ball came screaming off Daniel Murphy’s bat, soaring over Giancarlo Stanton’s head in right field. And when it caromed off the wall and back towards the infield, the sellout crowd of 41,650 at Nationals Park roared with delight as the home team turned the basepaths into a merry-go-round. Anthony Rendon scored. Bryce Harper scored. Ryan Zimmerman scored. And Murphy slid headfirst into third base,

After wild first inning, rain hits home opener (Nats lose 6-4)

The Nationals and Marlins took the field at 4:05 p.m. knowing they had a window of clear weather to begin today’s game and probably get several innings in the books before the expected rain returned to the area. Turns out both lineups were just too darn productive out of the chute to get more than an inning and a half completed before the first delay

Rizzo on roster depth, payroll and relationship with Baker

Mike Rizzo knows too much about injuries to his roster, having spent the majority of the 2015 season trying to patch and re-patch his Nationals club together for months after a host of key players went down. So when it happened again on opening day in Atlanta, when Ben Revere strained a right oblique muscle on his very first swing in the very first inning,

Game 3 lineups: Marlins at Nats

And for the first time in 2016 (exhibition games excluded), hello from Nationals Park! The home opener has arrived at last, though this could end up being a long day of waiting around for a game that may or may not be played. I don’t know any more than all of you do, but my trusty weather app is showing dry skies until about 6

Ranking the Nationals’ previous 11 home openers

After an oh-so-quick, two-game road trip to Atlanta to open the season, the Nationals have returned to D.C. and today will get to celebrate their home opener. That’s weather permitting, of course, and the forecast does not look good for today’s scheduled 4:05 p.m. game against the Marlins, with heavy rain predicted pretty much all day. If this one gets postponed, look for it to

den Dekker caps wild day with game-winning double

ATLANTA - Matt den Dekker was at NBT Bank Stadium in Syracuse at 2:30 p.m. today, taking batting practice in 35-degree weather, when Chiefs manager Billy Gardner called him into his office. The Nationals were placing Ben Revere on the disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle, Gardner explained, and were calling up den Dekker to take his place. The young outfielder needed to

Strasburg is Nats’ new all-time strikeout king (Nats win 3-1)

ATLANTA - Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann will forever be linked as the Nationals’ two young aces who helped transform their rotation into one of baseball’s best, and the right-handers in some ways had a friendly competition between them for the last six years. Well, with Zimmermann now wearing the old English D on his cap in Detroit, the competition is no more. Which leaves

Revere lands on DL with oblique strain, den Dekker recalled

ATLANTA - The Nationals managed to stay remarkably healthy all spring, offering a glimmer of hope they would enjoy some better fortune this season than the last two. But that good luck didn’t even last one batter into the 2016 campaign. The club was forced to place Ben Revere on the 15-day disabled list this afternoon with a right oblique strain, an injury the new

Game 2 lineups: Nats at Braves

ATLANTA - Hello again from Turner Field, where tonight the Nationals and Braves wrap up their abbreviated, two-game series to open the season. Odd scheduling for this one, with the 4:10 p.m. start on Monday, then an off-day, then a 7:10 p.m. start tonight. The Nats aren’t real happy this is a night game, what with their own home opener scheduled for 4:05 p.m. Thursday.

Nats’ opening day payroll down for first time since 2007

ATLANTA - For the first time in nine years, and for only the second time in club history, the Nationals’ opening day payroll is down from the previous season. The Nationals’ current roster (the 25 active players, plus those on the major league disabled list) is earning a combined $141,652,646 this season, ranking 11th in baseball, according to figures calculated by USA Today in its

New takeout slide rule benefits Nats in opening day win

ATLANTA - To anyone who has watched baseball for the last, oh, century or so, it looked like just about every double play that has been attempted. In the bottom of the seventh inning Monday afternoon at Turner Field, Hector Olivera grounded to third. Anthony Rendon threw to second baseman Daniel Murphy to force out Nick Markakis, who slid into and then through the bag.

Scherzer dominates, but once again plagued by home runs

ATLANTA - Seven innings of three-hit ball shouldn’t be a footnote, but given everything else that happened during the Nationals’ wild opening day victory over the Braves, Max Scherzer’s impressive start did kind of get lost in the shuffle. Let’s give the man his due, though, because he pitched awfully well. Scherzer looked very much like the guy who dominated most of last season, keeping

Nats finally appreciate Murphy’s performance for themselves

ATLANTA - The Nationals had seen Daniel Murphy do this sort of thing to them plenty of times over the years. So when it happened Monday afternoon, when Murphy went 2-for-3 with a homer, two walks and the RBI double that ultimately gave them a 4-3, 10-inning victory on opening day, they relished the fact he’s now doing this for their benefit, not detriment. “Psh,

Nats welcome Baker back to dugout with dramatic victory

ATLANTA - Dusty Baker has lined up along the baseline for opening day intros in a major league ballpark 42 times in his life, 20 times as manager. This is as routine as it gets for the career baseball man. But when Baker trotted out from the third base dugout at Turner Field this afternoon for the first time as Nationals manager, he did so

Revere hopes ribcage injury sidelines him only couple of days

ATLANTA - Given all the injuries they sustained last season, the sight of Ben Revere departing in the fourth inning on opening day after feeling a tug on his right side had to leave the Nationals and their fans holding their collective breath, fearing the worst. The initial indication, though, is that Revere did not seriously injure himself, suffering what manager Dusty Baker and the

Harper homers on opening day once again (Nats win in 10)

ATLANTA - Bryce Harper loves opening day. And Bryce Harper loves to face Julio Teheran. And Bryce Harper really loves to make booing Braves fans eat their words. All of which culminated in a perfect storm this afternoon when Harper stepped to the plate for his first at-bat of the season to a raucous welcome from the Turner Field crowd and then promptly launched Teheran’s

Gonzalez won’t make first start until next week

ATLANTA - The Nationals knew they wouldn’t need a fifth starter until the season’s second week. Few figured, though, that the guy who would end up getting bumped to that delayed start would be Gio Gonzalez. Or that the guy taking the mound for Thursday’s home opener would be Tanner Roark. Gonzalez, not Joe Ross or Roark, will open the season in the bullpen and

Game 1 lineups: Nats at Braves

ATLANTA - And so it begins. And it could not begin under more perfect conditions. It is an absolutely spectacular day for baseball here at Turner Field, not a cloud in the sky, a nice northerly breeze blowing, temperatures in the low 70s. The Nationals and Braves officially get underway at 4:10 p.m., with Max Scherzer taking the mound for the first time since his

2016 Nats media season predictions

ATLANTA - The day has arrived. At long last, it is officially baseball season. The Nationals and Braves will be taking the field later this afternoon for Game 1 of 162 (or possibly more). Which means it’s time to make some official 2016 predictions. Many of you may remember this from previous years on previous websites, but for the uninitiated: My colleagues who cover the

2016 MLB predictions

The time has arrived at last: It’s opening day for Major League Baseball! OK, so the Nationals (like most clubs) don’t open until Monday, when they face the Braves in Atlanta. But for the first time, there are three MLB games on the Sunday slate (Cardinals-Pirates, Blue Jays-Rays, Mets-Royals) so the season does officially get underway today. Which means it’s time to make some predictions.

Burnett and Johnson released, Ryan reassigned to minors

The Nationals officially announced their opening day roster, which was reduced to the requisite 25 players after the club released veterans Sean Burnett and Reed Johnson and reassigned Brendan Ryan to the minor leagues. The 25-man roster essentially was finalized Friday night when the club announced Chris Heisey had secured the final spot on the bench and Blake Treinen would round up the bullpen. But

Sunday morning Q&A

With yesterday’s early exhibition game at Nationals Park, we shook up the Q&A schedule, pushing it back to today. This might become a recurring thing during the season, changing up the day it runs based on the team’s schedule that particular week. This is a good morning to do this, though, because the opening day roster is now set, the exhibition slate is complete and

Nats’ impressive spring wraps up in encouraging fashion

Given how well they played all spring, it just wouldn’t have felt right for the Nationals to lose their exhibition finale. Never fear, because thanks to a slowly-but-surely rally over the final three innings, they indeed came back to tie the Twins 8-8 and at least not send themselves down to Atlanta for opening day reeling from a loss. “I’m proud of these guys, how

Zimmerman, Taylor homer again in Nats’ spring finale (game ends in 8-8 tie)

The Nationals purposely brought Ryan Zimmerman along slowly this spring, not wanting the veteran first baseman to experience too much early wear and tear on a foot that was injured most of the 2015 season. As opening day approaches, Zimmerman not only appears healthy. He’s also red-hot at the plate. The Nationals’ cleanup hitter launched another home run today in the final exhibition game of

Dusty Baker explains Nats’ final cuts of spring

Dusty Baker has been making roster cuts for two decades, and he admits they’re never easy, especially those that come on the cusp of opening day. The cuts the Nationals’ new manager had to make Friday night might have been his toughest ever. “My heart goes out to these guys,” Baker said. “I didn’t really sleep that well last night, at all, because it affects

Strasburg, not Gonzalez, will start season’s second game

The Nationals have switched up their rotation plans for the season’s first series, choosing now to start Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday in Atlanta following Max Scherzer in Monday’s opener. Manager Dusty Baker had said two weeks ago that Gio Gonzalez would start the second game in Atlanta, with Strasburg in Thursday’s home opener against the Marlins. But the coaching staff decided to change things around

Nats face Twins again in exhibition finale

Hello from Nationals Park, where it’s currently raining (shocking, I know), but the forecast calls for clearing skies in time for today’s 12:05 p.m. exhibition finale between the Nationals and Twins. It will be a bit chilly, though, good practice for what the first few weeks of the regular season could be like. After last night’s 4-3 victory here, Dusty Baker is going with nearly

Treinen gets final bullpen spot, Heisey will be right-handed pinch-hitter

Right-hander Blake Treinen has secured the final spot in the Nationals bullpen, while veteran Chris Heisey has claimed a role as a backup outfielder and right-handed pinch-hitter. After Friday night’s 4-3 win in an exhibition game against the Twins at Nationals Park, the Nats made a series of roster moves that finalized the composition of manager Dusty Baker’s seven-man bullpen and made the bench picture

Nationals lineup vs. Twins (with Twins lineup)

The Nationals are stretching in right field, Dusty Baker is about to address the media and fans are already lining up at the center field gates at Nationals Park. Who cares if it’s a meaningless exhibition game? It’s baseball and that’s what counts. We’ll have to see if the weather gods will cooperate to allow the first of two exhibition scraps against the Minnesota Twins

Five reasons to be pessimistic about the 2016 Nationals

Yesterday, we offered up five reasons to be optimistic about the 2016 Nationals. Today, we take the devil’s advocate approach and offer up five reasons to be pessimistic about this season. Truth be told, it was a lot tougher to come up with five negatives than it was to come up with five positives. That, in itself, should offer up reason for everyone to be

« March 2016 | Main Index | Archives | May 2016 »