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More thoughts from the Nats' wild win

More thoughts from the Nats' wild win

Some leftover thoughts from last night's remarkable ballgame, now that I've had a chance to get some rest and come back with a clear mind...

-- Everyone's been trying to figure out what Dan Uggla's thought process was on the final play of the game, and what he should have done differently. It was a big topic of discussion inside the Nationals' clubhouse as well.

Did the Braves second baseman have a shot at an inning-ending double play? And if so, was his best chance to tag Kurt Suzuki and then throw to first or throw to second base and have Paul Janish complete the standard 4-6-3 twin-killing? Or should he have simply given up on the idea and just thrown to the plate to get Danny Espinosa?

Here's what Espinosa (a second baseman himself, obviously) said when I asked him if he empathized with Uggla on a play like that: "Yeah, I do. Because when you're playing infield in like that and it's a hot shot and you maybe don't field it cleanly or whatever, then you're immediately thinking the ball got to you so quick you might have a chance for a double play. I'm sure that's what he thought. But that's a tough play. He hits the ball hard. He dives, makes a good play to keep the ball in the infield."

In the end, Uggla still believed the double play was his best option.

"If I had to do it over, I'd have jumped up and found Kurt and tagged him and ran and touched first," he told Atlanta reporters.

-- You may have already gone to bed by the time it was announced, but there was a scoring change on that final play. It was originally ruled an error on Uggla, but about 15 minutes later, the scorer changed the call to a base hit and an RBI for Tracy.

You can debate whether that was the right call or not -- personally, I think the whole thing should have just been scored a fielder's choice, because clearly Uggla was trying to decide which choice made the most sense for him in that moment -- but it's notable that by crediting Tracy with a hit, he's now got 10 pinch-hit RBI this season. That ranks second in the majors only to the Padres' Jesus Guzman (who has 11). Pretty remarkable when you consider Tracy missed two months following sports hernia surgery.

-- Jayson Werth had an eventful night in the field, including a couple of hold-your-breath moments during the top of the fifth. He had to come charging in to make a sliding catch of Michael Bourn's sinking liner, a play that looked awfully similar to the one in which he broke his left wrist back on May 6.

Four batters later, Werth got that same wrist caught in the chain-link fence that covers the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center and appeared to be in some pain.

"Just kind of jammed it into the fence," he said. "It's no big deal."

As for what he was thinking as he made the familiar-looking, sliding catch: "That was the first play I've had since I broke my wrist," he said. "Definitely was not really thinking about it, but was glad everything went well."

Werth explained that last night's play wasn't exactly like the one from May 6.

"It's a little bit different," he said. "The play that I broke it on was more of a line drive. That ball last night was coming straight down. But still, that's going to my left and sliding like that ... it's a play that I've made who knows how many times in my life. But unfortunately that one time it didn't work out so well."

-- Davey Johnson was asked who he'll have available out of his maxed-out bullpen for tonight's game. He insisted just about everyone (except for probably Craig Stammen) should be good to go, especially because the other guys all pitched only one inning.

Besides, Johnson sounded hopeful he wouldn't need any relievers all for this game.

"I'm going to go 9 with Stras anyway," he joked.

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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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Taking a look at the numbers behind the Nationals' three All-Stars

Taking a look at the numbers behind the Nationals' three All-Stars

With a win on Sunday afternoon, the Nationals come into the All-Star break at 48-48. 

That's not great! It's certainly an underperformance given all the expectations, but the season hasn't been without some stellar individual performances . 

Take, for starters, Max Scherzer. Scherzer's on pace to have an even better year than his 2017 Cy Young-winning effort, which is mind-boggling. 

An even-more-refined command is what's made him better this season, as his walk rate is down below seven percent again after creeping up to 7.1 last year. It hasn't affected his strikeout rate, either, which has stayed steady at 34 percent. If the season ended today, it'd be the 4th straight year where he set a career-best in that department. 

Of all starting pitchers, he ranks second in WHIP, and K/BB percent. He has the third-lowest average against (.178) and third-best strikeout percentage (34.5). He's got a top-10 ERA and FIP as well. He's been the best pitcher in baseball this season, and will probably be in the conversation for N.L. MVP as well. 

If only the Nats could just go from Scherzer to Doolittle. The closer stopped walking people, too, and already has 22 saves after ending last year with 24. Had he not been put on the D.L. with a toe injury about a week before the All-Star game, he more than likely would have set his career high in saves before the break. 

He's currently on pace to post the second-best year of his career when it comes to strikeouts, too. He's getting Ks 37.1 percent of the time, which would be the highest since he posted a 37.7 in 2014. Same goes for his K/9. He also has a top-10 ERA and FIP. He's been one of the few relief pitchers that have been consistently reliable through the first half, and the Nats will need his toe to get real healthy real quick. 

And lastly there's Bryce Harper, who you've surely heard is not having an All-Star caliber season. His batting average is hovering around .200, he's striking out more than he has in four years, and he's getting eaten alive by the shift. He's also on pace to have one of his best power-hitting seasons ever and finish with close to 40 home runs, so even his bad years still find a way to be impressive. 

Harper also benefits from being one of the faces of baseball playing in front of his home fans. He's one of the most popular players in the league, and All-Star games find a way to get those people in. An All-Star game in D.C. without him would be objectively less enjoyable, so it was in everyone's interest to have him there. Stars just get the calls sometimes. 

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