Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals for The Washington Times.
The Washington Nationals won Monday night. They beat their division rival Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 on a misty, occasionally rainy, night at Citizens Bank Park. They got six nearly unhittable innings from left-hander Gio Gonzalez and all the runs they’d need off the bat of Ian Desmond. But sitting stonefaced in their dugout with one out in the ninth inning was Henry Rodriguez. He was no longer on the mound, that spot taken by Sean Burnett, the left-hander who’d been summoned to bail out the Nationals’ flamethrowing closer for the second time in his last four appearances.
Reliever Ryan Mattheus was running Monday in the outfield at Citizens Bank Park when he felt some soreness that had been bothering his left foot for a few weeks flare up. He came in and iced it but the Nationals' trainers were concerned enough with the aggravation that Mattheus received X-rays in Philadelphia and will see a specialist in Baltimore on Tuesday.
Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg was out in the outfield at Citizens Bank Park Monday morning, taking part in the near-daily pitchers' ultimate frisbee game -- the latest indication that the tightness or fatigue that he was feeling Sunday was indeed normal. Nationals manager Davey Johnson reiterated Monday that the team does not expect Strasburg to miss a start.
The word first came out of another player's mouth, hours before Bryce Harper would say them to a group full of television cameras: batteries.
The Nationals tagged the Baltimore Orioles for nine runs on Sunday, the most runs they've scored all season, and it was an output that featured eight of the Nationals' nine position players all reaching base at least once. Five turned in multi-hit games, five had extra-base hits and three hit home runs.
Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson spotted right-hander Stephen Strasburg in the tunnel leading to the dugout after the fifth inning trying to loosen up his right arm. Strasburg, who survived a rocky and laborious first two innings to retire 10 straight from the end of the second through the fifth, was feeling a little "tightness in his biceps" according to Johnson.
So here the Nationals are. They woke up Sunday morning losers of seven of their last 12 games (and the last three straight). They need to beat the Orioles in order to avoid being swept in the first edition of the Battle of the Beltways and they're heading into a strong headwind in the form of their schedule in the next six weeks.
Ian Desmond has been Davey Johnson's go-to leadoff man. But after having a potentially game-changing chat with his shortstop a few days ago, Johnson decided to switch things up a bit.
Davey Johnson, who played for the Orioles through 1965-1972, winning two World Series titles, and managed them in 1996 and 1997, was asked Friday what his favorite memory was from his Baltimore days. It's a question he's asked often, but Friday he came up with a story he hadn't yet told (at least not as the manager of the Nationals). It was the one where Johnson and former Orioles catcher Andy Etchebarren pulled former Nationals manager Frank Robinson out of a swimming pool.
Michael Morse hit off a tee on Friday, the first time he's been allowed to hit anything since he was shut down from all activity on April 11. And in even more positive news for Morse, who is recovering from a torn right lat muscle, he will head to Viera, Fla. on Monday to begin getting live at-bats.
Anyone tired of the "Battle of the Beltways" slogan yet? No? Ok, great.
From May 21 to July 1, the Nationals will play 18 games against their divisional opponents and 13 games against the Red Sox, Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays. They'll play the Orioles again in that stretch, too and the only "breather" (so to speak anyway) in there is four games in Colorado where the Nationals are 9-16 since 2005.
Set aside June 14 and at least $60, Nationals fans. That's the night third baseman Ryan Zimmerman's "A Night at the Park" fundraiser for his ziMS foundation will be held this year at Nationals Park.
Today, as he described it, was a big day for Mark DeRosa. The Nationals veteran utility man who has been dealing with a left oblique strain since April 29, ran, threw and took some dry swings, testing his injury with the most activity he's done since before he went on the disabled list.
The fan called to Michael Morse Thursday afternoon from behind the dugout. His question was the same one everyone has been asking Morse for what seems like the better part of 2012. “How are you feeling?” the fan asked Morse, pointing to his own back to make sure Morse knew he was asking about his torn right lat muscle. Morse, whose restless energy has been reaching its boiling point lately, smiled and gave the fan a thumbs up. Given what Morse told Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson earlier in the day, that was a subtle way to give news that seemed befitting of a more exuberant display.
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