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  1. Deconstructing the ninth-inning rally

    Apr 24, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    The Nationals have produced enough late rallies already this season — they’ve got seven come-from-behind victories in 22 games — that they don’t ever feel a sense of panic, or feel like all hope is lost. But last night’s bottom-of-the-ninth drama was particularly out-of-the-blue given the situation. Trailing 4-1 and showing little sign of life…

  2. Gonzalez pulled with shoulder tightness

    Apr 23, 2014, 11:33 PM EDT

    Photo by USA Today

    Nationals’ starter Gio Gonzalez was removed from Wednesday night’s game in the sixth inning after complaining of tightness in his left shoulder. The game-time temperature was 54 degrees, a cold night for April 23, and manager Matt Williams described the move as precautionary. Gonzalez is not expected to miss any time at this point. “It’s a…

  3. Instant analysis: Nats 5, Angels 4

    Apr 23, 2014, 10:27 PM EDT

    AP

    GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Trying to avoid an interleague series sweep, the Nationals needed a good start from Gio Gonzalez. They got one, but that still wasn’t good enough. Until some high drama in the bottom of the ninth. Cruising for five innings, Gonzalez quickly got into trouble in the sixth when he walked Mike…

  4. Injury updates on Zimmerman, Hairston

    Apr 23, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT

    AP

    Ryan Zimmerman and Scott Hairston each are making progress in their recovery from injuries, Nationals manager Matt Williams said Wednesday. Zimmerman, out since fracturing his right thumb on April 12, has begun conditioning exercises and has even performed some light fielding drills, using only his glove hand for now. The veteran third baseman is running…

  5. Game 22: Angels at Nats

    Apr 23, 2014, 3:25 PM EDT

    Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

    If the Nationals want to avoid getting swept tonight by the Angels, they might want to at least give themselves a fighting chance and not dig themselves into an early hole yet again. Nine times this season they have given up at least two runs in the first inning; five times they’ve given up at…

  6. How secure is Jordan’s rotation spot?

    Apr 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    The Nationals intended all along for both Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan to retain their spots in the starting rotation until Doug Fister was ready to return from a strained lat muscle, likely in early-May. At that point, the club would decide which young right-hander deserved to remain in the rotation and which one would…

  7. Pujols and Nats alike savor milestone homers

    Apr 22, 2014, 11:55 PM EDT

    AP

    Updated at 11:55 p.m. Some around the baseball world recently had been questioning whether the significance of 500 home runs had diminished, especially in the wake of the steroid era. Try telling Albert Pujols what he accomplished Tuesday night at Nationals Park wasn’t significant. The veteran slugger understands the magnitude of what he just did,…

  8. Instant analysis: Angels 7, Nats 2

    Apr 22, 2014, 9:50 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Bryce Harper and Mike Trout drew all the attention when this series began. Tonight, though, a far more-established star reminded everyone just how special he is. Albert Pujols became just the 26th player in baseball history to join the 500 Home Run Club, launching a pair of blasts off right-hander Taylor…

  9. Fister pitches 3 innings, on track for May 7 return

    Apr 22, 2014, 5:26 PM EDT

    AP

    Doug Fister pitched three innings in an extended spring training game Tuesday and reported no problems with his strained lat muscle, leaving the right-hander on track to join the Nationals’ rotation in about two weeks. Fister threw 44 pitches and “felt really good with it,” according to manager Matt Williams. On the disabled list since…

  10. Game 21: Angels at Nats

    Apr 22, 2014, 3:29 PM EDT

    Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

    For those who were wondering if Matt Williams might give the struggling Ian Desmond a mental night off, the answer is no. At least not on this night. Desmond, who last night committed his MLB-leading eighth and ninth errors of the young season, is right back in there at shortstop against Angels lefty Tyler Skaggs.…

  11. Barrett recalled, Williams considers late-inning roles

    Apr 22, 2014, 3:13 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    Updated at 6:07 p.m. The Nationals, as expected, recalled right-hander Aaron Barrett from Class AAA on Tuesday and optioned lefty Xavier Cedeno back to Syracuse in a bullpen-bolstering move. Barrett, who dominated in his first two weeks as a major-league reliever and retired 13-of-16 batters faced, was sent down April 12 when the Nationals needed…

  12. Williams shows faith in Clippard despite struggles

    Apr 22, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    AP

    Tyler Clippard has been among baseball’s most-effective relievers for more than four years now, and he has shown an ability to bounce back from several rough stretches along the way. Which is why Nationals manager Matt Williams has continued to show faith in the 29-year-old set-up man and why he didn’t hesitate to stick with…

