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Papelbon offers advice on pennant race pressure


Papelbon offers advice on pennant race pressure

Jonathan Papelbon found himself inside the home clubhouse at Nationals Park for the first time Monday afternoon, a full six days removed from his surprise trade from the Phillies, feeling comfortable with his new teammates but only now finally feeling comfortable with his surroundings.

“I got my own football today,” the veteran closer said, holding up the same type of foam football rocket many Nationals relievers like to throw around the outfield prior to batting practice. “So, yeah, I’m feeling like home.”

Papelbon has been mostly a spectator since the trade went down last Tuesday. He joined the Nationals on Wednesday in Miami, closed out Thursday afternoon’s 1-0 victory over the Marlins, then never found himself on the mound during a weekend sweep in New York.

The former Red Sox and Phillies closer, owner of a World Series ring and 18 career postseason appearances, has had ample time to take the pulse of this clubhouse. And he sees qualities that leave him encouraged by the team’s prospects over the season’s final two months (and possibly beyond).

“I think my personal stance on that is: A team that stays together and has fun together and works hard together and plays together will win together,” he said. “You don’t always have to necessarily have the most talent. You don’t have to have the best lineup. You don’t have to have the best bullpen or the best starting staff. You have to have a team that knows how to play well together. And so far, so good. I like what I see. And I think as the season goes on and we get into this playoff race, I think this team will become closer and closer together.”

Having been through the meat grinder in Boston and later in Philadelphia, Papelbon understands the ups and downs of a long season. And he understands the fine balance between maintaining an even keel on a daily basis while also recognizing when it’s time to ratchet up the intensity level.

Again, he sees a Nationals club well-equipped to deal with all that.

“I think the thing here is, each guy stays focused on what we’re good at and what we do well,” he said. “You take that into the playoffs. You don’t change anything in the playoffs. They’re bigger games, but in the playoffs, cool as a cucumber always wins. And I think that we’ve got a lot of cool guys on this team.”

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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.