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Nationals dominate late game with early runs

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Nationals dominate late game with early runs

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: After sweeping the Braves to complete a impressive homestand, the Nationals headed west, hoping their red-hot bats would continue to show up in the hot, dry, desert air. Did it ever. The Nats blasted Josh Collmenter out of Chase Field, piling up 10 runs in the game's first two innings to take a commanding lead on the Diamondbacks that was never in doubt.

Denard Span sent Collmenter's second pitch of the night over the right-field fence to get things started. Ryan Zimmerman launched a 3-run homer later in the first inning. Wilson Ramos later cleared the bases with a double in the second to pile on. Bryce Harper didn't even homer, but his impact was still felt; he came with a couple feet of the right-field foul pole in the first inning, then singled home a run in the second. And Yunel Escobar, only seven days after a 5-for-5 night in D.C., did it again, the cherry on top of this blowout.

Handed a 10-0 lead, Max Scherzer had the luxury of going right after Arizona's hitters without fear of suffering any major damage. The right-hander cruised, tossing seven innings of 1-run ball to earn his third win of the season.

Thus the Nationals extended their winning streak to a season-high five games. They've won 11 of their last 13 and thanks to the Mets' loss in Chicago now trail in the NL East by a mere 2 1/2 games.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: There were plenty of candidates in this one, from Zimmerman's towering 3-run homer in the first to Ramos' 14-game hitting streak. But this night (as several over the last month) belonged to Escobar. For the second time in a week, the veteran infielder went 5-for-5, each one of them singles. In the process, he becomes the first player in Nats history with a pair of 5-hit games in the same season. He nearly had a chance to become the first D.C. major-leaguer with a 6-hit game since 1944, but the Nationals couldn't get him back to the plate in the ninth.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Yes, it's much easier to pitch with a 10-run lead than without a 10-run lead. But not every pitcher is good at attacking hitters in that situation and making sure the opposition doesn't even sniff the possibility of a comeback. So don't discount Scherzer's performance in this game. He was in complete control from the get-go, retiring the first six batters he faced on 21 pitches and completing four scoreless innings on 40 pitches (31 strikes). The Diamondbacks did get to him in the sixth on Jordan Pacheco's solo homer, but that was a minor hiccup on an otherwise sparkling night for Scherzer, who continues to pitch like a true ace.

KEY STAT: In the span of 40 minutes Monday night, Collmenter's ERA rose from 3.40 to 5.27.

UP NEXT: Stephen Strasburg makes his return to the mound Tuesday night, his first start since experiencing discomfort underneath his shoulder blade against the Marlins. He'll face right-hander Rubby De La Rosa at 9:40 p.m. EDT.

RELATED: Solis adjusting nicely to new role in Nats pen

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Patrick Corbin keeps throwing quality starts

Washington Nationals Roundup: Patrick Corbin keeps throwing quality starts

The Washington Nationals dropped their first game in Colorado, but pulled out a 6-3 win Tuesday night behind Patrick Corbin and Victor Robles.

Here's the latest Nats and Rockies news. 

Player Notes: 

NATIONALS:

Anthony Rendon (elbow) remained out of the Nats lineup Tuesday after getting hit by a pitch over the weekend in Miami. While it was the third-straight game he's missed, he could be available to pinch-hit soon. 

Shortstop Trea Turner has not yet been cleared to throw or hit. Turner has been taking grounders and participating in other baseball activities after fracturing his finger April 2. He is two and a half weeks into his projected 4-6 week rehabilitation. 

Max Scherzer is on track to make his scheduled start Friday against the Padres. The starting pitcher tweaked his left intercostal after dodging a foul ball in Sunday's game. 

Starting pitcher Patrick Corbin tossed another quality start, going six innings and allowing two earned runs. He struck out six and walked just one.

Outfielder Victor Robles had a nice day in his third straight game hitting out of the second spot in the order, going 2-for-5 and driving in three runs early. 

ROCKIES:

Infielder Ryan McMahon was the only Rockie to muster multiple hits Tuesday night, going 2-for-4 with a run scored. 

Outfielder Raimel Tapia hit a home run in his second straight at-bat, driving in two runs in the second inning to give the Rockies and early lead.

Jeff Hoffman scuffled through five innings, allowing four runs. He gave up six hits, though he also struck out six while walking none.

