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Escobar, Moore power Nats' offense in blowout win


Escobar, Moore power Nats' offense in blowout win

When a team scores 13 runs in a game, there are usually plenty of contributors, and that was the case for the Nationals in their win over the Marlins on Sunday afternoon. But two players in particular - Yunel Escobar and Tyler Moore, who combined for seven RBI - stood out above all.

Escobar recorded his fourth four-hit game of the season on Sunday. It was his 13th game with three hits or more in 130 total games. That means he's had three hits or more in 10 percent of the games he's played this season.

This performance raised his season batting average from .319 to .324, good for fourth in the National League. Bryce Harper remains in first at .343, but Escobar is not far behind.

Escobar's biggest hit was a bases-clearing double in the sixth inning. He powered a line drive into the gap in right-center field to score Trea Turner, Stephen Strasburg and Michael Taylor.

"His secret to success is the ball hit to right-center field," manager Matt Williams said. "When he's going well, that's what he does. Got a couple of them back through the middle today. Just a really good game. But for him, the ball to right-center is indicative of him seeing the ball well and staying on it."

This is by some measures the best season of Escobar's nine-year MLB career. It's not only coming at the age of 32, but also in his first season with the Nats, who traded for him this past winter.

"He’s not thinking too much about numbers or looking at his stats," Escobar said through a translator. "He’s just going out there, playing the game and having fun and leaves everything up to God. Whatever falls, it’s been fortunate that things have been going well for him."

Escobar continued to explain how he is in a good state mentally and that, he believes, comes from a strong winter of training.

"He’s playing with a clean mind. He prepared himself real well this offseason, playing real relaxed. He said that’s why it’s leading to him having a good year," translator Octavio Martinez relayed from Escobar.

For Moore, the credit goes in part to an increase in playing time. Moore got starts on back-to-back days this weekend and homered in both games. His home run on Sunday as a three-run bomb to left field off Marlins lefty Justin Nicolino.

Before Saturday, Moore hadn't homered in a game since June 12, a span of 47 appearances. Him getting regular playing time surely hasn't hurt.

"The more he plays, the more rhythm he gets," Williams said.

"It feels good. Just to come in and play and be out there with my teammates," Moore added. "It was a fun, good atmosphere out there and two good wins for us."

Moore's three appearances prior to Saturday were either as a defensive replacement, pinch-hitter or pinch-runner. He was happy to make a larger contribution this weekend.

"Any time you get that opportunity, it's fun to get a couple of knocks or drive a guy in or do something small to help us out," he said.

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Stephen Strasburg returns to Nats lineup after DL stint

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Stephen Strasburg returns to Nats lineup after DL stint

Friday night marks the first second-half game of Major League Baseball's 162-game season. 

The Washington Nationals begin 5.5 games out of the first-place Phillies and host the second-place Braves for a three-game series before traveling to Milwaukee. 

One big piece to Dave Martinez's staff who has been missing since June 8 is Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander was activated from the DL and will start on the mound Friday night. 

Ryan Zimmerman was also activated but is not in Martinez's starting lineup. 

Prior to experiencing inflammation in his right shoulder during a June 8 start that forced him out of the game early, Strasburg saw flashes of dominance throughout his 13 starts owning a 3.46 ERA with 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings. 

Zimmerman hasn't played since May 9 due to a strained right oblique. With the emergence of Matt Adams, it will be interesting to see how Martinez uses both guys throughout the summer. 

Here is a look at Friday night's official lineup: 

According to Byron Kerr, Zimmerman is still happy to be back, despite not being in the starting lineup. 

Catch the Nationals hosting the Braves Friday at 7:05 p.m. on MASN2. 

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8 bold MLB predictions sure to be proven wrong

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8 bold MLB predictions sure to be proven wrong

It doesn't have quite the same feel as Opening Day, but the first games after the MLB All-Star break certainly have their own unique excitement to them.

Teams are jockeying for playoff position, and the trade deadline is rapidly approaching. The Nats have struggled through the first half, but are still within striking distance of a spot in the 2018 postseason, so every game matters.

To help get you ready for the rest of the 2018 regular season, our baseball writers have provided a couple of bold predictions which are sure to be proven wrong by August.

Bold predictions for the second half of the 2018 MLB season:

Ryan Wormeli: 1) Despite the consensus top three teams in baseball all residing in the American League, this year’s World Series champion will be a National League squad.

2) Max Scherzer does NOT win the National League Cy Young award, even though most fans agree he has the best statistical season.

Cam Ellis: 1) Bryce Harper ends up with 45 home runs this season.

2) Koda Glover eventually gets the 7th inning spot.

Michaela Johnson: 1) Nationals win the NL East (I know this VERY bold but like I said I have high expectations).

2) Tanner Roark will get back on top of his game.

Tyler Byrum: 1) The Milwaukee Brewers will drop out of the playoff hunt. 

Every year the Brewers seem to be close to running away with the NL Central. Then, once we get closer to the All-Star break and move beyond they go silent. It’s getting quite ridiculous at this point. Last year they had 50 wins in the first half, finished with only 86.

2) Philadelphia will make a trade deadline acquisition, but it will not get them over the hump. 

There are just too many issues with the Phillies; starting pitching behind Aaron Nola, consistent batting as a team, and the bullpen. They’ve done a fantastic job to piece together a 53-42 record and sit atop the division, but it will be tough to maintain it. 

Right now, they are almost the exact opposite of the Nationals.