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On Harper's blasts and Nats' new-look pen

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On Harper's blasts and Nats' new-look pen

Some thoughts about the Nationals' 7-2 victory Wednesday night in Miami while watching the Mets-Brewers non-trade saga take one bizarre turn after another...

— If you were worried Bryce Harper was in a funk at the plate, don't be. No, he hadn't homered since July 18 off Kenley Jansen, but it's not like he had been completely stymied, either. In fact, Harper entered play Wednesday riding a 6-game hitting streak, having successfully reached base in 24 consecutive games.

All Harper really needed to get himself all the way back on track was a date with Tom Koehler, his favorite opposing pitcher in the world. Even before the two met Wednesday at Marlins Park, Harper already was 3-for-5 in his career against Koehler, with all three hits being home runs launched earlier this season at Nationals Park.

So, naturally, Harper did to Koehler yet again. His new, updated career stats against the right-hander: 5-for-8 with four homers. And that's before he got to face Sam Dyson later in the game and launch his second homer of the evening, this one a moonshot way into the second deck down the right-field line.

Just like that, Harper's power stroke has returned. He now has 29 homers in 93 games played (99 games for the club as a whole). If he can just get a few more at-bats against Koehler...

— He wasn't perfect, but Doug Fister was the best we've seen him in more than three weeks, holding the Marlins to to runs and four hits in six innings. Fister still gave up some hard-hit balls early on, with a bunch of outs recorded in the air and not on the ground. But as the night progressed, his sinker began to sink a bit more, leading to more groundball outs. He also struck out four batters in six innings, which is a good number by his typical standards.

Fister still has a ways to go to recapture his form from 2014. But this was an encouraging step in that direction...

Jonathan Papelbon joined his new club, though he wasn't needed to take the mound because of the 5-run victory. Still, we got a taste of what the reconfigured Nationals bullpen might look like when it matters most. And it's hard not to like what you saw.

Casey Janssen tossed a 1-2-3 seventh inning. That's seven consecutive scoreless appearances for the veteran right-hander, with a grand total of two runners reaching base against him along the way. Drew Storen then made a nice statement about how he intends to deal with his bumping from closer to setup man by retiring the side in the eighth, striking out two.

Let's see how this all plays out, but it certainly could wind up with Janssen becoming the go-to guy in the seventh, Storen in the eighth and Papelbon in the ninth. And that's not a bad thing. Collectively, those three experienced relievers have 527 major-league saves to their record.

If everyone is willing to embrace his role, this might just have a chance of working out quite well...

— What in the world is going on with the Mets right now? By all accounts, they made a major trade for Carlos Gomez on Wednesday evening, sending injured right-hander Zack Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee in return. Gomez was informed of the deal on the Brewers' team charter and took a selfie with teammates who expressed their admiration for the now-departing center fielder. Flores heard during the Mets' game against the Padres that he was being traded but was left to keep taking the field and stepping up to bat despite moments of genuine crying while at his shortstop position.

And then the whole thing fell apart. Depending on who you believe, either the Brewers nixed the trade because of concerns about Wheeler's rehabbing elbow, or the Mets called it off after reviewing medical info on Gomez's hip.

Whatever the case, the trade never happened. And it doesn't appear it will happen before Friday afternoon's deadline. Just another day in the long, bizarre history of the New York Metropolitans.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.