Entries Listing

Sloppy play dooms Nationals in Sunday loss to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - There were two uncharacteristic mistakes in the field that led to two runs. There was an uncharacteristic sequence of bad baserunning that might have cost them a run. There was an uncharacteristic display of emotion by Ryan Zimmerman after fans at AT&T Park were getting on him in the bottom of the ninth. And there was an all-too-characteristic lack of hits in

Nationals drop finale to Giants 3-1 to split weekend series

SAN FRANCISCO - A pair of throwing errors and some sloppy baserunning cost the Nationals this afternoon, and a lack of offense kept them from mounting a rally that would have been necessary to avoid a 3-1 loss to the Giants. Two of San Francisco’s runs came via errors by Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon, mistakes that prevented Gio Gonzalez from pitching his way out

Harper’s disastrous July nearly over (Nationals lose 3-1)

SAN FRANCISCO - Nobody on the Nationals will be happier when the calendar flips to August on Monday than Bryce Harper, who is wrapping up a disastrous July that ranks among the worst months of his career. After striking out in the top of the third inning this afternoon, Harper is hitting just .169 this month, a prolonged slump that has dropped his season batting

After “whirlwind” day, Melancon ready to close for Nationals

SAN FRANCISCO - Mark Melancon was in Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon, preparing for the Pirates’ game against the Brewers, when he was told he had been traded to the Nationals and needed to get to San Francisco as soon as possible. Melancon gathered his stuff, communicated with his wife (who is taking care of the couple’s three young children, all 4 or younger, back in

Game 105 lineups: Nats at Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals have an opportunity to take three of four from the Giants, which would be no small accomplishment given the difficulty of doing that on the west coast against another first-place club, not to mention given the current state of their bullpen. The good news: Mark Melancon is here and will be in uniform for today’s series finale, available to pitch

Lopez hopes erratic outings will be “learning experience”

SAN FRANCISCO - Reynaldo Lopez was undone in his first career start by leaving too many fastballs over the heart of the plate. He was undone in his second career start by not putting enough pitches over any portion of the plate. The young Nationals prospect battled command issues throughout Saturday’s outing against the Giants, resulting in five walks and an elevated pitch count that

Rizzo, Baker and Papelbon react to the Melancon trade

SAN FRANCISCO - In his eight seasons as general manager of the Nationals, Mike Rizzo has rarely traded for a player who isn’t under club control beyond the current season. The situation this summer, however, is quite different, and so Rizzo didn’t hesitate to go against his usual mantra in acquiring Mark Melancon to be his closer for the next two months. “I just think

Depleted bullpen caves in seventh during Nats’ 5-3 loss

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals will be getting much-needed bullpen reinforcement Sunday when new closer Mark Melancon joins the club following his trade from the Pirates. But before that happened, they still needed to get through the latter innings of this afternoon’s game against the Giants. And that proved a significant challenge. Three relievers combined to give up a pair of runs in the bottom

The domino effect of the Melancon trade (Nats lose 5-3)

SAN FRANCISCO - Mark Melancon is expected to join the Nationals in time for Sunday’s series finale against the Giants and told reporters in Milwaukee (where the Pirates are currently playing) he believes he’ll immediately be available to close for his new club. The Nationals will need to make another roster move to clear a spot for Melancon, but the trade comes at a particularly

Nats acquire closer Melancon for Rivero, Hearn (updated)

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals have found their much-needed closer, and though he’s only going to be a two-month rental, the club didn’t have to give up any of its top prospects to get him. The Nationals have acquired Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for left-hander Felipe Rivero and Single-A left-hander Taylor Hearn, the team announced this afternoon. The deal came together just

Game 104 lineups: Nats at Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - After another wild victory last night, the Nationals are back at it this afternoon, trying to make it three in row over the Giants at AT&T Park. They’ll be fielding a lineup that’s a bit shorthanded, with Daniel Murphy sitting out after tweaking his left leg last night and Wilson Ramos getting a well-deserved day off after catching nine in a row.

Murphy exits game after leg “tightens up”

SAN FRANCISCO - Lost amid the chaos and the celebration of last night’s triple-play-featured Nationals victory was a potentially disheartening sight: Daniel Murphy coming out of the game with an apparent injury. Murphy departed in the bottom of the sixth, one inning after he appeared to pull up a bit rounding second base on a long triple to deep right-center. According to manager Dusty Baker,

Historic triple play helps Nationals escape with another 4-1 win

SAN FRANCISCO - Sammy Solis, standing on the mound, wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Max Scherzer and a few others, watching from the clubhouse, were confused as well. Denard Span obviously had no idea, because he kept running to the plate, unaware he needed to run back to third base. Dusty Baker, in the dugout, was just happy he actually was able to

Werth’s streak reaching base continues (Nationals win 4-1)

SAN FRANCISCO - It’s not the kind of streak that draws headlines, but that doesn’t make what Jayson Werth has been doing for more than a month now insignificant. Werth has successfully reached base in 32 consecutive games now, easily the longest such streak of his career and tied for the third-longest streak in the majors this season. Werth broke his previous career-best of 29

Lopez to start Saturday; could Papelbon be headed to DL?

SAN FRANCISCO - Reynaldo Lopez will, as anticipated, start Saturday afternoon’s game against the Giants, forcing the Nationals to make a corresponding roster move that could tie directly in with their current closer dilemma. With Lopez set to be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse for his second career start, the Nationals will need to drop one of the eight relievers on their active 25-man roster. And

Lobaton placed on DL with elbow tendinitis, Severino recalled

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals have placed backup catcher Jose Lobaton on the 15-day disabled list with left elbow tendinitis and recalled Pedro Severino from Triple-A Syracuse to take his spot on the big league roster. Lobaton hadn’t appeared in any of the Nationals’ last eight games, so the transaction is retroactive to July 20 and makes him eligible to return as soon as August

Game 103 lineups: Nats at Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - It’s a new day in the Bay Area, which means the Nationals will start anew after last night’s near-disaster in the bottom of the ninth. We don’t know yet who will be closing for them if the situation arises, but we do know they’ve got a very different lineup tonight against Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija. Ben Revere is back atop the lineup

What do the Nationals do with Jonathan Papelbon now?

SAN FRANCISCO - Decisions, certainly the big ones with long-lasting ramifications, aren’t made minutes after a ballgame ends, when emotions are still running hot and the opportunity for reflection has yet to arrive. So Dusty Baker wasn’t about to make any definitive statements about Jonathan Papelbon’s future role in the Nationals bullpen in the wake of Thursday night’s near-calamitous bottom of the ninth at AT&T

Nationals avoid ninth-inning disaster, escape with 4-2 victory

SAN FRANCISCO - Tanner Roark gave them the seven strong innings they needed from their starter. The lineup delivered a quick burst of two-out hits off Johnny Cueto that put the Nationals in position to lead nearly the entire night. But no victory is compete until the ninth inning is complete. And anyone who has followed the Nationals recently knows just how difficult it has

Baker on Turner, Revere and Harper (Nationals win 4-2)

SAN FRANCISCO - Trea Turner is starting in center field again tonight for the Nationals, the rookie’s third straight game at the position he had never played professionally until a six-game tryout at Triple-A Syracuse a month ago. That shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, given Turner’s offensive performance the last two days in Cleveland - 4-for-8 with two doubles, three RBIs, a walk and

Grateful for opportunity with Giants, Span ready to face Nats

SAN FRANCISCO - Denard Span isn’t having a great season, not by his standards. But the 32-year-old outfielder is healthy again after an agonizing 2015 with the Nationals that included three different surgeries, never-ending rehab and then the uncertainty that accompanied that once he hit free agency last fall. So as he prepares to face his former club this weekend, Span has come to appreciate

Game 102 lineups: Nats at Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - Hello from AT&T Park, simply one of the finest venues in baseball, where the Nationals and Giants tonight open a four-game weekend series between a pair of first-place clubs sporting identical 59-42 records. Between the strong matchup on the field and the specter of Monday’s trade deadline looming, this is obviously a big weekend. The Nationals come here with some significant question

Strasburg, Murphy and Werth’s contributions to yesterday’s win

SAN FRANCISCO - Good morning from the left coast, where tonight the Nationals open a four-game weekend series with the Giants, another significant test for this team during a long road trip. (OK, so I need to be honest with you: I’m not actually in San Francisco as I type this. I’m somewhere over the Midwest, 33,000 feet in the air, en route from Cleveland.

Pressed into new roles, Turner and Treinen lead Nats to win

CLEVELAND - Ballclubs can plan a season out, think they have everything set as they prefer, even have contingencies in place in case something goes awry. But sometimes they still have to adjust on the fly and go with something that may not have been their preferred course of action but became necessary to attempt to win that day’s game. The Nationals thought they had

Nationals bounce back with 4-1 victory in Cleveland

CLEVELAND - Two sure ways to wash away the bitter taste of back-to-back losses via bullpen meltdown: 1) Get a dominant start from one of your aces, and 2) Score enough runs that you don’t need to send your embattled closer back to the mound. The Nationals did both this afternoon, riding Stephen Strasburg’s seven innings of scoreless ball and clutch hits from Trea Turner

With closer struggling, Baker pleads for offense (Nats win 4-1)

CLEVELAND - Jonathan Papelbon has pitched four of the last five days, and has given up six total runs in two most recent outings, leaving Dusty Baker facing quite a conundrum: Who does he turn to if he needs a closer in this afternoon’s series finale against the Indians? The Nationals manager couldn’t offer up a definitive answer this morning. “Sometimes as a closer you’ve

Dizziness lands Drew on disabled list; Difo recalled

CLEVELAND - The illness that made Stephen Drew unavailable to the Nationals for six days last week has now landed him on the disabled list. Drew was placed on the 15-day DL this morning after a recurrence of the dizziness that plagued him last week while he was out with what the club initially called “flu-like symptoms.” The veteran infielder no longer has those traditional

Game 101 lineups: Nats at Indians

CLEVELAND - And we’re back. Only 11 hours have passed since the Nationals walked off the field in disgust following a 7-6 loss to the Indians, but everyone is back at Progressive Field, preparing for today’s early matinee (12:10 p.m.) to wrap up this unusual two-game interleague series. This could be a good thing (no time to stew over the loss) or it could be

An eventful debut night in center field for Turner

CLEVELAND - Trea Turner had been standing out in center field in a big league game for all of two minutes when the first ball came his way. It was a drive to the gap in right-center by the Indians’ Jason Kipnis, and though Turner ran a good route in an attempt to make the play, he pulled up ever so slightly at the fence

Nationals left to decide what to do with Papelbon now

CLEVELAND - Jonathan Papelbon has blown more than a few saves in his career. Forty-nine of them, to be precise. So when it happens, he refuses to convey any sense of fear. “My confidence in this game has never fluctuated, and it never will,” the 35-year-old closer said tonight. “I think that’s something that’s never really happened to me.” Papelbon’s confidence may not fluctuate, but

