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Papelbon blows save in 10th inning as Nats fall to Phillies

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Papelbon blows save in 10th inning as Nats fall to Phillies

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in 10 innings on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park:

How it happened: Jonathan Papelbon was a perfect 5-for-5 on save opportunities entering Sunday when he took the mound in the 10th inning to face his former team, the Philadelphia Phillies, who traded him to Washington last July. Several of those appearances, though, were shakier than others, and his luck would not continue as the Nationals lost just their second game of the 2016 season, this one a 3-2 final score. It was a dramatic turn of events for the Nationals (9-2), who had just seen Bryce Harper launch what looked like a go-ahead home run in the top half of the inning. The Nats had taken a one-run lead and needed just three outs for their eighth straight victory. Papelbon, though, ran into trouble after a one-out double by Peter Bourjos. Then, with two outs, Andres Blanco singled to left to score Bourjos. That set up the game-winner when Freddy Galvis singled past Jayson Werth to secure a walkoff victory. It was Papelbon's third blown save in 15 opportunities since he was traded to the Nats.

What it means: The Nationals' winning streak was snapped at seven as they head to Miami for the next stop on this road trip. They should get their biggest test of the season thus far with Jose Fernandez set to pitch for the Marlins. Fernandez holds a 0.98 ERA in six starts against the Nats and is particularly good at home with just one loss in 27 career games in Miami. The Nats went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Sunday and will likely need to be much better to top the former NL Rookie of the Year.

Gio continues to impress: So much for Gonzalez' subpar spring numbers. The Nationals lefty is off to a tremendous start this season after tossing seven innings of one-run ball on Sunday. Gonzalez has only given up one run through two starts with 13 innings pitched combined. Gio struck out eight batters and gave up four hits and two walks. The lone run he allowed was on a solo homer to Carlos Ruiz. Gonzalez has allowed only one run in his last three starts dating back to 2015, a span of 19 innings. He continued a dominant stretch for the Nationals' starting rotation, which has a collective 0.85 ERA over the last six games (42 1/3 IP).

Harper nearly wins it: Harper crushed a solo homer off Phillies reliever Jeanmar Gomez in the 10th inning to break a 1-1 tie. It was Harper's fourth consecutive game with a homer, which is a new career-high. It was his sixth straight game in Philadelphia with a home run. He now has six homers in 11 games this season. Why are teams still pitching to him in big spots?

Daily Daniel Murphy mention: Murphy landed two singles to extend his hitting streak to nine games and give him six mult-hit outings in 11 total games this season. The Nats' second baseman was 2-for-5 on Sunday and is now batting .432 on the season. It's early, but that's the best batting average in baseball. Murphy's numbers through 11 games now look like this: 16-for-37, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 3 2B, 2 3B, 7 R, 7 BB, 7 SO, SB. That'll do Daniel, that'll do. 

Werth also heating up: Werth is batting only .171 through 10 games this season, but is starting to show some positive signs. He doubled in Sunday's game and now has three doubles and a homer in his last four games. For some context, that's as many extra-base hits in his last four games than he had in his previous 20 appearances dating back to last season.

Heisey fills in well for Taylor: Whatever hunch manager Dusty Baker had about Chris Heisey when he chose his Opening Day roster has proven to be quite smart. Heisey reached base twice on Sunday with a hit and a walk and now has hits in three of his last four games. Heisey almost reached base a third time in the eighth inning on a hard grounder to third base. The throw from Maikel Franco was wide, but first baseman Darin Ruf was able to catch it and barely make the tag  on Heisey's foot as he charged into first. Heisey was originally ruled safe before a challenge from Phillis manager Pete Mackanin overturned the call. Even with a slow-mo replay it was tough to decipher and there were likely plenty of Nats fans who thought he should have remained safe. It ended up proving costly as Murphy flew out to end the inning with Harper and Anthony Rendon on first and second.

Up next: The Nats move on to Miami to continue their NL East road trip. Right-hander Tanner Roark (1-1, 2.45) will make his third start of the season with a 7:10 p.m. first pitch. The Marlins will start Fernandez (0-1, 5.06), their ace, as he sees the Nats for the first time in 2016. One could argue the Nats are about to see the two best pitchers they've faced this season so far in the next three games. Fernandez goes Monday while lefty Wei-Yin Chen goes on Wednesday.

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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.

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