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Nats' Solis remains confident after first mistake in a while

Nats' Solis remains confident after first mistake in a while

Through 10 weeks this season, many players on the Nationals' roster have exceeded expectations.

Daniel Murphy clearly tops that list. After him it's probably Joe Ross and Tanner Roark, two pitchers who have made guessing Lucas Giolito's MLB debut an impossible exercise. Wilson Ramos, too. He's been a revelation this season and should earn his first All-Star nod because of it.

Reliever Sammy Solis, though, has been a breakout star in his own right. A former second round pick in the 2010 draft where Bryce Harper went first overall, Solis has finally realized his potential as a 6-foot-5 lefty with a mid-90s fastball and a changeup-curveball combo to maximize it.

With Jonathan Papelbon now on the disabled list, it was no surprise that manager Dusty Baker turned to Solis on Tuesday night for some high leverage action against the Cubs. But when baseball's best team applied some late-game pressure, Solis cracked for the first time in a while.

Solis first pitched a scoreless top of the eighth to extend his streak of scoreless innings to 15 1/3, the longest for any Nats reliever this season. The Nationals then tied it on a sacrifice fly by Anthony Rendon in the bottom half of the frame.

Baker stuck with Solis in the ninth, but he quickly gave up a leadoff walk to Addison Russell, a sacrifice bunt to David Ross and then a go-ahead, RBI double to Albert Amora. Russell scored from second to make it 4-3, Cubs.

The double was costly, but afterwards the 27-year-old Solis zeroed in on the free pass to Russell as his biggest mistake.

"Leadoff walk. I can't do that, especially in a game like that. This hitting team, I can't give them any type of edge. No outs, man on first. It hurts," he said.

The decisive blow was dealt by Almora and a history between the two players may have helped the Cubs' rookie. He knew what to look for and hit the double on the first pitch he saw.

"It was quick," Almora said of his at-bat. "I knew Sammy a little bit. We played against each other in the [Arizona] Fall League. We looked at each other. I gave him a little nod with the helmet. It was time to go to work. He made a good pitch and just tried to stay up the middle and it fell for me."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon liked seeing his young outfielder go right after it.

"The guy has been up here for five minutes. Goes up there and is not passive. He went up there, jumped on the first pitch and I loved it," Maddon said.

Baker will need Solis with Papelbon on the mend and Felipe Rivero - his best lefty earlier this season - currently sporting a 5.46 ERA. In a few short weeks Solis has earned a prominent role in the Nats' bullpen and Baker isn't about to shy away from using him.

"He's been great for us. He just made one bad pitch," Baker said. "He got the slider up, and that was really the only bad pitch he's made in I-don't-know-how-long."

Now it's up to Solis to respond. He's only allowed an earned run in two previous outings this season. After the first time he then tossed three consecutive scoreless outings. After the second he went 10 straight without yielding a run.

Bouncing back from bad nights is a big part of the job as a reliever, and though he was drafted as a starter, Solis feels he's reached a point where he can quickly move on to the next one.

"Be ready tomorrow. That's the thing. It sucks today. Obviously I probably won't sleep tonight. But I'll come ready to go tomorrow," he said.

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.


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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.