Bullpen implodes again as Indians walk-off stunned Nats 7-6

CLEVELAND - The new-look lineup produced some early runs, knocking out a tough opposing starter. The erratic lefty bounced back from a shaky first inning to turn in a quality start. All the Nationals needed was for the back end of their bullpen to close out the opener of a tough road trip. Which that much maligned unit once again could not do. Jonathan Papelbon

Turner gets nod in center, but for how long? (Nats lose 7-6)

CLEVELAND - When the Nationals chose to demote Michael A. Taylor to Triple-A Syracuse as the corresponding move for Ryan Zimmerman’s activation off the disabled list, they dropped something of a hint in the process: Trea Turner was going to find his way into the lineup, perhaps in center field. Sure enough, when he filled out his lineup card for tonight’s interleague series opener against

Ross healthy again, but will need another rehab start

CLEVELAND - Joe Ross is back with the Nationals this week, part of their traveling contingent for their interleague series against the Indians. But he’s not back in their rotation just yet, still needing to make at least one more rehab start before he can be activated off the disabled list. Ross made the first of his rehab starts Sunday at Single-A Hagerstown, tossing three

Game 100 lineups: Nats at Indians

CLEVELAND - Hello from Progressive Field in the heart of downtown Cleveland, home of champio...sorry, that still just doesn’t sound right. This town is still awash in the glow of the Cavaliers’ NBA title, the first major pro sports championship by anyone here since 1964. And now the Indians are trying to make their own run, some 68 years removed from their last World Series

Chapman wouldn’t have been worth the price for Nationals

The Nationals like Aroldis Chapman. A lot. Mike Rizzo tried to sign the closer out of Cuba in 2010, and even thought he had outbid every other franchise in the majors for him (until it turned out the Reds had done it instead). Dusty Baker, of course, managed Chapman his first four seasons in the big leagues, continues to speak glowingly about the flame-throwing left-hander

After another underwhelming start, what’s next for Giolito?

Three starts into Lucas Giolito’s career, the only thing the Nationals know for sure about their 22-year-old pitching prospect is that they don’t really know yet what they’ve got. Giolito arrived in the big leagues late last month with a near-flawless pedigree. He had the stuff, the maturity and the presence to suggest he was ready for the big show. The results, though, haven’t matched

Bullpen maneuvers “didn’t work out at all” (Giolito, Taylor down)

The Nationals, believe it or not, entered the day with the majors’ lowest bullpen ERA (2.85), the fourth-lowest WHIP and sixth-lowest batting average against. Yet there is no unit on the roster that appears more in need of help as the trade deadline approaches than this team’s relief corps. It’s an odd dichotomy between stats and the eye test, but games like today’s 10-6 loss

Bullpen implodes late in Nationals’ 10-6 loss to Padres

If the current back end of the Nationals bullpen wanted to convince general manager Mike Rizzo that he doesn’t need to make any major acquisitions before next week’s trade deadline, this wasn’t the way to do it. Shawn Kelley and Jonathan Papelbon combined to give up six runs in the eighth and ninth innings this afternoon, turning a two-run lead into a 10-6 loss to

Aaron Barrett fractures elbow during Tommy John surgery rehab

Aaron Barrett, who was hoping to be in the final stages of rehab from Tommy John surgery and perhaps rejoin the Nationals bullpen before season’s end, instead will be forced to undergo another major surgery Monday after fracturing his right elbow. Details of Barrett’s latest injury weren’t made public, but the Nationals said the 28-year-old reliever is scheduled to meet with orthopedist James Andrews on

Ryan Zimmerman ready to return from DL (Nats lose 10-6)

Ryan Zimmerman was back in the Nationals clubhouse this morning. And barring some surprise development, he’ll be back in the Nationals lineup Tuesday night in Cleveland. Zimmerman completed a three-day rehab assignment with Single-A Potomac on Saturday and emerged reporting no issues with the strained left ribcage muscle that landed him on the disabled list earlier this month. He’s scheduled to join his teammates on

Game 99 lineups: Nats vs. Padres

It’s another scorcher in the nation’s capital, and today the Nationals and Padres will be playing smack dab in the middle of the afternoon with the sun beating down on them. That’s going to be quite the test for Lucas Giolito, who makes his return to the big leagues after a very brief (two starts) demotion to the minors. The Nationals are hoping Giolito displays

On hot night, Scherzer stays cool for Nationals

Max Scherzer knew he needed to conserve as much energy as possible on a 94-degree night in which the heat index reached 103. But there’s only so much you can do to combat the kind of conditions the Nationals right-hander faced last night: Change sopping wet jerseys every few innings, stand in front of a giant industrial fan to cool down, pour water over your

“Pale white” after six days with flu, Drew returns in style

For the first time in six days, Stephen Drew found himself in an oddly familiar place: The Nationals dugout. The veteran infielder, mind you, has been on the club’s active roster all week, but not until the latter innings of tonight’s game against the Padres was he able to actually put on a full uniform and join his teammates on the bench. Beset with a

Drew comes off bench to deliver walk-off 3-2 win for Nats

Runs are not coming easily to the Nationals right now, which only compounds the pressure when they do actually give themselves an opportunity to push a run across the plate. That made tonight’s game against the Padres something of an exercise in frustration for the Nats, who just didn’t give themselves that many opportunities and didn’t take much advantage of them either. Until the bottom

Baker on Revere: “We need him badly” (Nats win 3-2)

We’re now nearly four months into the six-month baseball season, and Ben Revere’s batting average remains a paltry .214, his on-base percentage an equally paltry .258. It’s the time of year when struggling players often start worrying about job security, and Revere may well need to be thinking in those terms. Dusty Baker, though, did his part today to offer his struggling leadoff man some

