Nationals

Instant analysis Nats-Phillies

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Instant analysis Nats-Phillies

Game in a nutshell: Seeking their first sweep of a three-game series this season for the ninth time, the Nationals once again came up short. And this one stung a little more because of the man on the mound for the Phillies: Cole Hamels. A couple of weeks removed from his headline-making, suspension-inducing start at Nationals Park, the left-hander dominated the NL East leaders. Hamels carried a no-hitter into the sixth and departed after eight scoreless. Edwin Jackson tried to keep things close but was done in by some early struggles and wound up taking the loss. Adam LaRoche delivered a solo homer off Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth, but it was too little, too late. On this night, Hamels rose above the rest.

Hitting lowlight: Tough to find highlights when you're completely shut down by the opposition. The Nationals did squat against Hamels for five innings, managing only three walks and no hits against the lefty. And even once they did get something going in the sixth, they found a way to not score. Danny Espinosa's leadoff double broke up the no-hitter, and Bryce Harper's single to right kept things going. But Espinosa (with third-base coach Bo Porter waving him around) tried to score and was nailed at the plate by Hunter Pence. Moments later, Ryan Zimmerman also singled to right, which would have scored Espinosa ... had he not just been thrown out at the plate.

Pitching highlight: Jackson was not sharp early on, putting seven men on base (five hits, two walks) in the first three innings alone. But credit to the veteran right-hander for battling back and churning out a quality start in the end. Jackson was much more efficient over his final three innings, and in the process managed to make it through the seventh on only 79 pitches. Had the Nationals not been trailing at the time, Davey Johnson might have even left his starter in.

Key stat: It took until the ninth inning of the Phillies' sixth game against the Nationals this season before Papelbon made his first appearance.

Up next: After a day of rest Thursday, the Nationals' nine-game tour of the NL East continues in Atlanta for a showdown with a Braves team that has been battling them for the top spot in the division for several weeks. Ross Detwiler meets Tim Hudson in Friday's 7:35 p.m. series opener at Turner Field.

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Nationals trade Tanner Roark to Reds for reliever Tanner Rainey

Nationals trade Tanner Roark to Reds for reliever Tanner Rainey

LAS VEGAS -- In a surprise, pro-active thinning of their rotation, the Nationals traded reliable starter Tanner Roark to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday for a reliever who played in Triple-A Louisville last season, Tanner Rainey.

Less than two hours after general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters nothing was imminent, the team announced a deal to send a key rotation piece to Cincinnati.

The move immediately opens a hole among the Nationals’ starting pitchers. Roark could be counted on for 180 innings of work per year. He was mediocre last season, finishing with a 4.34 ERA. Roark delivered a 4.67 ERA the season prior to that.

But, Roark was a quality pitcher for multiple seasons despite being miscast in the bullpen in 2015 before returning to the rotation.

The Nationals have little to replace him. Joe Ross and Erick Fedde were expected to compete for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Extracting Roark opens two spots for two pitchers the Nationals can not rely on.

Ross still has to be monitored following his return from Tommy John surgery. Fedde’s results haven’t shown he is ready for a regular rotation spot at the major-league level. There are few to no options in the minor leagues.

Roark was expected to earn around $10 million following salary arbitration this season. Sending him to the Reds puts the Nationals on the hunt for another starter, perhaps a younger one near the same price but with more years of control.

Adding to the oddity of the trade are Rizzo’s recent comments about the importance of pitching depth, as well as a statement that he would need to receive a starting pitcher in return for Roark.

What general managers say in public at the Winter Meetings always comes with a caveat as far as the truth is concerned, but both those points fit here, and yet neither were followed.

The right-handed Rainey has been clocked as high as 102 mph during his time in the minor leagues. He was 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 44 games last season out of the bullpen for Louisville. He could slot into the Nationals’ bullpen as soon as this season. He surely will be invited to spring training at West Palm Beach to receive a look. Command is his main issue.

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'Where is the humanity?': Chris Thompson opens up on the negative side of social media

'Where is the humanity?': Chris Thompson opens up on the negative side of social media

There are a ton of positives, from specific examples like what Derrius Guice has been able to do with Redskins supporters since being drafted or more general things like getting the chance to see what your favorite 'Skin is up to on an off day, that have resulted from the growing relationship between players and fans through social media. 

But with that increased connection comes increased volatility. Now, you don't have to be within earshot at a stadium to get on someone wearing Burgundy and Gold for a mistake they made or a loss they participated in. 

It's that second part — the constant criticism that largely goes unseen — that upsets Chris Thompson.

So, while he was responding to a question about Mason Foster's leaked Instagram messages, the running back made sure to comment on life as an athlete on social media overall.

"Dealing with the fans, it's hard because we're all human," Thompson said. "It's real tough when people keep coming at you and saying negative stuff towards you like we're not human beings and we're not supposed to say something at some point."

The veteran, who has distanced himself from things like Instagram and Twitter and has noticed how his mental state has improved because of that distancing, knows that ignoring the negativity is the proper route to take. It's far from the easiest route, though.

"Once you say something back to them it's like, 'Oh, you're not supposed to say anything,'" Thompson explained. "No, we're all human. If you say something, sometimes you should expect a response. And then on the flip side, there are some times we just gotta hold our tongue, and it's really, really, really, really hard sometimes. You don't know how hard it is."

Jonathan Allen is another Redskin who tries to limit his exposure to certain apps and sites these days. The fan interaction is something he enjoys, but in the end, it doesn't take much for those interactions to sour.

"The way I look at it, 99-percent of fans are great," Allen said. "They're supportive of what you do, they're always gonna love the Redskins. But there's gonna be that 1-percent of fans who aren't like that, and those are the fans that are gonna ruin it for everybody and give players the bad image of all the fans."

Thompson told one story of a recent message he got online from someone who blamed him for ruining his fantasy season by missing games due to injury. The 28-year-old couldn't comprehend how someone could write that to him while he's battling through broken ribs on both sides and an ankle issue.

Sadly, it was just one example that stood out among countless others, all of which make up the uglier side of technology in 2018.

"Where is the humanity?" Thompson said. "It sucks because we're not really looked at as humans. We're kind of robots. We're not supposed to have feelings, we're only supposed to show emotion on the field and everything should be about football, football, football."

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