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Nationals dominate late game with early runs


Nationals dominate late game with early runs

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: After sweeping the Braves to complete a impressive homestand, the Nationals headed west, hoping their red-hot bats would continue to show up in the hot, dry, desert air. Did it ever. The Nats blasted Josh Collmenter out of Chase Field, piling up 10 runs in the game's first two innings to take a commanding lead on the Diamondbacks that was never in doubt.

Denard Span sent Collmenter's second pitch of the night over the right-field fence to get things started. Ryan Zimmerman launched a 3-run homer later in the first inning. Wilson Ramos later cleared the bases with a double in the second to pile on. Bryce Harper didn't even homer, but his impact was still felt; he came with a couple feet of the right-field foul pole in the first inning, then singled home a run in the second. And Yunel Escobar, only seven days after a 5-for-5 night in D.C., did it again, the cherry on top of this blowout.

Handed a 10-0 lead, Max Scherzer had the luxury of going right after Arizona's hitters without fear of suffering any major damage. The right-hander cruised, tossing seven innings of 1-run ball to earn his third win of the season.

Thus the Nationals extended their winning streak to a season-high five games. They've won 11 of their last 13 and thanks to the Mets' loss in Chicago now trail in the NL East by a mere 2 1/2 games.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: There were plenty of candidates in this one, from Zimmerman's towering 3-run homer in the first to Ramos' 14-game hitting streak. But this night (as several over the last month) belonged to Escobar. For the second time in a week, the veteran infielder went 5-for-5, each one of them singles. In the process, he becomes the first player in Nats history with a pair of 5-hit games in the same season. He nearly had a chance to become the first D.C. major-leaguer with a 6-hit game since 1944, but the Nationals couldn't get him back to the plate in the ninth.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Yes, it's much easier to pitch with a 10-run lead than without a 10-run lead. But not every pitcher is good at attacking hitters in that situation and making sure the opposition doesn't even sniff the possibility of a comeback. So don't discount Scherzer's performance in this game. He was in complete control from the get-go, retiring the first six batters he faced on 21 pitches and completing four scoreless innings on 40 pitches (31 strikes). The Diamondbacks did get to him in the sixth on Jordan Pacheco's solo homer, but that was a minor hiccup on an otherwise sparkling night for Scherzer, who continues to pitch like a true ace.

KEY STAT: In the span of 40 minutes Monday night, Collmenter's ERA rose from 3.40 to 5.27.

UP NEXT: Stephen Strasburg makes his return to the mound Tuesday night, his first start since experiencing discomfort underneath his shoulder blade against the Marlins. He'll face right-hander Rubby De La Rosa at 9:40 p.m. EDT.

RELATED: Solis adjusting nicely to new role in Nats pen

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.