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Instant Analysis: Nats 4, Mets 3

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Instant Analysis: Nats 4, Mets 3

Game in a nutshell: Stop us if you've heard this one before: Jordan Zimmermann pitches brilliantly but gets precious little run support and finds himself facing a possible no-decision. Thankfully for the hard-luck right-hander, the Nationals strung together enough hits late to give him the lead. And Zimmermann didn't need much, because he didn't allow any runs over six strong innings. Adam LaRoche provided the big blast: a two-run homer in the sixth to snap a scoreless tie. Steve Lombardozzi then added the insurance knock: a two-run double in the seventh. That gave some cushion to the Nats bullpen, which unlike last night managed to close this one out in regulation (though Tyler Clippard did give up homers to both David Wright and Jason Bay in the ninth). Thus, the Nationals handed the Mets their sixth straight loss and dropped them eight games back in the NL East.
Hitting highlight: No, he's not raking at the plate the way he did during the season's first six weeks when he looked like a candidate for National League MVP. But LaRoche continues to come through with clutch hits on a regular basis for the Nats. The veteran first baseman delivered big-time in the sixth inning tonight, belting a 1-2 pitch from Chris Young into the Red Porch for his 16th homer and 54th and 55th RBI of the season. This may not turn out to be a career year for LaRoche, but he's basically doing exactly what the Nationals wanted him to do all along: Provide power, clutch hits and smooth defense at first base.

Pitching highlight: Just another quality start for "Mr. Consistency." Zimmermann was at it again, churning out six more scoreless innings and plowing through the Mets lineup with relative ease. He allowed only four hits, didn't walk a batter and in the process lowered his ERA to 2.35. That now ranks fifth in the majors. Perhaps most impressively, Zimmermann is getting better and stronger as this season plays out. Remember how the opposite seemed to be true last year as he made his comeback from Tommy John surgery? This is why the Nats limited him to 160 innings, and it's why they'll do the same with Stephen Strasburg later this season. You can't dispute the positive effect it's had on Zimmermann in 2012.
Key stat: Though he finally got his run support in the sixth, Zimmermann did go into the fifth inning without his teammates having plated a single run. That's the seventh time this season that's happened to the right-hander.
Up next: The series concludes with a fantastic showdown of the NL's only two 12-game winners: Gio Gonzalez and R.A. Dickey. They'll square off in Thursday's 12:35 p.m. matinee at Nationals Park.

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NL East: Mets targeting All-Star catcher for deadline trade

NL East: Mets targeting All-Star catcher for deadline trade

Being aggressive at least year's trade deadline paid big dividends for the New York Mets, who saw Yoenis Cespedes help lead them to a World Series berth. They could be looking for something similar this year, as a new report has them targeting one of baseball's best catchers.

The news comes from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who says the Mets have shown interest in Milwaukee Brewers backstop Jonathan Lucroy.

Rosenthal notes that no deal is close, but time is running out before Monday's deadline. The Mets appear intent on adding a bat to their lineup and Lucroy would certainly provide some help.

An All-Star this season and back in 2014, the 30-year-old is batting .300 with 13 homers and 50 RBI through 93 games. He would be an upgrade at catcher for most teams, the Mets included.

We'll see if anything comes of this. The Mets could use some help and getting a player like Lucroy would definitely change their outlook in the NL East.

 

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Turner starts in CF as Nats begin big series at Giants vs. Cueto

Turner starts in CF as Nats begin big series at Giants vs. Cueto

Nationals (59-42) vs. Giants (59-42) at AT&T Park

Now this should be fun. After splitting their two-game series at the first-place Indians, the Nats move on to one of the other teams primed to contend for this year's World Series, as on Thursday they begin a four-game set at the San Francisco Giants.

Not only are the Giants tied with the Nats at 59-42 on the season, they are winners of three of the last six championships. The last time the Nats made the playoffs it was San Francisco that knocked them out. Only so much can be made about a series in July, but this could easily be a postseason preview with the way things are going.

The opener will feature Tanner Roark (9-6, 3.05) pitching opposite NL All-Star Game starter Johnny Cueto (13-2, 2.53). Both are among the best starters in the National League and both are throwing to All-Star catchers in Wilson Ramos and Buster Posey.

Behind Roark will be the usual Nats' lineup with one noticeable change. Trea Turner is in at center field and not Ben Revere, despite the Nats facing a right-handed pitcher in an NL park. With the way Turner's been playing, though, it's not a big surprise.

Starting in center and leading off for the Giants is Denard Span, the former Nationals star who signed away in free agency this past offseason.

First pitch: 10:15 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats -Tanner Roark vs. Giants - Johnny Cueto

NATS

CF Trea Turner
RF Bryce Harper
2B Daniel Murphy
C Wilson Ramos
LF Jayson Werth
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Tanner Roark

GIANTS

CF Denard Span
LF Angel Pagan
2B Joe Panik
C Buster Posey
SS Brandon Crawford
1B Brandon Belt
RF Mac Williamson
3B Connor Gillaspie
RHP Johnny Cueto

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Wilson Ramos and José Lobaton may never steal a base. Like, ever

Wilson Ramos and José Lobaton may never steal a base. Like, ever

You know who has as many career stolen bases as Wilson Ramos and José Lobaton? Literally every single person to ever live on planet earth.

George Washington — actually, both George Washingtons, the real president and the racing president — have as many steals as the Nationals' catchers. So does an infant child born one second ago. So do you, reader of this blog.

Now, Ramos and Lobaton aren't in the majors to run on the basepaths. They're in the league to do work behind the dish, prevent others from stealing second or third and produce in the batter's box. But this stat captured by A.J. Ellis, their positional peer on the Dodgers, is pretty nuts nonetheless:

That's a combined 867 games between the two of them where not one thievery was committed. And there definitely had to be tons of chances in that span where the pitcher wasn't paying Ramos or Lobaton any mind, but still, neither of them took the risk to notch their first one.

If one of the backstops ever does make the impossible possible, the game needs to be stopped and a ceremony needs to take place. In the meantime, if someone on the mound ever throws over to keep Ramos or Lobaton close, that player should immediately be ejected.

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