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Rehashing a strange 3rd inning

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Rehashing a strange 3rd inning

PITTSBURGH -- The overarching storyline to last night's 4-2 loss, of course, was the Nationals' utter inability to make contact at the plate. But the evening's outcome might also have been different if not for a very strange bottom of the third inning in which the Pirates scored three runs in less-than-conventional fashion.

"We definitely want the third inning back," said Ross Detwiler, who had the misfortune of standing on the mound as it all played out.

Here's a recap of the inning...

-- Detwiler strikes out Pirates pitcher Brad Lincoln, but the ball gets away from catcher Wilson Ramos, and Lincoln winds up reaching first base on the wild pitch.

-- Jose Tabata smokes a ball back up the middle, it ricochets off Detwiler's foot and into shallow right field for a single.

-- Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen each single to right-center, each driving in a run.

-- Pedro Alvarez sends a harp chopper to third, which Ryan Zimmerman deftly scoops up and then gets Walker into a rundown between third base and home plate.

-- Casey McGehee sends a groundball to the hole at short. Ian Desmond gets the ball and thinks he can catch McCutchen rounding third too far. But McCutchen sees that Desmond is about to throw behind him and instead keeps running toward the plate, scoring ahead of the throw to make it 3-0.

"When I got to third, I was thinking of trying to score on the throw to first," McCutchen said. "He hesitated a little bit, and it was just enough to let me score."

Desmond gave all the credit to McCutchen's hustle.

"He made a good baserunning play there," the shortstop said. "I kept it in the infield. I would say nine or 10 times out 10, the runner stops and tries to dive back into third. He saw that I fielded it, and he looked at me and then just darted towards home. I had to make sure I had a good grip on the ball. It was just too late. A good baserunning play by him. And obviously, his speed helped."

Much of what transpired during the inning was out of Detwiler's control. But the left-hander did beat himself up for not trying to disrupt the pace of the inning.

"Really, you've got to just slow it down," he said. "That's one thing I didn't do. I didn't step off. I didn't slow it down. I just let it keep rolling too long. And by the time I did do that, it was too late, there were already three runs on the board."

And, given the current state of the Nationals' lineup, three runs were all Pittsburgh needed to win the game ... and the series.

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Will Mike Rizzo continue to shape the Nationals? The Junkies believe he's too valuable to lose

Will Mike Rizzo continue to shape the Nationals? The Junkies believe he's too valuable to lose

Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Gio Gonzalez and Matt Wieters aren't the only important guys within the Nationals organization becoming free agents in 2019.

President of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo is also becoming a free agent when his contract expires on October 31st.

In the final year of his five-year contract, the 57-year old is set to make $2.5 million.

RELATED: HOWIE KENDRICK RETURNING TO NATIONALS

Since joining the organization, Rizzo has turned the team into a legit World Series contender. They've won four division titles in the last six years under his guidance, but have been unable to get over the NL Division series hump. And even though that's a glaring red mark on his resume, Rizzo knows the success he's brought to the organization. 

When you look at what we accomplished,’’ Mike Rizzo said in a recent interview, “it’s really unsung and underappreciated. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished here. I like it here. I love the city. I love the team I put together. I like being a GM in the NL East. And I want to stay here. I just think I deserve to be treated like some of the best GMs in the game are, too.

Rizzo is talking about GM's like Cubs' Theo Epstein and Yankees' Brian Cashman, who've received big paydays over the last year.

I know we haven’t won the World Series, but I get tired of hearing how we can’t win the big one, or we can’t get out of the first round. We haven’t had that many chances.

Does Rizzo deserve an extension? The Sports Junkies think he does, but with GM's like the ones above cashing out, they can also see him wanting to test the open market.

"Why wouldn't they?", said Jason Bishop, noting his track record.

"There's a sense he wants to test the market," said Eric Bickel. That's the vibe I'm getting from him."

Rizzo is a weekly guest on the Junkies and has said that the organization will figure it out. However, the 2018 season may be the last time for a long time the Nats have a real shot at making a run before they lose some of their stars to other teams. If Rizzo does take that into consideration and decides to go elsewhere, the Junkies don't see him having any issues finding employment.

"If there was a time to roll, it would be after this season when you get your last run with this group," said Eric Bickel. And then If they don't pay you what you think you deserve, he'll be snatched up in 22 seconds."

RELATED: BEST OF NATS' RACING PRESIDENT TRYOUTS

If they do decide to sign him to an extension, will it be a long, drawn-out ordeal? The Junkies disagree on that one. 

"He is too valuable, Jason Bishop said. He's too valuable. You gotta ink him to a deal sometime during the season."

Luckily for D.C. sports fans, long, drawn-out extension talks aren't foreign to them.

To see their full discussion, click the media player above. 

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

WASHINGTON  -- The Nationals have agreed to a $7 million, two-year contract with outfielder Howie Kendrick, a deal subject to a successful physical.

Agent Pat Murphy confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on Monday. USA Today was first to report the deal.

Kendrick, 34, hit .293 with seven home runs and RBIs in 52 games with Washington after he was acquired from Philadelphia. The versatile right-handed hitter got just three plate appearances off the bench in the playoffs.

In 12 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Dodgers, Phillies and Nationals, Kendrick is a .291 hitter with a .755 OPS. He's now primarily an outfielder for Washington after playing left field, second base, first base and other positions throughout his career.