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Nats again homer past Phillies for first sweep in a month

Nats again homer past Phillies for first sweep in a month

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 7-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

How it happened: After hitting 43 homers in the previous month - the second-most in team history - the Nationals picked up in June right where they left off in May. And Wilson Ramos - he of the fifth-place standing among NL catchers in the first round of All-Star voting - was a driving force.

Maybe this will help his cause.

Ramos went 3-for-4 with four RBI and his seventh homer of the season, a three-run opposite field bomb. His homer was part of a four-run sixth inning for the Nats, a frame that blew the game open and helped secure the Nats a 7-2 victory over the Phillies and their first sweep in exactly a month.

Danny Espinosa hit the other home run, his fourth in seven games. Ryan Zimmerman had two RBI, both times driving in Daniel Murphy. Max Scherzer dominated through eight strong innings and the Nationals won their fourth straight game just in time for a much-deserved day off.

What it means: The Nationals have won four straight games for the first time since May 2 and for the third time this season. Their longest win streak was seven from April 10 through April 16. The Nats are now 5-4 against the Phillies on the season and 5-1 at Citizens Bank Park. Washington remains in first at 33-21 and are now 12 games above .500 for the first time this year.

Ramos can't be contained: As mentioned above, Ramos went 3-for-4 with four RBI and his seventh homer of the season, the first one all year he's launched to opposite field. It was the 13th time in 43 outings this season that Ramos has notched multiple hits and the sixth time he's had three or more. Ramos also had four RBI three games ago on May 29. He's now batting .338, best among all MLB catchers. 

Scherzer did what Scherzer does: Scherzer had what has become a very typical line for him this season with eight excellent innings and 11 strikeouts, with the only blemish coming on a home run. It was Scherzer's 39th career double-digit strikeout game and his third of the season. He has 33 since the beginning of 2012, which is second in MLB only to Clayton Kershaw. But, that homer. It was the 16th that Scherzer has allowed this season, most in baseball. Scherzer gave up five hits and two walks on 111 pitches (78 strikes). He is now 6-4 with a 3.87 ERA through 12 starts.

Espinosa homers again: Espinosa homered two at-bats after Ramos to put the Nationals up 6-0 in the sixth. It was Espinosa's second homer in as many nights and his fourth in his last seven games. It was the ninth time Espinosa's hit homers in back-to-back games and the second time this season (May 26-27). Espinosa is now on pace for 21 homers and is tied for sixth among MLB shortstops in the category.

Murphy hit by a pitch: The Nationals already saw Bryce Harper sidelined after getting hit by a pitch and on Wednesday they had another scare with Murphy. Murphy was drilled on the right forearm by a 94 mile per hour fastball during a first inning at-bat and did not hide his displeasure towards Phillies starter Adam Morgan as he took first. Murphy stayed in the game and scored in the next at-bat on a Ryan Zimmerman double. Murphy also tripled in the seventh inning and was brought home again on a Zimmerman sac fly. 

Up next: The Nationals take Thursday off before beginning a three-game series at the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night. The opener will pit Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.57) against fellow lefty Brandon Finnegan (1-4, 4.14).

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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