Werth happy to back with winning Nats

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Werth happy to back with winning Nats

Jayson Werth returned to the Nationals lineup on Thursday night 88 days after he broke his left wrist sliding to catch a line drive in right field at Nationals Park. The day was May 6th and the Nats were playing the Phillies and pitcher Cole Hamels. On the day of his return, Aug. 2, the Phillies were the opponent once again and Hamels was on the mound.

Asked whether the significance of the game had anything to do with the timing of his return, Werth instead spoke of an almost impatience to get back in the lineup of a team that has maintained first place ever since he went out.

It was just a coincidence. I felt like I was ready, I didnt really see what the point was to continue to play games in the minor leagues. I wasnt getting a whole lot out of it, he said.

Like I never missed a step, it was good.

Werth said he felt nothing special in his major league return, but did acknowledge the road back got interesting at times.

The first game I played in Potomac, the first game in rehab, that was kind of surreal because I was back in the minors. I played in that field in like 99 or whatever so that was a little strange, he said.

As far as tonight goes, I felt better and Im just glad to be back with my guys.

Werth reached base twice in the Nationals 3-0 win over the Phillies, he singled to left field off of former teammate Cole Hamels in the second inning. He also earned a walk off Michael Schwimer in the eighth.

The highlight of Werths night was an RBI in the third inning to give the Nats their third run. With Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche in scoring position, Werth poked a sleepy grounder to Chase Utley whose only play was to first as Morse was already steps away from home. He also made a rangy catch in center field to cap an all-around productive night.

Werth was able to contribute right away and help the Nats avoid a series sweep by Philadelphia, but players afterwards said just his presence makes a difference.

Hes huge in the clubhouse, in the dugout, out on the field. He is just a leader, hes a gamer. Regardless of what we saw last year, regardless of what is going on statistically, LaRoche said. Weve been waiting a couple of months for this. It has been great.

Its great, he is a leader for us. Especially against his old team, he always seems to do a little more against them for whatever reason, Ross Detwiler said. You have a leader out there and a great outfielder, and you know what he does with the bat thats why he gets paid.

The Nationals moved to 62-42 on the year with the win, once again an even 20 games above the .500 mark. When Werth suffered the wrist injury they were 18-10 and had played just 28 total games. 58 games and two months await the first place Nationals, but at this point Werth is just happy to be back in the mix and a part of the team.

Weve won a lot of games with that talent and going forward, we have two months to go, he said. When we get healthy and when Desmond gets back we are going to be tough.

Nationals keep rolling against Royals, win fourth straight

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Nationals keep rolling against Royals, win fourth straight

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 2-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium: 

How it happened: After getting swept by the Phillies to close their most recent homestand, Nationals manager Dusty Baker called this Midwest road trip a good barometer for where they stand in the early part of this season. He, and many of his players, saw this road swing as a test, knowing they had yet to face one of baseball's best teams.

Four days later and the bar may need to be raised a little higher for these Nationals, as after sweeping the Cardinals in St. Louis, they opened their series at the defending champion Kansas City Royals with a convincing 2-0 victory on Monday night. Their brand of score early and let their pitching staff take it from there worked wonders once again.

Gio Gonzalez continued his career-best start to a season with six scoreless frames, Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy notched first-inning RBI and the Nats' bullpen held on to push the Nats to club record 18-7 on the season through 25 games.

What it means: The 'they haven't beaten anyone' knock on the 2016 Nats can officially be put to rest. The Nationals are now 4-0 on this road trip, having first swept a 100-win team from a year ago in the Cardinals, to now opening this series against the reigning champs with a win. 

Gio keeps on rolling: Gonzalez battled a high pitch count early, but recovered to give the Nats six scoreless innings on four hits and two walks. Gio now has a 1.15 ERA through five starts this season, going at least six innings in each of those outings. The Nats rotation as a whole has held a 0.92 mark with 34 strikeouts and 10 walks in their last six starts as a group. 

Zim comes up big: Zimmerman has been in quite the skid lately, finishing the month of April hitting .219/.301/.301 with just one hit in his last four games (13 ABs). Zimmerman had been showing positive signs, including the highest average exit velocity on the Nats through the weekend. And on Monday, he came through with a big hit in the first inning, an RBI double to right field to give the Nats an early lead. It was Zim's first RBI since April 26. The Nats have now scored 32 of their 101 total runs this season in the first inning. Zimmerman also smacked a ground-rule double in the ninth inning for just his fourth multi-hit game in 20 games this season.

Harper finally gets a hit: Harper's slump recent slump continued through his first two plate appearances on Monday, as Harper struck out and flew out to make it 16 at-bats without a hit dating back to last Thursday. Harper would finally get one, though, on a bloop single to left field to lead off the top of the sixth inning. Harper broke his slump, but he was quickly thrown out trying to steal second by Royals catcher Lorenzo Cain. He also now has only two hits in his last six games.

Murphy gets No. 1000: Murphy had another solid day at the plate on Monday with three hits and an RBI on a groundout in the first inning. His second hit was No. 1000 for his career. It was a double to center field in the sixth inning and it gave Murphy his 12th multi-hit game in 24 total appearances this season. Only three times this year has he been held hitless. Murphy, by the way, is the 10th player ever to record their 1000th career hit in a Nats uniform. Denard Span was the last in September of 2014.

Up next: The Nats continue their series at the Royals with another 8:15 p.m. start on Tuesday night. Tanner Roark (2-2, 2.03) and former Nats minor leaguer Chris Young (1-4, 6.12) are the starters.

Nats begin series at World Series-champion Kansas City Royals

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Nats begin series at World Series-champion Kansas City Royals

Nats (17-7) vs. Royals (13-11) at Kauffman Stadium

The Nationals rolled through St. Louis this weekend to secure their first sweep of the Cardinals since 2007. It was an impressive series against a team that led baseball with 100 wins last year. And now, on Monday night, they will face another of MLB's most talented clubs.

The Nats begin a three-game set with the defending champion Kansas City Royals with an 8:15 p.m. first pitch. Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 1.42) and right-hander Edinson Volquez (3-1, 3.34) are the scheduled starters.

Gio is pitching his fifth game of the 2016 season and is off to the best start of his career. The Nats' southpaw is holding opponents to a .196 average and .489 OPS. The Royals, though, will be his biggest challenge to date.

Gonzalez will pitch to Jose Lobaton per usual, though Wilson Ramos is back from the bereavement list. The rest of the Nats' lineup is as expected with Stephen Drew in there as the designated hitter.

First pitch: 8:15 p.m.
TV: MASN
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Gio Gonzalez vs. Royals - Edinson Volquez

NATS

CF Michael Taylor
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
2B Daniel Murphy
LF Jayson Werth
DH Stephen Drew
C Jose Lobaton
SS Danny Espinosa
(LHP Gio Gonzalez)

ROYALS

SS Alcides Escobar
CF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Kendrys Morales
LF Alex Gordon
C Salvador Perez
2B Omar Infante
3B Christian Colon
RF Paulo Orlando
(RHP Edinson Volquez)

Follow along with GameView here.

Baker had his team rub a former player's ears for good luck vs. Cards

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Baker had his team rub a former player's ears for good luck vs. Cards

You're going to lobe this story. Wait, sorry, you're going to love this story.

Before the Nationals' weekend series against the Cardinals that started on Friday, a former player and current pal of Dusty Baker named Kirk Rueter stopped by to say hello. It was there when things took a turn for the weird, according to USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale.

As a pitcher under Baker with the Giants, Rueter apparently developed a reputation for having incredibly good fortune. With that in mind,  Baker — whose team had just been swept at home by the Phillies — wanted to take advantage of his penchant for luck.

So he had his buddy walk through Washington's clubhouse and told his roster to rub his ears.

Yes, this is a thing that happened.

The bizarre superstition, of course, seemed to work, considering the Nats took all three games from St. Louis, an organization that has given them fits before. Next up is a four-game tilt in Kansas City. Rueter better bring his ears. 

MORE NATIONALS: WHY NATS PITCHERS THROWING MORE PITCHES ISN'T WORRISOME