Harper finds 2nd sweet spot with less stride

Nationals' star cuts back on leg kick, launches 25th HR

Harper finds 2nd sweet spot with less stride

PHOENIX -- As he puts together another standout season that should put him in consideration for another MVP Award, Bryce Harper appears to have added a new wrinkle to his game.

Harper greeted left-hander Anthony Banda -- the D-backs' No.1 prospect as rated by MLBPipeline.com who was making his Major League debut -- with a mammoth solo home run in the first inning of the Nats' 4-3 victory Saturday night. Banda tried to bury a curveball down and in against Harper on a 3-2 pitch, but Harper crushed the ball off the back wall of the concourse behind the pool in right-center field.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryce tags D-backs' prospect; Nats hold on

Bryce tags D-backs' prospect; Nats hold on

PHOENIX -- Just three batters into his first career start, Anthony Banda got his "welcome to the Majors" moment Saturday night at Chase Field. After getting two quick outs, Banda surrendered a towering solo homer to Bryce Harper that started the scoring for the Nationals en route to a 4-3 win.

Sean Doolittle worked the ninth for his second save in as many chances with the Nationals, allowing an unearned run on Paul Goldschmidt's pinch-hit sac fly but striking out Ketel Marte with the potential tying run at first base.

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Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix and covered the D-backs on Saturday.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Heisey hurt; Raburn headed for bereavement

Nationals could be forced into roster move for thin outfield

Heisey hurt; Raburn headed for bereavement

PHOENIX -- The Nationals will likely need to add an outfielder to their roster before Sunday's series finale against the D-backs. The team already had planned to place Ryan Raburn on the bereavement list Sunday after the death of his grandfather, and then outfielder Chris Heisey suffered a groin injury during his triple in the sixth inning of Saturday's 4-3 victory.

The extent of Heisey's injury was unclear, however, and Washington has been piecing together its outfield lately with Michael Taylor and Jayson Werth on the disabled list. If Heisey cannot play Sunday, the Nationals would have only two true outfielders on their roster.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Strasburg to face Ray in All-Star showdown

Strasburg to face Ray in All-Star showdown

A pair of All-Stars will go head-to-head in Sunday's series finale at Chase Field between two potential playoff teams when Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg takes the mound against D-backs lefty Robbie Ray.

Ray, who was drafted by the Nationals in 2010, is putting together his most impressive season, posting a 2.97 ERA and 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings, both career bests. He has faced the Nationals once, giving up five earned runs in six innings on Aug. 2, 2016.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Read looks to stay hot for Harrisburg

Read looks to stay hot for Harrisburg

Here's a look at top prospects to watch in today's Minor League action:

Hitter to watch: Raudy Read (Nationals' No. 17), Harrisburg vs. Binghamton (1:30 p.m. ET on MiLB.TV)

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William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scherzer recovers after shocking first inning

Nats ace gives up three straight homers to D-backs to open game

Scherzer recovers after shocking first inning

PHOENIX -- For Friday's game to begin so abruptly was a stunning sight, considering how dominant Nationals ace Max Scherzer has been this season. He had seemingly improved from his Cy Young Award-winning season in 2016, and began this game with an ERA of 2.01 and 183 strikeouts, which both led the National League.

But the D-backs jumped on Scherzer for back-to-back-to-back home runs to begin the Nats' 6-5 loss at Chase Field. David Peralta, A.J. Pollock and Jake Lamb began the game with a barrage, marking the first time in Scherzer's career he had surrendered three consecutive home runs and the first time any pitcher had done so in Nationals history (2005-present).

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Read goes deep in big game for Harrisburg

Read goes deep in big game for Harrisburg

The Braves' farm system is loaded with talented young arms, and that was easily apparent on Saturday as Luiz Gohara and Lucas Sims led Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett to wins with dominating performances on the mound.

