Instant analysis: Nats-Braves


Instant analysis: Nats-Braves

Game in a nutshell: Mired in a three-game losing streak and in danger of seeing their lead over the Braves shrink to 12-game, the Nationals faced something of a must-win situation tonight. And they delivered with a gutsy performance, overcoming an early 2-0 deficit to push across solo runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. John Lannan, called up from Syracuse for the day, battled back from an ugly first inning to shut Atlanta out over his next six and put himself in line to earn the win. His teammates did the rest, with Roger Bernadina producing the big RBI hit: a two-out single to right in the bottom of the seventh to score Sandy Leon and break a 2-2 tie. Bryce Harper, battling a sore ankle, then came off the bench in the eighth to ignite another rally and score a key insurance run. Tyler Clippard then bounced back from his shaky week to record the save and give the Nats a much-needed victory at the end of a long day of baseball.

Hitting highlight: When Harper went down with a left ankle injury early in Game 1, the onus fell on Roger Bernadina to pick up the slack. And did he ever. Bernadina wound up going 5-for-7 in the doubleheader, producing the biggest hit of the entire day: His two-out, RBI single to right that scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh. Bernadina has always been a streaky hitter, and he's on a legitimate hot streak right now. Whether he can sustain it, who knows? But the Nationals might as well enjoy it while they can.

Pitching highlight: The way his evening began, Lannan looked to be in a heap of trouble. He gave up two runs in the top of the first and let five of the first six batters he faced reach safely. But then the lefty settled into a groove, and he kept getting better and better with each passing inning. By night's end, Lannan had retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced, only three of those outs coming on flyballs to the outfield. In what was probably the biggest start of his career, Lannan came up big. And the Nats couldn't be happier about it.

Key stat: After a shaky start to his night, Lannan threw 47 of his last 63 pitches for strikes.

Up next: The series concludes at 1:35 p.m. Sunday, with Ross Detwiler facing off against Jair Jurrjens.

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Need to Know: The best pass rushers the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best pass rushers the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, July 19, seven days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best pass rushers the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the pass rushers are up. They are roughly ranked by Pro Football Focus’ pass rush productivity metric, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this we looked at the best teamsreceivers,running backs, and quarterbacks

1. Calais Campbell, Jaguars—If he gets a sack against the Redskins in Week 15, many fans will once again rue draft day in 2008 when the Redskins took both WR Devin Thomas and TE Fred Davis in the second round while Campbell was still on the board. He has been a consistent pass rusher since coming into the league, averaging eight sacks a season. Campbell is coming off of a career-high 14.5. 

2. Demarcus Lawrence, Cowboys—He had nine career sacks going into last year and then he broke out in a big way with 14.5. He got three sacks against the Redskins last year and has five in six career games. He actually ranked ahead of Campbell in the PFF pass rush metric, but I put Campbell ahead of him because we’re not sure if Lawrence is a great pass rusher or if he just peaked in his contract year. 

3. Chandler Jones, Cardinals—He posted double-digit sacks in four of the last five years including a league-leading 17 last season. His 2017 performance earned him first-team All-Pro honors for the first time in his career. Jones does more than get sacks. He has 16 career forced fumbles; only five players have forced more since he came into the league in 2012.

4. J.J. Watt, Texans—Injuries have limited him to eight games over the past two seasons. Even if the missed time has him beneath his peak years of 2012-2015, when he was first-team All-Pro every year and defensive player of the year three times, he will be difficult to deal with. 

5. Brian Orakpo, Titans—His career with the Redskins was a mixed bag, with two Pro Bowls and two seasons with double-digit sacks. After Orakpo missed 23 games from 2012-2015, the Redskins didn’t make him a competitive contract offer and he left to sign with the Titans. He hasn’t missed a game in three seasons in Tennessee and has averaged eight sacks per season. 

Best of the rest: Yannick Ngakoue, Jaguars; Clay Matthews, Packers; Vic Beasley, Falcons; Jason Pierre-Paul, Buccaneers; Cam Jordan, Saints

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Redskins six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams was born on this date in 1988.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 7
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 21
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 44

The Redskins last played a game 200 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 52 days. 

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Alex Ovechkin takes home ESPY for Best Male Athlete Award

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Alex Ovechkin takes home ESPY for Best Male Athlete Award

Alexander Ovechkin's offseason continues to be one for the books. 

Just a week removed from celebrating with the Stanley Cup in Moscow, Ovechkin was named Best Male Athlete Wednesday night at the 2018 ESPYs. 

The 32-year-old is the first NHL player to win the award since it was first introduced in 1993. 

"The Great Eight" beat out Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. 

Ovechkin was not in Los Angeles to accept the award.