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Gio, Harper win May NL honors

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Gio, Harper win May NL honors

For a franchise that has rarely boasted any prominent award winners in its brief history, the Nationals certainly are experiencing a reversal of fortunes this season.

The Nationals learned today left-hander Gio Gonzalez was named NL Pitcher of the Month for May and outfielder Bryce Harper was named NL Rookie of the Month for May.

Gonzalez was 5-0 with a 2.25 ERA in five starts last month, leading the league with 45 strikeouts. In voting among media members across baseball, the lefty beat out the Mets' R.A. Dickey (4-0, 1.83), the Phillies' Cole Hamels (5-0, 2.25) and the Dodgers' Chris Capuano (4-1, 1.62).

Harper, meanwhile, earned the first award of his big-league career by hitting .271 with 21 runs, four triples, four homers and 10 RBI. The 19-year-old former No. 1 draft pick beat out the likes of Diamondbacks right-hander Wade Miley (3-1, 3.16), Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso (.298 average, one homer, 10 RBI), Phillies second baseman Freddy Galvis (.255, two homers, 18 RBI) and Reds third baseman Todd Frazier (.246, five homers, 11 RBI).

Thus, the Nationals' early season run on official MLB awards continues. Stephen Strasburg already earned NL Pitcher of the Month honors for April. He and Gonzalez become the first teammates to win the award in back-to-back months since the Braves' Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe in August and September 2010.

This is uncharted territory for the Nationals. In their first seven seasons of existence, they won only two monthly awards: Ryan Church was NL Rookie of the Month in May 2005, and Chad Cordero was NL Pitcher of the Month in June 2005.

So in the last two months, the Nationals have won more awards than they amassed in the previous seven years combined.

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2018 MLB Home Run Derby: Bracket, time, odds and how to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

2018 MLB Home Run Derby: Bracket, time, odds and how to watch

The Home Run Derby is officially here! Monday night, Nationals Park will host one of the most anticipated events of the All-Star Week, where the best sluggers in baseball will see how many dingers they can rack up as they face off against each other.

Everyone loves a good home-run show, so before the derby kicks off, here's what you need to know about it, from the start time to the TV channel to the lineup – which, of course, includes Bryce Harper in his second Home Run Derby with a slight home-field advantage.

Eight players have been seeded against each other, and despite the unusual lack of star power in this year's lineup — including missing Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge — this should still be a good show.

There are seven players from the National League and just one from the American League, and the Nats' home-town hero could reasonably win. Harper is the only player participating this year who has previously played in a Home Run Derby, after finishing second in 2013 to Yoenis Cespedes.

So before the Derby starts, here's what you need to know.

HOW TO WATCH

What: 2018 MLB Home Run Derby

Where: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.

Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

Stream online: Watch ESPN

LINEUP AND SEEDS ( *NL, #AL)

The seeding for this year's bracket was determined based on the number of home runs each player had accumulated by the end of last Tuesday's games, and any ties were broken by the number of total home runs dating back to June 15. Anyone whose home run total going into the derby is different from that at the deadline is noted.

1. Jesus Aguilar, Milwaukee Brewers*

Batting average: .298

2018 HRs: 24 (23 at deadline)

2. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals*

Batting average: .214

2018 HRs: 23 (22 at deadline)

3. Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers*

Batting average: .271

2018 HRs: 22 (21 at deadline)

4. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros#

Batting average: .288

2018 HRs: 20 (19 at deadline)

5. Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs*

Batting average: .249

2018 HRs: 18 (17 at deadline)

6. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs*

Batting average: .292

2018 HRs: 19 (17 at deadline)

7. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves*

Batting average: .315

2018 HRs: 16 

8. Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies*

Batting average: .252

2018 HRs: 14

THE BRACKET


THE FORMAT

There are three rounds through the bracket with a single-elimination one-on-one format, with the lower seed batting first.

Each player will have four minutes per round, and each batter is allowed one 45-second timeout in the first round and semifinals, plus two timeouts in the final round of 45 seconds and 30 seconds. If a player hits a home run that equals or exceeds 440 feet, an additional 30 seconds will be added to the clock.

However, if the second batter passes the first batter's total, the round ends, and he will be declared the winner. 

Should there be a tie, players will compete in a 60-second swing-off with no timeouts allowed. If that ends and there is still a tie, they will have three-swing swing-offs until there is a winner.

ODDS

Per OddsShark.com, Mr. Bryce Harper has the best odds to win the 2018 MLB Home Run Derby, followed by Kyle Schwarder,  Javier Baez and Jesus Aguilar. Here's the breakdown.

Harper +225

Schwarber +350

Baez +500

Aguilar +500

Muncy +650

Freeman +750

Hoskins +900

Bregman +1000

LAST YEAR'S RESULTS

New York Yankees' slugger Aaron Judge is the defending Home Run Derby champ, but he opted not to participate this year.

MORE ALL-STAR GAME NEWS

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Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

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Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner each hit a two-run single in Washington's five-run seventh inning, helping the Nationals beat the New York Mets 6-1 on Sunday.

Matt Adams added two hits and scored a run as Washington salvaged a split of its four-game set against New York. A preseason favorite to win the NL East and contend for a World Series championship, the disappointing Nationals hit the All-Star break with a 48-48 record, good for third in the division.

Jeremy Hellickson (4-1) pitched six crisp innings in his second straight win. The veteran right-hander allowed one run and two hits, struck out six and walked two.

Jose Reyes drove in Michael Conforto with a fielder's choice in the second, tying it at 1, but Washington grabbed control in the seventh.

Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon opened the inning with walks against Anthony Swarzak (0-2). Tim Peterson then came in and surrendered singles to Adams and Murphy, who came off the bench to hit for Michael A. Taylor.

Jerry Blevins replaced Peterson with two out and runners on second and third. But he hit Wilmer Difo and Adam Eaton before Turner's single gave Washington a 6-1 lead.

New York wasted a solid start by Corey Oswalt, who allowed two hits in five innings. The Mets got off to a fast start this year, but hit the break last in the division with a 39-55 record, a percentage point behind fourth-place Miami.

WAITING

A steady drizzle delayed the start by 47 minutes.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) pitched 5 2/3 innings in a rehab start for Class A Potomac. He allowed three runs, struck out seven and walked one. Strasburg has been on the disabled list since June 10.

Mets: Yoenis Cespedes is scheduled to play five simulated innings in left field at the team's facility in Florida on Monday. Mets manager Mickey Callaway said the 32-year-old outfielder, who has been sidelined by a right hip flexor and strained quadriceps, could return as the designated hitter next weekend against the Yankees If he is able to play on consecutive days.

MAKING MOVES

The Nationals recalled right-hander Trevor Gott from Triple-A Syracuse. Right-hander Austin Voth, who took the loss in his big league debut Saturday, was sent back to Syracuse.

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