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Nationals Journal: July 18, 2010 - July 24, 2010

J.D. Martin on disabled list; Collin Balester staying; bullpen in rough shape

The Nationals placed starting pitcher J.D. Martin on the 15-day disabled list with after the bulging discs in his lower back flared up Saturday night, forcing him from his start in the third inning. In the second inning, Martin felt...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 24, 2010; 11:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Tags: Collin Balester, J.D. Martin, Livan Hernandez, Nats 2010, Nats-Brewers, bullpen  
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J.D. Martin's early exit a manager's decision

One inning after landing awkwardly after throwing a pitch, starting pitcher J.D. Martin left tonight's game against the Brewers in the bottom of the third. Martin left the game not because of a specific injury, but because of a Manager...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 24, 2010; 8:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Game 98 discussion thread: Nationals at Brewers

The Nationals are in the middle of one of their best offensive stretches this season, which is not all that much. They have scored at least five runs in four consecutive games only three times this season, and one of...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 24, 2010; 7:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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Joel Peralta earning more significant bullpen role

The Nationals will begin using Joel Peralta later in games and sometimes to protect leads, mainly because he has given them no choice. His performance has demanded a more significant bullpen role. Since Peralta made his Nationals debut June 22,...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 24, 2010; 6:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Playing first is a first for Alberto Gonzalez

One month ago, Nationals infield instructor Tim Foli suggested to Alberto Gonzalez that he start practicing at first base. Gonzalez, who plays shortstop, second base, third base and has practiced in right field, took his advice. Gonzalez had not played...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 24, 2010; 6:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Tags: Adam Dunn, Nats, Nats-Brewers  
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Last night's Michael Morse double-switch

One decision in last night's Nationals loss to the Brewers generated more discussion than any other. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Sean Burnett replaced the ineffective Tyler Clippard, and Roger Bernadina replaced Michael Morse in right...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 24, 2010; 5:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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Collin Balester called up [UPDATED]

The Nationals, in need of a one-day reinforcement for their bullpen, recalled converted starter Collin Balester this afternoon. With Luis Atilano on the disabled list and Ross Detwiler to be activated for his 2010 big league debut tomorrow, the Nationals...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 24, 2010; 3:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Today's lineups

And now for something completely different. The Nats are trotting out a unique lineup at Miller Park today, putting utility infielder Alberto Gonzalez at first base with Michael Morse in right field and Roger Bernadina in center against left-hander Manny...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 24, 2010; 3:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Jason Marquis throws 65 pitches in rehab start

In his second rehab start since undergoing surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow in mid-May, Jason Marquis allowed three runs in 3 1/3 innings Friday night for Class AA Harrisburg in Portland, Maine. Marquis gave up five hits...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 24, 2010; 12:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Jason Marquis , minors & farm system  
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Mike Rizzo backs Jim Riggleman to manage the Nationals in 2011

It appears the Nationals will retain Manager Jim Riggleman for the 2011 season after General Manager Mike Rizzo gave Riggleman a powerful vote of confidence late Friday night. The decision is not finalized, but Rizzo's statement seemed to provide stability...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 23, 2010; 8:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (59)
Categories:  Jim Riggleman  
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Game 97 discussion thread: Nationals at Brewers

Craig Stammen began his second half with a strong start, and the trick now is validating it with another. The narrative of Stammen's season has, by now, become worn: He's proved he can be good enough to be a major...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 23, 2010; 7:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (75)
 
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Ross Detwiler to start Sunday [Updated]

Ross Detwiler will make his 2010 major league debut Sunday for the Nationals, replacing Luis Atilano in the starting rotation and returning to the Nationals just three days after throwing seven innings at Class AA Harrisburg. Detwiler has made seven...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 23, 2010; 5:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Today's lineup

The Nationals return to a more standard lineup tonight, with Josh Willingham and Ivan Rodriguez back after a day off. Washington will be trying for its third straight win, which would match its modest season high. Nationals 1. Nyjer Morgan,...

