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Around the NL East: A week of missed opportunities

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USA TODAY Sports

Around the NL East: A week of missed opportunities

In a week where the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies went 3-4, no one was able to catch up because of failed opportunities. Barely any ground was gained by both the Atlanta Braves (1.5 games back) and the Washington Nationals (6.0 games back). 

If nothing changes in the division standings by season’s end, this past week would be the one to look back to. The Braves only managed two victories and the Nationals dropped two in a row to the Miami Marlins. 

The only thing that is keeping Philadelphia at the top is confidence that continues to grow with all the other teams continue to struggle to get it together.

There are a ton of National League East vs. National League East matchups this week that could flip the division this week though. Still there is plenty to watch in one of the most intriguing divisions in all of baseball. 

Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 58-47
Last 10: 5-5
Upcoming Series: @ Boston Red Sox (2), vs. Miami Marlins (4)

After taking two games and scoring 20 runs through three against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Phillies could not translate that success to the road. Losing three out of four in Cincinnati, Philadelphia missed a chance to pad to their lead in the National League East. 

Additionally their series agains the Reds showed that there are still some blaring issues with the makeup of the squad. 

Again, the starting pitching behind Aaron Nola is the obvious problem. Right hander, and the No. 3 guy in the rotation, Nick Pivetta has now dropped two straight, both bottom dwellers. One was to San Diego and one was to Cincinnati allowing nine runs in 11.1 innings. Despite the losses, he continues to show his potential in only his second year in the league.  In both those games he had nine and 12 strikeouts, meaning he is not likely a piece to be moved at the deadline. But in a perfect world, he is at No. 4 or No. 5 in the rotation. 

They are getting some consistent offense from their position guys. Since the All-Star break, the team is actually hitting pretty well. They are eighth in the majors in runs (53) and 12th in hits (89). Of course, Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, and Maikel Franco are the top heavy crew leading the team. 

They were real fortunate that the Braves and Nationals struggled. 

Atlanta Braves

Record: 55-47
Last 10: 4-6
Upcoming Series: vs. Miami Marlins (3), @ New York Mets (4)

It would not have been a terrible week for the Braves had the Phillies held strong in their series against the Reds. However, they did not and now a two-game split at Miami and losing three of four to the Dodgers at home makes Atlanta seem to be in catchup mode. 

The big story of the week though is Sean Newcomb. First his near no-hitter on Sunday, then his twitter account.

On Sunday he was one out away from his first no-hitter. He had last eight and two-thirds innings of hitless baseball against the resurgent Dodgers. With eight strikeouts and 134 pitches, Newcomb has rebounded from a rough start to the month. 

Off-the-field, he was the latest to address old homophobic, sexist, racist tweets that he sent back in 2011 and 2012. He would immediately apologize for the behavior.

"I just wanted to apologize for any insensitive material," said the 25-year-old. "That was a long time ago -- six or seven years ago when I was just saying stupid stuff to some friends. I know I have grown a lot since then and I didn't mean anything by it. It was just something stupid that I did a long time ago."

Atlanta now gets the chance what should be five-to-seven easy wins this week. 

Washington Nationals

Record: 52-53
Last 10: 5-5
Upcoming Series: vs. New York Mets (2), vs. Cincinnati Reds (4)

After the abysmal week for the Phillies, the Nationals had the perfect chance to gain ground in the division. Facing the Marlins for a four-game set, the opportunity was there. 

The Nationals split the weekend series, scoring only one run in the last two games. 

Washington continues to flirt with a .500 record as we are now fully removed from the All-Star break. Aside from Juan Soto, Max Scherzer, and the occasional home run from Bryce Harper, there is not much moving the needle right now. The biggest question is Harper actually going to be a National in less than 48 hours? Mike Rizzo is not saying he’s not an option anymore.

While Matt Adams and Ryan Zimmerman are back off of the disabled list and should give some veteran presence in the clubhouse, they lost Stephen Strasburg for some more time. Honestly, that is probably more important them right now than a couple extra older position players.

And Trea Turner became the most recent MLB star to have old tweets reemerge. Here is his and the Nationals’ response.

A must-win week during this homestead with six-games against under .500 teams. 

Miami Marlins

Record: 46-61
Last 10: 6-4
Upcoming Series: @ Atlanta Braves (3), @ Philadelphia Phillies (4)

First the Marlins got one from the Braves and two away from the Nationals in their home ballpark. Now, they look to translate that to some results on the road against the top two teams in the division. 

Rumors continue to swirl if they are going to deal J.T. Realmuto at the trade deadline to the Nationals but he has been responsible for a majority of their offense this past week. With eight hits and a .966 OPS, he decimated the Nationals and the Braves this past week. 

New York Mets

Record: 44-59
Last 10: 5-5
Upcoming Series: @ Washington Nationals (2), vs. Atlanta Braves (4)

Another all-NL East week for the third team in the division. All that is left for them is to annoy the other teams in the division and build for the future. 

Any player that has value, besides Noah Syndergaard, seems to be on the trading block. Asdrúbal Cabrera is now on the Phillies, Adrian Beltre is in numerous trade rumors and starting pitcher Zack Wheeler is also being looked at as well. 

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Sean Doolittle's wife, Eireann Dolan, tweets about Astros' scandal

Sean Doolittle's wife, Eireann Dolan, tweets about Astros' scandal

Sean Doolittle's wife, Eireann Dolan, eviscerated the Houston Astros on Twitter Saturday afternoon in the wake of MLB's findings that the Astros systematically stole signs throughout the 2017 season, pointing out in her tweets what the scandal did to the Astros' opponents throughout the league that season.

Dolan pointed out that a large number of pitchers were scrutinized for poor performances against the Astros during the 2017 season, asking what those numbers would have done to their future earnings - not to mention mental state.

In 2017, the Astros led Major League Baseball in hits (1581), runs (896), doubles (346), RBI (854) as well as team batting average (.282) during the 162-game season en route to winning the 2017 World Series.

Doolittle reacted to the news of MLB's findings on Thursday on Twitter, thanking those who came forward to bring the sign-stealing allegations to light. The Astros fired general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch last week and Carlos Beltran and Alex Cora lost their jobs with the Mets and Red Sox over the scandal.

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Mike Rizzo shows off World Series trophy at Maryland basketball game

Mike Rizzo shows off World Series trophy at Maryland basketball game

The Washington Nationals aren't tired of showing off their World Series success, and for good reason. 

It's been a few months since the Nats won their first-ever title, but flaunting the Commissioner's Trophy simply never gets old. 

General Manager Mike Rizzo showed off the silverware in College Park on Saturday during an intermission in the Maryland-Purdue college basketball game. 

The crowd erupted in cheers and the band played "Baby Shark" to ring in the special occassion. It's always nice to see Terrapin fan favorite and SportsCenter host Scott Van Pelt in attendance there too. 

In a bad week for baseball in the wake of widespread cheating allegations, it's a good sight to see the good parts of the game being celebrated. 

Keep showing that thing off, Nationals!

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