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Nationals return to respectability, but lose final game of series against Phillies

Nationals return to respectability, but lose final game of series against Phillies

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Cesar Hernandez bailed out his buddy in a clutch spot. Hernandez hit a broken-bat RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning to give the Philadelphia Phillies a 4-3 victory over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.

Pinch-hitter Ryan Zimmerman delivered a tying, three-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth off closer Jeanmar Gomez, but the Phillies immediately answered to take two of three from the defending NL East champions.

Hernandez and Gomez are close friends, so it was fitting the second baseman turned the blown save into a win.

"Everybody is like a family," Hernandez said. "If not me, someone else would pick him up."

Pinch-hitter Daniel Nava walked to start the bottom of the ninth against Koda Glover (0-1). Nava advanced to third when Freddy Galvis singled to right with one out. After Brock Stassi popped out, Hernandez slashed an opposite-field single to left.

Gomez (1-0) had 37 saves in 43 chances last year, but struggled over the final six weeks. He allowed a two-run homer while getting a save in the season opener at Cincinnati.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he's considering making a change at closer, but wants to talk to Gomez on Monday.

"We're going to discuss it," Mackanin said. "We have to do what's best for the team."

Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg allowed three runs and five hits, striking out eight in seven innings. He wasn't happy with the strike zone early in the game and neither were a couple of Philadelphia's relievers, including Gomez.

"I made some good pitches early, they just didn't call them," Strasburg said. "Just have to keep chipping away and that's all I can do."

Jeremy Hellickson pitched one-hit ball over five innings for Philadelphia before leaving the game because of a cramp in his right forearm. Joaquin Benoit, Pat Neshek and Hector Neris combined for three scoreless innings before Gomez took over.

Adam Lind singled with one out and Jayson Werth walked. After Stephen Drew struck out, Zimmerman connected to make it 3-all.

Less than 24 hours after setting a team record with 12 runs in the first inning of a 17-3 victory, the Phillies were one out from beating Strasburg for the first time in their ballpark.

"After that drubbing that we got Saturday, Stras, this is why he's Stras, what he's getting paid for, to go deep in games," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.

Galvis gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI single .

The Phillies extended the lead to 3-0 in the fifth. Hernandez beat out an infield single to second baseman Daniel Murphy, scoring Andrew Knapp after the rookie catcher led off the inning with a double for his first career hit. Howie Kendrick then ripped a double to left-center to score Hernandez.

QUOTABLE

"You can only control what you can control," Gomez said about possibly losing his closer's role.

ROSTER MOVE

The Nationals selected the contract of reliever Matt Albers from Triple-A Syracuse and designated RHP Jeremy Guthrie for assignment. Guthrie allowed 10 runs while getting only two outs in the first inning Saturday.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals SS Trea Turner wasn't in the lineup after injuring his hamstring Saturday night. He isn't expected to miss much time.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (1-0, 3.00 ERA) takes the mound in the series opener at home against the Cardinals on Monday. Adam Wainwright (0-1, 3.60) pitches for St. Louis.

Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 2.70) starts the series opener at home against the Mets on Monday. He is 1-4 with a 2.66 ERA in seven starts against New York. Jacob deGrom goes for the Mets. He tossed six shutout innings in his first outing.

MORE NATIONALS: 10 INSANE BALLPARK FOODS YOU'LL SEE IN 2017

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Max Scherzer Giving Away Memorabilia For Good Cause

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Max Scherzer Giving Away Memorabilia For Good Cause

By Ryan Wormeli

Max Scherzer is the ace of the Nationals staff, a fan favorite, and the 2017 National League Cy Young award winner. He's also a soon-to-be father whose wife, Erica May-Scherzer, once accidentally threw out the jersey he wore when throwing his 2nd career no-hitter. This time around, I'm guessing they talked it over first before deciding to sell some of his memorabilia garage-style for a new fundraiser.

We don't have any more information about the fundraiser yet, but May-Scherzer posted some photos on Twitter this afternoon. 

And in case you're wondering, no, the Scherzer family cat featured in one of the pictures isn't for sale (we assume). Plus, even if they were willing to part with their cat, considering Scherzer is on a contract worth over $200 Million, their price would probably be pretty steep. How much would you pay to adopt the cat of a 3-time Cy Young winner?

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Why Bryce Harper would be a bargain at $500 million

Why Bryce Harper would be a bargain at $500 million

$500 million.

That number is so hard to wrap your brain around, but it's a number a lot of professional baseball players may soon start seeing on their contracts.

One player who could be the first to see that amount within the next year is Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper.

Harper will become a free agent in 2018 and people are already projecting his market value at close to $500 million, if not more.

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton signed a contract back in 2014 for 13 years, $325 million, holding the league record.

For Fancy Stats writer Neil Greenberg, $500 million is a bargain for someone of Harper's caliber.

"Harper is every bit as good [as Stanton] but he's also young," Greenberg told the Sports Junkies Friday.

"I mean, we don't see a player that's as good as Harper, that's as young a Harper, hit the market almost ever I want to say. You look at how many years of his prime he has left and then even if you start to give him just the typical aging curb off of that prime, he's probably worth close to 570 million dollars starting from 2019 and going forward ten years. And that includes also the price of free agency going up and other factors."

Harper, who is only 25 years-old, brings more to a team than just talent. He's one of the most recognizable figures in baseball, bringing tremendous marketing opportunities to an organization. Greenberg dove deeper into how that will increase his market value.

"And that's just for the on-the-field product. You talk about all the marketing that's done around Bryce Harper [and] what he does for the game. In my opinion, and based on the numbers that I saw, he's a bargain at $500 million."

Don't we all wish someone would say $500 million is a bargain for us?

After crunching the numbers, the biggest takeaway for Greenberg is the return on investment the Nationals have gotten out of Harper.

"Like if you look at his wins above replacement throughout his career, he's given you 200 million dollars in value for 21 million dollars in cash and he's due what another 26 or 27 million this year. I mean he's already given you an amazing return on investment."

"So, if you're the Nationals having - benefited from that - you know you have a little bit of, I guess, wiggle room in terms of maybe you're paying a little bit for past performance 'cause, you know, when a player is on arbitration in their early years they don't really get paid that much."

The Nationals still have Harper for one more season and many feel they need to make him an offer sooner than later. Whenever and whoever he gets an offer from, it's going to be a nice pay day for him.