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Pierzynski's two home runs down the Nationals


Pierzynski's two home runs down the Nationals

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: After the chaos that accompanied their final homestand of the season, the Nationals opened their final road trip Tuesday night, hoping matters would calm down and focus would return to baseball. It did, but that didn't necessarily translate into winning baseball.

A.J. Pierzynski's two home runs off Tanner Roark proved the difference for the Braves, who didn't get much offense from anybody else but didn't really need it. Right-hander Matt Wisler made sure of that, tossing seven innings of 1-run ball, allowing only Trea Turner's solo homer in the sixth (the rookie infielder's first of his young career).

The Nationals didn't give themselves many opportunities. And those they had, they squandered, most notably a 2-on, 1-out potential rally in the eighth. Bryce Harper stood at the plate with a chance to change the outcome of the game, but the presumptive NL MVP was induced into a 5-4-3 double play by former teammate Edwin Jackson, much to the delight of the sparse gathering at Turner Field that was announced as 15,272 but included fewer than half that many fans actually in attendance.

They had one final shot in the ninth, with two on and nobody out. But Ian Desmond bunted right in front of the plate, getting Jayson Werth thrown out at third, then didn't hustle out of the box and was doubled up in unsightly fashion.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Turner's offensive game is built primarily around contact and speed, but the kid does have some pop in hit bat. (He hit eight homers in 500 minor-league plate appearances this season.) And he showed it in the top of the sixth, pouncing on Matt Wisler's first-pitch fastball and lofting it over the left-field wall at the appropriately named Turner Field. Teammates mobbed Turner in the dugout, while the Braves' Nick Swisher tossed the ball back in for safe keeping. After a sluggish start at the plate, Turner has begun to show the Nats everything he can do. This actually is true to form. He struggled briefly at each level of the minors this year before getting hot. Sure enough, after going 1-for-11 to begin his major-league career, Turner now has six hits in his last 13 at-bats.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Though he departed in line to take the loss, Roark pitched quite well. Certainly better than he has in some time. Perhaps getting used to starting every fifth day again, he looked stronger and was efficient enough to go more than five innings for the first time since rejoining the rotation at the start of the month. Roark really only made two mistakes all night. Unfortunately both came with Pierzynski at the plate, and both wound up over the fence. That makes 17 homers allowed by Roark this season in 105 innings. He only gave up 16 homers in 198 2/3 innings last year.

KEY STAT: Bryce Harper set a new Expos/Nationals franchise record with his 124th walk of the season, breaking the previous mark established by Ken Singleton in 1973.

UP NEXT: Jordan Zimmermann (13-9, 3.68) makes what will likely be the final start of his Nationals career Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. Right-hander Williams Perez (6-6, 5.04) pitches for Atlanta.

RELATED: Zimmerman won't return from oblique strain

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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.