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

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.

Not too hot, not too cold, Zimmermann picks up his 10th win

by Jacob Emert |

If Jordan Zimmermann’s 2015 season has been a mixed batch of great outings and disappointing ones, Sunday’s effort fell somewhere in the middle.

Zimmermann recorded his 10th win of the year, but he was unable to pitch out of the fifth inning and allowed four earned runs.

“I did OK,” Zimmermann said after the Nationals’ 9-5 series clinching win over Milwaukee. “Definitely not my best. Didn’t have my best stuff.”

A Wisconsin native, Zimmermann’s struggles against the Brewers started right from the start. Scooter Gennett led the game off with a single, and Jonathan Lucroy followed suit with a long home run.

“They punched me in the mouth in the first,” Zimmermann said. “I kind of woke up after that, and I was doing OK for a few innings.”

The Nationals’ offense responded with five runs over the next four innings, putting Zimmermann in an aggressive mindset with sizable lead and an already high pitch count.

With a full count in the fifth inning, Gennett sat on Zimmermann’s fastball and belted it into the right-field seats.

“3-2, obviously I’m going to throw a heater to Gennett there, and he hits a homer,” Zimmermann said. “But other then that, they made me battle. I threw a lot of pitches, and obviously the pitch count was way higher than I want it to be.”

Sunday marked the fifth game in which the righty allowed multiple home runs in his 26 starts this season.

Tagged for eight hits, Zimmermann struck out seven and walked only one. Part of his struggles, like last time out in Colorado, was he felt unable to find the sharpness to his slider.

“It was terrible,” Zimmermann said. “It was backing up. I probably threw 4 or 5 good ones all game and the others were just spinning and staying middle.”

With the win, the Nationals improved to 62-61 on the season and won two consecutive series for the first time since late June.

<b>Jacob Emert</b> is an associate reporter for

Nats’ Treinen has act together on mound

By Bill Ladson

WASHINGTON — Nationals reliever Blake Treinen has been virtually unhittable since returning from Triple-A Syracuse on Aug. 6. Since his return, Treinen has pitched nine shutout innings with 10 strikeouts.

The key, according to Treinen, has been staying aggressive in the strike zone, thanks to his 98-mph slider. Getting ahead of hitters also has played a role in his success.

Before he went to the Minor Leagues, Treinen had mixed results with the slider. There were days when it would be sharp and breaking in the inner and outer half of the plate and other days when it would act like a slurvy pitch and stay up in the strike zone. Against the Dodgers on July 19 at Nationals Park, he pitched one-third of an inning and allowed four runs, and was sent to the Minors after the game.

Looking back, Treinen said going to Syracuse was a blessing in disguise.

“Everybody is going to be frustrated when they are told they are going down. But looking back, it was all part of a plan and a purpose for my career,” Treinen said. “The Nationals saw something that needed to be fixed. You have to adjust yourself with the right mindset.

“I was fortunate to get myself in the right mindset to go down and work on things. I know I have been given an opportunity and privilege to be up here. I don’t want to squander it by being pigheaded and not trying to make adjustments. Obviously something wasn’t working. I feel really blessed to have an opportunity to be back with this club.”

August 23: Brewers @ Nationals

by Jacob Emert |

Teams: Washington Nationals (61-61, -5.0 in NL East), Milwaukee Brewers (53-71, -25.0 in NL Central)

Streaks: Nationals: W1, Brewers: L1

First pitch: 1:35 pm ET

Watch & Listen: MASN 2 / 106.7 The FAN

WSH Lineup: Jayson Werth (LF), Anthony Rendon (3B), Bryce Harper (RF), Ryan Zimmerman (1B), Ian Desmond (SS), Danny Espinosa (2B), Wilson Ramos (C), Michael Taylor (CF), Jordan Zimmermann RHP)

MIL Lineup:  Scooter Gennett (2B), Jonathan Lucroy (C), Ryan Braun (RF), Adam Lind (1B), Khris Davis (LF), Domingo Santana (CF), Jean Segura (SS), Elian Herrera (3B), Matt Garza (RHP)

