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Instant Analysis: Nats club Cubbies

Instant Analysis: Nats club Cubbies

Game in a nutshell: On the first day of school for many in the region, the Nationals took the Cubs' beleaguered pitching staff to school. They crushed six home runs, racked up 19 hits, knocked rookie starter Chris Rusin out before he recorded an out in the bottom of the second and then feasted on the cavalcade of relievers Dale Sveum sent to the mound. Edwin Jackson wasn't in top form, but he struck out eight batters and made it through 5 23 innings to earn his ninth win. The rest was fairly academic, with the Nationals bullpen finishing this game off and putting them 31 games over .500 to match their high-point of the season. With the Braves' loss to the Rockies, the Nats now lead the NL East by a season-high 7 12 games. Their magic number for the division title is down to 20.

Hitting highlight: How do you pick just one highlight from an offensive explosion like this? How about we pick six: the six home runs the Nationals hit against a merry-go-round of Cubs pitchers. Ian Desmond went opposite-field in the first for his 20th of the season. Jesus Flores found the Red Porch in the second for his fifth of the season. Adam LaRoche also deposited one in the Red Porch for his 26th of the season (and third in four days). Tyler Moore followed two batters later with a moonshot to left for his eighth of the year. Ryan Zimmerman went opposite-field for his 18th this year. And LaRoche put the finishing touches on this explosive night with his second of the game, fourth in four days, 27th of the year. Put it all together and you've got history: The first time a D.C. ballclub has ever hit six home runs in a home game.

Pitching highlight: No disrespect to Jackson, who was dominant at times (striking out five in a row at one point), but let's show some love here to Christian Garcia. Making his major-league debut at age 27, the two-time Tommy John surgery survivor faced only one batter and threw only three pitches. But those three pitches were mighty impressive. Each registered at least 95 mph. And the last of them induced a pop-up to quash a potential Cubs rally in the sixth inning. Sure, it was a short debut, but it certainly was a sweet debut for a guy who worked tirelessly to get the opportunity.

Key stat: In 27 games since he returned from the disabled list, Jayson Werth has scored 22 runs. Over a 162-game season, that would equate to 132 runs.

Up next: Gio Gonzalez will be seeking his 18th win of the season tomorrow night when he goes up against Cubs right-hander Chris Volstad at 7:05 p.m.

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Will Mike Rizzo continue to shape the Nationals? The Junkies believe he's too valuable to lose

Will Mike Rizzo continue to shape the Nationals? The Junkies believe he's too valuable to lose

Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Gio Gonzalez and Matt Wieters aren't the only important guys within the Nationals organization becoming free agents in 2019.

President of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo is also becoming a free agent when his contract expires on October 31st.

In the final year of his five-year contract, the 57-year old is set to make $2.5 million.

RELATED: HOWIE KENDRICK RETURNING TO NATIONALS

Since joining the organization, Rizzo has turned the team into a legit World Series contender. They've won four division titles in the last six years under his guidance, but have been unable to get over the NL Division series hump. And even though that's a glaring red mark on his resume, Rizzo knows the success he's brought to the organization. 

When you look at what we accomplished,’’ Mike Rizzo said in a recent interview, “it’s really unsung and underappreciated. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished here. I like it here. I love the city. I love the team I put together. I like being a GM in the NL East. And I want to stay here. I just think I deserve to be treated like some of the best GMs in the game are, too.

Rizzo is talking about GM's like Cubs' Theo Epstein and Yankees' Brian Cashman, who've received big paydays over the last year.

I know we haven’t won the World Series, but I get tired of hearing how we can’t win the big one, or we can’t get out of the first round. We haven’t had that many chances.

Does Rizzo deserve an extension? The Sports Junkies think he does, but with GM's like the ones above cashing out, they can also see him wanting to test the open market.

"Why wouldn't they?", said Jason Bishop, noting his track record.

"There's a sense he wants to test the market," said Eric Bickel. That's the vibe I'm getting from him."

Rizzo is a weekly guest on the Junkies and has said that the organization will figure it out. However, the 2018 season may be the last time for a long time the Nats have a real shot at making a run before they lose some of their stars to other teams. If Rizzo does take that into consideration and decides to go elsewhere, the Junkies don't see him having any issues finding employment.

"If there was a time to roll, it would be after this season when you get your last run with this group," said Eric Bickel. And then If they don't pay you what you think you deserve, he'll be snatched up in 22 seconds."

RELATED: BEST OF NATS' RACING PRESIDENT TRYOUTS

If they do decide to sign him to an extension, will it be a long, drawn-out ordeal? The Junkies disagree on that one. 

"He is too valuable, Jason Bishop said. He's too valuable. You gotta ink him to a deal sometime during the season."

Luckily for D.C. sports fans, long, drawn-out extension talks aren't foreign to them.

To see their full discussion, click the media player above. 

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

WASHINGTON  -- The Nationals have agreed to a $7 million, two-year contract with outfielder Howie Kendrick, a deal subject to a successful physical.

Agent Pat Murphy confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on Monday. USA Today was first to report the deal.

Kendrick, 34, hit .293 with seven home runs and RBIs in 52 games with Washington after he was acquired from Philadelphia. The versatile right-handed hitter got just three plate appearances off the bench in the playoffs.

In 12 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Dodgers, Phillies and Nationals, Kendrick is a .291 hitter with a .755 OPS. He's now primarily an outfielder for Washington after playing left field, second base, first base and other positions throughout his career.