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Fister pitches Nationals to 2nd straight 1-0 win over Mets

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Fister pitches Nationals to 2nd straight 1-0 win over Mets

NEW YORK (AP) -- Doug Fister breezed through his latest dominant outing against the Mets, and the Washington Nationals held on for their second straight 1-0 win over New York at Citi Field on Sunday.

It was the first time in franchise history, dating to the team's Montreal debut in 1969, the Nationals won consecutive 1-0 games, according to STATS.

Ryan Zimmerman blooped an RBI single in the first inning, and the Nationals took three of four from the NL East leaders to make it 17 victories in their last 19 tries in Queens. A heavy favorite to win the division, Washington has won five of six behind its vaunted rotation following a six-game losing streak.

Nationals reliever Matt Thornton struck out Lucas Duda with two runners in scoring position in the eighth, and Aaron Barrett whiffed cleanup man Michael Cuddyer to end the inning. Drew Storen pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save.

Prior to Gio Gonzalez's win Saturday night, saved by Storen, the Nationals had not won 1-0 on the road since May 15, 2008, also against the Mets.

Fister (2-1) threw 68 of 89 pitches for strikes before a quick hook from manager Matt Williams with a runner on second and one out in the seventh. Tanner Roark, one of four relievers who combined to finish a five-hitter, kept New York off the scoreboard.

Fister allowed those five hits and walked none while improving to 5-0 with a 0.82 ERA in five starts against the Mets, who have dropped five of six. They are 3-7 since their 11-game winning streak.

Dillon Gee (0-2) was chased in the sixth. He has lasted at least five innings in 51 straight starts, breaking the previous club record held by Dwight Gooden (1987-89). It is the longest active streak in the majors.

The last time the Mets had lost 1-0 on consecutive days was Sept. 4-5, 1990, at St. Louis and Pittsburgh, STATS said.

The previous team to defeat New York 1-0 on back-to-back days was the Chicago Cubs in April 1973 at Shea Stadium. Ferguson Jenkins beat Tom Seaver in the opener in a matchup of future Hall of Famers.

Cuddyer robbed Zimmerman of a fourth-inning home run with a leaping grab at the 358-foot sign in left.

Gee, however, faded quickly after working hard in the middle innings. He escaped a jam in the fifth against the middle of the lineup and then reached base himself in the bottom half. The pitcher was running on four consecutive full-count deliveries before Curtis Granderson struck out to end the inning.

Perhaps completely gassed, Gee never got another out. He was pulled with the bases loaded following his fifth walk, but Alex Torres momentarily rescued the Mets by striking out three straight to prevent any damage.

Gee walked his first batter and New York, shaky on the infield, squandered two chances to turn a double play. That proved costly when Zimmerman poked a two-out RBI single off the end of his broken bat on an 0-2 pitch.

Fister retired 14 of 15 before Gee's two-out single in the fifth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: CF Denard Span (abdomen) was back in the leadoff spot after sitting out two games because of soreness and fatigue.

Mets: Struggling SS Wilmer Flores was rested for the second consecutive game. "We've got to get his mind straight first. And so, get him out, give him a couple days to think about it and get him back in there," manager Terry Collins said. "We're just hoping that a couple days off kind of refreshes him and gets him back on track." Ruben Tejada started at shortstop again.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Following a 5-5 road trip in NL East cities, Jordan Zimmermann (2-2) pitches Monday night at home in the opener of a three-game series against Miami. Zimmermann threw the first no-hitter in Nationals history against the Marlins in the regular-season finale last year. He gave up two runs over six innings in a no-decision at Miami on April 24.

Mets: Monday and Thursday are off days for the Mets, bookending a two-game interleague series versus visiting Baltimore. Bartolo Colon (4-1, 3.31 ERA) starts Tuesday night against Bud Norris (1-2, 12.18).

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Nats' Max Scherzer puts pitching arm to good use thanks to Alex Ovechkin's hat trick

Nats' Max Scherzer puts pitching arm to good use thanks to Alex Ovechkin's hat trick

Washington National ace Max Scherzer is putting his throwing arm to good use in the offseason thanks to Alex Ovechkin.

The pitcher and his wife, Erica May-Scherzer, were in attendance for the Caps' 6-2 blowout win over the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night where Ovi notched a hat trick for the first time since Nov. 25, 2017.

In classic hat trick celebratory fashion, Scherzer threw his cap onto the ice at Capital One Arena.

