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Harper and Williams ejected again, Nats rally again

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Harper and Williams ejected again, Nats rally again

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals don't seem to know how to play a boring ballgame right now, and Wednesday night's 3-2 win over the Yankees was only the latest example of that, with the third-inning ejections of Bryce Harper and Matt Williams stealing the spotlight from what already was going to be a compelling contest.

Both Harper and Williams were ejected by plate umpire Marvin Hudson, who appeared to be upset Harper wasn't in the batter's box while Williams was arguing a low strike one call from the dugout. Harper, who had been in the box right after the strike was called, reacted toward Hudson and was rung up by the ump, who moments later sent Williams packing as well when the manager stood up for his star slugger.

It was the second time both Harper and Williams were ejected in the last week. And just as they did last Wednesday in Arizona, the Nationals rallied to bail out their tossed mates. Jordan Zimmermann overcame a shaky first inning to toss seven strong frames. Tyler Moore tied the game with a solo homer in the fourth. And then Denard Span drove in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded single in the seventh, giving the Nats their first lead of the night.

Rookie Matt Grace impressed again with a scoreless eighth, setting up Drew Storen to strike out Alex Rodriguez in the ninth and secure the Nationals' 17th win in their last 21 games. And with the Mets getting blown out by the Cardinals, the Nats were in position to take over sole possession of first place in the NL East for the first time in 2015 by night's end.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: You know who has been really important to the Nationals' sustained hot streak over the last 3-plus weeks? Span. This run has directly coincided with the leadoff man's resurgence, and it continued Wednesday. Span's RBI single through the left side of the infield in the bottom of the seventh gave the Nats the lead and it continued Span's impressive run. He's now hitting .384 since April 28, with seven multi-hit games the last eight times he's played.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Two batters in, Zimmermann appeared to be in trouble. He gave up a game-opening single to Brett Gardner, then an RBI double to Carlos Beltran (who later scored on a sac fly). But the right-hander quickly composed himself and wound up pitching a gem. Zimmermann went seven innings, never giving up another run along the way and keeping his pitch count at a mere 88. This was an important start for him during what has been a slow-to-progress season. Zimmermann now has several strong outings to build off as he rounds into his form from the last few years.

KEY STAT: Wilson Ramos' 19-game hitting streak (longest in the majors this season) ended after an 0-for-4 night. (He did reach on a fielding error.)

UP NEXT: The Nationals get a rare second day off in a week Thursday, then return Friday to host the Phillies in a weekend series. Max Scherzer (4-3, 1.75) and Sean O'Sullivan (1-2, 3.68) meet for the third time this season. (The Nats won each of the previous two encounters.)

MORE NATIONALS: Harper, Williams ejected vs. Yankees on Wednesday night

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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