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Hill remembers his time with Nationals organization warmly

Hill remembers his time with Nationals organization warmly

WASHINGTON—It’s hard to believe that Rich Hill was also a National. Hill, the Game 2 starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers pitched for the Nationals’ Triple-A Syracuse team in 2015. 

Last year was the year that Hill actually dropped out of organized ball and landed in Independent ball. 

Before the Long Island Ducks. Before the late season resurrection in Boston, there was Syracuse. 

Hill, who at 36 may be one of the hottest talents on an incredibly thin free agent market, could have been a National. 

No bitterness, no regret. 

“A great organization. Enjoyed the time that we had here in spring training, the guys here in spring training. Just the camaraderie that they had, the intensity of Max Scherzer, watching him prepare during spring training,” Hill remembers.

"I'll talk about Syracuse. But the selflessness of a Tanner Roark -- this is going back to last year, how many games did he win in '14? 15, right? And he goes in the bullpen, and there were 29 other teams that said, we'll put him in the rotation.” 

Hill, who spoke before Friday’s Game 1, sounds as if he’s still with the Nationals as he lauds his former teammates. 

“But to have guys that will put their own accolades aside or, not so much careers, but they will sacrifice certain things for the team, that's what I saw. There was a very good team environment.”

With the Chiefs, Hill whose big league career began in 2005 and included stops with the Cubs, Orioles, two with the Red Sox, Indians, Angels, Yankees and Athletics, went 2-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 25 relief appearances. 

“We had some older veteran guys that were on that team that weren't complaining about, well, I should be in the big leagues. You get kind of that mix when you're in Triple-A. But it was not so there, and that had a lot to do with the coaching staff. Those guys there were great,” Hill said. 

Hill exercised his opt-out at Syracuse because he didn’t see a place for him on the Nationals. 

“I told them I was going to take my release and they said, ‘Well, we'll give you an extra week to find another job if you would like. I just didn't see it working out here in Washington. You know, players have outs in their contracts that are mutual to say, you know, if you would like to go somewhere else, if you think it would work out somewhere else, you've earned the right, so be it, best of luck both ways. So that had happened.

“Would have liked to have seen it work out here, sure, no doubt, because of everything that was going on in spring training, like I had said before, just the guys on the team, it was made of a team, a team, a group of guys that everybody was pulling for each other.”

After his opt-out, Hill was at home for a month, and went to Long Island for two starts. He impressed the Red Sox, and a year later he’s facing the team that he so admires.

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Nats hit 8 HRs to blast Brewers 15-2

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USA TODAY Sports

Nats hit 8 HRs to blast Brewers 15-2

The Washington Nationals tied a franchise record with eight home runs, including two apiece by Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, and Max Scherzer pitched six innings of three-hit ball in a 15-2 rout of the fading Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday.

Washington matched two major league records in a seven-run third inning: Most consecutive home runs (four) and most home runs in an inning (five).

After Harper connected off Michael Blazek (0-1) in the first inning, Brian Goodwin started the long-ball barrage in the third with a two-run drive. Wilmer Difo, Harper and Zimmerman followed with long home runs.

MORE NATIONALS: Watch the Nats hit back to back homeruns 

The streak was interrupted when Daniel Murphy flied out, after which some of the fans reacted with good-natured booing.

Anthony Rendon resumed the fun with a shot to dead center that finally chased Blazek, whose first major league start was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Zimmerman and Jose Lobaton both homered off Wily Peralta in the fourth for a 15-1 lead.

The eight home runs tied the franchise mark set in July 1978 by the Montreal Expos against Atlanta.

Scherzer (12-5) allowed one run and struck out nine to bring his total this year to 201 -- his sixth consecutive season with at least 200, the longest active streak in the majors.

The right-hander had plenty of offensive support, most notably from Harper, who had three hits and four RBIs while extending his career-best hitting streak to 19 games.

Travis Shaw and Lewis Brinson homered for the Brewers, who have lost nine of 11 to drop from first place in the NL Central.

Blazek gave up seven hits, six of them home runs, in just 2 1/3 innings. Peralta allowed seven runs and eight hits in 1 2/3 innings, a performance that raised his ERA to 7.85.

MOVE OVER, HONDO

Zimmerman's two home runs upped his total with the Nationals to 237, tied with Frank Howard for most in Washington history.

Known affectionately as "Hondo," the 6-foot-7 Howard played with the expansion Senators from 1965-71.

ROSTER MOVE

The Brewers added RHP Anthony Swarzak to the roster after obtaining him Wednesday in a trade with the White Sox.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (10-3, 3.25 ERA) was placed on the 10-day disabled list with an elbow impingement. Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to miss only one start. ... OF Michael Taylor (oblique strain) is almost ready to begin baseball activities, Baker said. Taylor has been on the DL since July 7.

UP NEXT

Brewers: Brent Suter (1-1, 2.84 ERA) takes the mound Friday night in the opener of a three-game showdown with the visiting Chicago Cubs.

Nationals: Tanner Roark (8-6, 4.83 ERA) helps Washington launch a three-game series at home against the Colorado Rockies.

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Watch the Nationals hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back HRs against the Brewers

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Watch the Nationals hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back HRs against the Brewers

Bryce Harper was thrown out in the eighth inning of Wednesday's win over the Brewers.

Apparently, he needs to be thrown out of games more.

Harper's second home run of the game Thursday against the Brewers, was part of a four straight home run barrage the Nationals put together in the third inning.

First it was Brian Goodwin homering to right to start things off.

Then it was Wilmer Difo's turn.

Harper was next, which by the way was already his second of the game.

Ryan Zimmerman made sure he kept the streak going after Harper.

And now all four at once, just for emphasis.

The Nats weren't done in the inning either. After Daniel Murphy would fly out to center and end the streak, Anthony Rendon would add another home run to the inning. 

The Nationals became the eighth team in MLB history to hit four straight home runs. The Diamondbacks were the last back in 2010.