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Instant Analysis: Nats 2, Cubs 1

Instant Analysis: Nats 2, Cubs 1

Game in a nutshell: Facing the Cubs for the first time since the season-opening series, the Nationals found themselves in the same kind of pitchers' duel they experienced five months ago at Wrigley Field. Ross Detwiler and Jeff Samardzija traded blows, with Samardzija making only one mistake: Adam LaRoche's second-inning homer. Detwiler never did cave in, tossing seven scoreless innings before turning it over to his bullpen. With Sean Burnett sidelined for at least a couple of days with elbow irritation, Drew Storen pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Tyler Clippard then closed out the ninth (despite giving up a run) to record his 30th save and give the Nationals their 82nd win of the season. That's right, D.C.: You've officially got yourselves a winning ballclub for the first time in 43 years.

Hitting highlight: Samardzija has had just about every member of the Nationals lineup's number this season. Except for LaRoche. The veteran first baseman crushed a ninth-inning homer of Samardzija way back on April 8 at Wrigley Field. Then he struck again in his first at-bat today, belting Samardzija's second pitch of the second inning into the second deck down the right-field line. After going through a month-long power slump, LaRoche may have found his stroke again. This was his second homer in three days, giving him a team-high 25 for the season and giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead that stayed intact almost the entire afternoon.

Pitching highlight: The Nationals have wanted Detwiler to be more aggressive, pound his fastball early in the game and go right after hitters. Well, he took the advice to heart today, because he did everything the club could have asked of him and more. Detwiler threw plenty of fastballs early, retiring the side in the top of the first on 10 pitches. He spread out four hits and three walks, only once putting more than one man on base in the same inning. He did have to pitch out of the stretch a lot, but delivered some big pitches when he needed them, especially in inducing a pair of double-play grounders to end the sixth and seventh innings. At 93 pitches, Detwiler might have been able to take the mound for the eighth. But with the Nationals clinging to a 1-0 lead, Davey Johnson preferred to use pinch-hitter Chad Tracy and turn to his bullpen to record the final six outs.

Key stat: Since the All-Star break, the Nationals are 32-5 when scoring three or more runs. They were 0-13 when scoring fewer than three runs ... until today.

Up next: The series continues at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday when Edwin Jackson seeks his ninth win of the season against left-hander Chris Rusin.

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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