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Murphy homers twice, Scherzer dominates as Nats sweep Mets

Murphy homers twice, Scherzer dominates as Nats sweep Mets

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 4-2 win over the New York Mets on Wednesday night at Nationals Park.

How it happened: After winning just eight of their 19 matchups against the Mets in 2015, with two of those wins coming in a meaningless series to close the season, the Nationals know their head-to-head bouts with New York could make the difference in their quest to climb back atop the hill and reclaim their status as kings of the NL East.

So far, it's going a lot better than it did a year ago.

With their 4-2 victory on Wednesday night, the Nats moved to 6-3 against the Mets this season. In doing so, they earned their first home sweep of New York since Sept. 28-30 of 2009. Bryce Harper had yet to be drafted and Lucas Giolito was 14 years old.

This win was powered by another dominant performance by Max Scherzer against the Mets. He went 7 1/3 strong innings with no runs and just two hits allowed.

Scherzer's cause was helped by Daniel Murphy's 13th and 14th homers of the season and a sacrifice fly by Jayson Werth. The Nats held the Mets scoreless for 23 1/3 innings before James Loney hit a two-run bomb off Shawn Kelley in the ninth inning to put New York on the board. Kelley earned a four-out save after closing the eighth inning with two runners in scoring position.

What it means: The Nationals have now won four straight games and sit 47-32 on the year. They are 27-13 against NL East teams and lead the Mets by six games with the Marlins in second at 5 1/2 back.

Murphy keeps killing the Mets: With the best batting average in the NL, Murphy has been good against just about everyone this year. But against the Mets, he's been a real pain. The Nats second baseman is now 15-for-35 (.428) with four homers and 11 RBI vs. his former team this season.

Murphy sent a 1-1 curveball from Verrett to the second deck in right field to lead off the bottom of the second, then launched a 1-1 Sean Gilmartin changeup into the home bullpen in the eighth. The second was his 14th homer of the season, which tied the career-high he set just last year. The Nats have only played 79 games this year, which puts him on pace for 29, more than double his career-best. Murphy has now hit safely in 10 of his last 13 games and 15 of his last 31 hits have gone extra bases (6 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR).

Scherzer mows down the Mets: The Mets and their struggling lineup were no match for Scherzer on Wednesday, as the Nationals ace was surgical from the start to the tune of 7 1/3 shutout frames on just two hits and one walk. Before he allowed his second hit of the night, a single to Brandon Nimmo with one out in the eight, Scherzer had retired 18 straight batters.

The right-hander notched six strikeouts in the first eight batters he retired and finished with 10 overall on the evening. It was the seventh time this season he's posted double-digit strikeouts and the fourth time he's done so in his last five starts.

As for his dominance against the Mets, Scherzer now holds a 1.66 ERA in six starts vs. New York since he signed with the Nationals. Over his last three matchups with them, he's surrendered just two earned runs on five hits across 22 2/3 innings.

Espinosa gets on twice: It was another solid game for Danny Espinosa, who reached base twice with a double and a walk. The Nats' shortstop has now has 28 walks in 77 games this season after drawing 33 total in 118 games in 2015. Espinosa scored the Nats' second run of the game on Werth's sac fly after leading off the third inning with a double.

Up next: The Nationals remain home to begin a four-game series against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night. The opener will pit Gio Gonzalez (3-7, 4.73) up against fellow lefty Brandon Finnegan (3-6, 3.83) with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.

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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