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Nats take another step backward in blowout loss


Nats take another step backward in blowout loss

If the Nationals were hoping the start of a long homestead would present an opportunity to bolster any optimism still out there for a late-season surge, they sure did little Friday night to back up the sentiment.

Slogging their way through an ugly ballgame against an uninspired opponent, the Nationals were clobbered 10-3 by the Brewers, a loss that dropped them back under the .500 mark for the season and left many in the crowd of 29,916 booing a club universally expected to win its division five months ago.

The Nationals may yet realize those expectations, but with each passing day they’re digging themselves into a deeper and deeper hole, leaving themselves with virtually no margin for error. Friday night’s blowout loss, combined with the Mets’ 14-9 win at Colorado, leaves them a season-high 5 games back in the NL East with 41 to play.

When, exactly, does this team expect to make its long-awaited run?

“I think we have an opportunity to do that at home this week,” right fielder Bryce Harper said. “Just a tough outing tonight. Sometimes baseball plays that way. We’ve just got to come in tomorrow with a good attitude and do what we can and just kind of ride it out until we get going for a couple more games.”

The Nationals (and their fans) have been waiting for the tide to turn, but every time it appears they’re headed in the right direction, they slam on the brakes and reverse course.

They won two straight at Coors Field to begin the week, offering some signs of life, with a chance to reduce their deficit in the division to 3 games with another win Thursday. Then then dropped that series finale to the Rockies, took a red-eye flight that got them back in D.C. at 6 a.m. Friday and proceeded to sleepwalk their way through this loss to Milwaukee.

They gave up 10 runs. They were charged with three errors (though one was later changed to a base hit). They let a run score on catcher’s interference. They misplayed other balls into extra-base hits.

“It’s important for us to be competitive in all aspects,” manager Matt Williams said. “Tonight, it wasn’t that way. I’ll preach it again. We think this way: Tonight’s over, we have to get them tomorrow. Certainly you want to be out there playing clean and getting the outs we should get and not giving them extras. You pay for it eventually.”

[RELATED: Ugly start to homestand as Nats fall to last-place Brewers 10-3]

The Nationals have been paying for it for quite some time. They’re now 6-15 since July 31, the opener of what would become a 3-game sweep at the hands of the Mets at Citi Field. In that time, they’ve seen a 3-game lead morph into a 5-game deficit.

“Getting on a run for us is just a matter of getting a couple of balls to fall our way, whether it means bleeders or great plays on defense,” said Doug Fister, who surrendered four runs in relief of Gio Gonzalez during Friday’s loss. “We need some momentum, something just to keep us going. Guys are playing hard, they’re putting together good at-bats. Pitchers are grinding it out. We just haven’t had it go our way consistently yet. All it takes is one day of some good stuff followed by the next one. We’ve just gotta start that tomorrow.”

Perhaps they will. Perhaps the Nationals will beat Brewers rookie Taylor Jungmann (owner of a 2.23 ERA) on Saturday. And perhaps they’ll get a win out of Jordan Zimmermann on Sunday, giving them a series victory and giving everyone reason to resume hope of a sustained, positive run.

But they haven’t exactly seized any opportunity for weeks now. And one of these days, they may run out of time to do it.

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.