In the middle of a month filled with negative developments, something positive actually is happening for the Nationals on Sunday: Denard Span is beginning a rehab assignment with Class A Potomac.
The injured center fielder and leadoff man, on the disabled list since July 10 with lower back pain, is expected to be in the lineup Sunday night when Potomac hosts Wilmington at 6:05 p.m. at Pfitzner Stadium, his first step toward rejoining the big-league roster.
This significant development comes only a week after Span suffered a setback in his attempted recovery from the lingering injury, one that left the 31-year-old openly admitting he didn't know if he'd be able to return this season. He was able to resume baseball activities quickly, though, and has spent the last week working out at Potomac while the big-league club has been struggling through a brutal West Coast trip that has left its season teetering on the brink.
If the Nationals can get Span back, they would boast a fully healthy lineup for the first time in 2015. And few members of that lineup have proven more important to the team's fortunes than Span, who is hitting .304 with a .367 on-base percentage, .798 OPS and 11 steals in 11 attempts in 59 games played.
Span's importance to the Nationals has been dramatic this season. They're 11 games over .500 when he plays, but now are 11 games under .500 when he doesn't play, leaving the club a disappointing 58-58 and 4 1/2 games back in the NL East entering Sunday's series finale in San Francisco.
The Nationals are on fire. Eight Nationals batters put up eight runs and only recorded one out — which was a sacrifice fly that scored a run — before the Cardinals pulled starter Dakota Hudson and turned to veteran Adam Wainwright.
Hudson's start is the shortest in Cardinals' postseason history.
Hudson's seven earned runs are tied for the most by a pitcher in a start that was 1/3 of an inning or shorter. He's tied with Mike Foltynewicz, the Braves' starter who the Cardinals knocked out to get to the NLCS.
There's probably not much he could have done against these Nationals' bats, though.
Oh, and Patrick Corbin has five strikeouts on 23 pitches through two innings.
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The Nationals are trying to bring a championship to the nation’s capital, an obvious goal for a team on the cusp of its first-ever World Series berth.
It’s not just current Nationals looking to bring a title to Washington, as former outfielder Bryce Harper so notably “announced” during spring training before the season.
Harper’s gaffe was an honest mistake for a player who had spent half a dozen years with the Nationals, but that sure didn’t make it any less fun for local fans.
After the Phillies finished 81-81 in Harper’s debut season, while the Nationals finished 93-69 and finally broke through to exorcise their postseason demons this October, the team’s official account decided to have some fun with Harper’s comment as well.
It’s an obvious and hilarious shot taken at a player who was once the most famous face of the organization. This is exactly what sports Twitter was invented for.
Though it’s entirely possible Harper really is pulling for his former franchise, with his current team long out of the running, it’s fair to assume his focus is on bringing at least one title to Philadelphia in the next…(checks notes) *12 years* he has remaining on his contract.
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