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Nationals rookie Pedro Severino ready for first MLB postseason

Nationals rookie Pedro Severino ready for first MLB postseason

Ask Nationals rookie Pedro Severino about the biggest postseason game he's ever played in and he will turn to show-and-tell. In his locker in the Nats' clubhouse is the championship ring he won as a member of the 2014 Single-A Potomac Nationals. It's gold on the sides, jeweled on the top and heavier than it looks.

Now, just two years after he helped lead the P-Nats to the Carolina League title, the 23-year-old catcher is expected to play a significant role on the Nationals in the 2016 MLB postseason. With Wilson Ramos out due to a torn ACL, Severino is the next man up. 

"I feel good. I'm ready to play. I'm ready for Friday," he said. "I have my first postseason game on Friday. I don't think there is any pressure. It's still baseball. There are more people. That's it."

Severino could, in fact, start in Game 1 on Friday. Manager Dusty Baker has already hinted at that possibility with lefty Clayton Kershaw set to pitch for the Dodgers. A right-handed batter, Severino hit .309 against lefties in the minors this season compared to .261 against righties.

Kershaw will offer a much tougher challenge than anyone Severino saw in the minors, of course.

"He's one of the best pitchers. Like my friend said a long time ago, if he controls the ball over the plate, I can do my best. The only thing is don't try to do too much with that guy. Just try to put the ball into play. That's important for me. I know he's the best pitcher, but I can't do anything about that," Severino said.

Severino only has five at-bats against left-handers in the majors this season, but his overall numbers are solid, albeit in a small sample size. Through 16 big league games he's 9-for-28 (.321) with two homers, four RBI, six runs, two doubles and five walks. 

Severino, though, will be leaned on more so for his defense, the biggest reason why he is in this position as Ramos' replacement.

"He's pretty danged good back there framing the ball and throwing the ball. I think he'll be just fine," outfielder Bryce Harper said.

Severino has already stood out defensively, but has plenty to learn about the Nationals' pitching staff. He has nowhere near the experience that Ramos and Jose Lobaton have in dealing with Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark and others.

Severino tries to learn as much as he can from Ramos and Lobaton whenever he's around them.

"I'm so proud because I can play on this team. Everyone here is like a family. We help each other," Severino said. "The first time when I got called up in September, Ramos got the lineup and taught me everybody. What pitch they have to throw, what pitch for every count. Loby has done it a couple times. I feel so proud because they play the same position that I play and they don't feel like there is something wrong if I play good or if I play bad. They try to help me. That's important."

Severino talks to the Nats' veteran catchers, but also picks up a lot simply by watching the veterans go to work.

"He's always paying attention. I don't ever have to tell him in the dugout to quit fooling around, to watch and see how they're pitching this guy," Baker said. "What's impressed me probably the most is his ability to recall what the gameplan is and how to make adjustments."

Ramos is out for these playoffs and likely most of next season, and is also an impending free agent, which means Severino has an opportunity this October to earn a larger role next year. The Nats have a lot of uncertainty at the catcher position and he could factor into the equation this winter.

"I've been impressed with what he's been doing," first baseman Clint Robinson said. "He's a young guy with something to prove. With the catching spot possibly up for grabs next year, he wants to prove that he's going to be that guy next year."

There are, of course, some pretty important things to take care of first.

[RELATED: Nats not overly concerned injuries will affect defense]

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Nationals six-game winning streak comes to an end in Los Angeles

Nationals six-game winning streak comes to an end in Los Angeles

The book on Alex Meyer was pretty clear: big stuff, bigger control problems.

Not so much Wednesday night for the 6-foot-9 right-hander.

Meyer executed nearly to perfection while allowing a hit and a walk over seven innings and leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 7-0 victory that ended the Washington Nationals' six-game winning streak.

MORE NATS: NATS BOLSTER BULLPEN

"We really didn't have much of a chance," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "Our reports were he didn't have very good command, but he did tonight."

Meyer (4-5) had a perfect game until he walked Anthony Rendon with two outs in the fifth. He lost his no-hitter with two outs in the sixth when Brian Goodwin doubled down the right-field line.

Meyer, Rendon and Goodwin were all first-round draft picks by the Nationals in 2011.

"I went to breakfast with (Goodwin) this morning and paid for it," Meyer said. "I'll have to talk to him about that."

Meyer had been plagued by walks this season (41 in 60 1/3 innings) but had just the one free pass in a career-high seven innings. He struck out seven.

David Hernandez and Jose Alvarez each threw a scoreless, hitless inning to complete the one-hitter. It was only the second time this season the Nationals have been shut out.

"To make outs the way he did says a lot about his upside and potential," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Mike Trout and C.J. Cron each hit two-run homers to support Meyer. For Trout, it was his 18th of the season.

Gio Gonzalez (8-5) started for the Nationals but gave up a pair of first-inning runs on Albert Pujols' single and Andrelton Simmons' sacrifice fly, and it was all the runs Los Angeles would need.

Washington outfielder Bryce Harper did not play in the nationally televised game. It was a scheduled day off.

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Zimmerman sets franchise HR record, Nationals beat Reds 6-1

Zimmerman sets franchise HR record, Nationals beat Reds 6-1

The NL East leaders opened the second half of the season with a franchise record, a series sweep and a significant upgrade -- exactly how the Nationals wanted to keep their momentum going.

Ryan Zimmerman set the Nationals' career home run record with a solo shot, and Bryce Harper connected again on Monday as Washington powered its way to a 6-1 victory for a four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds.

Zimmerman's 235th career homer moved him ahead of Vladimir Guerrero for most in Expos and Nationals history. Guerrero quickly tweeted congratulations , saying he doesn't mind being second.

"It's special to be in one place your entire career," said Zimmerman, in his 12th season with the team that made him a first-round draft pick. "You can't do stuff like this if you're not in the same place for a long time. So I feel very lucky to have spent my entire career here, honored to have hit more home runs than any Expo or National. It's cool."

The Nationals emerged from the All-Star break with an emphatically successful series -- 13 homers, including three by Harper, and 35 runs overall by the league's top offense. It was the Nationals' first four-game sweep of the Reds and left them 6-1 against Cincinnati this season.

Washington improved to a season-high 20 games over .500 (56-36) with its ninth victory in 11 games.

The Nationals' roster got a little better during the series, too. Washington shored up its weak bullpen by getting relievers Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle from Oakland on Sunday. They'll join the team in Los Angeles for the start of a series against the Angels on Tuesday.

"We know we have a good team and we've put ourselves in a good spot to start the second half, but we've got a ways to go," Zimmerman said. "Obviously we acquired two talented guys for the bullpen, and we'll just try to keep scoring runs so that they can come in and lock the games up."

Stephen Strasburg (10-3) recovered from his shortest start of the season by fanning 11 in seven innings and allowing four hits, including Eugenio Suarez's homer. Strasburg left his last start -- a 13-0 loss to Atlanta on July 8 -- after Nick Markakis' liner deflected off his hip in the third inning.

He allowed only two hits -- including an infield single -- in his last five innings.

"Your body wants to pretend it's the offseason," Strasburg said of the break between starts. "It took a little while to get going."

Scott Feldman (7-7) lasted only one inning, limited by a stiff right knee that has been bothering him. He gave up a double, a single, Harper's three-run homer and Zimmerman's solo shot in his first 12 pitches. Feldman left after facing nine batters and giving up five runs on 33 pitches.

"It wouldn't loosen up," Feldman said of the knee. "It was one of those days. I put the team in a tough spot. We were down five runs right off the bat."

Harper's homer extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Brian Goodwin's solo shot made it 6-1 in the sixth.

4 FOR 4

The last time the Nationals swept a four-game series was last season against Atlanta. It was the 11th four-game sweep in Nationals history.

KEEP RUNNING

Daniel Murphy scored from second base on Matt Wieter's fly out in the first inning, turning it into a sacrifice fly. Right fielder Scooter Gennett made a diving catch in the gap and then stumbled and dropped the ball while trying to get up, giving Murphy enough time to make it home.

STATS

It was Strasburg's sixth double-digit strikeout game of the season and the 35th of his career. ... Anthony Rendon extended his hitting streak to 11 games. ... Nationals starters allowed only one run in the series. ... The 13 homers allowed in a series matched the Reds' club record.

NATIONALS MOVES

Washington called up right-hander Jacob Turner from Triple-A. Right-hander Koda Glover -- sidelined since April by a hip injury -- was moved to the 60-day DL.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: CF Michael Taylor hasn't yet started baseball-related activities as he recovers from a strained right oblique. He went on the DL on July 7.

Reds: C Devin Mesoraco began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville. He'll play a few games and be re-evaluated. He's been sidelined since July 5 with a strained left shoulder.

UP NEXT

Nationals: They face the Angels for the first time since 2011. Washington is 6-7 in interleague play this season.

Reds: RHP Sal Romano (1-1) will be called up to make his third career start when the Reds face the Diamondbacks. He also started on April 16 against Milwaukee and July 6 at Colorado.