The duo combined for 20 strikeouts over 13 scoreless frames as Mississippi topped Blioxi, 8-0, and Gwinnett held off Indianapolis, 2-1. Whats more, these impressive outings come just a day after Braves No. 11 prospect Touki Toussaint struck out 11 with Class A Advanced Florida

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William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats battle from 5 runs down, lose on walk-off

Nats battle from 5 runs down, lose on walk-off

PHOENIX -- The D-backs made a lot of noise early, but it was a ground-ball single by Brandon Drury that snuck through a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the ninth that proved to be the difference, as the D-backs walked off against the Nationals, 6-5, on Friday night at Chase Field in what could be a playoff preview.

A.J. Pollock led off the ninth with a triple to center off Enny Romero, who then intentionally walked Jake Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt to load the bases. After Gregor Blanco's flyout to left was not deep enough to score a run, Drury came through with the big hit.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kelley feels 100 percent after bullpen session

Nats reliever progressing on rehab for trapezius strain

Kelley feels 100 percent after bullpen session

PHOENIX -- A key piece to the Nationals bullpen is making encouraging steps forward on his way to returning from the disabled list. Shawn Kelley threw a bullpen session Friday afternoon in Arizona, his second since suffering a setback while rehabbing his strained right trapezius muscle.

Kelley threw about 30 pitches without pain and said he finally feels 100 percent. 

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper and wife Kayla have started a food blog

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Harper and wife Kayla have started a food blog

Bryce Harper is a man of many skills, from taking selfies to hitting baseballs a very long way to determining whether or not something is, in fact, a clown question. Never one to rest on his laurels, though, Bryce announced last night that he was taking his talents to the editorial space: He and his wife Kayla have launched Harp Eats, a blog dedicated to documenting all of the Harper family's culinary adventures.

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MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Raines 'on cloud' in advance of HOF induction

Raines 'on cloud' in advance of HOF induction

Tim Raines was pleased to learn that four buses full of fans from Montreal will be traveling to Cooperstown, N.Y., to watch him get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 30.

Raines said the Montreal fans played a role in him becoming a great player.

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Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002 and does a podcast, Newsmakers. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Will Nats still look to add to bullpen?

Beat reporter Jamal Collier answers questions from fans

Inbox: Will Nats still look to add to bullpen?

ANAHEIM -- After months of speculation about how the Nationals would go about upgrading their bullpen, they finally made their move this week by acquiring left-hander Sean Doolittle and right-hander Ryan Madson from the A's. The duo helped right away to hold a late lead in a 4-3 victory on Tuesday against the Angels.

But are the Nationals done making trades with the non-waiver Trade Deadline still about a week and a half away? The latest Inbox begins there, with fans wondering if the Nationals are finished making additions to the bullpen and perhaps the rotation.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Turtle power: Dusty's namesake takes big step

Animal named after Nationals manager released into ocean after months of rehab

Turtle power: Dusty's namesake takes big step

PHOENIX -- Dusty the turtle faced a long recovery when he first arrived to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center this past February. He was thin and covered in barnacles and leaches when he was found about a mile off shore, and a bit lethargic.

He had just been rescued when Dusty Baker came across the center after an impromptu visit during the Nationals manager's drive home from the club's Spring Training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla. Baker left such an impression on the staff at the center that they decided to name the turtle after him.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats held to one hit as win streak ends at 6

Nats held to one hit as win streak ends at 6

ANAHEIM -- Six years ago, the Nationals drafted a 6-foot-9 right-hander out of the University of Kentucky named Alex Meyer in the first round, before trading him to the Twins 16 months later.

Now 27 and with his third organization, Meyer's career has not taken off quite as he had hoped, but on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium, he reminded his former organization of his tantalizing potential. Meyer allowed one hit in seven dominant innings as the Angels shut out the Nationals, 7-0. The win secured a split of the two-game Interleague series for the Halos and handed the Nats their first loss in seven games.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

While Ross recovers from TJ, Nats look within

At least for now, club thinks it has pieces to fill rotation spot

While Ross recovers from TJ, Nats look within

ANAHEIM -- Nationals right-hander Joe Ross underwent successful Tommy John surgery Wednesday morning in Texas to repair the tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm. The surgery was performed by Dr. Keith Meister.