Giolito will return to big leagues, start Sunday vs. Padres

Lucas Giolito will return to the big leagues and start Sunday’s series finale against the Padres, manager Dusty Baker announced, though the length of his second stint with the Nationals (as was the case for his first stint) may not be long. Giolito will be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse only two weeks after he was demoted following the first two major league starts of his

Game 98 lineups: Nats vs. Padres

It is an extraordinarily hot day here in the nation’s capital, where according to my trusty weather app, it is currently 95 degrees with a heat index of 105. It will cool down moderately before Max Scherzer takes the mound at 7:05 p.m., but not a whole lot. If you’re coming to the game, please make sure you prepare accordingly and do what you need

Gio Gonzalez turns in best start since May

Two innings into his start last night, Gio Gonzalez had an all-too-familiar look to himself. He was having trouble putting hitters away, resulting in a hefty pitch count of 43. He had already walked two batters. And though he had surrendered just one run to the Dodgers, he seemed to be teetering on the brink of far more serious damage. What transpired after that -

Nationals combine power and speed in rout of Dodgers

The Nationals score many of their runs via the home run. They lead the National League with 132 of them, and are on pace for 225 by season’s end, which would destroy the club’s previous record of 194 in 2014. So the fact they hit four homers tonight during an 8-1 thumping of the Dodgers should not come as much of a surprise. This is

Harper reaches third deck for 20th homer (Nats win 8-1)

If it’s possible for one swing to get Bryce Harper back into MVP form, this might have been the one. Harper launched a towering home run off Bud Norris in the bottom of the first inning tonight, sending the 3-1 pitch halfway up the third deck down the right field line at Nationals Park, the farthest a ball has ever traveled to that portion of

Lopez demoted after debut, Glover gets surprise promotion

Reynaldo Lopez’s first stint in the big leagues was a brief one. The Nationals optioned the right-hander back to Triple-A Syracuse one day after the 22-year-old was roughed up in his major league debut. The pitcher the club promoted to take Lopez’s spot, though, is even less experienced than the one he will replace: Koda Glover, who had his contract purchased from Syracuse to complete

Game 95 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers

If you experienced last night’s sudden and violent thunderstorm, you know how much rain and hail fell from the sky in a very short amount of time. And if you saw photos or video from Nationals Park around 11 p.m., you know how bad the field and warning track looked, with the grounds crew unable to get the tarp out fast enough to beat the

What’s next for Lopez and Giolito?

Reynaldo Lopez revealed both weaknesses (a very hittable fastball) and strengths (a very unhittable curveball and changeup) in his major league debut last night, enough to leave the Nationals plenty intrigued to see more of the 22-year-old. “He’s young, this is the big leagues, and you’re facing big-league hitters,” manager Dusty Baker said after Lopez gave up six runs and 10 hits but struck out

After initial onslaught, Lopez salvages first career start

Reynaldo Lopez did not necessarily expect to find himself standing on the mound at Nationals Park this evening, a sellout crowd of 38,747 buzzing about the opener of a series against the high-profile Dodgers, but the 22-year-old found himself here because of the eye-popping repertoire of pitches he has shown off in the minors. That repertoire is headlined by a fastball that has reached triple

Lopez roughed up early in MLB debut (Nats lose 8-4)

Dusty Baker had never seen Reynaldo Lopez in person before the 22-year-old right-hander took the mound tonight for his major league debut, only reports on one of the Nationals’ top pitching prospects. And what did those reports on Lopez say? “The reports are that he can get away with more because he’s throwing almost 100,” Baker said this afternoon. “That’s exactly what the reports are.

What Ross’ recovery timetable means for Giolito and Lopez

Joe Ross threw 35 pitches during a simulated game today, an encouraging step for the injured Nationals right-hander, who should be ready next to make a minor league rehab start. Ross, out since July 3 with right shoulder inflammation, came out of today’s session with live hitters reporting no issues. “Joe, he looked very good today,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I think he threw 35

Game 94 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers

It may not garner as much attention as Lucas Giolito’s major league debut a couple of weeks ago, but Reynaldo Lopez’s first career start tonight for the Nationals is nearly as significant a development. The 22-year-old right-hander is one of the organization’s top pitching prospects and has rocketed his up the farm system in the last year, going from Single-A Potomac to Double-A Harrisburg and

Balancing talent with chemistry as the trade deadline approaches

The Nationals own a 5 1/2-game lead in the National League East and the third-best record in the NL. They have the lowest ERA in the majors, have hit the most homers in the NL and boast the best fielding percentage in baseball. Yet the biggest question facing general manager Mike Rizzo these days is a simple one: Could he make his team even better

Trea Turner explains his key baserunning blunder

When Trea Turner singled to left field in the fourth inning of Friday night’s game, the Nationals rookie couldn’t help but notice the lackadaisical manner in which the Pirates’ Starling Marte got the ball back to the infield. Turner made a mental note, wondering if another opportunity would arrive later in the weekend to use that knowledge to his advantage. “The base hit I had

An emotional high in ninth, a demoralizing low in 18th

It was about as uplifting a moment as the Nationals have experienced all season, their injured All-Star infielder coming up to bat with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and in his first at-bat in five days sending a game-tying homer down the right field line that earned him a curtain call from the crowd of 32,775. Daniel Murphy’s dramatic home run represented

Tuesday’s starter vs. Dodgers still TBA (Nats lose 2-1 in 18)

