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August 28: Marlins @ Nationals

Teams: Washington Nationals (63-62, -6.5 in NL East), Miami Marlins (51-77, -20.5 in NL East)

Streaks: Nationals: W1, Marlins: L2

First pitch: 7:05 pm ET

Watch & Listen: MASN / 106.7 The FAN

WSH Lineup: Jayson Werth (RF), Anthony Rendon (3B), Bryce Harper (CF), Ryan Zimmerman (1B), Ian Desmond (SS), Danny Espinosa (LF), Wilson Ramos (C), Trea Turner (2B), Max Scherzer (RHP)

MIA Lineup:  Dee Gordon (2B0, Ichiro Suzuki (RF), Martin Prado (3B), Derek Dietrich (LF), Justin Bour (1B), Marcell Ozuna (CF), J.T. Realmuto (C), Adeiny Hechavarria (SS), Adam Conley (LHP)

Transactions: Denard Span has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with left hip inflammation. MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports that Span will undergo surgery on Tuesday that will shut him down for the season. 

Stay informed: 

  • Span to undergo season-ending hip surgery (link)
  • Rendon ends Padres’ rally with fantastic stop (link)
  • Ross goes 6 as Nationals top Padres (link)
  • Ross dominates Padres, questions about innings limit remain (link)
  • Friday’s preview vs. Marlins (link)

Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JacobEmert.

Ross dominates Padres, questions about innings limit remain

by Jacob Emert | MLB.com

WASHINGTON — For right-handed starter Joe Ross, the script on Thursday night in Washington’s 4-2 win was pretty much the same as the outing before that.

First, it was the the dominant performance. This one lasted six innings and 77 pitches against the Padres, as Ross allowed only one hit — a bunt single in the fourth — and one unearned run. He struck out seven.

“He’s got really good stuff, good composure, doesn’t show much emotion on the mound,” first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “He goes out there with a plan and executes. It’s been fun to watch. We’ve enjoyed watching him kind of grow up and become a pitcher at this level. He’s got a pretty high ceiling.”

Then, there were the questions — mainly unanswered — about Ross’ innings limit.

Manager Matt Williams has openly said that Ross’ innings will be closely monitored and limited this season, a result of the 22-year-old throwing in higher volume than he has in the past. But, specifics have been held close to the chest.

“The fact that we … could get him out of there after the sixth, it was good for him,” Williams said. “It’ll just help him stretch through his next starts.”

“Well, we’ll see. We’ll see,” Williams said, when asked if Ross’ 2015 campaign is nearing the end. “Tonight’s an indication that he’s still feeling OK. Again, what did he have, [77] pitches tonight. If we can limit that and get ourselves in a position to win ballgames, then we want to try to do that. Again, each game will dictate what we can and can’t do.”

In the meantime, as the Nationals continue to fight for their life in an uphill race for the National League East, Ross’ job is just to keep on pitching well.

In the 11 starts that have made up his rookie season, Ross has thrown 66 2/3 innings. He’s allowed 56 hits and 11 walks, while striking out 65 and posting a 3.24 ERA. In his last two starts, he has combined for 13 innings, seven hits and one earned run.

“My fastball I was throwing inside,” Ross said of his most recent outing. “Slider was good. I only threw a few changeups. But my command got better as the game went along. Just early counts where the ball was put in play, that definitely helped with the pitch count and stuff like that.”

August 27: Padres @ Nationals

Teams: Washington Nationals (63-62, -6.5 in NL East), San Diego Padres (62-64, -7.5 in NL West)

Streaks: Nationals: L1, Padres: W1

First pitch: 7:05 pm ET

Watch & Listen: MLBN, MASN / 106.7 The FAN

WSH Lineup: Jayson Werth (LF), Anthony Rendon (2B), Bryce Harper (RF), Yunel Escobar (3B), Ryan Zimmerman (1B), Ian Desmond (SS), Wilson Ramos (C), Michael Taylor (CF) Joe Ross (RHP)

SDP Lineup:  Travis Jankowski (RF), Cory Spangenberg (2B), Yangervis Solarte (3B), Justin Upton (LF), Yonder Alonso (1B), Alexi Amarista (SS), Austin Hedges (C), Andrew Cashner (RHP)

Transactions: None.

Stay informed: 

  • Aggressive approach backfires on Yunel, Nats (link)
  • Rally comes up short as Nats fall to Padres (link)
  • Sources: McClouth likely out for rest of ’15 (link)
  • Thursday’s preview vs. Padres (link)

Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JacobEmert.

Red-hot Ramos catches Gonzalez for 1st time in more than 2 months

by Jacob Emert | MLB.com

WASHINGTON — Backup catcher Jose Lobaton was never officially named Gio Gonzalez’s personal catcher, but it became clear the two had impressive chemistry after they worked together in 10 consecutive starts.

Wednesday, for just the first time since June 15, the duo will be split up, with Wilson Ramos staying put behind the plate for game two against the San Diego Padres.

“It’s a function of Willie swinging the bat well, the homers he’s hit, the ball he’s driving,” manager Matt William said. “So, we want to continue that offensive flow as much as possible.”

Ramos is batting .238 in 2015, the lowest mark of his six-year MLB career, but he’s been scorching the baseball of late for the last few days.

Since August 22, Ramos is 5-for-10 with one double, two home runs and four RBI.

Ramos caught Gonzalez the first six times out this season, but only twice since. When pitching to Lobaton, Gonzalez’s ERA is more than 1.5 runs lower and his batting average against is 32 points lower.

“We want Gio to do well, certainly, and there is good rapport there [with Lobaton], but we also want to make sure that we are putting our best foot forward, too, from an offensive perspective,” Williams said. “The way that Willie is swinging it, he’s been really good, so we’re going to put him back in there.”

Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

August 26: Padres @ Nationals

Teams: Washington Nationals (63-61, -5.5 in NL East), San Diego Padres (61-64, -7.5 in NL West)

Streaks: Nationals: W3, Padres: L2

First pitch: 7:05 pm ET

Watch & Listen: MASN / 106.7 The FAN

WSH Lineup: Denard Span (CF) Jayson Werth (LF), Anthony Rendon (2B), Bryce Harper (RF), Yunel Escobar (3B), Ryan Zimmerman (1B), Ian Desmond (SS), Wilson Ramos (C), Gio Gonzalez (LHP)

SDP Lineup:  Yangervis Solarte (3B), Melvin Upton (CF), Matt Kemp (RF), Justin Upton (LF), Jedd Gyorko (2B), Derek Norris (1B), Austin Hedges (C), Clint Barmes (SS), Tyson Ross (RHP)

Transactions: None.

Stay informed: 

  • Strong Stras, slam by Zim carry Nats to win (link)
  • Call extends inning for Nats, who cash in (link)
  • Span activated, returns to top of lineup (link)
  • Nationals stretching out Roark in Minors (link)
  • Rotation shuffle aligns front-end starters vs. Mets (link)
  • Wednesday’s preview vs. Padres (link)

Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JacobEmert.

Rotation shuffle aligns front-end starters vs. Mets

by Jacob Emert | MLB.com

WASHINGTON — With 5 1/2 game separating the Nationals and Mets in the Nationals League East and six head-to-head meetings remaining, manager Matt Williams shuffled his starting rotation to produce the most favorable matchups going forward.

When the Mets come to D.C. on September 7-9, they will face Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg.

Scherzer earned a $210 million contract before the start of the season to lead the Nationals’ staff in 2015 and the coming years. Scherzer will also face the Cardinals – owners of the best record in baseball – when the Nationals head to St. Louis next Monday.

Williams didn’t go in-depth about the decision, but he was blunt in admitting the idea was to get his best pitchers against the two best teams on the Nationals’ remaining schedule.

“Yes,” Williams said. “Yeah. Line him up against those two. It gives him opportunity to pitch against both those clubs.”

Gio Gonzalez (9-6, 3.98) and Joe Ross (4-5, 3.56) will finish up the current series against the Padres on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

August 25: Padres @ Nationals

Teams: Washington Nationals (62-61, -5.5 in NL East), San Diego Padres (61-63, -6.5 in NL West)

Streaks: Nationals: W2, Padres: L1

First pitch: 7:05 pm ET

Watch & Listen: MASN / 106.7 The FAN

WSH Lineup: Denard Span (CF) Jayson Werth (LF), Anthony Rendon (2B), Bryce Harper (RF), Yunel Escobar (3B), Ryan Zimmerman (1B), Ian Desmond (SS), Wilson Ramos (C), Stephen Strasburg (RHP)

SDP Lineup:  Yangervis Solarte (3B), Cory Spangenberg (2B), Matt Kemp (RF), Justin Upton (LF), Yonder Alonso (1B), Jedd Gorko (SS), Derek Norris (C), James Shields (RHP), Travis Jankowski (CF)

Transactions: CF Denard Span was activated from the 15-day disabled list. RHP Tanner Roark was optioned to Single-A Potomac in the corresponding move.

Stay informed: 

  • Two 4-run frames ignite Nats’ second straight win (link)
  • Harper foils shift twice by going opposite way (link)
  • Tuesday’s preview vs. San Diego (link)

Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JacobEmert.

Q&A: Tyson Ross proud of little brother

By Bill Ladson

There are two players with the last name of Ross in the big leagues. Joe Ross plays for the Nationals, while his older brother, Tyson, is a pitcher for the Padres. As they play each other in a three-game series starting Tuesday night, Tyson will pitch Wednesday, while Joe will be on the mound on Thursday.

MLB.com caught up with Tyson before Tuesday’s game to talk about his brother’s success in the big leagues.

MLB.com: How surprised are you that Joe has made it this quickly? He has done really well.

