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Instant analysis: Nats 4, Dodgers 1


Instant analysis: Nats 4, Dodgers 1

Game in a nutshell: It had been 79 years since a Washington baseball team had the opportunity to celebrate a clinching victory, so no one would blame the Nationals had they partied like it was 1933 upon beating the Dodgers tonight and guaranteeing their place in MLB's 2012 postseason. All along, though, manager Davey Johnson and clubhouse veterans insisted they weren't going to make a big deal out of clinching a Wild Card berth, that the real celebration would come once they locked up the NL East. So the scene tonight at Nationals Park as Drew Storen recorded the final out, while joyous, was hardly over-exuberant.

Make no mistake, though: This is a major accomplishment for a club that had not posted a winning season during its first seven years of existence and a town that has not witnessed postseason baseball since the Roosevelt administration. The Nationals still have loftier goals to reach before this season comes to an end, but it's perfectly OK to celebrate this milestone, one few in Washington have ever had the chance to celebrate before.

Hitting highlight: Ah, the healing powers of cortisone. Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa can certainly attest to that, each having received the pain-killing shot within the last three days. Both guys delivered clutch RBI doubles to pace the Nationals' offensive attack in this game.

Zimmerman got things going with a two-bagger to the left-center gap in the third inning, bringing Bryce Harper all the way home from first base. One inning later, Espinosa sent a rope into the left-field corner, bringing Ian Desmond all the way home from first as well. The Nationals didn't need much offense in this one, but they did need a couple of timely extra-base hits from a couple of key contributors who are on the mend.

Pitching highlight: It's well-known that Ross Detwiler is the guy who makes the Nationals' postseason rotation because of Stephen Strasburg's shutdown, but what perhaps isn't as well-known is that the left-hander has pitched just as well as the presumed ace. With six innings of one-run ball tonight, Detwiler lowered his ERA to 3.10. That's a tick better than Strasburg's season-ending 3.12 ERA, over nearly an identical number of innings (157 for Detwiler, 159 13 for Strasburg).

He was in top form from the start tonight, retiring the first nine batters he faced and letting only one of them hit a ball out of the infield. Mark Ellis ruined any hope of a truly historic performance when he led off the top of the fourth with a bomb into the left field bullpen, but Detwiler didn't make another mistake the rest of the night and was pulled after six highly effective innings, having thrown only 82 pitches. He thus becomes the fourth member of the Nationals' rotation to win 10 games this season (with Edwin Jackson one away from joining the group).

Key stat: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Nationals are only the fifth team in MLB history to increase their win total by 10 or more three consecutive seasons. The others: The 1901-04 Cubs, the 1906-09 Red Sox, the 1981-84 Twins and the 1994-97 Marlins. (The Twins and Marlins likely would not have made the list if not for work stoppages in 1981 and 1994.)

Up next: As one Wild Card contender leaves town, another comes to town. The resurgent Brewers open a four-game series, beginning Friday night at 7:05 p.m. Edwin Jackson faces Shaun Marcum in the opener.

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


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.


A steady drizzle delayed the start by 47 minutes.


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.


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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MLB All-Star FanFest: Searching for a jersey from every team

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MLB All-Star FanFest: Searching for a jersey from every team

A sea of red and white Nationals jerseys flooded toward the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. But there wasn’t a Bryce Harper signing. And there wasn’t even a game. The Nationals are in New York to play the Mets. 

Then, as I turned and walked down the street I began to see random jerseys: Phillies, Yankees, Astros and Mets, among others.

It all clicked.

Ah, yes, the MLB All-Star weekend and its annual FanFest

As I walked inside the building and looked around, there was everything from memorabilia to interactive games like a speed gun, home run derby and more. 

MLB fans filled the building and the once-sea of red and white thinned out into a blob of colors. Fans from all different teams came out for the weekend’s festivities.

This left me curious: Could I find a jersey for every MLB team?

It was easy to find the big name teams. Going down the escalator, I was hit with a couple Jacob deGrom jerseys and a Carlos Correa one, as well. 

Mets, check. Astros, check.

A right turn and there was an Aaron Nola jersey, the All-Star phenom who surprised this year for the first-place Phillies. Check.

The Yankees and Red Sox weren’t far behind. 

As the day went on, my notepad of teams kept getting crossed off. The National League Central was the first division to go, and the American League Central followed suit. Surprisngly, it took me a couple hours — of course, I wasn't searching the whole time — to find the Marlins. Every other NL East team was easy.

Three hours later, I had found all but five teams: Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels. 

I decided to take another lap before I left. And standing, right by the stolen base activity, stood a man in a Randy Johnson throwback Diamondbacks jersey. 

We both look at the kids running down the line toward the base before a purple jersey caught my eye. It was another kid, waiting in line, wearing a Nolan Arenado jersey.

That left me with just three more teams. As I headed toward the exit, I was shocked I had not seen a Mike Trout jersey. One of the greatest players in modern baseball and not one Angels fan.

Then a co-worker pointed toward the MLB shop area. Finally, a Trout jersey. And then I turned around to grab my backpack and notebook. Another Trout jersey. Weird. I crossed off the name and looked up. Another Angels jersey. OK, enough. 

With just two more jerseys left and me being the stubborn person I am, I walked around the FanFest for another 20 minutes, looking for that green A’s jersey, or dark blue Rays one. 

Then, I finally found Stomper, the Athletics mascot taking photos with kids. On him was an A’s jersey — ironic, right? 

After about 10 more minutes I gave up. There were no Rays jerseys. The best I could do was a Tampa Bay tank top a woman was wearing while her kids played. But, that doesn’t count. We’re looking for jerseys.

Oh, and here are other sports apparel that I saw before that non-existent Rays jersey.

  • Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan t-shirt
  • San Francisco 49ers Jimmy Garoppolo jersey 
  • A Texas Longhorns athletic shirt
  • France soccer jersey
  • Philadelphia 76ers shirt
  • Montreal Expos Vlad Guerrero jersey
  • Oakland Raiders Bo Jackson jersey
  • Golden State Warriors Steph Curry jersey
  • DC United Wayne Rooney jersey

And so, the search for a Rays jersey continues.