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Hendricks outduels Strasburg as Cubs top Nats 3-0 in Game 1

Hendricks outduels Strasburg as Cubs top Nats 3-0 in Game 1

WASHINGTON  -- Kyle Hendricks goes about things completely differently than Stephen Strasburg does on the mound.

The kid from Dartmouth relies on a fastball that on a good day reaches 88 mph -- about 10 mph slower than Strasburg's -- and a deceptive changeup. Instead of power, he gets by on precision, guile and smarts.

Hendricks outpitched Strasburg in Game 1 of the NL Division Series, giving up only two hits in seven innings to help the Chicago Cubs open defense of their first World Series title in 108 years by beating the Washington Nationals 3-0 on Friday night.

"That's why we call him Professor," Chicago second baseman Javier Baez said about Hendricks. "He knows what he's doing."

Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo produced RBI singles with two outs in the sixth inning for the first two hits off an otherwise-dominant Strasburg. Rizzo added a run-scoring double in the eighth off Ryan Madson.

Carl Edwards Jr. threw a perfect inning and Wade Davis finished the two-hitter for a save.

Unlike No. 1 overall draft pick Strasburg, Hendricks went in the eighth round. Unlike Strasburg, Hendricks has never been an All-Star. Unlike Strasburg, who already has signed a $175 million, seven-year deal that begins next season, Hendricks earned less than $800,000 in 2017.

But this was Hendricks' time to shine.

"He was tricking us tonight," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said, "and seems like those kind of guys give us more trouble than guys who throw hard."

The slender righty, who led the NL in ERA last season, gave up a single in the first and another in the second -- and that was it for the Nationals.

He walked three batters and struck out six.

"He knows the scouting report," said Jon Lester, who starts Game 2 on Saturday for Chicago against fellow lefty Gio Gonzalez. "He knows where guys' weaknesses are."

Harper -- wearing shoes with "Pray for Las Vegas" written on the side following the recent mass shooting in his hometown -- was 1 for 4 as he tries to regain his timing after returning last week from a 42-game injury absence. Otherwise, Washington's elite hitters -- Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner and Jayson Werth -- were a combined 0 for 17 with three walks.

"Definitely, your confidence builds," Hendricks said, "when you start seeing those swings."

The fact that Hendricks approached 90 mph as often as he did was an aberration he and teammates attributed to adrenaline, but one that helped, of course.

He also knew he needed to be really good, because of what Strasburg was doing.

Strasburg didn't allow a hit until there were two outs in the sixth. Baez reached on Rendon's error at third base to start the inning and was sacrificed to second by Hendricks. One out later, Bryant drove in the first run with a single to right-center and went to second when Harper's throw missed the cutoff man.

Bryant, Rizzo said, managed to "get the monkey off the back in the dugout for all of us."

Rizzo followed by singling to right in front of a diving Harper to make it 2-0.

With a heavy beard and a lot of sweat on a muggy, 77-degree night, Strasburg dialed up his fastball to 98 mph and mixed in an unhittable changeup. To cheers of "Let's go, Strasburg!" from many in a sellout crowd of 43,898, he struck out 10 to set a playoff record for the Expos-Nationals franchise.

Strasburg wound up allowing just those two unearned runs in seven innings, with three hits and one walk.

"You're aware of it," Hendricks said about Strasburg. "You know how well he's throwing on the other side."

Hendricks threw well, too.

"It was," Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said, "a masterpiece."

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE