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Greinke follows Kershaw as Nats continue gauntlet of aces

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Greinke follows Kershaw as Nats continue gauntlet of aces

Less than 24 hours after Clayton Kershaw carved the Nationals up to the tune of 14 strikeouts across eight scoreless innings, right-hander Zack Greinke followed suit in a 5-0 shutout for the Los Angeles Dodgers on a heat-soaked Sunday afternoon at Nats Park.

Greinke had eight scoreless frames of his own to go along with a season-high 11 strikeouts. He allowed just three singles, just like his Cy Young-wielding counterpart did the day before.

On Sunday, the Nats had their own Cy Young-winning ace on the mound in Max Scherzer, and he was very good. The right-hander allowed just one run on a wild pitch through six innings. He lowered his ERA from 2.11 to 2.09, yet took his eighth loss of the season. The Nats, by the way, have scored only seven total runs in those games.

On this particular day Scherzer was excellent, but Greinke was even better.

"I thought I did pitch well. Giving up only one run is good but good is not good enough when you’re going up against Greinke and what he’s doing right now. He just completely shut us down. He was throwing the ball outstanding and I wasn’t able to match him," Scherzer said.

"I love facing the best. Right now, he’s the best. He started the All-Star Game. I always enjoy facing the best. You want to go out there and compete with him and compete as hard as you can. I went out there and gave everything I got. I got beat today. He was better."

Scherzer's wild pitch came in the top of the fourth inning with Andre Ethier on third. Ethier led off with a double and was moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Yasmani Grandal.

Scherzer explained what happened with the pitch that sailed past Wilson Ramos and to the backstop:

"It was just a cutter that broke too far in. Just one of those things, I yanked it. I missed with it and that ended up costing me a crucial run at that point in the game."

Scherzer was removed after 98 pitches with his spot due up second in the lineup before the bottom of the seventh inning. Manager Matt Williams noted both of those reasons and also the weather. The game was played with a first-pitch temperature of 93 degrees and humidity that brought the heat index upwards of 100.

Scherzer downplayed the heat as an excuse, not that he needed one in what was an overall solid outing. He did, however, note that he shortened his warmup before the game. The Nats were also originally supposed to wear their red jerseys before he asked the team to switch to the home whites.

The Nationals leave the weekend having lost two straight to some of the best pitchers in baseball. Kershaw and Greinke certainly do not make it easy for opposing lineups.

"With those guys you just have to get them in the strike zone and put a good swing on it and hope something good happens," Clint Robinson said. "You can't really go up there sitting on one particular pitch. Him and Kershaw don't pitch to patterns. They kind of go with what they're feeling that day. The past two days they have been feeling it all. They've had all their pitches working."

That's two marquee pitchers in two days with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard of the Mets on their way to Washington this week. With an already-depleted lineup, the Nationals have had and will have their work cut out for them.

"What do you want us to do? You want us to just duck-tail and run? This is the big leagues, that's part of it," Robinson continued. "These guys are the best in the world for a reason. You just gotta go out there and rise up to the challenge."

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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