  13. Desmond, Clippard unravel in eighth inning of Nats’ loss

    Apr 22, 2014, 12:23 AM EDT

    Photo by USA Today

    Through the 2012 and 2013 seasons, the only winning campaigns since the Nationals moved to Washington in 2005, one could argue their most consistent position player was Ian Desmond, and their best relief pitcher was Tyler Clippard. Somehow, three weeks into this new season, each has become their own unique liability. Desmond is committing errors…

  14. Instant analysis: Angels 4, Nats 2

    Apr 21, 2014, 10:24 PM EDT

    AP

    GAME IN A NUTSHELL: It was billed as a star-studded showdown between Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, but the two phenom outfielders played little role in the outcome of this game. Instead, unheralded starting pitchers Tanner Roark and Garrett Richards kept pitching themselves out of jams, with a lone fourth-inning run manufactured by the Nationals…

  15. Harper and Trout on playing each other, comparisons between the two

    Apr 21, 2014, 6:28 PM EDT

    Photo by USA Today

    They are linked by Rookie of the Year awards, two All-Star appearances by the age of 22, and a good deal of hype, but Monday will be the first time we see both Bryce Harper and Mike Trout on the same field for a regular season MLB game. They are two young phenoms who could define…

  16. Game 20: Angels at Nats

    Apr 21, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

    As you may have heard, there are a couple of high-profile young stars here in town tonight meeting for the first time as big leaguers. But there are some storylines beyond Mike Trout vs. Bryce Harper as the Nationals host the Angels in the opener of a three-game series. There is, for example, a guy…

  17. State of the Nats: It’s time for Harper vs. Trout

    Apr 21, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT

    Photo by USA Today

    Top storylines: Mike Trout and the Angels in town – When the 2014 MLB schedule came out back in September, one early season series for the Nationals stood out immediately. On April 21 (today) the Los Angeles Angels would travel to Washington to play the Nats, finally pitting Bryce Harper and Mike Trout against each other…

  18. More observations from Sunday’s 3-2 win

    Apr 21, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    The Nationals’ late-inning rallies, capped by Denard Span’s walk-off sac fly, were the featured storyline of yesterday’s 3-2 victory over the Cardinals. But there was plenty more worth analyzing from the game, which included all sorts of twists and turns and notable developments. Let’s dig deeper into some of those other angles… — Stephen Strasburg…

  19. Nats grind their way to walk-off victory

    Apr 20, 2014, 7:25 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    As Denard Span stepped to the plate late Sunday afternoon, bases full of teammates and the game tied in the bottom of the ninth, he paused for a moment to examine the Cardinals’ unusual-looking infield alignment. “I counted,” he said. “I’m saying: ‘One, two, three, four, five. … A groundball is probably not going to…

  20. Instant analysis: Nats 3, Cardinals 2

    Apr 20, 2014, 4:58 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Twenty-four hours after a drama-filled loss that was highlighted by Matt Williams’ decision to bench Bryce Harper for failing to run out a routine grounder, the Nationals were back on the field with renewed purpose in their series finale against the Cardinals. Harper was back in the lineup himself and he…

  21. Espinosa making the most of everyday opportunity

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:29 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    The Nationals were adamant about retaining Danny Espinosa on the heels of a disastrous 2013, despite interest from other clubs over the winter, for one simple reason: He would be their best option to take over an everyday role in the event of injury to any of their starting infielders. Sure enough, with Ryan Zimmerman…

  22. Game 19: Cardinals at Nats

    Apr 20, 2014, 10:21 AM EDT

    Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

    It’s a new day at Nationals Park, which means Bryce Harper is out of the doghouse and back into the lineup. It’ll be interesting to see what the fan reaction is when his name is announced and when he steps to the plate for the first time in the bottom of the first. It’ll also…

  23. VIDEO: Harper, Williams and Werth on benching

    Apr 20, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Screen shot 2014-04-20 at 10.01.10 AM

    After Bryce Harper was removed from Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals, the explanation as to why came as quite the surprise. No, it had nothing to do with Harper’s lingering quad tightness, it was for lack of hustle. We at CSN had a camera at Nationals Park for the aftermath, and got reaction…

  24. Instant Analysis: Cardinals 4, Nats 3

    Apr 19, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    Photo by USA Today

    GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Facing a team that has had their way with him in the past, Jordan Zimmermann pitched well enough against St. Louis to give the Nationals a chance to win on Saturday. But again, as they did two nights ago, the Nats committed defensive mistakes early in the game that cost them. This…

  25. Nats activate Denard Span from 7-day DL, option Steven Souza, Jr.

    Apr 19, 2014, 11:56 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    The Nationals reinstated center fielder Denard Span off the 7-day disabled list on Saturday, and optioned Steven Souza, Jr. back to Triple-A Syracuse. Span had been out since April 11 after sustaining a concussion in Atlanta in a game against the Braves. He made two rehab appearances with the Single-A Hagerstown Suns before rejoining the…

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
OCT. 7: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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