Scherzer has always been a big supporter of the Caps. Back in June, the Cy Young Award winner and Nats first baseman, Ryan Zimmerman, led the "Lets Go Caps" chant during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. He even credited striking out 13 batters the following day to the Caps' win. 

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Nationals are receiving calls about Tanner Roark

Nationals are receiving calls about Tanner Roark

LAS VEGAS -- On Line 1 is a team interested in Tanner Roark.

They should be. Durable, trustworthy, rather effective, affordable. These are traits for Roark, even considering a down season in 2018.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has fielded inquiries on his 32-year-old fourth starter since signing Patrick Corbin. Other organizations wonder if the Nationals now have a pitching surplus. They don’t. For that reason, and the same ones that make Roark attractive to others, his final season before free agency is very likely to occur in Washington.

“Teams look favorably on a one-year guy that could help them,” Rizzo said. “We’ve spoken to a couple of teams about it, but nothing serious or imminent that’s happening at this point.”

Receiving a proper return would be difficult. Moving Roark would increase a risk of 2018 when the Nationals’ rotation picked up two injuries and went careening into a bad place outside of Max Scherzer. The high-end organizational depth at the spot is limited to non-existent. Washington will cross its fingers about Joe Ross or Erick Fedde in the fifth spot. It wants to move with assurances in spots 1-4. Dealing Roark undermines that idea. 

“We always talk about depth,” Rizzo said. “And to eliminate a pitcher like Roark, we would certainly like to strengthen that strength, if we were to make a deal for him.”

In other words, thanks for calling.

Taylor is wintering in the Dominican

Michael A. Taylor typically spends his winters in Florida. He’s spending a chunk of this December in the Dominican Republic, where he is playing winter ball.

Taylor knew at the end of a dismal offensive season he wanted to do extra work in the offseason. The plan was for him to get with hitting coach Kevin Long.

An idea came up: What about winter ball?

Taylor was reluctant at first. He’s entering his age-28 season with five years in the major leagues behind him. Going to winter ball is atypical for such a player.

But, there’s a lot to fix. Taylor’s voluminous strikeout rate and lack of overall contact have undermined his plethora of other abilities. The Nationals need him to make more contact so he can also be a problem on the basepaths. Taylor stole 24 bases in 2018.

The Nationals don’t expect him to be is a .300 hitter. Anything close to the .270 Taylor hit in 2017 would be more than fine. 

“Hopefully he hones down in his swing and puts the ball in play and help us out a lot,” manager Davey Martinez said. 

Martinez sees a path for Taylor to play quite a bit. Victor Robles will need breaks. Adam Eaton will need breaks. Juan Soto … not so much. But, that leaves room for Taylor to tag some starts as well as certain spot usage later in games defensively or on the bases. If his swing is improved, all the better for the Nationals. 

What is Corbin bringing?

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo watched Corbin for two seasons. What he saw was someone who adopted the gameplan born of analytics, added an effective off-speed pitch while shelving another, then turned into one of the top left-handed starters in baseball. 

“I think he was sent to the bullpen [earlier],” Lovollo said. “In '17 he started to develop a lot of confidence in a couple different pitches that he was landing at any time. And that's all that hard work that he's putting in behind the scenes to make good things happen.

“He believed in scouting reports. He believed in pitching plans that we put in place. And he was starting to have a lot of success that he carried over into 2018.

“When I first met Patrick, he had a lot on his mind. He was frustrated by a lot of things and maybe being a little bit misunderstood. I encouraged him to be himself and trust those around him. He did that. He had a couple of pitching coaches and really good catching corps that he developed a strong relationship with. And you could see it yielded very, very good results.

“So Washington is getting a very special player. We're going to miss him in Arizona. We knew that was a strong possibility that was going to happen.”

Interesting to hear is Lovullo suggesting Corbin wasn’t all-in with what analytics were saying about pitch selection. That changed after further conversations with the coaching staff. So did his results.

“I think at the beginning when we were bringing some new normals into the organization, the start of the '17 -- more specifically, in Spring Training '17, he was kind of resisting it and he was going to rely on some of the things that he was good at that worked prior to that point in his career,” Lovullo said. “But the more he trusted and began to develop relationships with very important people inside of that, inside of that pitching room, he started to see some really good results.

“So I know that, like I said, he delivered the pitches. He made all good things happen by him going on the mound and dialing it up. But he went out there with a lot of confidence, had a great plan in follow-up. Took some time for him to develop that relationship, and it became very powerful.”

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