By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Nationals reliever Ryan Mattheus has broken his pitching hand punching a locker in frustration following a rocky outing.
Sunday was the latest example of how the Nationals' bullpen may be a bit off-kilter as they pass the quarter mark of the 2013 season. The personnel is exactly the same as it was when the Nationals opened the season, but the way they've been used hasn't always been consistent — and neither has the performance.
The not-so-subtle implication racing through the Internet of a concussion conspiracy by the Nationals makes as much sense as, well, running into walls. What could they possibly gain by pretending Harper didn't have a concussion or engaging in a game of semantics to avoid using the word?
Forty-four games into the 2013 campaign, the Nationals have never overcome more than a two-run deficit. As the Padres' assault continued to mount on Sunday, the Nationals needed plenty more than two.
Harper's second unsuccessful encounter this month with the physics of smacking into an outfield wall led to him doubling down on the hair-on-fire approach. He told reporters "I'm trying to kill myself out there" and, really, that's what the collision looked like.
The untuck thing is a celebration that is a lot like Soriano. It's understated, easy to miss. It's also effective. And cool. Most important, for all its simplicity, it's fun. Sports are supposed to be fun, remember?
As blood dripped down his neck and head trainer Lee Kuntz examined him Monday night, Harper tried to convince manager Davey Johnson that he could stay in the game. That wasn't happening.
Bryce Harper arrived at Dodger Stadium a little bit smarter Tuesday.
The moment Gio Gonzalez walked off the mound in the seventh inning Sunday afternoon, he figured his day was probably done. So it was that Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson pulled his left-hander in the hope of adding some offense, and watched the game devolve into a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs over the final two innings.
The Nationals' victory over the Tigers on Thursday was their sixth in the past seven games as they improved to 19-15.
With Jayson Werth dealing with right hamstring tightness for the last week, Harper has shifted from left to right field twice, and was in the lineup there on Wednesday night.
The good news for the Washington Nationals as they trickled into the clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon, was that Jayson Werth was able to test his right hamstring on Monday and felt strong.
The Nationals' slow offensive start has been concerning to some, worrisome to others and downright nerve-fraying to certain factions of the fanbase. For plenty, it's been maddening to watch them strike out, swinging or looking, so often. To see them come up small in large situations. To hit the ball on the screws, and right at a waiting fielder.
Tyler Moore hit a three-run homer and Danny Espinosa homered and drove in three runs, leading the Washington Nationals over the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 Sunday.
Stephen Strasburg struck out eight in seven innings and the Washington Nationals won a game he started for the first time since Opening Day by beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 Saturday.
"To come and manage in New York, I tell you, it was a challenge and it was some of the greatest years of my life," he said.
"It was a great thrill and honor to come to New York and manage in front of the most intelligent fans in all the world," he said with a smirk. "All I had to do was listen to the radio and I knew exactly what to do."