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Jose Lobaton making the most of his limited opportunities


Jose Lobaton making the most of his limited opportunities

While Saturday's walk-off win will be remembered for Bryce Harper's heroics, it was the performance of a part-time bat that underscored the true depth of the Nationals' lineup. 

Backup catcher Jose Lobaton, who Matt Williams inserted into the lineup because of his previous success against Braves starter Julio Teheran, justified his manager's faith in him by posting a three-hit game, including a two-run home run to get the Nats on the board in the second inning. 

With Wilson Ramos as the club's everyday catcher, Lobaton doesn't get many opportunities to shine at or behind the dish. But in his last three games, he's gone 6-for-10 with two home runs, six RBI and three walks. 

"He understands the role," Williams said. "He understands that there may be a week where he only plays once. And then there may be a situation like today where we've got a good matchup that he plays in a game where Wilson would ordinarily play in."

"Huge," added a grinning Harper on Lobaton's home run. "Lobi came up huge in that last inning or the inning before, getting on base. He had three hits today. He's such a good pitch caller back there behind the plate, too, so he's fun to watch. He blocks the ball really well, throws the ball really well, so he's just a great catcher, great hitter."

And while Lobaton is heating up at the plate, it's his work at catcher that impresses the pitching staff the most. The best example was with Saturday's starter Doug Fister, who pitched well enough to win in 6 2/3 innings. In fact, Fister might be the primary beneficiary of Lobaton's work since the beginning of 2014. In the 12 times the pair has worked together, Fister has posted a 1.41 ERA -- by far the best mark in his career with a battery mate he's been with for more than two starts.

"Loby has this unique personality about him where he can kind of bring everybody together," Fister said. "He's a fun guy to be around. Being able to communicate with him has been easy for me. He's a great teammate. That's what we want. That's what we have around here. One of 25 guys."

Although Lobaton is perched firmly behind Ramos on the depth chart, his experience is what gives the Nats comfort that should anything happen to the starting catcher, they'd have a guy who could step in and not miss a beat. 

"Last year Wilson was out quite a bit and [Lobaton] got a chance to know these guys," Williams said. "It's not like he's stepping into a situation he hasn't been in."

[RELATED: Harper continues amazing run with walk-off homer in Nats win]

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.


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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.