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Roark cracks late, Espinosa and Harper homer in loss to Dodgers

Roark cracks late, Espinosa and Harper homer in loss to Dodgers

Analysis of the Nats' 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

How it happened: Tanner Roark has been good this year, but he can't do it all.

With just two runs of support provided by his offense on Tuesday night, the margin of error for Roark was small, and despite that he nearly pitched a shutout on a night the Nationals were hoping to give their bullpen a rest.

But he fell just short of that, instead allowing a three-run homer to Yasmani Grandal in the bottom of the eighth, as the Nationals lost 3-2, their only two runs coming off solo shots. Roark took the loss despite going 7 1/3 strong innings with three runs allowed.

The Nationals' homers were clubbed by Bryce Harper in the first inning and Danny Espinosa in the fifth. Those were two of 11 hits they recorded, and they also walked twice. The Nats had hits in each of their first eight innings. However, they left 13 men on base and went just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. 

The Nationals dropped their fourth consecutive game and now face a potential sweep on Wednesday night in Hollywood. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have won five straight and seven of their last eight overall.

What it means: The Nationals have lost four straight games for the first time since they were swept at Wrigley Field on May 8. They have not lost five straight so far this season. The Mets beat the Royals on Tuesday, which cut the Nats' division lead to 4 1/2 games.

Roark cracks late: Roark was brilliant for seven innings on Tuesday. He gave up zero runs on four hits and no walks before the eighth inning. But he was brought back out for that eighth, and it didn't go so well. Roark first walked Joc Pederson. Yasiel Puig then reached on an infield single. Grandal was up next and he took a 94 mile per hour fastball over the fence in center field.

Roark was good enough to win on Tuesday, but couldn't close the deal on what could have been one of his best starts of the season. He now has a 4.63 ERA after four June starts with 12 earned runs surrendered in 23 1/3 innings this month.

Roark also had two hits on offense Tuesday night in the first multi-hit game of his career. His first was a double. His second was a single in the top of the eighth that resulted in Wilson Ramos getting thrown out at the plate to end the frame with Espinosa and Roark on base behind him.

Harper goes oppo: Harper's homer was his second in a span of six days and his 15th of the season. He has two homers since May 28 and both were driven to opposite field. That has be encouraging for Harper, who continues to search for his MVP swing. 

Harper had two hits on Tuesday and raised his batting average to .258 on the season. This month he's batting a respectable .294 with a .372 on-base percentage. It's the power numbers that haven't caught up yet, but he does have five RBI now in his last six games.

Espinosa keeps homering: Espinosa has been doing this a lot lately. The Nats' shortstop took Dodgers starter Scott Kazmier deep in the fifth inning for his 13th homer of the season. He is currently third among all MLB shortstops in the category. Tuesday's bomb was Espinosa's ninth homer in his last 23 games. He has a .945 OPS during that span. Unfortunately, though, 11 of his 13 homers this season have been solo shots.

Up next: The Nats hope to avoid a sweep on Wednesday night with another 10:10 p.m. start. Joe Ross (6-4, 3.13) will pitch opposite top Dodgers prospect Julio Urias (0-2, 4.50).

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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.