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Strasburg dominates as Harper, Nats homer past Marlins

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Strasburg dominates as Harper, Nats homer past Marlins

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 7-0 win over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night at Marlins Park:

How it happened: The Miami Marlins could have not intended this when they brought in the fences this winter at Marlins Park.

Stalled through six innings by second-year lefty Adam Conley, the Nationals' offense broke out like a water main burst with four home runs in the seventh inning alone. The two pairs of back-to-back jacks combined for seven runs and swept a sigh of relief through a Nats dugout that was facing their first three-game losing streak of the young season. Jayson Werth got it started with his 200th career bomb and Wilson Ramos followed with another solo shot. Bryce Harper later blasted his second career grand slam to deep right field and Ryan Zimmerman came through with a solo homer right after him. The Nats scored more than they needed to hand Stephen Strasburg his third win of the season. He was brilliant once again with eight shutout innings, continuing his excellent start to 2016 with his best outing so far.

What it means: The Nats were struggling enough on offense Tuesday night that it at times appeared like they were headed for their third straight loss. That would have been a tough pill to swallow, especially with the Mets having just won their third straight. The Nats broke through for the win, though, and how have a chance to either split or win this four-game series against the Marlins. The Nationals moved to 10-3 with the victory to tie the Chicago Cubs for the best record in baseball.

Werth hits No. 200: Consistency has eluded Werth so far this season, as the Nats' left fielder entered Tuesday batting just .158/.273/.316. But he certainly came through in a big spot in this particular win by breaking a scoreless tie with one out in the seventh on his second homer of the season. As mentioned above, it was the 200th of his career, making for an extra-important ball to track down. The baseball, though, landed deep in the weeds of Marlins Park's home run structure in center field. It created quite the adventure for members of the stadium crew to fetch with the television cameras checking in periodically. Werth, by the way, now has five extra-base hits in his last six games. 

Strasburg on top of his game: The tear Strasburg went on towards the end of the 2015 season after he returned from the disabled list has carried over well into this campaign, as Strasburg now holds a 1.25 ERA after three outings. Going back to his DL return last year - a span of 13 starts - Strasburg is 9-2 with a 1.74 ERA (17 ER), 113 strikeouts and just 15 walks in 88 total innings. Strasburg went eight scoreless frames in Tuesday's win with three hits (two were infield singles), two walks and 10 strikeouts on 105 pitches, 75 of them strikes. He also added two hits on offense for his fifth career multi-hit game.

Harper's grand slam: Harper's homer was just the second grand slam of his career, but his second in a span of six games in six days. He now has five homers in his last six games and seven total on the season. Only Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies has more. Harper's latest came off of lefty Chris Narveson and it was after a slow start to the night for the Nats' slugger. He went 0-for-3 off Conley with two strikeouts. The four homers hit by the Nats in the seventh were the most ever for one inning by a Nationals team. The 1986 Montreal Expos were the only club in franchise history to accomplish the feat. 

Conley much tougher this time: The Nationals had already seen Conley before this season, having faced him in their home opener when they rocked him for three runs in a wild, 31-pitch first inning. That was all they saw of him, though, as he did not return from a 90-minute rain delay. On Tuesday, Conley looked like a different guy, baffling the Nats through the first six innings with changeups and sliders working around a low-90s fastball. The Nats finally got to him in the seventh when Werth and Ramos launched back-to-back homers to center field. He ended up getting charged with four earned runs on eight hits and one walk, finally cracking once the Nats' lineup saw him for the third time. 

Daily Daniel Murphy mention: Even when others in the Nationals lineup go cold, Daniel Murphy simply can't be contained. He added two more hits on Tuesday night to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. This game included a double, which was his eighth extra-base hit already through 13 games. That matches his output for all of April last season when he appeared in 23 games for the Mets. Murphy now has seven multi-hit games in 13 outings this season and is batting a cool .422. If Dusty Baker decides to shake up his lineup any time soon, Murphy has made a good case to hit higher in the order.

Up next: The Nats and Marlins play another 7:10 start in the third of this four-game series in Miami. Joe Ross (2-0, 0.61) will make his third start of the season, while lefty Wei-Yin Chen (0-0, 5.56) will start for the Marlins. Chen was signed to a free agent deal this offseason to be their No. 2 starter, but is off to a slow start so far.

[RELATED: NL East: Marlins' Dee Gordon gets diamond pendant for batting title]

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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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.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

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.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE