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Instant analysis: Phillies 6, Nats 3

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Instant analysis: Phillies 6, Nats 3

Game in a nutshell: Hoping to move another step closer to their first division title, the Nationals dug themselves into an early hole and couldn't climb all the way out. Ross Detwiler, who hadn't allowed a run in his last 14 13 innings against the Phillies, was roughed up for five runs during a ragged, two-inning stretch. The Nationals knocked Cole Hamels out after five but couldn't get anything going against the Philadelphia bullpen.

And before they knew what hit them, they had dropped the ballgame. Even worse, the Braves rallied in dramatic fashion to beat the Marlins in the bottom of the ninth, clinching a playoff berth and reducing their deficit in the NL East to four games with eight to play.

The Nationals' magic number remains stuck at five. And they can no longer wrap up the division title in Philly. The earliest they can do that now: Friday night in St. Louis.

Hitting lowlight: In one regard, the Nationals lineup did a solid job against Hamels, making the left-hander work and driving his pitch count up to the point he had to be pulled after five innings. But given a chance to rally against a suspect Phillies bullpen, they fell flat.

Josh Lindblom retired the side in the sixth. Justin de Fratus and Antonio Bastardo combined to retire the side in the seventh. Phillipe Aumont retired the side in the eighth. And Jonathan Papelbon finished things off in the ninth to earn the save.

Pitching lowlight: What to make of Detwiler's start? He was dominant early, awful for a stretch in the middle and then dominant again to end his night. Unfortunately, that awful stretch in the second and third innings far overshadowed the good work he provided around it. The left-hander was hurt by a pair of long balls: homers by rookie Darin Ruf and veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz.

But Detwiler's biggest infractions weren't the balls that left the yard. They were the ones that never found the strike zone. He issued three walks in a span of four batters, including two straight to open the bottom of the third. Both, of course, wound up scoring, underscoring the cardinal sin nature of those free passes.

Key stat: Ryan Zimmerman (2006, 2009) and Adam Dunn (2009-10) are the only players in Nationals history to drive in 100 runs in a season. Both Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche are on pace to reach that figure this year.

Up next: The series continues at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday when John Lannan tries to overcome his Citizens Bank Park demons (he's 1-5 with a 7.06 ERA in his career here) against Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick.

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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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