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Padres squash Nationals


Padres squash Nationals

Game in a nutshell: What looked like an advantageous matchup for the Nationals -- Stephen Strasburg against one of the majors' least-productive lineups -- turned sour right from the get-go. Strasburg surrendered three runs during a rain-delayed top of the first, gave up a homer in the third and never got on track. The Nationals' lineup, meanwhile, was shut down by the heretofore unheralded Anthony Bass. Only Bryce Harper, who connected for his second homer in as many days, managed to deliver for the Nationals.

Hitting highlight: There sure wasn't much to choose from in this category, so the gold star has to go to the kid. Less than 24 hours after clubbing his first career home run, Harper did it again, sending a 1-0 pitch from Bass into the center field bleachers. There was no curtain call this time for the rookie, but Harper did become the first teenager to hit big-league homers on consecutive days since Ken Griffey Jr. did it for the Mariners on May 20-21, 1989.
Pitching lowlight: You had a feeling this might not be Strasburg's day when the game's first batter lofted what looked like a routine fly ball to shallow left-center ... and then wound up on second base with a double after Roger Bernadina, Rick Ankiel and Ian Desmond watched it fall into the Bermuda Triangle. Things only got worse for Strasburg after that, especially after a cloudburst soaked everyone during that torturous first inning, resulting in an 8-minute delay. By the time it finally ended, Strasburg had allowed three runs and thrown a whopping 39 pitches. And because of that, the right-hander lasted only four innings, getting pulled with his pitch count at 81. It matched the second-shortest start of Strasburg's career.

Key stat: After giving up more than three earned runs only three times in their first 34 games this season, the Nationals rotation has now done it twice in as many days.
Up next: After wrapping up a rare, two-game series, the Nationals open another Wednesday night against the Pirates. Left-handers Gio Gonzalez and Erik Bedard square off at 7:05 p.m

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This year's Nationals roster is stacked with glorious facial hair

This year's Nationals roster is stacked with glorious facial hair

The following is a list of things the 2017 Washington Nationals appear to have: A talented outfield led by Bryce Harper and Adam Eaton. A rising superstar at shortstop in Trea Turner. A possibly major hole at closer.

The following is a list of things the 2017 Washington Nationals appear to not have: Razors. Shaving cream. A desire to groom their faces.

A fun tradition at each team's spring training is the annual photo day, because photo day forces professional athletes to pose in front of cameras like they're being featured in the poster of an upcoming blockbuster movie. And after poring through the snapshots from the Nationals' photo day, a single trend emerged.

This year's team is a hairy bunch.

Among that bunch are the usual suspects, such as Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth:

But there are some surprises, most notably of which is Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander tends to keep his mug 100-percent clean-shaven, but for now, at least, he's allowed his face to become quite fertile:

Then there's newcomer Adam Lind, who has a goatee that Duke's Blue Devil logo would be forced to respect:

Shawn Kelley, meanwhile, who's pictured below, has a beard that looks like...

...Derek Norris' beard, before Derek Norris' beard hit puberty and grew up to be the strong, mature beard it is today:

There are scraggly ones, such as Daniel Murphy's:

And fuller, more complete ones, like Eaton's (full marks, by the way, for the trade acquisition's ability to seamlessly connect 'stache to beard):

The most wild photo of all, however, was this one of Turner. Is this the Nats stud, or a picture of Leonard DiCaprio from a scene in The Revenant? Hard to tell with all that stubble the infielder's cultivating:

One potential positive of this team-wide movement: If Turner and his teammates keep what they're growing down in Florida going throughout the season, their faces will be plenty warm by the time playoff baseball comes around. 


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Nationals' Bryce Harper mashes monster homer on second pitch of spring training

Nationals' Bryce Harper mashes monster homer on second pitch of spring training

The Nationals played their first game of spring training today against the Mets. They won, but that's not nearly the biggest story of the day. It was Bryce Harper's first at-bat that stole the show. 

On just the second pitch he saw of spring training, from lefty Sean Gilmartin, Harper mashed a ginormous home run to right center field. MLB.com shared video of the bomb. 

According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Harper smacked the ball at least 400 feet. In his second at-bat, he hit a line-drive single on the first pitch. 

Let's just say it was an exciting start to the year for Harper, who won the 2015 NL MVP only to endure a let-down last season. As Castillo points out, the slugger hit .226 against left-handed pitchers in 2016. 

Harper enters spring training at 230 pounds, up 15 pounds of muscle from last year. 

“I just felt going into the offseason you want to get as strong as you can, try to maintain your weight the best you can and just do everything the right way,” he told the Post. 

MORE NATIONALS: Baker thinks DC sports teams can win a championship this year