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So yeah, it looks like the Nationals aren't messing around anymore

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So yeah, it looks like the Nationals aren't messing around anymore

Well, it looks like the Nationals aren't playing around anymore.

In a season where they've struggled to stay near .500, had Trea Turner fail to run out a bunt against the Brewers, had Bryce Harper not running out a ground ball against the Mets, reports of the clubhouse being "a mess", and Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg getting into a shouting match in the dugout, it looks like the Nats have finally had enough of the trend this season.

After trading Brandon Kintzler to the Cubs, a player quietly seen as a clubhouse disruptor, the Nationals have now designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment, one day after he threw a tantrum on the mound after giving up a home run in the Nats' 25-4 beat down of the Mets Tuesday night.

"You should never throw your glove. We should act like adults," he said afterward. 

The Nationals selected the contract of righty Jimmy Cordero, who comes up to the majors for the first time. He has a 1.67 ERA in 38 appearances for Triple-A Syracuse in 2018.

It's pretty obvious now the organization is sending a message. What's happened up to this point is unacceptable, and you'll be held accountable for it.

Although, it's a little convenient to do it now.

It's a whole lot easier to make examples of Kintzler and Kelley, as opposed to Harper, Turner, Scherzer, or Strasburg, but it's better than letting the water continue to boil over.

It's no secret the Nationals have been the biggest disappointment so far in baseball. When you have World Series expectations, but can't seem to keep your head above .500, you're bound to have tension around the organization. Fresh off hosting the All-Star Game and seeing the franchise superstar win the Home Derby, the Nationals had tremendous momentum heading into the second half. 

Then Strasburg and Scherzer got into. Then Turner didn't run out the bunt. The clubhouse rumors soon followed.

There were reports that said Kintzler was identified by the Nationals as the anonymous source to those reports that painted the Nats' clubhouse negatively. 

As Chelsea Janes wrote in the Washington Post, "Some within the organization speculate the deal was as much about Kintzler’s willingness to speak his mind in the clubhouse as his performance. Kintzler was open about the effects his usage and workload had on his performance, though he was pitching to a 3.45 ERA in 45 appearances this season. He was a major presence in the clubhouse, leaned on by veteran starters and less-experienced relievers alike for advice on mechanics and approach."

If you don't like the power a player has within a locker room or clubhouse or the message he's spreading, the obvious decision is to send him away.

This morning on The Junkies, Rizzo was asked about why he traded Kintzler: "Would it be fair to say the phrase 'loose lips sink ships' would be a fair characterization as to why Kintzler was moved?"

"No, I don't think that's a fair characterization," Rizzo responded. "There was a lot of reasoning for trading Kintzler. One was that our bullpen depth has really grown since we acquired him and signed him as a free agent. We've got a big-three back end of the bullpen with Doolittle, Madson and Herrera. We've got great bridge guys, such as Justin Miller stepping up the way he has and Matt Grace pitching the way he has."

"We've got Wander Suero, who we believe has earned a chance to get to the big leagues, and has pitched wonderfully when he's up in the big leagues and great when he's down in the minor leagues, so he's earned a spot. We've got Koda Glover, a guy that we really liked and is going to be a good big-league pitcher for us back from rehab, so he's an option for us. We've got a kid named (Jimmy) Cordero down there that throws 100 miles an hour, that's really taken the next step up, so we may see him soon. So we had great depth."

If you notice, Rizzo never mentioned Kelley in that long answer. Shortly after his appearance on 106.7 The Fan, the Kelley news broke. 

Rizzo did go on to say that they "want players who care about the name on the front of the jersey more than the name on the back of the jersey. That's the demand that I make of them and if we don't get that then we have an issue."

It all makes sense looking back on it now. 

Will it work? The Nationals have 56 more regular season games to find out. 

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John Gant homers, pitches Cardinals to 6-4 win over Nationals

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John Gant homers, pitches Cardinals to 6-4 win over Nationals

ST. LOUIS -- Even John Gant cracked a smile.

Gant homered for his first major league hit and pitched one-run ball into the sixth inning, helping the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 6-4 on Tuesday night for their season-high seventh consecutive victory.

Kolten Wong had three hits and three RBIs as St. Louis (65-55) pulled within four games of the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs and moved within one game of the Philadelphia Phillies for the second NL wild card. The Cardinals also improved to 18-9 since Mike Shildt was named interim manager on July 13, the most wins for a manager through his first 27 games in franchise history.

"Things are starting to click for us," Wong said. "We're playing confident. We're out there playing aggressive and I think it's the kind of baseball Cardinals fans have been waiting for."

The Nationals (60-60) have dropped six of eight to fall eight games behind Atlanta in the NL East.

"We've just got to keep pulling the same rope, keep grinding it out, keep trying to win ballgames," Nationals slugger Bryce Harper said.

Gant (5-4) permitted four hits and struck out six in 5 1/3 innings. He has given up just two earned runs over 11 1/3 innings in his last two starts, both wins.

The 26-year-old Gant was 0 for 30 for his career when he drove a 1-1 pitch from Gio Gonzalez (7-9) over the wall in left in the second. The two-run shot gave Washington a 3-0 lead.

"I was jogging kind of my hands in the air," said Wong, who scored on Gant's homer. "I already knew it was going out. Looking back I think he almost caught me."

Added Gant, "I thought it was going to hit the wall maybe but when I finally looked up and (Wong) was looking back at me, that's when I knew it was going over the wall."

Gant, who has a reputation for being a stoic player, admitted to smiling "once or twice" once he got back to the dugout.

Wong's solo homer made it 6-1 in the sixth, but Washington responded with three in the eighth. Harper hit a two-run shot, and Daniel Murphy singled in Anthony Rendon.

Matt Adams then struck out looking against Dakota Hudson, ending the inning, and Jordan Hicks worked the ninth for his fourth save in eight chances.

Paul DeJong also doubled and scored for St. Louis one night after he connected for a game-ending homer in a 7-6 victory. Matt Carpenter walked in the sixth to extend his on-base streak to 32 games.

"We have a 25-man roster and we have confidence in all of them," Shildt said. "They're here for a reason and guys are looking to contribute every night and in different ways."

Gonzalez was charged with five runs and five hits in four innings. The veteran left-hander is just 1-4 in his last six starts.

"I wasn't hitting my spots," Gonzalez said. "Just not being as consistent in the strike zone as I should be. It's just one of those games you can't explain."

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Nationals place Ryan Madson on 10-day DL

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Nationals place Ryan Madson on 10-day DL

Ryan Madson is the latest Washington National headed to the DL, turning the team's relief pitching rotation upside down even more than it already is. 

According to MASN's Dan Kolko, the 37-year-old is nursing a "lumbar nerve root irritation" injury and will sit out for 10 days. 

In response, the team has named Koda Glover as the closer, who was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse Wednesday. 

Glover gave up a game-ending solo blast to the Cardinals' Kevin DeJong Monday night. 

The night before, Madson was on the other end of David Bote's walk-off grand slam in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Cubs. 

As for Tuesday night, Glover's status remains unknown.

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