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Harper and Williams ejected again, Nats rally again


Harper and Williams ejected again, Nats rally again

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals don't seem to know how to play a boring ballgame right now, and Wednesday night's 3-2 win over the Yankees was only the latest example of that, with the third-inning ejections of Bryce Harper and Matt Williams stealing the spotlight from what already was going to be a compelling contest.

Both Harper and Williams were ejected by plate umpire Marvin Hudson, who appeared to be upset Harper wasn't in the batter's box while Williams was arguing a low strike one call from the dugout. Harper, who had been in the box right after the strike was called, reacted toward Hudson and was rung up by the ump, who moments later sent Williams packing as well when the manager stood up for his star slugger.

It was the second time both Harper and Williams were ejected in the last week. And just as they did last Wednesday in Arizona, the Nationals rallied to bail out their tossed mates. Jordan Zimmermann overcame a shaky first inning to toss seven strong frames. Tyler Moore tied the game with a solo homer in the fourth. And then Denard Span drove in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded single in the seventh, giving the Nats their first lead of the night.

Rookie Matt Grace impressed again with a scoreless eighth, setting up Drew Storen to strike out Alex Rodriguez in the ninth and secure the Nationals' 17th win in their last 21 games. And with the Mets getting blown out by the Cardinals, the Nats were in position to take over sole possession of first place in the NL East for the first time in 2015 by night's end.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: You know who has been really important to the Nationals' sustained hot streak over the last 3-plus weeks? Span. This run has directly coincided with the leadoff man's resurgence, and it continued Wednesday. Span's RBI single through the left side of the infield in the bottom of the seventh gave the Nats the lead and it continued Span's impressive run. He's now hitting .384 since April 28, with seven multi-hit games the last eight times he's played.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Two batters in, Zimmermann appeared to be in trouble. He gave up a game-opening single to Brett Gardner, then an RBI double to Carlos Beltran (who later scored on a sac fly). But the right-hander quickly composed himself and wound up pitching a gem. Zimmermann went seven innings, never giving up another run along the way and keeping his pitch count at a mere 88. This was an important start for him during what has been a slow-to-progress season. Zimmermann now has several strong outings to build off as he rounds into his form from the last few years.

KEY STAT: Wilson Ramos' 19-game hitting streak (longest in the majors this season) ended after an 0-for-4 night. (He did reach on a fielding error.)

UP NEXT: The Nationals get a rare second day off in a week Thursday, then return Friday to host the Phillies in a weekend series. Max Scherzer (4-3, 1.75) and Sean O'Sullivan (1-2, 3.68) meet for the third time this season. (The Nats won each of the previous two encounters.)

MORE NATIONALS: Harper, Williams ejected vs. Yankees on Wednesday night

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A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did


A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did

Tuesday evening's All-Star game was fairly uneventful until its later innings. The American League triumphed over the National League, 8 - 6, for their sixth straight All-Star game victory.

Despite fears of potential rain and inclement weather delaying the game, there were no unexpected stops in play. 

The AL started very strong offensively, with runs from Aaron Judge and Mike Trout in the top of the second and third innings, respectively. Jean Segura's three-run homer in the top of the eighth made victory look inevitable for the AL by the fifth. 

Max Scherzer, unsurprisingly, was well received among fans at Nationals Park. The Nats starter pitched the first two innings, giving up four hits. One was Judge's second-inning homer, but Scherzer remained unfazed and lighthearted. Four strikeouts made his performance commendable.

Bryce Harper did not get on as well, striking out in both of his at-bats. After Harper's Home Run Derby win last night, there was chatter of him going for the MVP title as well. 

It didn't work out, but given Harper's consistent presence at the All-Star game, there's always another chance.

Elsewhere in the dugout for the NL, who rallied back from the three-run deficit, the kids were all right. Willson Contreras of the Cubs had a solo homer at the bottom of the third, the Rockies' Trevor Story had one in the seventh, and Christian Yelich added another in the eighth. A two-run homer by Scooter Gennett in the bottom of the ninth brought the game back to a 5-5 tie.

