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Ryan Zimmerman makes diving catch to keep no-hitter intact

Ryan Zimmerman makes diving catch to keep no-hitter intact

It’s like clockwork: Seemingly every time a pitcher carries a no-hitter deep into a game, a position player makes an outstanding play to keep it alive.

In Game 1 of the NLCS between the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals, Aníbal Sánchez entered the eighth inning with a zero in the hit column. Tommy Edman came to the plate and ripped a line drive to the right side of the infield, but Ryan Zimmerman kept the ball from going any further.

Sanchez lost the no-no two batters later, allowing a single off the bat of José Martínez that landed in front of Michael Taylor. Nats manager Davey Martinez immediately pulled him, handing things over to Sean Doolittle to record the final four outs of the game.

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Gerardo Parra says playing baseball in Japan ‘feels weird’ without fans

Gerardo Parra says playing baseball in Japan ‘feels weird’ without fans

While baseball players in the U.S. have yet to receive any update on when the 2020 MLB season will begin, the Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball league has twice tried to reschedule its season opener only to delay it as a result of the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The NPB had hoped to begin its season April 24, more than a month after its originally scheduled start date of March 20. However, the league announced on Friday that “thing are getting worse now” after three of its players, including star pitcher Shintaro Fujinami, tested positive for COVID-19. As of Monday afternoon, there were 3,654 confirmed cases in Japan—up from just over 2,600 last Thursday (per Johns Hopkins).

Unlike the MLB, Japan’s NPB elected to continue playing out its preseason back in February despite the spread of the virus. The league announced Feb. 26 that its 72 remaining preseason games would be played without fans in attendance. It was something that former Nationals outfielder Gerardo Parra, now with the Yomiuri Giants, didn’t enjoy as much as the real thing

“It feels weird,” Parra said on a recorded FaceTime call with MASN’s Alex Chappell and Mark Zuckerman. “It feels weird because the motivation for us [as] players, we want to see a lot of fans. I want to see fans enjoy the [game], it brings me a lot of energy.”

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Parra joined the Nationals midway through the 2019 campaign and is widely credited with helping the clubhouse loosen up before turning around its season. After starting out 19-31, the Nationals rallied to secure a Wild Card bid before riding a postseason full of comebacks on their way to winning D.C.’s first World Series title since 1924.

If anyone can make the best out of a weird situation, it’s Parra. But as long as the coronavirus outbreak continues to restrict everyday life, there aren’t going to be many other options for playing baseball.

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Nationals closer Sean Doolittle calls wait for regular season a ‘crash course’ in being a relief pitcher

Nationals closer Sean Doolittle calls wait for regular season a ‘crash course’ in being a relief pitcher

With the start of the MLB season delayed indefinitely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, baseball players are having to do whatever they can to stay in shape while stuck in their homes.

Not all are as lucky as Nationals starter Max Scherzer, who’s social distancing in his West Palm Beach home with Orioles catcher Bryan Holaday. Many players are training with household items, while others have been soliciting the help of their family members in lieu of a coaching staff.

It’s been a unique experience for players who entered the month of March thinking their offseason was about to end. Instead, they’re having to maintain a workout regimen that will have them ready for Opening Day—whenever that might be.

That feeling is a bit familiar for Nationals closer Sean Doolittle, who appeared on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio channel Monday morning to talk about how he’s been holding up since the season was postponed back in early March.

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“Everybody’s kind of getting a crash course in what it’s like to be a relief pitcher right now,” Doolittle said. “Sometimes as a relief pitcher, you kind of have to get ready and steady ready even though you’re not exactly sure when you’re going to come into a game. It’s just kind of the nature of the job.

“The bullpen phone might ring and just say, ‘Hey, get ready’ and you say, ‘Well, who do they want me for? What spot am I going in?’ and the answer a lot of times is, ‘They didn’t say, just get ready and stay ready.’ So that’s kind of what a lot of guys are having to do right now.”

Of course, things are a bit easier for Doolittle as a closer. But even he sometimes goes into games early to get a few extra outs. Getting hot right before going into a game is a tricky science for a reliever, as the rest of the players on the field are finding out.

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