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One inning spells doom for Nationals in loss to Yankees

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One inning spells doom for Nationals in loss to Yankees

FINAL: Yankees 6, Nationals 1

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: A prime pitching matchup between Max Scherzer and Masahiro Tanaka. Bryce Harper making his first career appearance at Yankee Stadium. What wasn't to like on Tuesday? Well, for the Nationals, the end result. And all-too-familiar result for this team over the last couple weeks.

Scherzer and Tanaka engaged in a compelling pitchers' duel for most of the night, with Stephen Drew homering off Scherzer in the third and Harper answering with a solo homer (his 20th) off Tanaka in the fourth. But then the seventh inning arrived, and that's when this game turned.

With his pitch count climbing first over 100 and then over 110, Scherzer got into a jam. He nearly got out of it, though, when Ian Desmond made a spectacular diving stop of Alex Rodriguez's hard smash to the hole at shortstop. Desmond, though, tried to get the lead runner at third and wound up hitting Ramos Flores, the ball skipping into the dugout for an error. And then lefty Matt Thornton couldn't stop the bleeding, letting three more runs score on 2-out hits by Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran.

MORE NATIONALS: HARPER VISITS IDOL'S PLAQUE AT YANKEES STADIUM

Suddenly trailing by 4 runs, the Nationals had no response for the Yankees' dominant bullpen. They went silent the rest of the night and trudged away following a particularly difficult loss, their ninth in 11 games.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: Ryan Zimmerman has a track record that suggests he'll put up his usual numbers by season's end. But to do that in 2015, he's going to have to go on quite a run the rest of the way, because he has dug himself quite a hole. With an 0-for-4 showing Tuesday night, Zimmerman now finds himself in a 4-for-46 funk. His season batting average has dropped to .209. Beyond the numbers, the veteran slugger just doesn't look like himself at the plate. Is his plantar fasciitis to blame? Perhaps. Whether it is or isn't, Zimmerman's unproductive bat right now is really hurting the Nats.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: As he did last week against the Blue Jays, Scherzer gave up only one early run and then clamped down, only to give up a bit hit late. Last time, it was a 3-run homer to Kevin Pillar. This time, it was a string of hits in the seventh, with his pitch count surpassing 110 and ultimately winding up at 116. Yes, Scherzer would've gotten out of it had Desmond been able to make the play on Rodriguez's hard smash. But he would've been mighty fortunate to escape that jam, which included several well-struck balls off the tiring ace.

KEY STAT: Harper is only the fourth player in the last two decades with three 20-homer seasons before turning 23. The others: Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton and Alex Rodriguez.

UP NEXT: This brief series concludes with a 1:05 p.m. Wednesday matinee. It's Gio Gonzalez against Nathan Eovaldi at Yankee Stadium.

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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.

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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.

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