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Around the NL East: Mets squander chance to bury Nats


Around the NL East: Mets squander chance to bury Nats


The Braves are on the outside looking in when it comes to the postseason, so the next month and a half we'll take stock of how their rebuilding process is going. As the club heads to San Diego, one surprise bright spot will take center stage for Atlanta in Cameron Maybin. At the time of the trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the Padres and Maybin, Carlos Quentin and others to Atlanta, most believed the 28-year-old center fielder was an afterthought in the deal. Instead, he's thrived in his new home, setting career highs for home runs (10) and RBI (53) while maintaining a .280 batting average. Seeing Maybin succeed has to make the Padres' disappointing season hurt that much more. 


The Marlins got good news (something they surely need) when manager Dan Jennings said recently that slugger Giancarlo Stanton has begun hitting for the first time since being placed on the disabled list on June 27 with a fractured hand. It's not certain when Stanton will return, but the sooner the better. Miami is just about out of positive developments this season as they're fighting to avoid the distinction of having the worst record in baseball. And to no one's surprise, it looks like they'll be in the market for a new manager come the end of the season, too. 


As weird as it is to say, if the Nationals wind up winning the division, they may look back on this past weekend as a reason why. No, nothing about their dreadful west coast swing is a sign that things will turn around soon. But the Mets, who had a solid 4 1/2 game lead in the division, squandered an opportunity to put the nail in Washington's coffin after being swept by the Pirates. They could have very well been up 5 1/2 or 6 1/2 games by this point, which would have made the Nats' outlook even more bleak. 

The losing skids of each club just goes to show you how mediocre the NL East has been all season long. Whoever winds up winning this division will likely have the worst record in the NL of any playoff team, and whoever that finishes second has little-to-no shot at a wild card spot. 


With Cole Hamels being dealt to the Rangers, trade rumors have now been swirling around Chase Utley as contenders are trying to find a veteran bat before the waiver deadline. But GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters recently that Utley is unlikely to be dealt, despite the buzz out there that he'd be moved. Of course, that doesn't preclude him from being traded in the offseason. 

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.