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Q&A with Nats Farm Authority

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Q&A with Nats Farm Authority

CSN: First, it's good to have you back. We - and the Nats farm system - have come a long way since the likes of Kory Casto and Mike Hinckley were known as top prospects in the organization. Cornerstone pieces Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg have helped jumpstart this club to a first place lead in the NL East and to a 26-17 record. Is it shocking to you that the Nationals have done this well considering all of the injuries they have suffered? Not to mention, this organization isn't used to having this type of success, can they keep it up?

NFA: No, it's not surprising. Drafting so early in the first round so often had paid dividends. They "picked" the best two years to be so awful. Getting Strasburg and Harper, two of the top players in any draft, along with paying the price to sign players who slid due to signability has allowed the Nationals to accelerate their ability to compete.

CSN: The December trade for Gio Gonzalez sent the Athletics four of the Nats top prospects (pitchers Tom Milone, Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole and catcher Derek Norris). Yes, we're only a couple months into the first year post move, but what are your early impressions of the deal and in the long run, who wins that deal?

NFA: Loved the deal when it happened. Love the deal today. As much as you want to draftdevelop players for the Nationals, teams also need to have the pieces to deal for missing players at the major league level. Losing guys like Cole and Norris does hurt the long view of the Nationals, but getting a guy like Gonzalez to slot between Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann was a fantastic move (especially after extending him). Cole and Norris are the two pieces I am going to watch closest. PeacockMilone are nice arms but realistically would have had a hard time cracking the starting rotation over the next 2-4 seasons.
CSN: A lot of the Nats top pitching prospects can be found in the lower levels of the minors. However, in AAHarrisburg Danny Rosenbaum continues the trend of succeeding at every level he pitches at. What is your ceiling for the Nats lefty pitching prospect?

NFA: Rosenbaum is Tommy Milone revisted, though scouts don't see the same stuff as Milone. He's a great story from where he has come from and what he has done, I can see getting a cup of coffee in 2013 but realistically he's a back of the rotation guy.

CSN: While the Nationals bats are finally starting to show some signs of life, what reinforcements are on the way either via completed rehab assignment or high minors?
NFA: The guy they miss the most is Michael Morse. They've had a conga line of left fielders and lack Morse's big bat in the middle of the lineup. The guy at the higher level of the minors who can help some is Corey Brown, a LF center fielder playing in Syracuse. He's probably a 4th OF at best but he is an intriguing left-handed option in center for the Nationals. Rick Ankiel is great defensively and has a fantastic arm, but is not a threat at the plate. Perhaps giving Brown a shot would help.

CSN: Much of Washington's current success can be attributed to the job GM Mike Rizzo has done building this team through the draft. This year, the Nationals will pick in unfamiliar territory ... not near the top. Are there any names fans should keep an eye out for or is there a specific position you would like to see the club go target?

NFA: The rumors I've heard surround college arms like Andrew Heaney, a lefty from Oklahoma State, and Chris Stratton, a right-handed starter from Mississippi State. Both are nice guys but not front of the rotation guys. I'd prefer the Nationals to target up the middle bats in this draft. If a guy like Deven Marrero, Arizona State shortstop and Chris Marrero's cousin or Gavin Cecchini, a high school shortstop whose brother plays in the Red Sox organization. If those guys are gone, the player I like is Richie Shaffer, a power hitting third baseman from Clemson; he's likely to move off of third to first base or left field.

CSN: And as always, my favorite question for you, what sleepers have impressed you down on the farm?

NFA: The guy I've enjoyed following the most is Matt Skole down in Hagerstown. He's a solid left-handed hitting third baseman who is hitting .287.437.538 for the Suns. Not a middle of the lineup threat in the majors but he could develop into a solid bench guy who may be able to sneak a few starts in at third or first.

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Nationals lose to Diamondbacks in dramatic fashion

Nationals lose to Diamondbacks in dramatic fashion

PHOENIX -- Three straight homers off Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer in the first inning had the Arizona Diamondbacks set up for an easy Major League Baseball victory over the NL East leaders.

Instead, they needed Brandon Drury's bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth for a 6-5 victory Friday night.

The home runs by David Peralta, A.J. Pollock and Jake Lamb to start their first at-bat helped stake the Diamondbacks to a 5-0 lead against Scherzer.

"We did a great job getting his pitch count up and also putting runs on him," the Diamondbacks' A.J. Pollock said. "Great getting on him early. We would've loved to have (scrapped) a couple of runs in the middle of the game, but the key point is we won the game and we came through in the end."

The first-inning feat was the first in the majors since Baltimore did it against Texas on May 10, 2012. It was the first time in Nationals history (2005 to present) that an opposing team has hit back-to-back-to-back home runs.

The Diamondbacks last hit three straight homers on Aug. 11, 2010, when they had four in a row at Milwaukee.

It was the most runs allowed by Scherzer in a first inning since July 2, 2011, against San Francisco, when he gave up five.

"I had four pitches today. I was using them. They beat me," Scherzer said. "I just couldn't get the ball exactly where I wanted it. When you do that against this type of ballclub and these types of hitters, they are really good and they make you pay."

Scherzer's five runs allowed tied for the most he's given up in a start this season, and the five innings tied for his shortest outing of the season.

Arizona sent nine batters to the plate in the four-run first and the Diamondbacks made it 5-0 in the second on Lamb's RBI double.

Scherzer had allowed just one home run in 34 2/3 innings over five starts before he surrendered the three home runs on his first 10 pitches. The All-Star right-hander and two-time Cy Young Award winner was tagged for three homers in a game for the first time since May 6, 2016, against the Chicago Cubs, when he allowed four.

"I don't think I have ever seen a game starting off with three homers. Max hadn't seen it, either," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.

Peralta, Pollock and Lamb also each had a double, another historical first for the Diamondbacks.

The Nationals rallied with Daniel Murphy's run-scoring double in the fourth, then added two more runs in the fifth off Diamondbacks starter Zack Godley. A leadoff double for Matt Wieters led to Brian Goodwin's RBI groundout, and Ryan Raburn singled in Wilmer Difo with two outs.

Godley struck out a career high 10 in 5 2/3 innings, and allowed four runs and five hits.

Difo drove in two runs, one to cut the lead to 5-4 in the sixth and the other that tied the game on a groundout to first in the eighth.

The Diamondbacks loaded the bases in the ninth on Pollock's triple and intentional walks to Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt by Enny Romero (2-4). After Gregor Blanco flied out to shallow left, Drury bounced a single into right field for Arizona's third win in four games.

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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.

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"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.