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Strasburg strikes out 13, Nats win

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Strasburg strikes out 13, Nats win

Game in a nutshell: Stuck in a three-game losing streak and in danger of getting swept by the Pirates, the Nationals needed their ace to deliver. And boy, did he. Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 batters over six innings, coming up one K shy of his career high (set in his big-league debut against Pittsburgh). A Nationals lineup, meanwhile, that had looked lost at the plate throughout this series came up big at last in the sixth when both Roger Bernadina and Adam LaRoche homered to deep left-center. Relievers Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Clippard and Henry Rodriguez then closed it out, preserving the victory and keeping the Nationals in first place for the 30th consecutive day.

Hitting highlight: Stymied all night by Kevin Correia and seemingly pressing to try to make something happen and snap out of their offensive funk, the Nationals finally broke through in the top of the sixth, thanks to a pair of titanic blasts. Bernadina started things off by crushing a pitch into the back bullpen in deep left-center, perhaps a 440-foot, opposite-field homer. After Ryan Zimmerman walked, LaRoche nearly duplicated Bernadina's feat, crushing a ball just shy of the same spot. With those two blasts, the Nationals took the lead and for the first time in days were able to breathe a little easier.
Pitching highlight: Uh, was there really any question about this one? In his most-dominant performance since the last time he faced the Pirates, Strasburg dazzled with nearly every pitch. He wasn't perfect, particularly during a two-run fourth inning that featured three hits and during a tense sixth inning that featured three straight walks. But when he needed to come up big, he did in a big way, striking out Pittsburgh batter after Pittsburgh batter. No pitch was more important than his 103rd and final one of the night: a 96 mph fastball to Garrett Jones with the bases loaded, preserving a one-run lead.

Key stat: Combining the latter portion of his major-league debut and the first portion of this game, Strasburg at one point had struck out 14 of 16 Pirates batters.

Up next: The Nationals head down the Ohio River a few hundred miles for the start of a weekend series in Cincinnati. Gio Gonzalez faces Mike Leake at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Great American Ball Park.

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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