The Nationals don’t need to add a fifth starter to their rotation until next weekend, but it appears they’ll go ahead and make a move in time for Tuesday night’s game against the Dodgers. For now, the club is listing Tuesday’s starter as “TBA,” with Gio Gonzalez pitching Wednesday night and Stephen Strasburg pitching Thursday afternoon. The Nationals have options for this starting job. Joe

Murphy out for third straight day, Rendon scratched with flu

The Nationals suddenly find themselves with a serious dearth of healthy infielders. Daniel Murphy is out of the lineup for the third straight day with a sore hamstring suffered in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. Anthony Rendon was a late scratch due to flu-like symptoms. Add in Ryan Zimmerman, who has been on the disabled list since July 7 with a strained ribcage muscle, and the Nationals

Game 93 lineups: Nats vs. Pirates (Rendon scratched)

It’s going to be a scorcher this afternoon when the Nationals and Pirates take the field for their series finale, but at least it’s going to be dry after last night’s rain-delayed affair. The Nats are going for the sweep, not to mention a six-game winning streak sandwiched around the All-Star break. For the third straight day, they won’t have Daniel Murphy in their lineup.

Now 20 games over .500, Nats open up seven-game lead

Dusty Baker wanted the Nationals to finish the first half of the season strong. They did that. He wanted them to open the second half of the season strong. They’ve done that so far. And he wanted them to get to 20 games over .500, which they did last night after beating the Pirates 6-0. Clearly, these guys take their manager’s challenges to heart. “That

With little fanfare, Roark still dominating for Nationals

It doesn’t take long to figure out whether Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer have good stuff on any given night they take the mound. One inning of work often provides enough evidence to suggest either right-hander is primed for a big game. With Tanner Roark, the signs are less acute. Roark might retire the side in the top of the first, as he did tonight

Aggressive Nationals match 2015 steals total (Nats win 6-0)

The Nationals entered the season saying they were going to be more aggressive on the bases. And they have backed it up. With two stolen bases in the first two innings of tonight’s game, the Nats now have successfully swiped 57 bases this year. That already matches their entire total from 2015, even though they’re playing only their 92nd game tonight. And the Nationals’ first

Murphy good to go, but Baker holding him out (first pitch at 8:15 p.m.)

Daniel Murphy is out of the Nationals lineup for the second straight night, but the veteran infielder is available to come off the bench and likely will start Sunday’s series finale against the Pirates. Murphy, who is dealing with a sore left hamstring, actually told Dusty Baker he was well enough to start tonight, but the manager elected to take a more cautious route and

Game 92 lineups: Nats vs. Pirates

Stephen Strasburg set the tone last night with a dominant start to open the season’s second half. Does Tanner Roark have one in himself tonight against the Pirates? Roark was given this assignment in part to keep him as close to on-schedule as possible. He hasn’t started a game since July 6, but he did pitch 2 1/3 perfect innings in relief Sunday afternoon in

Taylor, Robinson make most of starting opportunity

Michael A. Taylor was supposed to bat seventh, not second. Clint Robinson wasn’t supposed to be batting anything, unless the situation called for a pinch-hitter late in last night’s game. Funny how these things work sometimes, because wouldn’t you know the two biggest offensive stars of the Nationals’ 5-1 victory over the Pirates happened to be named Michael A. Taylor and Clint Robinson? Robinson recorded

Opening second half in style, Strasburg improves to 13-0

In explaining why he was choosing not to pitch in the only All-Star Game that will take place in his hometown during his active career, Stephen Strasburg emphasized how it was more important for him to pitch not in an exhibition game in San Diego but in as many big games as possible for the Nationals the remainder of this season. “In my head, I

Strasburg dominating early once again (Nationals win 5-1)

Stephen Strasburg skipped the All-Star Game so he could put all of his efforts into pitching tonight’s second-half opener. So far, the right-hander is putting that extra preparation to good use. Strasburg has tossed four scoreless innings so far against the Pirates, allowing only one batter to reach base (via walk). It’s the third straight start in which he hasn’t allowed a hit through his

Late scratch of Murphy foils Baker’s plan for altered lineup

Dusty Baker thought he had figured out his preferred lineup when the Nationals are facing a left-handed starter, one that included Trea Turner leading off, Michael A. Taylor in center field and Daniel Murphy shifting to first base. But then Murphy had to be scratched from the lineup for tonight’s second-half opener against the Pirates, and Baker’s master plan had to be thrown out the

Game 91 lineups: Nats vs. Pirates (Murphy scratched)

And we’re back. After a four-day break for All-Star festivities, the Nationals are back in action tonight, opening a nine-game homestand that begins this weekend with three against the Pirates. Stephen Strasburg sat out the Midsummer Classic in San Diego in part because he wanted to make sure he was fresh to start tonight’s second-half opener. So this is a big start for the right-hander,

Nats hope to open second half as strong as they closed first

Dusty Baker believes strongly in entering the All-Star break on a high note and coming out of the All-Star break on a high note, likening this portion of the schedule to the final minutes of the first half and the opening minutes of the second half of a basketball game, when momentum swings often feel more pronounced. Baker’s Nationals did their part in entering their

Top storylines for the Nationals in the second half

The first half of the 2016 season was full of compelling storylines for the Nationals, most of them positive but not all. The end result: a 54-36 record and a six-game lead in the National League East at the All-Star break. Now the real work begins. The Nats have put themselves in position to win another division title, but in order to do that they’ve

Nationals’ first-half report card

The Home Run Derby and All-Star Game have come and gone, but now we’ve got the long, two-day wait without any baseball until the second half of the season opens Friday night at Nationals Park. So we’ll spend these two days looking back at what has transpired so far and looking ahead at what may transpire the rest of the way. Tomorrow, we’ll break down

Harper, Murphy, Scherzer all step up in All-Star Game

All four of the Nationals’ eligible players appeared in tonight’s All-Star Game, and three of them did their part to try to help their league emerge victorious. The fourth, unfortunately, came up short in his one key at-bat, and the rest of the National League squad didn’t have enough offense to overcome a tough American League team that took an early lead and held on

How Ramos’ relationship with Nats made him an All-Star

Any discussion of Wilson Ramos’ offensive breakthrough this season naturally begins with the obvious: his eyes. Ramos had LASIK surgery in March after his annual spring training exam suggested his vision could be improved. And almost instantaneously, the 28-year-old catcher began seeing the ball like never before. Those sliders off the plate he used to flail helplessly at now are clear as day, so he

Roark dazzles in surprise relief appearance to close first half

NEW YORK - Tanner Roark didn’t know what to expect when he headed down to the bullpen early yesterday afternoon at Citi Field, other than to make sure he was ready in case he was needed to pitch the Nationals’ first-half finale against the Mets. Only four days after throwing 99 pitches in a win over the Brewers, Roark knew he wouldn’t be starting another

With extra emphasis on Mets series, Nats finish first half strong

NEW YORK - The situations weren’t identical, they never are from one season to the next. Rosters change, injuries happen, guys who had good years come back with bad years and vice versa. But if nothing else, there was a sense of familiarity when the Nationals arrived in Queens on Thursday for the opener of a key July series against the team directly behind them

Nationals finish off big weekend with third straight win over Mets

NEW YORK - Daniel Murphy supplied the big blast once again, but this time it was Gio Gonzalez and a surprise member of the bullpen pitching the Nationals to victory over the Mets. Gonzalez held the depleted New York lineup in check for 5 2/3 innings before handing things off to none other than Tanner Roark, who in his first relief appearance of the season

Murphy does it again, homers vs. Mets (Nats win 3-2)

If the Nationals are playing the Mets, Daniel Murphy must be driving in runs. It has been occurring with such regularity, astrophysicists are nearly ready to declare it a new law of the universe. When Murphy stepped to the plate in the top of the first this afternoon with a man on base, the question wasn’t whether he would drive in the runner. It was

Baker looks Scherzer in the eye, lets his starter finish

NEW YORK - When he saw Dusty Baker walking to the mound with two outs in the seventh inning last night, Max Scherzer assumed what all starting pitchers assume when their manager walks to the mound. “I thought he was going to take me out,” the right-hander said. Baker, however, hadn’t yet made up his mind. “When I went to the mound, I didn’t know

Game 90 lineups: Nats at Mets

NEW YORK - And so we have reached the first-half finale of what has been a most interesting season so far for the Nationals. They are guaranteed to go into the All-Star break at least four games up in the National League East, possibly six if they can beat the Mets again this afternoon. It’ll be Gio Gonzalez on the mound for this one, and

Nationals rave about Murphy’s latest takedown of Mets

NEW YORK - Daniel Murphy will never admit it, but make no mistake how much he is enjoying tormenting a Mets organization that made no serious effort to re-sign him last winter despite his consistent track record and historic postseason performance that helped lead the franchise to its first pennant in 15 years. Murphy hides his emotions well, and he expertly refuses to take the

Murphy, Scherzer lead the way again in 6-1 win over Mets

NEW YORK - Two things you can pretty much count on when the Nationals play the Mets: Daniel Murphy will drive in runs and Max Scherzer will pitch well. Both, of course, came true during tonight’s 6-1 victory at Citi Field. Murphy homered and drove in four runs to lead the Nationals’ offensive attack and give Scherzer some cushion to go after the New York

Murphy continues to terrorize former team (Nats win 6-1)

NEW YORK - Daniel Murphy has done damage against just about everybody he’s faced this season, but he has saved some of his best work for his former employer. And he’s doing it again tonight. Murphy has driven in one of the Nationals’ three early runs off right-hander Logan Verrett, lacing a one-out single up the middle to give his team a 3-1 lead over

Treinen on his latest double play and emotional reaction

NEW YORK - Blake Treinen knows his biggest strength as a reliever: the ability to induce ground balls, often in key situations that demand a double play. So he knew why manager Dusty Baker summoned him with one out and two on in the bottom of the eighth inning last night, the Nationals clinging to a 3-1 lead over the Mets. It’s one thing to

Game 89 lineups: Nats at Mets

NEW YORK - It’s another gray afternoon here at Citi Field, with a chance for more rain late tonight. Hopefully that doesn’t impact the third game of this weekend’s series between the Nationals and Mets, though with our luck lately don’t be surprised if it does. On the heels of a 3-1 victory last night behind Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals send co-ace Max Scherzer to

Filling in for injured Zimmerman, Robinson homers again

NEW YORK - A starting pitcher’s win-loss record is a reflection not only of his own individual performance but also of his team’s performance, and so Stephen Strasburg could not have improved to 12-0 last night without the help of some other members of the Nationals who made their 3-1 victory over the Mets possible. Like Clint Robinson, who for the second straight night started

Now 12-0, Stephen Strasburg on historic run for Nationals

NEW YORK - There was the no-hit streak, which extended a full 10 2/3 innings between two starts before Asdrubal Cabrera homered in the bottom of the fifth. And there is the record, now 12-0 heading into the All-Star break. For Dusty Baker, though, the most impressive thing Stephen Strasburg did tonight during the Nationals’ 3-1 win over the Mets came in the bottom of

