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D'backs 11, Nats 4: Things going from bad to worse

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D'backs 11, Nats 4: Things going from bad to worse

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: If Tuesday night's victory gave Nationals fans reason to calm down and believe things were turning in the right direction, Wednesday night's loss only gave them reason to completely reverse course and now fear the worst. This was among the ugliest games this team has played all season, and it only got worse as the night progressed.

Things started off fine when the Nationals plated a pair of first-inning runs off Rubby De La Rosa. But that's all they managed against the uninspiring Diamondbacks right-hander. Gio Gonzalez, meanwhile, labored to get through five innings on 93 pitches, yet emerged from that allowing only one run thanks to seven strikeouts (all with runners in scoring position).

Then came the top of the sixth inning, at which point the wheels fell off. Gonzalez was pulled after a leadoff single. Aaron Barrett entered and allowed three runs, two on his throwing error. It continued to devolve from that point on, with the Nationals giving up runs on a bases-loaded walk, a 3-run homer and a bases-loaded balk before Tyler Moore was brought in to record the final two outs of the ninth. Yes, Tyler Moore, the second position player ever to pitch in Nats history, both of them coming this season vs. Arizona.

And so the Nationals lost for the fifth time in six games, a span in which the Mets have gone 6-0 and thus now own a 2-game lead in the NL East.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: Everything from the first inning through the eighth inning. The Nationals managed zero runs and four hits after that against Rubby De La Rosa, David Hernandez, Addison Reed and Oliver Perez. Nothing else really to say about that.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: The top of the sixth might as well go down as the worst inning of the Nationals' season. Gonzalez was sitting on 93 pitches after five but hit for himself in the bottom of the inning and took the mound again after that. Except he was pulled after allowing a leadoff single. Enter Barrett, who imploded. The biggest mistake was a horribly wild throw to first base on a sac bunt attempt, the ball rolling all the way past the rolled-up tarp, two runs coming around to score on the play. Barrett wound up facing five batters and allowing four singles, at which point Matt Williams put him out of his misery and called for Roark to clean up the mess. Except Roark issued two straight walks, the latter with the bases loaded. When it was finally over, the Nats' 2-1 lead had turned into a 5-2 deficit that left many in the crowd booing.

KEY STAT: Gonzalez has failed to record an out in the sixth inning seven times in 20 starts this season.

UP NEXT: The series concludes at 4:05 p.m. Thursday when Joe Ross (2-3, 3.00) takes the mound for his seventh career start. Diamondbacks right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 4.95) makes his 129th career start.

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Nationals' Sean Doolittle makes statement on death of George Floyd

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Nationals' Sean Doolittle makes statement on death of George Floyd

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Sean Doolittle released a statement on Twitter on the death of George Floyd. 

Floyd, a black man, died in police custody after a police officer kept his knee on his neck for several minutes. His death has sparked civil unrest in Minneapolis, MN and in several other areas across the country.

Doolittle's screengrab text read: 

Racism is America's Original Sin. It was here before we even forged a nation, and has been pased down from generation to generation. And we still struggle to acknowledge that it even exists, much less atone for it. The generational trauma of racism and violence is killing black men and women before our eyes. We are told it is done in the name of, "law and order", but there is nothing lawful nor orderly about these murders.

My heart is heavy knowing that George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others should still be alive. We must not look away from the racism and the violence. We must never condone racism or extrajudicial violence in the name of "law and order." We must take action and call it out for what it is. We must recognize our shared humanity and atone for our Original Sin or else we will continue to curse future generations with it. RIP George Floyd. 

Earlier this week Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal was among several athletes that tweeted about Floyd's death.

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Max Scherzer continues to try to steer the union on a united front

Max Scherzer continues to try to steer the union on a united front

Blake Snell and Trevor Bauer have been examples A and B of what the union does not want to do during tenuous negotiations with Major League Baseball.

Public sentiment will not leak over to the players. They are the relatable ones, the ones fans scream at and for, the ones who have their jerseys or baseball cards bought. They are the emotional bond to the game. Not the owners. They’re a pack of men behind the curtain.

Which is why Snell and Bauer operating on their own runs counter to the union’s better interests -- and focus. A focus largely headed by the measured comments of Max Scherzer, or other prominent union representatives like St. Louis’ Andrew Miller.

Snell kicked off the what-not-to-do examples when he said the short-sighted and ill-informed, if accurate, “I gotta get my money” two weeks ago. That notion fed right into the perspective of player greed and the owners virtually high-fived. They stretched their inherent public relations lead thanks to Snell’s misstep.

Bauer made his inappropriate contribution where measured response goes to dies: Twitter. Bauer tweeted, “Hearing a LOT of rumors about a certain player agent meddling in MLBPA affairs. If true -- and at this point, these are only rumors -- I have one thing to say...Scott Boras, rep your clients however you want to, but keep your damn personal agenda out of union business.”

The rumors were true according to an Associated Press report. Boras sent a memo to his clients -- three of whom, including Scherzer, are on the MLBPA’s eight-player executive subcommittee -- which advised them not to “bail out” the owners. Boras argued the owners made bad financial decisions outside of baseball and the players’ salaries should not be a path to financial recuperation.

So, yes, Boras -- the sports’ most powerful agent -- is giving his clients his opinion of how to proceed. This is neither surprising nor unbecoming conduct. He negotiates for billions of dollars on an annual basis and does much of it while bending public perception. He’s more someone to listen to in these scenarios than tune out.

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Bauer’s desire to keep another agent out of union business is not a sin unto itself. His agent, Rachel Luba, is not part of the process. It’s understandable he wants to curtail other agents.

However, deciding to blast a tweet about it left other union members shaking their heads. And it’s in direct contrast to the approach Scherzer and others on the sub-committee have taken.

Scherzer’s late-night tweet was a measured, considered strike, in keeping with his general approach to public statements. Union work is second only to his primary function -- make all his starts -- when he views his job. He wants to relay specific points at specific times following forethought and consideration of the ripple effects. Basically the opposite of Bauer.

Look back to what Scherzer said about negotiations between the players and league in late March when they came together for an initial deal. Think about the points he makes here to NBC Sports Washington and how Bauer’s tweet undermines the priorities.

“All the players were very well connected,” Scherzer said then. “For having such a significant issue -- I don’t think baseball has ever been shut down, so we were navigating a situation that was constantly changing every 24 hours as we were trying to understand what was going to happen. And, we were trying to understand what we wanted in a deal.

“I got to commend the rest of the players in the league and the other players in the executive committee for everybody stepping up, being connected and sharing a voice. Trying to get as educated as possible to communicate it to the whole 1,200-player group. Try to get everybody’s desires of what they wanted in the deal, done. I thought we really acted extremely well together with our union leadership of coming up with what our wants were and working together as one to be able to get that done.”

This, again, is a key concept for the players. They need to be bonded in private, and even more so in public, which is why consistent messaging matters. Scherzer is among the cat herders here. No owner will be speaking out of turn. The players would be well-served to join them.

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