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Instant analysis: Rockies 11, Nats 10


Instant analysis: Rockies 11, Nats 10

Game in a nutshell: Remember everyone was complaining about the Nationals' impotent lineup and its inability to generate anything of consequence? Nothing a few days at Coors Field can't fix. For the third straight day, the Nationals tallied at least 10 runs, a first for the franchise since the 1995 Expos did it and a first for a D.C. baseball club since 1951. Unfortunately, this time their pitching staff also gave up double-digit runs, eight of them charged to starter Edwin Jackson. Tom Gorzelanny gave up two more out of the bullpen, but his teammates rallied to bail out the pitching staff. Michael Morse clubbed a three-run homer in the third, Ian Desmond clubbed a two-run homer in the fifth and Bryce Harper clubbed the game-tying homer in the top of the ninth, setting the stage for extra innings. Eventually, the Nats bullpen couldn't hang on. Craig Stammen, in his third inning of work, surrendered the game-winning, RBI single to Marco Scutaro with two outs in the bottom of the 11th, a frustrating way for a long day to end.

Hitting highlight: It had been a rough few days for Harper, who faced a steady stream of sliders and other assorted junk on the outside corner (or beyond) from the Rockies' pitching staff, especially left-handers. To his credit, Harper hung tough and wound up making Colorado's right-handers pay in the end. He delivered an RBI single off Josh Roenicke in the fifth, then destroyed a pitch from closer Rafael Betancourt to deep right-center in the ninth, his eighth career homer, tying the game.

Pitching lowlight: What's going on with Jackson? His velocity has been down in each of his last two starts -- his fastball, which normally averages about 94 mph, has dropped to the 89-91 mph range -- and he paid the price for it today. Jackson was pounded for five runs in the bottom of the first, then two more in the bottom of the second. He retired the side in the third inning, but after allowing a leadoff single in the fourth, he got a quick hook from Davey Johnson. Clearly miffed by that managerial decision, Jackson trudged off the field. He didn't have much of a case, though: Over the course of those three-plus innings, he saw his ERA skyrocket from 2.91 to 3.57.

Key stat: The Nats are in the middle of a stretch of eight consecutive games played at eight different starting times: 6:40 p.m., 3:10 p.m., 7:35 p.m., 4:05 p.m., 1:35 p.m., 6:35 p.m., 11:05 a.m., 7:05 p.m.

Up next: After four wild games in the thin air of Colorado, the Nationals return to division play this weekend in Atlanta. Lefty Ross Detwiler will face right-hander Randall Delgado at 7:35 p.m. Friday in the series opener at Turner Field.

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?


Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018. 

Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.

Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.

The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.

Only the Marlins have had as many.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.


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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery


Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report. 

Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:

"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."

"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.