Strasburg dominates again as Nationals top Mets 3-1

NEW YORK - Stephen Strasburg may not be pitching in next week’s All-Star Game as a precaution for the back injury that sidelined him late last month, but the right-hander sure looks healthy and dominant when he does take the mound these days. On the heels of his 6 2/3-innings of no-hit ball against the Reds on Sunday, Strasburg picked up right where he left

Rizzo, Baker on today’s roster moves (Nationals win 3-1)

NEW YORK - Trea Turner’s second stint on the Nationals roster this season will last longer than his first. There’s no guarantee he’ll get considerably more playing time, though. Promoted from Triple-A Syracuse along with Michael A. Taylor to replace the injured Ryan Zimmerman and just-demoted Lucas Giolito, Turner will give manager Dusty Baker plenty of options, particularly now that he has begun working in

Rizzo acknowledges confrontation with umpires

NEW YORK - General manager Mike Rizzo confirmed his confrontation with members of last night’s umpiring crew following the Nationals’ 9-7 loss to the Mets, calling it “unfortunate” but more a reflection of frustration over the inconsistent implementation of Major League Baseball’s new takeout slide rule than the specific call that went against his club in the top of the ninth inning. According to a

Scherzer to replace Strasburg on NL All-Star team

NEW YORK - Max Scherzer is an All-Star again after Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals decided to keep him out of the game out of caution for his recent back injury. Strasburg was officially taken off the active All-Star roster today, a decision he and the club made together in response to the upper back strain that he only returned to the mound from earlier

Game 88 lineups: Nats at Mets

NEW YORK - It’s been a busy day already around here, with the Nationals adding two players to the active roster (Trea Turner, Michael A. Taylor) and removing two players from the active roster (Ryan Zimmerman, Lucas Giolito). Meanwhile on the Mets side, Matt Harvey is definitely having season ending thoracic outlet surgery, and Bartolo Colon is an All-Star. Oh, yeah, there’s also a game

Turner, Taylor recalled; Zimmerman to DL; Giolito to Syracuse

NEW YORK - The Nationals made a flurry of roster moves this afternoon, promoting both infielder Trea Turner and outfielder Michael A. Taylor from Triple-A Syracuse, placing first baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list with a left ribcage strain and optioning right-hander Lucas Giolito to Syracuse. The moves address the club’s most glaring need at the moment: healthy position players to fill out

Nats left frustrated, confused, angered by slide call on Werth

NEW YORK - The Nationals have been the beneficiary of baseball’s new and controversial slide rule this season, most notably on opening day in Atlanta when Daniel Murphy convinced umpires to rule Nick Markakis out at second base for what looked to the naked eye like a clean slide but in actuality was illegal based on the sport’s new rule. Last night, they found themselves

Weary Nationals drop opener of key series vs. Mets

NEW YORK - They took the field with a short bullpen, two of their arms unavailable due to recent heavy work. They had a short bench as well, already a man down because of the addition of another reliever and then down another after Ryan Zimmerman was deemed unable to play due to soreness in an unspecified body part. Then their rookie starter managed to

Nats lose home run derby to Mets, lead down to three games

NEW YORK - The ball flew out of Citi Field tonight like it never had before in the eight-year history of this ballpark. The Nationals and Mets kept trading bombs, each lineup homering four times a piece. In the end, it was the lone home run of the game that came with runners on base that proved the difference: Wilmer Flores’ three-run shot in the

Homers aplenty in Giolito-Colon matchup (Nats lose 9-7)

NEW YORK - When Lucas Giolito was born unto this world on July 14, 1994, Bartolo Colon already was pitching in rookie ball for the Cleveland Indians. Little could either have known then that nearly 22 years later they’d be taking the mound opposite each other in the same big league game. You’d be hard-pressed to find two major league pitchers with more contrasting styles

Zimmerman sidelined with soreness, out for opener vs. Mets

NEW YORK - The absence of Ryan Zimmerman in the Nationals lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Mets seemed odd at first glance, given that the struggling first baseman had broken through with a 2-for-3 performance Wednesday that included a home run. Turns out Zimmerman isn’t 100 percent healthy. Manager Dusty Baker wouldn’t specify what precisely is ailing Zimmerman, but the veteran did do

Game 87 lineups: Nats at Mets

NEW YORK - Hello from Citi Field, where the Nationals close out the first half of the season with a big, four-game weekend series against the Mets. They enter tonight’s opener holding a four-game lead, so that means things could go in a lot of different directions. A sweep by the Mets would leave the two teams tied; a sweep by the Nats would increase

Wednesday morning Q&A

Well, it’s been another eventful week in NatsTown. Danny Espinosa hit five home runs (two of them grand slams) and drove in 17 runs to win National League Player of the Week. Stephen Strasburg returned from the disabled list and threw 6 2/3 innings of no-hit ball. Joe Ross landed on the DL with shoulder inflammation, leaving a spot in the rotation for Lucas Giolito

Nats react to All-Star selections, Harper will sit out Derby again

None of the Nationals’ All-Star selections was a particular surprise. Bryce Harper had been in solid position to be voted in as a starter for weeks. Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos looked unlikely to win the fan vote, but were shoo-ins to be selected based on their robust numbers. And Stephen Strasburg, as long as he was healthy, was a safe bet to return to

Nationals look sluggish again in 5-2 loss to Brewers

Dusty Baker admitted, after the fact, that his Nationals didn’t exactly put forth their best effort Monday during the club’s annual Independence Day morning game. “Everybody was dragging yesterday with that 11:05 game,” the veteran manager said. “I just didn’t want to say it.” Whatever it was that plagued the Nationals during that uninspired loss to the Brewers sure seemed to still be dogging them

