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Strasburg rattled by Rockies

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Strasburg rattled by Rockies

The Nationals' 4-2 loss to the Rockies last night was disappointingfrustratingmaddeningpick another adjective for a number of reasons, but let's focus on the two most significant ones...

1. Stephen Strasburg came undone during what proved to be the decisive bottom of the sixth inning.

How often does Strasburg take the mound with a lead in hand, give it back and wind up taking the loss? Well, in 31 career starts prior to last night, he had never done it.

But in that fateful bottom of the sixth at Coors Field, Strasburg (who one inning earlier had staked himself to a 2-1 lead thanks to an RBI double) imploded in a manner we had never seen before.

It began with a Dexter Fowler leadoff triple down the right-field line, then turned scary when Strasburg drilled Marco Scutaro in the head with a 95 mph fastball. Clearly upset by what he had just done, Strasburg pulled his cap off, winced and looked right at Scutaro, wanting to make sure the veteran infielder was OK.

It's never easy for any pitcher to rebound from a moment like that, and Strasburg was no exception, though he didn't get any help from plate umpire Angel Hernandez. Strasburg's subsequent 2-2 pitch to the fearsome Carlos Gonzalez (a 96 mph fastball on the lower, inside corner of the strike zone) was called a ball. Strasburg appeared to have a few words for Hernandez, and MLB's Pitch FX system confirmed it should have been strike three.

But bad call or not, Strasburg needed to shake that one off and make a good 3-2 pitch to retire Gonzalez. Instead, he left a curveball over enough of the plate for Gonzalez to lace the game-tying single to right. A Michael Cuddyer base hit continued the inning, and Todd Helton's sacrifice fly brought home the go-ahead run.

That proved to be the difference in the game, and proved to be a rare occasion in which Strasburg had trouble handling an adverse situation.

2. A struggling Nationals lineup failed once again to take advantage of a struggling pitcher.

The Nats may not find themselves in a more advantageous matchup entering a game all season, with Strasburg in their corner and soft-tossing Jeff Francis and his 8.56 ERA in the other. That didn't exactly play out as expected, did it?

Francis allowed just two runs on five hits in five innings, striking out five while most notably issuing zero walks. Only four of the 21 batters the left-hander faced got ahead in the count. None worked his way into a three-ball count.

Davey Johnson was not pleased at all.

"We've faced some pitchers everybody jumps on, and they look like Sandy Koufax over there," the manager told reporters following the game.

How bad was the Nationals' offensive attack? Strasburg and No. 8 hitter Jesus Flores combined to go 4-for-5. Everybody else went 4-for-28.

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Tanner Roark starts as Nats look for better luck against Orioles

Tanner Roark starts as Nats look for better luck against Orioles

Nats (73-52) at Orioles (69-56) at Nationals Park

The Nationals didn't have much luck in Baltimore, as they dropped the first two games of their four-game set against the Orioles. On Wednesday, the series tilts to Washington where the Nats return home for the first time since Aug. 14. 

Tanner Roark (13-6, 2.87) will get the start, and it's coming at a good time for the Nats. He's their most consistent pitcher at going deep in games and their bullpen could use some help after Reynaldo Lopez made it just 2 2/3 innings on Tuesday.

Starting for Baltimore will be lefty Wade Miley (7-10, 5.58). Like Lopez, he got shelled in his last outing when he gave up six earned runs in just 1 2/3 innings against the Astros.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Tanner Roark vs. Orioles - Wade Miley

NATS

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

ORIOLES

TBA
LHP Wade Miley

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE STATS AND SCORES

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Stock Watch: Harper, Zimmerman looking like themselves again

Stock Watch: Harper, Zimmerman looking like themselves again

Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see which player's stock is rising or falling.  

Record: 3-4

Team slash: .283/.359/.454

Team ERA: 5.79

Runs per game: 6.6 

 

STOCK UP 

Ryan Zimmerman, 1B: .375 AVG, HR, 1.014 OPS

Zimmerman announced his return from the disabled list with authority last weekend in Atlanta, hammering the first pitch he saw into left field for a solo home run. The blast was just the beginning; he’s 6-for-16 since he’s been back, getting solid contact even when he doesn’t get a hit. We’re talking about a very small sample size, of course, but a resurgent Zimmerman would mean wonders for the bottom of the Nats lineup.

Bryce Harper, RF: .357 AVG, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 1.026 OPS

Like Zimmerman, Harper’s going to have to be consistent for a little while longer before fans feel like he’s truly back to his old self. Still, the past week and a half have been a welcome sight for an offense that needs him to look like the reigning NL MVP. He’s posted multi-hit efforts in five out of his last 10 games, notching five extra-base hits over that span. For comparison, that’s the same amount of extra-base hits he had throughout the month of July.

Numbers aside, Harper has simply looked relaxed at the plate lately; he’s no longer chasing pitches out of the strike zone, instead reclaiming his patient approach. Even if he may not be able to completely salvage his season, a strong finish would be a huge boost for the Nats.    

STOCK DOWN 

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 1.2 IP, 9 ER, 15-day disabled list

Even if it’s a precautionary measure, there still has to be slight concern that Strasburg is headed to the disabled list with right elbow soreness. The 28-year-old right hander said Monday that his arm recovery between starts had been getting increasingly difficult, but the discomfort never affected him during his performances. Who knows if there was truly a correlation between the elbow issues and his recent 0-3 skid, but the Nats are hoping that time off will do him some good. With the postseason less than six weeks away, will Strasburg be fully rested and ready to go in October? 

Reynaldo Lopez, SP: 1-1, 4.66 ERA, 1.66 WHIP

While Lopez had two good outings recently, both of them were against the lowly Atlanta Braves. Against contenders like the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles? He’s 0-2 with a 10.32 ERA. Granted, he’s still in the infancy of his major-league career, and was only inserted in the rotation because Joe Ross is out with injury. That said, with Strasburg also gone now, it’s up to the back end to create some semblance of stability for the next few weeks. 

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NL East: Phillies among MLB teams to scout Tim Tebow

NL East: Phillies among MLB teams to scout Tim Tebow

Most of Major League Baseball's 30 teams will have a scout in attendance at Tim Tebow's showcase workout on Aug. 30 in Los Angeles, and that list includes the Philadelphia Phillies.

That's according to CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury, who notes the practice will not be open to the public. Tebow, of course, spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles as part of his brief, but noteworthy NFL career.

Tebow has not played a real baseball game since 2005, when he was in high school. Tebow made All-State as a junior in the state of Florida, but since then has been all football. And despite being a quarterback who threw lefty, it sounds like he wants to be an outfielder in his return to baseball. 

Several minor league teams have already offered Tebow a roster spot, including the Waldorf, Md.-based Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. But it sounds like Tebow wants to show off his stuff in front of some MLB teams first.

[RELATED: Nats' defense making uncharacteristic mistakes]

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