Ross, 24, has battled a few injuries during his young career, but this is his first major operation.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Turner rehabbing in Florida

Turner rehabbing in Florida

ANAHEIM -- Trea Turner has begun rehabbing at the team's Spring Training facility in West Palm Beach, the Nationals revealed Wednesday, more than a week after Turner was scheduled to receive a second opinion on his fractured right wrist. The team added that his recovery is on schedule, but it did not provide what that schedule was or set any timetable for his return.

General manager Mike Rizzo offered some clarity earlier Wednesday morning when he told 106.7 FM Radio in Washington that Turner has yet to resume swinging, but regular X-ray and bone scans showed that the bone is healing at the expected pace.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper, Trout live up to hype in rare matchup

Both hit first-inning home runs; Bryce goes 4-for-4

Harper, Trout live up to hype in rare matchup

ANAHEIM -- Meetings on the field between this pair of generational talents are rare. Because they are separated by different coasts and different leagues they do not often share the same stage. The Nationals' 4-3 victory Tuesday night was just the second time they even shared the same field during the regular season. And it is because of performances such as this that Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are perhaps destined to be linked together their entire careers.

Harper and Trout began the game by trading solo home runs in the first inning at Angel Stadium, trading blows as if not wanting to be outdone by the other. Harper won this baseball version of H-O-R-S-E, finishing the night 4-for-4 and just inches away from hitting for the cycle. Trout hit his longest home run since September 2015, but it was his only hit in four at-bats.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Escobar pulls Harper's hand off base in fun

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Escobar pulls Harper's hand off base in fun

Yunel Escobar and Bryce Harper were teammates for just one season, when Escobar was traded to the Nationals back in 2015. Apparently that was more than enough time for the two to forge a lasting bond, because when Washington paid a visit to Escobar and the Angels on Tuesday night, the infielder welcomed Bryce to town the way only good friends do: by trying to pull a prank on him.

With the game tied at two in the eighth inning, Harper lined a ball into the right-field corner and hustled to third for a leadoff triple. He turned to the third-base umpire asking for time, and that's when Escobar struck.

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Harper's 4 hits lead Nats past Trout's Angels

Harper's 4 hits lead Nats past Trout's Angels

ANAHEIM -- On a night when so much of the action centered around two of baseball's biggest stars, it seemed only fitting that one of them would be the driving force behind the final outcome.

Bryce Harper and Mike Trout traded first-inning solo shots, but Harper ultimately topped his American League rival by going 4-for-4 and scoring the go-ahead run in the Nationals' 4-3 win over the Angels in Tuesday night's series opener at Angel Stadium.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Doolittle, Madson close out W in Nats debuts

Doolittle, Madson close out W in Nats debuts

ANAHEIM -- For months this season, when the Nationals carried a close lead late in the game, it quickly turned into the moment of frustration and disappointment. Entering the second half, their bullpen owned the largest ERA in the Majors and had blown 14 saves. The answers to those season-long struggles arrived Tuesday afternoon at Angel Stadium, when right-hander Ryan Madson and left-hander Sean Doolittle joined the Nationals for the first time since being traded from the A's on Sunday.

And they were thrown right into action right away, tasked with protecting a lead during the final two innings. First, Madson threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning with a one-run lead. Then, Doolittle retired Mike Trout and Albert Pujols with the tying run at second base in the ninth to seal a 4-3 Nationals win.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Werth likely out a few more weeks

Werth likely out a few more weeks

ANAHEIM -- Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth provided some clarity on the left foot injury that has sidelined him since he a pitch off the foot June 5. Although the Nationals have said X-rays were negative, Werth revealed he is dealing with a first metatarsal fracture.

He was scheduled to potentially return at some point this week, but was pulled off his Minor League rehab assignment in West Palm Beach, Fla., after his foot did not improve. He is able to participate in baseball activities and was out stretching with his teammates prior to Tuesday's game against the Angels, however, his bone bruise is severe enough that it prevents him from running.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Doolittle hit more HRs than Zim at UVA

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Doolittle hit more HRs than Zim at UVA

Sean Doolittle was very sad to be leaving Oakland when he was traded away by the A's to the Nationals earlier this week. Fortunately, the Star Wars-loving reliever was going to a first-place team and, as the Nats broadcast noted on Tuesday night, he would be joining up with an old teammate. An old college teammate, to be more specific.

 

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Trout, Harper play homer H-O-R-S-E

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Trout, Harper play homer H-O-R-S-E

The game of H-O-R-S-E is no stranger to basketball fans. Players take turns shooting for the basket from different positions, and it's all about matching successful shots. Here's NBA star Steph Curry playing against his father, Dell, a former player himself.

The game is fun, but at first, it doesn't seem like it has anything to do with baseball. Or does it?

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Rendon Nats' Heart and Hustle Award winner

Rendon Nats' Heart and Hustle Award winner

The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association revealed the 30 preliminary winners of the 2017 Heart and Hustle Award on Tuesday. The honor is the only one voted on by former players, and is bestowed each year upon the active player who most represents a passion for the game of baseball, and best embodies the values, spirit and tradition of the game.

Past winners of the Heart and Hustle Award include David Eckstein (2005), Hall of Famer Craig Biggio (2006, 2007), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols (2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011), Mike Trout (2012), Dustin Pedroia (2013), Josh Harrison (2014), Anthony Rizzo (2015) and Todd Frazier (2016).

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Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats crush, Stras cruises to sweep Cincy

Nats crush, Stras cruises to sweep Cincy

CINCINNATI -- Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg was their starter on July 8, the last time his team lost a game, when he was roughed up by the Braves. There would be no bookending losses by Strasburg, who cruised behind another robust performance from Washington's lineup in a 6-1 victory over the Reds on Monday afternoon.

That made it a smooth four-game series sweep for the Nats, who also took six of the seven games in the season series. During the long weekend at Great American Ball Park, Washington slugged 13 home runs -- including three on Monday. In the series, Cincinnati was outscored, 35-12.

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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Jeremy Vernon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati who covered the Nationals on Monday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zim sets franchise HR record in 5-run 1st

1st baseman goes back-to-back with Harper as Nats jump on Reds

Zim sets franchise HR record in 5-run 1st

CINCINNATI -- After taking the day off Sunday, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman made history on the first pitch he saw Monday afternoon in the Nationals' 6-1 victory over the Reds.

Less than a minute after Bryce Harper gave Washington a 3-0 lead with a three-run home run to right, Zimmerman put a charge into a 86.2-mph sinker from Cincinnati starter Scott Feldman, lifting the ball over the wall in left-center for a solo homer. The Nats added one more run in the frame on Matt Wieters' sac fly.
 

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Jeremy Vernon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati who covered the Nationals on Monday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hot 2nd-half start earns Rendon weekly honor

Nationals 3rd baseman named NL Player of the Week for 1st time

Hot 2nd-half start earns Rendon weekly honor

CINCINNATI -- Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon followed up his career first half with a career-type week for which he earned some hardware.

Rendon was named the first National League Player of the Week of the second half on Monday after a stretch over which he hit .636. It was a shortened week due to the All-Star break, but Rendon raked nonetheless, going 7-for-11 with a double, three homers, three walks and four runs scored.

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Jeremy Vernon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati who covered the Nationals on Monday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals belt 5 homers to back Roark in win

Nationals belt 5 homers to back Roark in win

CINCINNATI -- Great American Ball Park is supposed to be the Reds' playpen for home runs. The Nationals clearly have felt plenty comfortable clearing the fences in Cincinnati this weekend as they slugged another five homers -- including two by Daniel Murphy -- for a 14-4 victory Sunday.

While claiming the first three games of the four-game series that ends Monday, Washington has slugged 10 homers and has outscored Cincinnati, 29-11.

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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Jeremy Vernon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati and covered the Nationals on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.