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Instant analysis: Nats 8, Cardinals 1

Instant analysis: Nats 8, Cardinals 1

Game in a nutshell: Having exorcised their demons after a five-game losing streak, the Nationals came home a relaxed and loose bunch, ready to open a season-long, 11-game homestand. Then they went out and thumped the defending World Series champions with an impressive top-to-bottom effort. Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper each homered to ignite the lineup, and Edwin Jackson took care of everything else after that. The right-hander did not allow an earned run over eight spectacular innings, striking out 10 and earning his eighth win in the process. With that lopsided victory, the Nationals improved to 28 games over .500. And with the Braves off, they extended their lead in the NL East to 5 12 games.

Hitting highlight: When they're both going well, Werth and Harper give the Nationals as potent a 1-2 punch atop their lineup as perhaps any team in baseball. They did it all tonight, with Werth reaching base three times via a walk, a single and a homer (and also driving in another run on a fielder's choice) and Harper launching his third homer in 24 hours plus drilling a two-out, RBI single in the sixth. Werth has been nothing short of remarkable since his return from a broken wrist. In 25 games now, the veteran right fielder is hitting .337 with a .408 on-base percentage and .478 slugging percentage. Not too shabby for a leadoff hitter.

Pitching highlight: Jackson would certainly have been justified if he took the mound tonight with a little added motivation. Facing the team he helped lead to a World Series title last fall (but didn't show any serious interest in re-signing him over the winter) the right-hander authored perhaps his best performance of the season. Jackson struck out three batters in the top of the first and never let up, finishing with 10 punch-outs while racking up 123 pitches over eight innings. It was a big-time start against the best-hitting lineup in the NL.

Key stat: Jackson's ninth strikeout of the night was the 1,069th by a Nationals pitcher this season. That established a new club record, besting the total set by the 2010 pitching staff over a full 162 games.

Up next: Game 2 of this four-game series features a big-time pitching matchup. Gio Gonzalez again seeks his 17th win of the season, with former 20-game winner Adam Wainwright on the mound for St. Louis at 7:05 p.m. Friday.

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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