Quick Links

Instant analysis: Rockies 11, Nats 10

804440.png

Instant analysis: Rockies 11, Nats 10

Game in a nutshell: Remember everyone was complaining about the Nationals' impotent lineup and its inability to generate anything of consequence? Nothing a few days at Coors Field can't fix. For the third straight day, the Nationals tallied at least 10 runs, a first for the franchise since the 1995 Expos did it and a first for a D.C. baseball club since 1951. Unfortunately, this time their pitching staff also gave up double-digit runs, eight of them charged to starter Edwin Jackson. Tom Gorzelanny gave up two more out of the bullpen, but his teammates rallied to bail out the pitching staff. Michael Morse clubbed a three-run homer in the third, Ian Desmond clubbed a two-run homer in the fifth and Bryce Harper clubbed the game-tying homer in the top of the ninth, setting the stage for extra innings. Eventually, the Nats bullpen couldn't hang on. Craig Stammen, in his third inning of work, surrendered the game-winning, RBI single to Marco Scutaro with two outs in the bottom of the 11th, a frustrating way for a long day to end.

Hitting highlight: It had been a rough few days for Harper, who faced a steady stream of sliders and other assorted junk on the outside corner (or beyond) from the Rockies' pitching staff, especially left-handers. To his credit, Harper hung tough and wound up making Colorado's right-handers pay in the end. He delivered an RBI single off Josh Roenicke in the fifth, then destroyed a pitch from closer Rafael Betancourt to deep right-center in the ninth, his eighth career homer, tying the game.

Pitching lowlight: What's going on with Jackson? His velocity has been down in each of his last two starts -- his fastball, which normally averages about 94 mph, has dropped to the 89-91 mph range -- and he paid the price for it today. Jackson was pounded for five runs in the bottom of the first, then two more in the bottom of the second. He retired the side in the third inning, but after allowing a leadoff single in the fourth, he got a quick hook from Davey Johnson. Clearly miffed by that managerial decision, Jackson trudged off the field. He didn't have much of a case, though: Over the course of those three-plus innings, he saw his ERA skyrocket from 2.91 to 3.57.

Key stat: The Nats are in the middle of a stretch of eight consecutive games played at eight different starting times: 6:40 p.m., 3:10 p.m., 7:35 p.m., 4:05 p.m., 1:35 p.m., 6:35 p.m., 11:05 a.m., 7:05 p.m.

Up next: After four wild games in the thin air of Colorado, the Nationals return to division play this weekend in Atlanta. Lefty Ross Detwiler will face right-hander Randall Delgado at 7:35 p.m. Friday in the series opener at Turner Field.

Quick Links

Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers. 

Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.  

Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS. 

With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years. 

Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan

Quick Links

Nationals' Max Scherzer says he may not be ready for season opener

Nationals' Max Scherzer says he may not be ready for season opener

The Nationals aren't certain to have ace Max Scherzer ready to pitch for Opening Day. Scherzer, 32, was unable to compete in the World Baseball Classic this summer due to a stress fracture in his right ring finger. 

When he spoke to the media today at the first bullpen session of spring training, he said that the fracture has healed but the symptoms continue. 

Scherzer also said he'd just started throwing again this week. Manager Dusty Baker confimed that the Nationals don't know whether Scherzer will be ready to start the season. 

Any time a team's star pitcher suffers an unusual hand injury, it's cause for concern for the club and fans. 

Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award last season and posted a 20-7 record as a starter. He also led the MLB with 284 strikeouts. 

Scherzer is an especially vital part of the Nationals rotation considering the injury history of Stephen Strasburg, who landed on the DL twice last season, once with soreness in the elbow that needed Tommy John surgery in 2010. 

MORE NATIONALS: RANKING ALL 30 MLB LOGOS FROM WORST TO FIRST