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Instant analysis: Rockies 11, Nats 10


Instant analysis: Rockies 11, Nats 10

Game in a nutshell: Remember everyone was complaining about the Nationals' impotent lineup and its inability to generate anything of consequence? Nothing a few days at Coors Field can't fix. For the third straight day, the Nationals tallied at least 10 runs, a first for the franchise since the 1995 Expos did it and a first for a D.C. baseball club since 1951. Unfortunately, this time their pitching staff also gave up double-digit runs, eight of them charged to starter Edwin Jackson. Tom Gorzelanny gave up two more out of the bullpen, but his teammates rallied to bail out the pitching staff. Michael Morse clubbed a three-run homer in the third, Ian Desmond clubbed a two-run homer in the fifth and Bryce Harper clubbed the game-tying homer in the top of the ninth, setting the stage for extra innings. Eventually, the Nats bullpen couldn't hang on. Craig Stammen, in his third inning of work, surrendered the game-winning, RBI single to Marco Scutaro with two outs in the bottom of the 11th, a frustrating way for a long day to end.

Hitting highlight: It had been a rough few days for Harper, who faced a steady stream of sliders and other assorted junk on the outside corner (or beyond) from the Rockies' pitching staff, especially left-handers. To his credit, Harper hung tough and wound up making Colorado's right-handers pay in the end. He delivered an RBI single off Josh Roenicke in the fifth, then destroyed a pitch from closer Rafael Betancourt to deep right-center in the ninth, his eighth career homer, tying the game.

Pitching lowlight: What's going on with Jackson? His velocity has been down in each of his last two starts -- his fastball, which normally averages about 94 mph, has dropped to the 89-91 mph range -- and he paid the price for it today. Jackson was pounded for five runs in the bottom of the first, then two more in the bottom of the second. He retired the side in the third inning, but after allowing a leadoff single in the fourth, he got a quick hook from Davey Johnson. Clearly miffed by that managerial decision, Jackson trudged off the field. He didn't have much of a case, though: Over the course of those three-plus innings, he saw his ERA skyrocket from 2.91 to 3.57.

Key stat: The Nats are in the middle of a stretch of eight consecutive games played at eight different starting times: 6:40 p.m., 3:10 p.m., 7:35 p.m., 4:05 p.m., 1:35 p.m., 6:35 p.m., 11:05 a.m., 7:05 p.m.

Up next: After four wild games in the thin air of Colorado, the Nationals return to division play this weekend in Atlanta. Lefty Ross Detwiler will face right-hander Randall Delgado at 7:35 p.m. Friday in the series opener at Turner Field.

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Nationals-Phillies postponed on Monday night

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Nationals-Phillies postponed on Monday night

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper came back to the District on Monday. No baseball was played.

Rain storms cycled through the DMV starting around 6 p.m. at first delaying the series-opening game between the Nationals and Phillies, before it was finally postponed at 10 p.m. The game will be made up as part of a split-doubleheader on Wednesday. The first game is at 1:05 p.m., the second at 7:05 p.m.

The Tuesday starters for both teams remain the same: Patrick Corbin for the Nationals and Jake Arrieta for the Phillies.

Washington will need an extra starter during the week because it is playing seven games in six days. For instance, the Nationals could call someone up to pitch the first game Wednesday, and have Max Scherzer pitch on regular rest Wednesday night. The doubleheader being played Wednesday instead of Tuesday allows the Nationals plenty of time to import a starter for the day, if they choose to do it then.

However, Tuesday’s forecast is also rain-filled. Stay tuned.



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Nationals introduce first round pick Jackson Rutledge, who is ready to work

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Nationals introduce first round pick Jackson Rutledge, who is ready to work

WASHINGTON -- Jackson Rutledge may still be years away from the majors, but as the Nationals' 2019 first round pick toured the team's ballpark for the first time on Monday, he sure looked the part as a big leaguer.

At 6-foot-8, Rutledge towers over everyone currently on the Nationals' roster. He's got prototypical pitcher size with a fastball that reaches triple digits.

Like any pitcher recently drafted, no matter the round, there is a good chance Nationals fans will not hear Rutledge's name again for quite some time, if they hear it again at all.

In the previous eight years, the team used their first pick in the draft on a pitcher six times. Only two of them - Lucas Giolito and Erick Fedde - have pitched in a Nationals uniform, and only Fedde is currently on their roster.

Rutledge, 20, will begin his journey with the Gulf Coast League Nationals. He heads there on Friday, hoping it will not be long before he is back in Washington.

"This is my first time in D.C.," Rutledge said. "Amazing stadium."

Rutledge signed his first contract with the Nationals on Monday and passed a physical in the morning. In the afternoon, he walked around the clubhouse and on the field during batting practice, introducing himself to manager Davey Martinez and players who could be his future teammates.

Rutledge has said in various interviews since being drafted earlier this month that he looks forward to playing with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, the Nationals' three ace starters. 

This was his first glimpse at them in-person.

"Meeting all the big league guys was really cool," he said. "I just want to be one of those guys that has that success."

If there was any impression Rutledge left on Monday, beyond his height, it was his eagerness to learn. He cited several of his mentors over the years, former big leaguers like Andy Benes who coached him in summer ball and Woody Williams, an assistant coach at San Jacinto Community College. He mentioned Tom Arrington, head coach at San Jacinto, and his attention to detail.

Rutledge even had praise for Ross Detwiler, a former Nationals pitcher whom they took in the first round of the 2007 MLB Draft. He explained how Detwiler taught him a changeup grip during an offseason workout that he has continued to use.

Those are the people, he says, who helped him arrive at this unexpected place in his life as a first-round draft pick.

"If you asked me a year and a half ago where I would be, I probably wouldn't say the first round. It worked out really well because of how hard I worked," Rutledge said.

His college numbers were certainly impressive. Rutledge held a 0.87 ERA with 134 strikeouts in 13 starts. As a freshman at Arkansas before transferring, he posted a 3.45 ERA in 12 starts.

Rutledge is now looking forward to taking the next steps in his development. He said working on his curveball and changeup will be the focus while he's in the GCL. He wants to add weight and muscle to prepare for next year, his first full pro season. 

Assuming he does someday return to Washington as a big league pitcher, Rutledge said to expect a guy who likes to work fast but without a lot of emotion.

"When things are going well, I really feel in control of the game. I feel like I'm setting the game at my own pace and hitters feel uncomfortable because of that," he said. 

"I'm not a guy that's going to get up and start yelling and give energy like that, I'm more of a consistent kind of flat body language sort of guy."

Nationals fans will hope to get to know him better someday. For now, it's down to the minors to learn the ropes as a prospect.