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Nats in awe of Scherzer's historic performance vs. Tigers

Nats in awe of Scherzer's historic performance vs. Tigers

Before Wednesday night, many Nationals fans and baseball pundits were probably wondering what happened to the old Max Scherzer.

In his previous seven previous starts this season, the 31-year-old right hander was allowing home runs at an alarming rate, amassed nearly half his walk total from 2015, and simply didn't look much like the former Cy Young winner that the Nats gave a seven-year, $210 million contract to two winters ago. So coming off what was perhaps his worst outing of his Washington tenure vs. the Chicago Cubs a week ago, it was fair to wonder if the usually fiery Scherzer would be over-amped to rebound against his former team in the Detroit Tigers.

But in the first inning, after he blew away J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera on a pair of fastballs, there was a sense that this could be a different kind of night. 

"The first inning, I ran in and I said to [Jayson Werth], ‘That’s Max.’" Bryce Harper said.

What Harper and the Nats saw the rest of the way was indeed vintage Scherzer — as in, Mad Max — the guy who last season struck out 16 Milwaukee Brewers only to follow that performance up with a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The guy who added a second no-no to his resume later that year against the New York Mets. And on Wednesday night in front of an electric Nats Park crowd, the guy who would tie a major league record with 20 strikeouts in a complete-game win, adding another legendary outing to his short but already-accomplished stint in D.C. 

"Man, he was fun to watch tonight," Daniel Murphy said. "Just dominant."

"That's the best performance I've seen in person," added manager Dusty Baker. "It was very nerve-wracking."

The anxiety for those in the ballpark was twofold; not only was the game's outcome far from certain — the Nats never had more than a two-run lead all night — but players could sense that history was on the horizon as the later innings approached. 

"I wasn't too aware the total of the strikeouts until I looked at the board at some point and it said 17 strikeouts," Wilson Ramos said through an interpreter, "and that's when it started actually hitting me a little bit."

Ramos said from that point forward, he started calling the game with an eye on the strikeout total, working with Scherzer to induce swing-and-misses rather than balls that could be put in play. And when the 20 strikeout feat was achieved in the ninth inning, the Nats' 28-year-old catcher could lay claim to being apart of another historic outing to go along with all three of the franchise's no-hitters. 

"It's obviously up there," Ramos said of the performance. "Despite the couple of no hitters that I caught, 20 strikeouts is a major league record as well, so it's just as impressive as any of the no-hitters that I've caught."

Time will tell if Scherzer will be able to parlay Wednesday's outing into an extended run of dominance. For one night, however, he reminded his teammates and the rest of the baseball world why he's worth the price of admission.

"Every time he goes out there, you never know what’s going to happen," Harper said. "That’s why he’s so special, and that’s why I think he’s one of the best in baseball."

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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