By washingtonpost.com sports editor  |  July 23, 2010; 4:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Nationals 'considering every possibility' at trade deadline

Nationals President Stan Kasten stayed predictably mum on where the team stands heading into the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, sticking to his policy of not discussing specifics. Kasten, speaking generally, said only that General Manager Mike Rizzo will be...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 23, 2010; 4:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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If the Nats ever get on a roll, the time could be now

Having won two consecutive games, a rare feat in itself for them this year, the Nationals have given themselves another chance to do something even the worst teams manage once or twice in a season. This weekend in Milwaukee,...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 23, 2010; 8:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (46)
Tags: Cincinnati Reds; Milwaukee Brewers; Livan Hernandez; Craig Stammen, Washington Nationals  
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Signs point to Matt Chico for Sunday

The Nationals have not made any announcement about who will start Sunday in Luis Atilano's place, but Matt Chico seems like the best bet. Manager Jim Riggleman mentioned three pitchers by name: John Lannan, Ross Detwiler and Chico. Lannan is...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 22, 2010; 8:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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Is the real Nyjer Morgan about to stand up?

For Nyjer Morgan, the question all year has changed. At first, it was when he'd start playing like he did when he arrived in Washington last season. At some point, it became whether or not he could. With his recent...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 22, 2010; 6:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Livan Hernandez  
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Game 96 discussion thread: Nationals at Reds

Sorry for the late start here. The Nationals already lead 1-0 against Edinson Volquez without the benefit of a hit -- Nyjer Morgan led with a walk, stole second, moved to third on a sac fly by Roger Bernadina (a...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 22, 2010; 12:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (52)
 
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Luis Atilano going on disabled list [Updated]

The Nationals will place fifth starter Luis Atilano on the disabled list with bone chips in his right elbow, opening up a spot in their rotation for a pitcher currently in the minor leagues - Matt Chico, Ross Detwiler or...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 22, 2010; 10:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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Today's lineup

The Nationals will be going with a unique bottom of the lineup, Josh Willingham and Ivan Rodriguez both getting the day off. That leaves Cristian Guzman, Willie Harris, Adam Kennedy and Wil Nieves to bat fifth through eighth against Edinson...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 22, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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Last night, it wasn't the usual suspects

Willie Harris -- or, more precisely, Willie Harris's presence in the lineup -- has been the target of some significant fan venom this year, which is what happens when your batting average resembles the price of a cup of...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 22, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg , right field  
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Jordan Zimmermann's flawless rehab continues

In his fourth rehab start for Class A Potomac, Jordan Zimmermann was just as good as he was in his first three starts. He allowed no runs in four innings, allowing two hits and no walks and striking out four....

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 21, 2010; 8:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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After the break, Tyler Clippard is back

Tyler Clippard's career is baseball, but his game is golf. He used to be about a 1 handicap; it's ballooned to about 10 these days. Over the all-star break, Clippard wanted a clean start to his season --- "a new...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 21, 2010; 7:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Tyler Clippard  
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Game 95 discussion thread: Nationals at Reds

For Stephen Strasburg so far, a bad outing has constituted something like early command problems leading to him allowing two earned runs over five innings. "For him," Ryan Zimmerman joked, "that's unacceptable." Eventually, though, won't Strasburg have an honest-to-goodness, full-fledged,...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 21, 2010; 7:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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Pat Listach would have interest in Chicago Cubs manager's job

While Nationals third base coach Pat Listach will be up against a handful of difficult candidates to compete with, he said today he has interest in the Chicago Cubs manager position, which Lou Piniella will leave vacant after the season....

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 21, 2010; 6:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Luis Atilano will likely miss next start

It is "unlikely" Luis Atilano will make his next scheduled Sunday after he felt tenderness in his arm following his subpar start last night, Manager Jim Riggleman said. The Nationals will make a final decision on Atilano tomorrow, but even...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 21, 2010; 5:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Today's lineups

Taking Ian Desmond out of the eighth spot lasted one day. He's back at the bottom of the order with Cristian Guzman back in the lineup against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. Also, Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman remain swapped from...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 21, 2010; 3:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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Video: Yunesky Maya in the World Baseball Classic

Here's the Nationals' new Cuban pitcher throwing against Japan in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Tip of the cap to Capitol Punishment....