Jesus Aguilar struck out for the NL, and extra innings began.

In the top of the tenth, Alex Bregman and George Springer, both of the Astros, hit home runs almost immediately off of Dodgers pitcher Ross Stipling. Stop us if you've heard that one before.

With no outs, Michael Brantley took a sacrifice flyout to right field, and Jean Segura got in one more run to put the score at 8-5.

Though Joey Votto (Reds) hit one last home run in the bottom of the tenth, the NL couldn't quite make up the deficit.

After a late night, the American League will be going home happy.


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2018 MLB All-Star Game Live Blog


2018 MLB All-Star Game Live Blog

This is the year's most ambitious crossover event in baseball. Dozens of MLB standouts from dozens of teams ally along either the National or American league. The two teams play against each other in a lighthearted frankensquad matchup. It's a welcome change of pace, considering how stressed we are about the Nationals' win percentage.

At the moment, we're keeping our eyes to the sky to monitor incoming rain. Aside from the threat of rain delay, we're excited to see how things unfold.

TOP 10 - Yikes, uh, so that's two solo home runs, and still no outs?

BOT 9 - A lot of people have either Bad Bunny or Post Malone as their walk up music. Also, uh, Scooter did a two-run homer, so now we're going to extra innings.

TOP 9 - Nothing is happening. Yawn.

BOT 8 - Yelich homers! We love one Brewer! It's 5-3 AL.

TOP 8 - Segura hits a three-run homer. Cruz adds it to his Instagram story. The AL is up 5-2. Yikes.

TOP 8 - Blackmon is very charming when mic'd up. He's talking about how lonely the outfield is. In other adjacent boredom news, Mike Trout follows over 145 weather related accounts on twitter. Yes, we went through his 2,400 user long following list to check.

BOT 7 - Bottoms tend to be the most exciting. Arenado knows this. So he tied it with a solo homer.

TOP 7 - Please, we are all so tired, and this pace is so slow. Votto has a nice tag, Yelich loses a ball in the lights but still makes the out. 

BOT 6 - Everybody Hates The National League. Votto, Yelich, and Blackmon all come up short.

INT 6 - Everyone on the internet and the broadcast loses their minds over Manny Machado.

TOP 6 - Nelson Cruz goes up against pitcher Jeremy Jeffress to start the inning. We take a brief pause for another selfie. Isn't it kind of a bad idea to have your phone in your pocket when you're at bat? Anyway. Bregman hits a double, but is immediately outshined as we go to Manny Machado for an interview about how it feels to wear an Orioles uniform for (maybe) the last time. Limor pinch hits for Machado, and doesn't quite get it out of the park. Oh well.

BOT 5 - Contreras gets a hit off Jose Berrios and promptly gets tagged first. Javier Baez looks amazing at the plate, but flies out. Arenado walks. Trout-man catches Molina's almost-homer. NL, do better please.

TOP 5 - Aaron Nola strikes out Brandon Crawford fairly easily and Mookie Betts not so easily. Mike Trout, who looks like he would post pictures with trout and other fish on Instagram, pops up and across the first base line. Sorry AL.

BOT 4 - Bryce Harper faces Blake Snell and strikes out for the second time tonight. Maybe he thought tonight was a Strikeout Derby?

TOP 4 - Machado pops up to the third baseman in what may be his final at-bat wearing an Orioles uniform.

TOP 4 - Matt Kemp deftly avoids tampering charges when the FOX broadcast crew asks him about his selfie with Machado.

BOT 2 - Manny begins acquainting himself with his LA teammates.

BOT 2 - Chris Sale only stuck around for one inning, apparently. It's Luis Severino time in D.C. He allows a double from Matt Kemp to start but then strikes out Bryce Harper. 

TOP 2 - Aaron Judge takes Scherzer deep. 1-0 AL. Sigh.

BOT 1 - AL Starter Chris Sale responds with a scoreless frame of his own. We're on our way to that 3-2 thriller after all!!! 

TOP 1 - Scherzer strikes out Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve before walking Mike Trout (can't blame him) and allowing a hit to J.D. Martinez. No damage done though, and it's 0-0.