Transactions: None

Stay informed: 

  • Ross, offense even series against the Brewers (link)
  • Taylor tearing it up from the No. 8 spot (link)
  • Timing is right for Rendon’s offensive breakout (link)
  • Play Ball teaches children about baseball, life (link)
  • Sunday’s preview vs. Milwaukee (link)

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

Nats’ Ramos, Lobaton trying to improve catching throws from right field

By Bill Ladson

WASHINGTON — Before Saturday’s game against the Brewers, Nationals manager Matt Williams had catchers Wilson Ramos and Jose Labaton work on catching throws from right field.

The practice came a day after Lobaton, normally a quality catcher, had a tough time catching a good throw from Bryce Harper in the seventh inning against the Brewers. It allowed two runs to score and Harper was charged with an error on the play.

“We want to make sure, given the homestand and us playing extended games [at Nationals Park], we want to make sure we have a good feel [for the throws]. That’s all it was today,” Williams said.

Ramos, especially, has had problems catching throws with a short hop from Harper. Ramos tries to tag the runner and catch the ball at the same time, which leads to the ball going past Ramos and allowing the runner to score.

There was pitching machine in right field, shooting missiles to Ramos and Lobaton. While they were making the plays, there is nothing like making the plays during the game.

“It helps us get more comfortable at the plate and practice the position of receiving the ball,” Ramos said. “Receiving balls from the outfield, we have short bounces, so it’s not easy catch that ball. You are thinking about the runner and the ball and you want to catch the ball and tag the runner quickly.

“Sometimes, we miss the ball because we try to be too quick. It’s part of the game. I know we have to catch the ball first and then tag the runner. We were practicing today — just catch the ball and [tag] the runner.

August 22: Brewers @ Nationals

by Jacob Emert |

Teams: Washington Nationals (60-61, -5.0 in NL East), Milwaukee Brewers (53-70, -25.0 in NL Central)

Streaks: Nationals: L2, Brewers: W2

First pitch: 7:05 PM

Watch & Listen: MASN 2 / 106.7 The FAN

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

MIL Lineup:  Shane Peterson (CF), Jonathan Lucroy (C), Ryan Braun (RF), Adam Lind (1B), Khris Davis (LF), Scooter Gennett (2B), Jean Segura (SS), Elian Herrera (3B), Taylor Jungmann (RHP)

Transactions: None

Stay informed: 

  • Top position player Turner makes MLB debut (link)
  • Nationals struggle to find comfort at home (link)
  • Escobar hurts neck chasing ball (link)
  • Scherzer lines out in rare pinch-hit at-bat (link)
  • Saturday’s preview vs. Milwaukee (link)

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

Rizzo: ‘It was time to inject speed, youth and athleticism to the team’

By Bill Ladson

WASHINGTON — Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo felt it was time to inject speed, youth and athleticism to the team and that’s why shortstop Trea Turner was called up to the big leagues Friday afternoon.

Rizzo called Turner “a contact bat with a lot of speed” and can play the middle infield spots. Rizzo warned that it may take a while for Turner to warm up to the big league level. While playing for Double A Harrisburg and Triple A Syracuse, for example, Turner got off to slow starts with the bat, but managed to get the batting average up to .300 in both places.

“We thought it was an opportune time to take advantage of his skills,” Rizzo said of Turner. … “We are not expecting him to be the savior of the offense or the savior of the ballclub. We just want him to do what he does best – add his skillset to Matt Williams’ arsenal of tools to win baseball games. We are not trying to develop at the big league level. We are just trying to win games and we are injecting players that we think have skillset that will help us win.”

The Nationals have 42 games left in the season and 27 of them will be at Nationals Park. Asked what improvements he would like to see from this point forward from his team, Rizzo said, “We are trying to win games. We are thinking one game at a time, we are playing with some urgency. … These guys are into it, they are hustling, they are playing hard. We know where we are at. We know what lies ahead of us. We have to play hard and try to win this game.”


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