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 21, 2010; 1:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Who could replace Luis Atilano?

So the Nationals will "re-evaluate" Luis Atilano's place in their starting rotation, Manager Jim Riggleman said late last night. For the first portion of his rookie season, Atilano provided the Nationals a reasonable fascimile of Jason Marquis, the starter he...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 21, 2010; 12:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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In-game chat: Nationals vs. Reds

Join Dave Sheinin later for a discussion about tonight's game between the Washington Nationals and the Cincinnati Reds, pitcher Stephen Strasburg's ninth start for the Nats. Strasburg's ninth start...

By Alexa Steele  |  July 21, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg  
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What the Nationals have in Michael Morse

When Michael Morse came to bat in the sixth inning as a pinch-hitter last night, he had taken one at-bat in the past 10 days. Most times, that would cause a manager to worry. It was the biggest spot...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 21, 2010; 10:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
 
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Cuban pitcher Yunesky Maya agrees to terms with Nationals

UPDATED, 10:56 CINCINNATI - In a move that both further validates their emerging international scouting department and could bolster their starting rotation this season, the Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with 28-year-old Cuban pitcher Yunesky Maya, a baseball source...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 20, 2010; 9:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (49)
 
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Game 94 discussion thread: Nationals at Reds

This has come up often, but it bears repeating: The Nationals have been awful on the road this season. After three straight losses, they are now 15-32 away from Nationals Park, better than only three teams. The Nationals are 14.5...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 20, 2010; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (83)
 
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Ian Desmond's place in the batting order explained

Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman moved Ian Desmond to the second spot in the order, a move designed to stoke a slumbering offense. Desmond typically bats eighth, but he has had success hitting second in a limited sample. He is 12...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 20, 2010; 6:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Ian Desmond  
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Tarp is on in Cincinnati

It looks pretty certain there will be at least a delay at the start of tonight's game against the Reds. The grounds crew has stretched the tarp over the infield, and it's raining pretty hard. We'll provide updates on the...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 20, 2010; 6:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Pat Listach's Chicago Cubs connection

When Cubs Manager Lou Piniella announced he will retire at the end of this season, Nationals third base coach Pat Listach became a potential candidate to become the Cubs' next manager. Listach has strong connections to the Cubs, having managed...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 20, 2010; 6:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Stephen Strasburg celebrates his birthday, readies for next start

After beginning Year 22 today, Stephen Strasburg will make Start 9 tomorrow against the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are expecting between 30,000 and 35,000 fans to show up, and the game has been picked up nationally by ESPN. Strasburg, whose...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 20, 2010; 6:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg  
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Jordan Zimmermann fine, set to pitch Wednesday

Jordan Zimmermann checked out fine today after the Nationals scratched him from his rehab start in Class A Potomac with a stiff neck. Zimmermann is scheduled to pitch tomorrow in Potomac, continuing a recovery from Tommy John surgery that is...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 20, 2010; 6:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Today's lineups

Having scored no runs in 36 of 38 innings, the Nationals will make a minor change to the top of their lineup against Reds rookie Mike Leake: Shortstop Ian Desmond will second. Desmond's on-base percentage is only .295 for the...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 20, 2010; 3:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
 
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To trade Adam Dunn, the Nationals need to be overwhelmed

The Nationals have listened to teams interested in trading for first baseman Adam Dunn and other coveted players, but General Manager Mike Rizzo will have high standards for what accepts in a trade, according to sources familiar with his thinking....

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 20, 2010; 12:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (74)
Categories:  Adam Dunn  
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Scott Olsen's next rehab start

In what could be one of his final steps before returning to the Nationals, Scott Olsen will next his next rehab start Thursday for Class A Potomac in Winston-Salem. On Saturday, Olsen made his first rehab appearance outside of the...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 20, 2010; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Ivan Rodriguez's regression to the mean in full swing

FROM THE POST The Nationals have enough offensive culprits over the past few days that it is not fair to single one of them out. That said, Ivan Rodríguez, who regularly bats sixth, has contributed his fair share to...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 20, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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Justin Maxwell sent to Syracuse for Luis Atilano

