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Ross struggles, Fernandez dominates as Nats fall to Marlins

Ross struggles, Fernandez dominates as Nats fall to Marlins

Postgame analysis of the Nationals' 5-1 loss to the Miami Marlins in the series finale on Sunday afternoon. 

How it happened: Jose Fernandez has been a tough adversary for the Nationals throughout his career and on Sunday he hurt them both on the mound and at the plate. The Marlins right-hander was mostly dominant through seven innings of one-run ball. He struck out 11 batters and allowed just four hits, one of them an inside-the-park homer to Ryan Zimmerman that wasn't really his fault. 

In his first outing against the Nats this season Fernandez was effectively wild, but this time he was just plain good, working both sides of the plate with his high-90s fastball and razor-sharp curveball. Zimmerman, Clint Robinson and Wilson Ramos all struck out twice against Fernandez. He held the Nats' top three batters - Ben Revere, Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper - all hitless.

Nationals starter Joe Ross, on the other hand, did not have his best day. He allowed a homer to Giancarlo Stanton and a two-RBI single to Fernandez. The Marlins beat the Nats 5-1 to earn a series split. The Nats still hold a 5-4 edge in the season series.

What it means: The Nationals have lost two straight games - with just two runs scored in those contests - heading into their off-day with a big series at the Mets awaiting them on Tuesday. Two games is no cause for concern, but they will certainly look to turn things around against the Mets in their first matchup with the reigning division champions this season.

Drew's costly error: Stephen Drew didn't help Ross' cause in the third inning as he lost a Martin Prado pop-up in the sun with a runners on second and third. Prado reached on the error and both runners scored, putting Ross down in a 2-0 hole with both runs going down as unearned.

Ross struggles again: Ross cruised through the first two innings and rebounded nicely from the two runs allowed on Drew's error with scoreless frames in the fourth and fifth. But in the sixth he ran into trouble with three earned runs. The first came on Stanton's homer, a solo shot that landed in the bullpen in right field. Ross has now allowed homers in consecutive games after giving up zero through his first five starts. After the Stanton homer, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto notched back-to-back singles. That convinced the Nats to intentionally walk Adeiny Hechavarria to load the bases with one out to face Fernandez. It was a mistake. Fernandez singled to center field to score two runs and give himself a comfortable 5-1 lead. Ross has now allowed eight earned runs in his last two starts across 11 2/3 innings, which equates to a 6.17 ERA. He had a 1.23 ERA in his first five outings (4 ER in 29.1 IP). 

Zimmerman's inside-the-park homer: The Nationals would also benefit from a defensive mishap as a collision by Stanton and Ozuna in right-center allowed the Nats first baseman to notch his first career inside-the-park homer in the fourth inning. Zimmerman hit a long flyball that saw Stanton and Ozuna run into each other at the warning track. It was a scary moment, as both players lay motionless on the ground for several moments as manager Don Mattingly and a trainer rushed to their aid. They both, though, were able to stay in the game. It was the second inside-the-park homer in the majors this season following the one hit by Jean Segura of the Diamondbacks on April 7 against the Cubs. It was just the third in Nats history, as Willie Harris had one in 2010 and Austin Kearns accomplished the feat in 2007. There have been 26 inside-the-park homers in franchise history dating back to the Expos.

What's next: The Nationals have Monday off before heading up to Citi Field on Tuesday for their first matchup with the New York Mets of 2016. The Mets are the reigning division and NL champs and will provide a good test for the Nats. The opener will have quite the pitching matchup with Max Scherzer going up against Noah Syndergaard. Scherzer is coming off his 20-strikeout performance and Syndergaard is off to a terrific start with a 2.53 ERA.

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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.


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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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm