Nationals

Reds lose ace, win first playoff game in 17 years

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Reds lose ace, win first playoff game in 17 years

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Brandon Phillips still sees the highlights of his weak grounder for the final out in Roy Halladay's no-hitter of the Cincinnati Reds in an embarrassing playoff opener two years ago.

Now, Phillips and the Reds have their own memorable winning playoff moment. After losing their ace, no less.

Sam LeCure, Mat Latos and three other pitchers shut down San Francisco after Johnny Cueto went out in the first inning with a back injury, and Cincinnati was powered by home runs from Phillips and Jay Bruce to beat the Giants 5-2 in Game 1 of the NL division series Saturday night.

Phillips hit a two-run homer in the third, and Bruce added a solo drive leading off the fourth as the Reds overcame the departure of their 19-game winner after just eight pitches.

Phillips added an RBI single in the ninth for his third hit and the Reds scored another on a passed ball. This one takes some of the sting out of that short-lived 2010 run.

``I still see it now. They always show it on TV. They show me on TV making the last out, and it kind of (stinks),'' Phillips said. ``But honestly I'm glad it did happen.''

Aroldis Chapman gave up a run in the ninth on a wild pitch but struck out Buster Posey with a 100 mph fastball to end it with runners on second and third.

San Francisco's Matt Cain allowed his first career postseason earned runs after going untouched during the Giants' improbable World Series season of 2010.

That same year, Cincinnati was swept out of the first round by the Phillies after getting no-hit by Halladay. This time, the Reds clobbered Cain and played on with poise when Cueto got hurt.

``The pitch to Bruce wasn't too terrible but the hanging breaking ball to Phillips is just something that you don't want to happen in a big-game situation like this,'' Cain said.

Reds skipper Dusty Baker earned an emotional win in his return to AT&T Park for the playoffs 10 years after managing the Giants within six outs of a World Series title before losing to the wild-card Angels. He's also back on the top step of the dugout after rejoining the team this week following an 11-game absence while recovering from a mini-stroke and irregular heartbeat.

Game 2 is Sunday night, with right-hander Bronson Arroyo (12-10) taking the ball for the Reds against San Francisco lefty Madison Bumgarner (16-11).

LeCure did his part to calm the team.

The right-hander earned the win with 1 2-3 innings before Baker turned to 14-game winner Mat Latos, who appeared unfazed at being forced into early duty on three days' rest. He allowed a home run to Posey during his four innings, but San Francisco managed little else against one of baseball's best bullpens.

``We were just fortunate to win that game, like the way we did tonight, and you got to give big props to Latos,'' Baker said. ``Here is a guy sitting back, relaxed, thinking he was going to pitch next week at home and now all of the sudden, boom, this is his first playoff game. It was a great feat by him.''

Latos - a longtime Giants nemesis during his Padres days - threw a 20-pitch bullpen session before the game. When pitching coach Bryan Price checked with Latos, he made it clear he could go, then went up to the clubhouse to grab his spikes. He came in to boos from all directions.

``I felt real comfortable. It's a team I've pitched well against and I've pitched against a lot,'' Latos said. ``I'm glad I got the loudest boo. It's been weak for the last couple years.''

The Reds set a club record this year as all five starters made it through the season without getting injured - and they used their sixth starter for a doubleheader.

Other Cincinnati clubs might not have had it in them to withstand losing a starter like Cueto. The Reds have had a tough go come playoff time.

But Baker has long been confident in the ``fight'' of this bunch, which already dealt with losing Ryan Madson and two other relievers before the season started.

The 63-year-old Baker was greeted by a rousing ovation during pregame introductions from an orange-towel-waving sellout crowd of 43,492. The main center field scoreboard read ``WELCOME BACK DUSTY GREAT TO SEE YOU BACK IN THE DUGOUT.''

Baker has vowed this team is something special - ``They love each other and they hang together,'' he said.

The Reds had dropped seven straight playoff games dating to 1995, when now-Nationals manager Davey Johnson and Cincinnati were swept in the NL championship series by Atlanta.

``I swear, I don't know any of these numbers,'' Baker said when it came up before the game. ``You can't do anything about the last 17 years, whatever it is.''

Latos began the third, working in relief for the first time since the minors, after pitching five innings Tuesday at St. Louis. While he had been set to go Game 3 on Tuesday in Cincinnati, the Reds said Cueto is day to day and certainly are hoping he'll be ready later this series.

``He didn't give us any sense of doubt he could do it,'' Price said of Latos.

Posey homered to left leading off the sixth for San Francisco, drawing cheers of ``M-V-P! M-V-P!'' for the NL batting champion. It was his second career postseason home run and gave him a six-game postseason hitting streak dating to his 2010 Rookie of the Year season.