As expected, the Nationals optioned outfielder Justin Maxwell to Class AAA Syracuse in order to make room for Luis Atilano, Tuesday night's starting pitcher. Maxwell has now been optioned four times this season, adding to two seasons spent toggling between...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 19, 2010; 11:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Justin Maxwell , Pitching rotation , minors & farm system  
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Game 93 discussion thread: Nationals at Reds

This shapes up to be an offensively challenged night at the Great American Smallpark. If you found the Nationals' 1-0 loss Sunday to the Marlins unbearable, imagine being a Reds fan. The Reds are 2-3 in their past five games,...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 19, 2010; 7:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (54)
 
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Jim Riggleman takes blame for Adam Kennedy's rough season

Adam Kennedy has not had the kind of season he or the Nationals hoped he would when they acquired him this offseason, and Manager Jim Riggleman sees one reason for that: himself. "I've talked to Adam a few times, and...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 19, 2010; 6:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Adam Kennedy , Jim Riggleman  
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Adam Dunn's return to Cincinnati

When Adam Dunn walked into the Nationals' clubhouse today, a strange sight greeted him. A decal of Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, his former teammate, had been ironed on to the back of his batting practice jersey, underneath the number....

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 19, 2010; 6:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Adam Dunn  
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Jordan Zimmermann scratched from rehab start, but no need for panic

Jordan Zimmermann was scheduled to make a rehab start tonight for Class A Potomac, but he had to be scratched because of a stiff neck, according to a Nationals spokesman. He will be evaluated Tuesday and will likey pitch later...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 19, 2010; 6:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Justin Maxwell likely headed back to Syracuse -- again

Justin Maxwell sat in front of his locker today inside Great American Ballpark, pounding a ball into his glove, biding his time before tonight's game. His time here with the Nationals, Maxwell realizes, is running short. "I pretty much know,"...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 19, 2010; 6:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Justin Maxwell , minors & farm system  
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Today's lineup

Behind J.D. Martin, Willie Harris gets a crack in right field and against Reds right-handed start Johnny Cueto. Otherwise, it's the standard fare. Nationals 1. Nyjer Morgan, CF 2. Cristian Guzman, 2B 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B 4. Adam Dunn, 1B...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 19, 2010; 3:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
 
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More on the Nationals offense

After scoring just four runs this weekend against the Marlins, Nationals hitting coach Rick Eckstein examines whether bad at-bats or bad luck is the root cause.

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 19, 2010; 5:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (57)
Categories:  Adam Dunn , Josh Willingham , Ryan Zimmerman , minors & farm system , trade deadline  | Tags: Adam Dunn, Rick Eckstein  
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Craig Stammen puts it together, at least for one day

The Good Craig Stammen showed up Sunday at Sun Life Stadium. Stammen's consistency can be questioned. His occasional brilliance cannot. On Sunday, when he was the biggest victim of the Nationals' offensive futility, he flashed why he still might become...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 18, 2010; 5:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Craig Stammen  | Tags: Craig Stammen, Nationals, Nats, Nats-Marlins, Strasburg  
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Game 92 discussion thread: Nationals at Marlins

Craig Stammen knows better than any Nationals pitcher what the coming infusion of starting pitchers might mean. When the Nationals needed to clear a space in their rotation for Stephen Strasburg, they chose to demote Stammen. With the Nationals expecting...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 18, 2010; 12:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (68)
 
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Tyler Clippard slows it down, steps it up

The Nationals could not breakthrough last night against Josh Johnson and the Marlins bullpen, but maybe, they hope, Tyler Clippard did. His outing last night was easily overlooked in their 2-0 loss, but Clippard might have righted himself. After a...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 18, 2010; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Drew Storen's Cincinnati connection

Drew Storen and his family often made the three-hour drive down Interstate 74 from Brownsburg, Indiana to Cincinnati, a route they memorized taking Storen to amateur baseball tournaments. Storen grew up listening Reds games on radio and watching them on...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 18, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Today's lineups

The Nationals will go with a mostly standard lineup, aside from Wil Nieves getting the start on a day game following a night game. As expected, Ian Desmond gets the day off and Cristian Guzman and Adam Kennedy will form...

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 18, 2010; 10:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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