Harper is All-Star starter; Murphy, Ramos, Strasburg are reserves

The Nationals had been a first-place club on All-Star selection day three times in the last four years, but that didn’t always translate into a throng of players actually donning curly W caps at the Midsummer Classic. This year, when the All-Stars gather in San Diego, the Nats will be well-represented in accordance with their place in the standings. The Nationals had four players selected

Game 85 lineups: Nats vs. Brewers

It’s a big night in baseball, and not necessarily for what’s taking place on the field. It’s All-Star selection night, which means that shortly after 7 p.m. EDT, several members of the Nationals are going to find out they’re heading to San Diego next week for the Midsummer Classic. At last check, Bryce Harper was still in position to be voted as a starting outfielder

Danny Espinosa named NL Player of the Week

Danny Espinosa’s remarkable recent performance at the plate has earned him recognition around the baseball world. Espinosa was named National League Player of the Week, a fitting honor for the infielder who put on a prodigious power display over the last seven days. Espinosa hit .423 with five homers and 17 RBIs, most of that coming during the Nationals’ four-game series against the Reds. He

Scherzer done in by one solo homer, elevated pitch count

Max Scherzer pitched quite well yesterday. Who wouldn’t be satisfied with one run and four hits allowed over six innings? But when your teammates are shut out, as the Nationals were by Brewers rookie Junior Guerra and two relievers, that one run allowed by Scherzer looks much more significant. And the manner in which it scored - via Martin Maldonado’s solo homer in the top

Counsell takes blame for lineup gaffe, Baker recalls his own

It doesn’t happen often - only 39 times in the last six decades of Major League Baseball - and so when it does, it draws plenty of attention and leaves one dugout looking for a corner to go hide and the other giddy for having caught the opposition’s mistake. Really, are there many more embarrassing mistakes for a big league manager than seeing his team

Brewers caught batting out of order (Nationals lose 1-0)

Ryan Braun singled up the middle with two outs in the top of the first inning off Max Scherzer in this morning’s Independence Day game at Nationals Park. Except in doing so, he actually charged teammate Jonathan Lucroy with an unassisted putout to the catcher. As if 11 a.m. baseball isn’t weird enough, the Brewers turned today’s game even more bizarre when they batted out

Papelbon activated, Taylor surprisingly demoted to Syracuse

Jonathan Papelbon is back in the Nationals bullpen, but the identity of the player removed from the roster to clear a spot for the veteran closer was a surprise: Michael A. Taylor. The Nationals chose to option Taylor to Triple-A Syracuse before this morning’s Independence Day game against the Brewers, activating Papelbon off the disabled list and giving them - for the moment - a

Nats reach midpoint on pace to win 98 with room for improvement

And so the baseball season is now half-complete. (Or is it half-unfinished?) Whatever your perspective, this much you must admit: The Nationals are pretty good. After last night’s dramatic, 14-inning victory over the Reds, they now boast a 49-32 record. That’s the third-best record in the National League, the fifth-best in the majors. And it’s good enough for a six-game lead in the division. It’s

After trying first half, Revere soaks in first career walk-off hit

Six full seasons in the major leagues has left Ben Revere with some important perspective on the sport he plays for a living. “Baseball sucks,” the veteran outfielder said. “It absolutely sucks. You ask Jayson Werth - he’s been in the game 100 years - and he says it sucks. But it really does. It’s frustrating. “I’ve had games where I hit four missiles, or

Revere’s 14th-inning double gives Nats sixth straight win

They played until it was too late for fireworks and too late for many fans to catch the Metro home. But those who stuck it out at Nationals Park at least got to see the home team win in dramatic fashion. Ben Revere launched a double off the wall in right-center with two outs in the bottom of the 14th inning, scoring Danny Espinosa from

Runs tougher to come by day after outburst (Nats win in 14)

One night after their 13-run explosion, the Nationals find themselves in a bit more of a pitchers’ duel so far tonight against the Reds. Tanner Roark and Anthony DeSclafani each have allowed just one run through the game’s first four innings, avoiding the kind of crooked-number frames that defined Thursday night’s 13-4 Nats rout. The Nationals struck first, manufacturing a run in the bottom of

With Dunning deal done, Nats have signed top 19 draft picks

The Nationals announced the signing of pitcher Dane Dunning, the second of their two first-round picks, the final significant member of this year’s draft class that had yet to come to terms. Dunning received a $2 million signing bonus, according to a club source, which is just below slot value for the 29th selection in this year’s draft. A 6-foot-4 right-hander from the University of

Nationals still holding off on Strasburg-Giolito decision (6:40 start)

The Nationals are a day closer to Sunday’s game, but they are no closer to naming their starting pitcher for that afternoon’s series finale against the Reds. Stephen Strasburg continues to progress well from the upper back strain that prevented him from making his last two starts, and the right-hander has expressed his desire to take the mound. The club, though, has yet to decide

Game 81 lineups: Nats vs. Reds

It’s hard to believe, but we’ve reached the halfway point of the season. Yes, tonight is Game 81 for the Nationals. So how have they done to date? Well, if they can beat the Reds again tonight, they’ll sit at 49-32. Do the math, that’s a 98-win pace. Hard to complain much about that, right? Bryce Harper and Ben Revere are back in the lineup

Zimmerman, Gonzalez take much-needed positive steps

Danny Espinosa was the story of last night’s blowout win, not to mention the story of June for the Nationals, given his incredible resurgence at the plate that might well have saved his job. There were a couple other teammates, though, who came through during this 13-4 win over the Reds at a time when each desperately needed that kind of positive performance: Ryan Zimmerman

« June 2016 | Main Index | Archives | August 2016 »