Cain was left to watch at that point, and he hardly looked happy visiting with manager Bruce Bochy in the dugout after being pulled before the bottom of the fifth for George Kontos.

The right-hander went 23 1-3 postseason innings without allowing an earned run, fifth-longest in major league history.

But two of Cain's five defeats this season were lopsided losses against the Reds - 9-2 and 5-0 - in which he allowed a total of four home runs, eight earned runs and 16 hits in 13 innings.

He had everything in his favor, pitching from the very mound where he tossed the first perfect game in franchise history June 13 against the Astros. He won his final six decisions of the regular season dating to a loss at St. Louis on Aug. 6.

The Reds survived third baseman Scott Rolen's throwing error that allowed Hunter Pence to reach starting the fourth. Brandon Belt lined into a double play moments later and Latos got out unscathed.

Chapman put runners on first and second in the ninth and Baker paid him a visit. One out later he walked Marco Scutaro before the Giants scored on a wild pitch. Posey struck out to end it.

Now, the Reds hope to get Cueto back later this series.

The right-hander threw a second strike to No. 2 hitter Scutaro and walked off the mound in obvious pain. A trainer and Baker rushed out to check on him, and Cueto came out moments later.

He retired leadoff man Angel Pagan on a strikeout. During the at-bat, Pagan stepped out of the batter's box and was granted time. Cueto apparently didn't see it and continued his motion. But Baker said Cueto had felt some discomfort before the game and was alerted by Price.

He threw eight pitches and six strikes for the earliest postseason exit by a starter since Atlanta's John Thomson lasted one-third of an inning in Game 3 of a 2004 NL division series against Houston. Thomson came out with a sore muscle in his left side.

``You hated to see anybody lose their starter, but they brought in a good one, too,'' Bochy said.

NOTES: Bruce is .533 (8 for 15) lifetime vs. Cain. ... San Francisco won Game 1 in each of its 2010 series - the division series against Atlanta, NLCS vs. Philadelphia and the World Series against the Rangers. ... The franchises faced each other in the playoffs for the first time.

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Adam Eaton calls Todd Frazier ‘childish’ after the ex-teammates get into it again

Adam Eaton calls Todd Frazier ‘childish’ after the ex-teammates get into it again

NEW YORK -- Normal is not something the Nationals do this season.

Monday’s pivot from the mundane -- an otherwise run-of-the-mill 5-3 baseball game -- came when Adam Eaton was jogging toward the visitors dugout in the bottom of the third inning when he stopped to respond to New York third baseman Todd Frazier, whom Eaton said was chirping at him all night.

This is not new. The two were teammates on the Chicago White Sox in 2016 and did not get along. Last year, Frazier and Eaton also had an exchange. The one Monday night at Citi Field prompted several members of the Nationals to hop over the dugout railing while Frazier and Eaton were being restrained near the first base bag. First base umpire Mike Estabrook cutoff Eaton who was walking toward Frazier after initially heading to the dugout following a 4-6-3 double play which ended the inning for the Nationals. When Frazier came toward the Mets dugout from his position at third base, the two began their spat.

Afterward, Frazier declined to comment in the Mets’ clubhouse, saying only, “It was nothing.” Eaton took the opportunity to expound on his displeasure with the incident, its continuation and Frazier himself.

“Yeah, I don’t know,” Eaton said. “Gosh, who knows what goes through that guy’s mind? He’s chirping all the way across the infield. He must really like me, [because] he wants to get my attention it seems like every time we come into town, he really cares what I think about him. I don’t know what his deal is, if he wants to talk to me in person or have a visit or what it is. But he’s always yelling across the infield at me, making a habit of it.

“He’s one of those guys who always says it loud enough that you hear it but can’t understand it. So, he’s making a habit of it. I ignored him a couple times chirping coming across, but I had it to the point where I’m not going to say the saying I want to say but you got to be a man at some point. So, I turned around, had a few choice words with him. It’s funny, I was walking towards him, he didn’t really want to walk towards me but as soon as someone held him back then he was all of a sudden he was really impatient, like trying to get towards me. Just being Todd Frazier. What’s new?”

Asked if he is surprised such exchanges are still happening three years after they played together, Eaton said he was.

“Yes, absolutely,” Eaton said. “He’s very childish. I’m walking with my head down, play’s over, I’m walking away. I can still hear him. I’m a 30-year-old man with two kids, got a mortgage and everything. He wants to loud talk as he’s running off the field. At the end of the day, I got to be a man about it. I tried to stay patient with the childishness, but it is what it is. I got to stand up eventually.”

He did, and what could have been merely Game 47 for a struggling team turned out to be something else.