Injuries:

3B Anthony Rendon: Elbow hit by pitch, sidelined

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, 10-day IL

RP Justin Miller: Back, 10-day IL

SS Trea Turner: Finger, 10-day IL

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, 10-day IL

Coming Up:

Wednesday, 4/24: Nationals @ Rockies, 3:10 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Friday, 4/26: Padres @ Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park 

Saturday, 4/27: Padres @ Nationals, 4:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park 

Source: Rotoworld

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Nationals bullpen -- yes, them -- comes through for a night

Nationals bullpen -- yes, them -- comes through for a night

The Washington Nationals beat the Colorado Rockies, 6-3, Tuesday night to move up to 11-11. Here are five observations from the game…

1. Tuesday’s win was a painful process, but not for the normal reasons.

Juan Soto fouled a 3-2 pitch off his right ankle in the top of the ninth. Eventually, he rose after writing in pain to walk with the bases loaded. Howie Kendrick was hit by a pitch. That drove in another run. Washington led, 6-3. Sean Doolittle was forced to the plate after entering the game in the eighth inning. He struck out in his third career at-bat.

The padding was enough for Doolittle, who made his 11th appearance of the season 22 games into it. The evening provided his third outing of an inning-plus already. At the start of his career, Doolittle was often used for more than an inning per outing. After shoulder trouble, that tendency declined greatly until this season.

He finished a quality day for the bullpen: three scoreless innings and limited trouble. Patrick Corbin was solid over six innings, if not the spectacular level of his previous two outings.

The Nationals, you guessed it, are back to even with one road game remaining on this stretch.

2. Victor Robles the wrecking ball is here for your viewing pleasure.

Atop the left-center field wall and falling back to Earth with no support. Crashing into the wall in another instance. Tuesday, roaring into the third base bag so hard the front leg is jammed, sending Robles flipping over the bag and desperate to dive back in when stealing it. He stole second base with a more traditional approach two innings later.

What Robles is: explosive, and a bit reckless. What he’s not: boring.

His three-run, third-inning double vaulted Washington back in front. The steal of third came after Juan Soto failed to move Robles over, so he just made it there himself with one out.

Robles’ gangbusters approach reminds of a young Bryce Harper. Often making contact with immovable objects to his possible detriment is fun to watch. Though it might not be the best thing for him or the Nationals.

3. Coors Field has never been Corbin’s friend. Coming into Tuesday, the Rockies had a .938 OPS against Corbin at their home park in a strong sample size of 247 plate appearances. It’s a bad place for any pitcher. Corbin sees his stuff flatten in the thin air.

Tuesday, Corbin survived more than he controlled the game. A potent start gave way to a two-run homer in the second inning, another run in the fifth, and an exit after the sixth. The run in the fifth was unearned, though it also came when Corbin was trying to wriggle out of trouble he created.

Corbin threw 103 pitches. None more important than the ones in the sixth, which he turned into a 1-2-3 inning, allowing Davey Martinez to set up his bullpen distribution how he would prefer.

4. Martinez told reporters earlier in the day he expected to use Joe Ross in a more high-leverage relief situation going forward. He did that Tuesday, though Ross threw just three pitches.

Ross started the seventh inning. He recorded an out, then was removed for left-handed specialist Tony Sipp after a left-handed pinch-hitter -- David Dahl -- was announced. Left-handed Charlie Blackmon was next. Sipp took care of both, doing his matchup job.

Wander Suero was next. He worked around a leadoff double by getting Nolan Arenado to ground out and Mark Reynolds to strike out.

Martinez turned to Doolittle after that.

The quibble here is Ross for one out. Suero -- or even Kyle Barraclough -- could have appeared for one batter a night after they both threw an inning. That puts Ross, appearing to be an effective reliever thus far, in a spot to throw more than three pitches.

Everything Martinez did Tuesday worked. He matched up multiple times. The choices held a one-run lead going into the ninth, which is what they have been desperate to do all season. But Ross’ usage since he went to the bullpen has been odd, whether it’s not appearing for a long time or being used for a three-pitch outing.

5. Raimel Tapia is a part-time outfielder with speed. Until he plays the Nationals.

Tapia hit a pinch-hit homer Monday night. He hit a two-run homer Tuesday night in his first at-bat against Corbin.

How big of outliers were those? Tapia had four career homers in 271 at-bats coming into the game. He rarely faces left-handed pitchers because, as a left-handed hitter, he has a .641 career OPS against them. Strange doings from Tapia the last two nights.

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