Nationals

Quick Links

Nationals relish a rare chance to celebrate

jaysonwerth091815.png

Nationals relish a rare chance to celebrate

As Jayson Werth crawled on all fours to touch the plate, his forehead bloodied, his uniform askew, his hair flowing in every possible direction, the Nationals came pouring out of their dugout to celebrate.

Half of them approached Jose Lobaton, the man who lofted the sacrifice fly that made it all possible. The other half swarmed the still-dazed Werth, whose mad dash home secured the run that gave the Nationals a 5-4, 10-inning victory over the Marlins. Max Scherzer grabbed a bottle of chocolate syrup and restored the postgame celebration ritual he initiated earlier this summer.

In that moment, it didn't seem to matter that all the Nationals did was avoid falling 9 games behind the Mets in an NL East race that truthfully was settled last week. Ballplayers and ballplayers, and a walk-off win is a walk-off win, no matter the circumstances. So they celebrated.

"Just a great team win, everybody around," Scherzer said. "Everybody did their job today. Everybody had a hand in this and finding a way to get a W. Everybody made great plays all over the diamond, at the plate, on the mound. So it's exciting when that goes on."

Sure, it would've been even more dramatic had it drawn the Nationals within a couple of games of first place instead of merely holding the Mets' magic number at 8. But the Nats have long since accepted they don't control their own fate anymore, and the only thing they can do is go out there and try to win that game that night.

"I think we've handled it great," said Jonathan Papelbon, whose blown save in the top of the ninth made the extra-inning rally necessary. "We're going to continue to play games to win. And at the end of the day, we'll see what happens."

The Nationals nearly didn't win this one. Their beleaguered bullpen gave up two key runs late, with Felipe Rivero giving up a lead in the eighth before Papelbon gave up the tying run in the ninth. But they also got clutch hits — and clutch baserunning — when they really needed it to overcome those pitching problems.

That included some aggressive baserunning by rookie Trea Turner, who took third base on an eighth-inning wild pitch that barely skipped away from Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. All told, the Nationals picked up seven extra bases on wild pitches or passed balls.

"We saw that can make a huge difference," manager Matt Williams said. "That's an opportunity. Ninety feet is always important."

Turner's advance to third put him in position to score on Ian Desmond's sacrifice fly. Michael Taylor's subsequent RBI single up the middle brought home Bryce Harper with the go-ahead run.

The eventual winning rally also included some aggressive baserunning, with Werth (who led off the inning with a double) taking third when Realmuto couldn't handle a pitch up-and-in with Desmond squaring around to bunt. That set in motion the chain of events that left Lobaton at the plate with the bases loaded and one out, knowing a flyball to the outfield was needed.

The backup catcher delivered, sending the ball to medium-deep left field. Christian Yelich immediately fired home as Werth took off from third and 27,495 inside the ballpark held their breath.

"I saw him running," Lobaton said, "and I'm like: 'Please!'"

Werth knew the play was going to be close, so he did something he doesn't normally do: Slide headfirst into the plate. His helmet flew off. His face hit the dirt, scraping up his forehead. "An 8 on the crash-landing scale," he quipped.

Yelich's throw might've beat him, but Realmuto couldn't hang onto it. Which was a fortuitous thing, because Werth didn't touch the plate on his first pass. Tyler Moore, standing in the on-deck circle, yelled at him to touch it, so Werth crawled on all fours to get there and ensure plate umpire Chris Conroy gave the safe sign.

"I don't even know what happened," Werth said. "I hit my head too hard or something. I need to look at the replay. Desi's already got the Vine of it up on the team chat ... in super slow-mo. I'm sure it's good."

All was good for the Nationals at the end of this night. Sure, all they really did was delay the inevitable a bit longer. That's not on their mind right now, though.

"Look, I mean, in this clubhouse it doesn't matter if we're winning or losing or anything," Scherzer said. "We understand what it takes to play at this level. You have to play with absolutely everything you got. That's just the way it is. I don't care what the standings are, how you've been swinging the bat, how you've been throwing the ball. Every time you show up to the park and go out there and take the diamond, you got to bring it. Every single time. Because the other team is. Tonight, I thought we had a great A-effort out of everybody, and it showed."

Quick Links

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

Quick Links

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