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Patrick Corbin’s rough beginning a hole Nationals can’t emerge from

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Patrick Corbin’s rough beginning a hole Nationals can’t emerge from

NEW YORK -- The Washington Nationals lost to the New York Mets, 5-3, Monday to drop their record to 19-28. Here are five observations from the game…

1. A wondrous, very Mets day preceded the game.

Their general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, held a press conference to announce...Yoenis Cespedes -- already out because of dual heel surgeries -- suffered multiple ankle fractures during a ranch accident over the weekend. Van Wagenen then went on to profess his support for maligned New York manager Mickey Callaway -- for the most part. Last, and most important to writers, three boxes of donuts were in the press box with a note: “Have a great series! -- BVW”.

Things are always a little different in Flushing. That was a problem for the Nationals.

In what could be labeled a “reverse-lock” situation, Washington’s $140 million starter, Patrick Corbin, was outpitched by unknown and often ineffective Wilmer Font, whom the Nationals smacked around just five days ago. The Nationals, as they often do, dragged themselves back into the game after trailing 4-0. A Juan Soto single drove in Anthony Rendon in the eighth to cut the lead to 4-3. Rendon was on base four times.

And, again, it was just enough to produce a close loss. Washington put two runners on with none out against dynamic New York closer Edwin Diaz before Kurt Suzuki flew out, Trea Turner grounded into a fielder's choice and Adam Eaton flew out.

The Nationals drop to nine games under .500 following one-run and two-run defeats. They also fell to 2-14 in series openers.

2. A rough, short evening for Corbin.

He trudged through the night on 98 pitches. Corbin lasted just five innings. He walked three, gave up four earned runs, struck out seven.

His night was a mess early. Amed Rosario and Pete Alonso homered in the first inning. Two walks in the third -- one with two outs -- led to two more runs scoring. He zipped through the fourth and fifth before being removed.

Corbin has endured two blowups this season in an otherwise quality first two months: Monday and April 29 against St. Louis. The latter outing featured four walks and a homer allowed against one of the league’s better offenses. Monday’s bad outing came against a Mets lineup which did not feature Robinson Cano to start and entered the evening 21st in wOBA.

Bad timing. Bad night.

3. Tanner Rainey made his Nationals debut Monday. He was interesting.

Rainey gave up a hustle double to pinch-hitter Cano -- yes, hustle and Cano -- but otherwise showed a sharp fastball-slider combination.

Rainey was the return for Tanner Roark in the offseason trade that sent Roark to Cincinnati during the Winter Meetings.

He has command trouble. He also throws 98-100 mph with ease. Asked in spring training where that velocity comes from, Rainey said his legs and weight lifting. No secret sauce. He lifted more, he threw harder. And he subsequently repeated the process.

Rainey’s velocity will always intrigue. The question is if he can command his two-pitch arsenal enough to become an actual bullpen weapon. The baseline tools are there.

4. A shuffle in the relief corps is coming.

Tony Sipp (oblique) was activated from the 10-day injured list Monday. Dan Jennings was designated for assignment. That experiment is over. Jennings signed a minor-league contract April 15. He was in the majors April 30. He’s gone less than a month later. He did not pitch well.

The Nationals claimed right-handed Javy Guerra off waivers Monday. Guerra was designated for assignment by Toronto. Guerra pitched 14 innings for the Blue Jays this season, with a 3.86 ERA and 3.17 FIP. In other words, distinctly better than most in the Nationals bullpen.

Washington expects Guerra to arrive in New York on Tuesday. Kyle McGowin is likely to be sent back to Triple-A Fresno to make room. So, two fresh pitchers in the bullpen early in the week.

Trevor Rosenthal should also be back shortly. He is expected to throw an inning for Double-A Harrisburg on Tuesday. Rainey will likely be sent back to the minor leagues to make room there.

And, a situation in West Palm Beach, Fla., to keep an eye on: reliever Austen Williams had to be shut down to allow his shoulder to rest. Williams threw 40 pitches at the spring training facility the first week of May, when he appeared on his way back from the 10-day injured list. However, he has stopped throwing after experiencing further shoulder soreness. He was placed on the injured list April 19 because of a sprained right AC joint.

5. Matt Adams worked with the team on the field Monday, which he expects to do the next two days.

He’s on the verge of being activated before the week is out.

“I watched him [Monday] and he took some really good swings,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how he feels [Tuesday]. I’m assuming that he might be a little sore, because he did take some swings and he’s going to continue to do baseball activities [Monday]. But we’ll see how he feels.”

Adams’ 15-day absence has handcuffed Martinez in multiple ways. Take Sunday. Right-handed slider-thrower Steve Cishek on the mound. Left-handed hitters’ OPS against Cishek is 143 points higher than right-handers. But, no Adams meant no left-handed pinch-hitter.

Those issues should be over soon.

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