Tyson Ross: I’m not too surprised. It’s a matter of opportunity, and he has made the most of it since he was given that shot earlier this year.

MLB.com: What impressed you the most since Joe has been in the big leagues?

Ross: It seems like he has been consistent. He has been in jams and kept his cool. He has been able to make pitches. He doesn’t seem like a 22-year-old kid out there.

MLB.com: The biggest thing they talk about is Joe’s composure. How do you think he was able to get it?

Ross: He has been watching baseball a long time. He followed me around through travel ball. He has seen me in college. He saw me in the professional levels when he was in high school. It’s kind of nothing new to him. In the big leagues or ballparks, he is used to it. He has been waiting his turn. Now that he has got it, he said, “I belong here. It’s time to go to work.”

MLB.com: When you and Gio Gonzalez were with the Oakland A’s, the two of you used to go to Joe’s high school games.

Ross: Before Joe’s debut, the last time I actually saw him was a high school game that Gio and I went to when we were teammates in Oakland. It’s pretty crazy. Those two are teammates. It goes to show how long it has been since I’ve seen Joe play. It’s pretty cool that Gio is a good friend of mine and they are playing together. Now I have Gio to keep an eye on my younger brother.

MLB.com: How does it feel to have your parents watch both of you in the big leagues?

Ross: They are really supportive of both of us. They have a chance to come out here and watch games on back-to-back nights to see their sons pitching. It’s going to be pretty cool.

MLB.com: How does it feel to have him follow in your footsteps?

Ross: It’s cool. It was probably hard on him. He probably felt he was in big brother’s shadow his whole life. But he is his own person. He has done a good job. It’s pretty cool to be playing in the same level at this point. He was steps behind. Now, we are equals.

Like Sunday, long rallies plus home runs key to success

by Jacob Emert | MLB.com

WASHINGTON — The ideal offense has a balance of both.

Home runs provide runs and therefore the possibility for wins in a hurry. But, too high a reliance on the long ball — as the Nationals have been blamed for in years past — is counterproductive for both long-term success and winning in the playoffs.

A dearth of home runs, though, where an offense requires several hits strung together to put a dent in the scoreboard, isn’t favorable either.

In the smallest of sample sizes, Sunday’s 9-5 win over the Brewers was the perfect mold — long innings and big hits combined with quick-strike home runs.

“The offensive approach is important,” manager Matt Williams said after the win. “The at-bats, the typical at-bats that we had today. Jayson [Werth] at the top of the lineup saw a lot of pitches. Anthony [Rendon] worked counts. [Ryan Zimmerman] walked a couple of times, so that just creates opportunity. Those type of offensive at-bats are important. Yeah, guys are going to hit the ball out of the ballpark on occasion, but that’s not the measure of our success. It comes form those extended at abts and extended innings.”

In the third inning, Rendon walked with two outs and the bases loaded. Bryce Harper followed with a shift-busting double, and the Nationals had started a rally. All with two outs, Washington drew three walks and knocked three hits (all of which stayed in play) to score four runs.

“In general, our team puts together some pretty long at-bats,” Williams said. “We’ve got good on-base guys, and then one swing of the bat means potentially more than one run. That’s how you get to games like today.”

In the fifth inning, the Nationals posted a four spot once more, but this time the runs came on two home runs. Wilson Ramos blasted a one-out shot into the Nationals Park stands and four batters later, after one out and two walks, Rendon provided the knockout blow, a three-run home run.

“I think homers will come,” Harper said. “When you have good ABs and you’re trying to drive the ball in the gaps, line drives and things like that. Homers are mistakes. Rendon put a good swing on the ball today and got one, and Willie also. It’s great to see, and I’m excited for both of them.”

Sustained rallies on a consistent basis are directly proportional to a productive offense, but the ability to hit home runs, especially when the offense isn’t stringing hits together, is vital.

Ideally, the two work in unison.

“Guys all over the base paths is what we want,” Williams said. “We’ll have our opportunity to drive those guys in.”

Nats’ Escobar could be back in lineup Tuesday

By Bill Ladson

WASHINGTON — Nationals third baseman Yunel Escobar missed the last two games because of a hyperextended neck, but manager Matt Williams said he expects him to be back in the lineup on Tuesday against the Padres.

“He was available [against the Brewers on Sunday]. He was able to get some treatment postgame and tomorrow. I expect him to be OK,” Williams said.

Escobar hurt his next in the first inning on Friday night. With two outs and a runner on first, Adam Lind hit a ball near the third-base stands. As Escobar was trying to catch the ball, he hit the railing and his head hit a fan’s chest. Williams and athletic trainer Lee Kuntz came to Escobar’s aid.

Escobar left the game and was replaced by Danny Espinosa, who went to second, while Anthony Rendon, who started the game at second, switched over to third.

Worth noting
Center fielder Denard Span was a designated hitter for Double A Harrisburg on Sunday afternoon and went 1-for-3.

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