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Nats finally get to Matt Harvey in win over Mets


Nats finally get to Matt Harvey in win over Mets

Matt Harvey has dominated his fair share of lineups throughout his brief MLB career and the Nationals are no stranger to what he's capable of. Entering Monday night Harvey had a 0.68 ERA in six starts against Washington with three earned runs allowed and 47 strikeouts across 40 innings.

Harvey had already seen the Nats twice this season and threw 13 scoreless innings combined in those outings. Many have had trouble with the Dark Knight of Gotham, but for the Nats it had been a quixotic effort.

That history would have no bearing in Monday's 7-2 win over the New York Mets, however, as the Nats struck early against Harvey to notch five runs (four earned) on the right-hander through the first three innings. Harvey would go on to pitch seven innings, but enough damage was done to set the stage for the Nats' 50th win of the 2015 season.

The Nats scored two runs in the first inning, one on a single and one on a fielder's choice. Danny Espinosa got it started with a one-out bunt single. Bryce Harper then walked on four pitches and Yunel Escobar followed with an RBI single to left field.

The second run came when Harper and Escobar took off on a pitch in the dirt from Harvey. They ran from first and second and Escobar hesitated before reaching second base to bait the Mets into a rundown. The ploy worked and it allowed Harper to score easily from third and put the Nationals up 2-0.

"Yuni staying in the rundown, that's not something that everyone would do normally," Ian Desmond said. "The majority of guys would just stop and let the guy tag him. He worked it and gave Harper enough time to score. Then we just worked Harvey's pitch count and kept on grinding on him."

"Yuni got in the rundown. He would’ve been out if he kept going," Matt Williams said. "But, heads up play from [Bob Henley] and from Harp over there at third base to recognize that once the ball was returned to the first baseman then he’s got opportunity to score."

The three runs in the third inning came thanks to a Clint Robinson double and an error by Mets third baseman Daniel Murphy. That rally began with another Espinosa single and Harper walk. Robinson then roped a double to center field one out later to score both runners.

The error came on a soft grounder by Desmond, one that forced Murphy to make a tough throw to first. The ball sailed past Mets first baseman Eric Campbell and up the right field line after it caromed off the wall. Robinson was then waved home by the umpires to make it 5-0.

Murphy made two errors on the night and Robinson pointed to those mistakes as a big reason why the Nats were able to finally crack Harvey.

"I think the defensive miscues probably hurt him a little bit because he felt like 'I gotta make a perfect pitch now because my defense is not really helping me out.' It looked like he was trying to do a little too much with some of his pitches," Robinson said.

Robinson also believes the Nationals were well-prepared to face Harvey after seeing former Cy Young-winners Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in their previous two games.

"The past couple of days with Greinke and Kershaw, I think that helped us out a little bit with Harvey. It kind of gave us a preview of what to expect from a stuff standpoint. We just went out there and executed our gameplan and you saw the results," he said.

Williams thinks the Nats benefitted from being more selective.

"I think we laid off the high fastball a little bit better. We understand that’s part of his repertoire and when he gets two strikes, he like to elevate that fastball. Harp laid off a couple. We got a couple of walks early which allowed us to get more base runners," he said.

The Nationals continue their run through some of the best pitchers in baseball with Jacob deGrom on Tuesday night. They couldn't hit Kershaw or Greinke, but they got to Harvey. Now they'll take their chances against the reigning NL Rookie of the Year.


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Nationals owner Mark Lerner on Davey Martinez, the turnaround and Anthony Rendon’s future

Nationals owner Mark Lerner on Davey Martinez, the turnaround and Anthony Rendon’s future

WASHINGTON -- Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner surveyed batting practice Tuesday in his red Nationals jacket, watching everything he pursued coming to fruition.

His family’s team was one win from its first World Series berth. Often tense when watching even regular-season games, Lerner felt a bit of joy with his team so close to a conclusion which seemed so distant at the start of the season.

“Obviously I wasn’t too happy, nobody was,” Lerner said. “I couldn’t imagine what happened the rest of the season. I would have never believed where we are today. A turnaround like that only happens once in a blue moon, so I can’t say I totally expected it. I didn’t.”

When the crumbling season hit its low point May 23, Lerner had options. He could fire Davey Martinez. He could have demanded several other changes. He, like everyone else, had the choice to panic as a result of his irritation with the team’s beginning. Instead, he kept the manager his family preferred over Dusty Baker, the one who was assigned a clear edict when hired: take us to the World Series. 

“It never crossed my mind to dismiss Davey, no matter all the pressure that was put on us,” Lerner said. “I think he’s become a very, very good manager, and I think in the years to come he will become a great manager. I have total confidence in him and delighted that all these good things are happening. Nobody deserves it more than him.”

Slowly, his team began to pivot. Winning months followed. The rallying perpetuated until the end of the season, culminating with a 3-0 start to the National League Championship series. “I was talking to my sister [Tuesday] it’s just hard to believe, just the whole thing,” Lerner said. “Even if we didn’t have this turnaround season, if it was just a solid season, to get to this point is just such a special thing and we’re in uncharted waters. The Cardinals have been through it, the Dodgers have been through it, this is all new for everybody in this building. So it’s very special.”

Anthony Rendon’s best season as a professional was central to the push. Rendon is set to become a free agent after multiple negotiation attempts to reach a contract extension failed. Lerner lauded Rendon in spring training. He did so again Tuesday.

“We certainly want to keep him,” Lerner said. “That's 110 percent. It's really in Tony's and his family's hands at this point. They have to decide what they want to do. He's earned that right as a free agent. It couldn't happen to a better guy. We love him to death. And I hope that his decision is to stay here and I'll go pick him up and bring him over.”

For now, Lerner will spend his time watching Game 4 and his club, eventually, advancing to the World Series with one more win. No team with a 3-0 lead has lost the NLCS.


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Judge grants lawyer briefing extension for Nationals postseason run

Judge grants lawyer briefing extension for Nationals postseason run

A lawyer presenting in federal court asked a judge for a two-day extension on upcoming briefing deadlines because of the "unflagging support of a certain nine-year-old boy," also known as his son. 

Let's break down this adorable request.

Said lawyer begins with the inarguable context to set the scene for Washington's stunning postseason run: the fact that the Nationals, further known as Nats, lost 31 of their first 50 games.

His son as well as "the wheels of justice" were seemingly on the Nationals side, thus propelling them to continue to play in October, winning not only their first postseason series ever but advancing to the NLCS.

The lawyer and his son will either be watching Game 4 on TV or in person and like any good parent would say, "counsel's attendance at each is required for supervision."

Because of the NLCS schedule which can extend as far as Saturday, the lawyer "respectfully" requested to move the Plaintiff's summary judgment filing deadline to next week and consequentially, the Department of Justice's response by the same two-day extension. 

Thankfully for us all to enjoy, this request was unopposed.