Span motors home from first in DL return; Taylor optioned

Center fielder notches hit, scores run in season debut atop Nationals' lineup

Span motors home from first in DL return; Taylor optioned

WASHINGTON -- Nationals center fielder Denard Span was activated from the 15-day disabled list and provided a spark as the leadoff hitter in a 4-1 victory over the Phillies on Sunday.

"We are glad to have him back. It's another good player that we bring to the lineup. It lengthens our lineup. It makes us a better team," general manager Mike Rizzo said.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Debuting on Tuesday's telecast, Statcast has array of capabilities

Debuting on Tuesday's telecast, Statcast has array of capabilities

Statcast, an innovative player-tracking technology that produces revolutionary data, will be making its 2015 television debut during Tuesday's MLB Network Showcase game between the Cardinals and Nationals at 7 p.m. ET.

As a quick primer to some of Statcast's seemingly endless capabilities, here's a look at some standout plays on the young season, analyzed Statcast-style:

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Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Strasburg strong-arms Phillies for his first win

Strasburg strong-arms Phillies for his first win

WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Stephen Strasburg was solid across 7 1/3 innings for his first win of the season, leading the Nationals past the Phillies, 4-1, at Nationals Park on Sunday afternoon.

Freddy Galvis continued to be a thorn in the Nationals' side. His RBI single in the eighth inning accounted for the Phillies' lone run and led to Strasburg's exit after 95 pitches.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gio set for duel with Lynn as Statcast debuts

Gio set for duel with Lynn as Statcast debuts

The Cardinals and Nationals meet in Tuesday's MLB Network Showcase game at 7 p.m. ET as Statcast, an innovative player-tracking technology that produces revolutionary data, makes its 2015 television debut.

After opening the season with 11 intradivision games, St. Louis ventures out of the National League Central to face a club that has not raced out to the sort of season start it envisioned. Washington finally won its first series this weekend, pulling the club to within one game of .500. The Cardinals, on the other hand, haven't lost a series all year.

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Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Changeup command fuels Strasburg's dominant outing

Changeup command fuels Strasburg's dominant outing

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg was the antithesis on Sunday of what he was his last time out against the Red Sox. He was solid for 7 1/3 innings, allowed one run on five hits and struck out seven in the Nationals' 4-1 victory over the Phillies.

Strasburg had a perfect game going until the fifth inning, when Carlos Ruiz singled to left field with two outs. Strasburg ended up throwing 95 pitches, and if he hadn't of given up the run in the eighth, manager Matt Williams said the right-hander could have completed the game.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Escobar targeting Tuesday return from groin strain

Third baseman takes part in pregame workouts with Nationals

Escobar targeting Tuesday return from groin strain

WASHINGTON -- It looks like Nationals third baseman Yunel Escobar will not need to go on the disabled list. He had an MRI on his left groin recently and the results were encouraging. He tweaked the groin, according to manager Matt Williams.

Escobar showed he was getting better by practicing with the team on the field before Sunday's game against the Phillies. He was taking batting practice and doing fielding drills without any problems.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ryan Zimmerman hits ball twice in one swing

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Ryan Zimmerman hits ball twice in one swing

Ryan Zimmerman has built a pretty successful Major League career hitting a baseball the boring, old-fashioned way -- once per swing. Off to a slow start this season, Zimmerman tried a new tactic -- albeit unintentionally -- during the Nationals' 4-1 win over the Phillies on Sunday afternoon.

With the Nats holding a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning, Zimmerman took a cut at an inside changeup from reliever Dustin McGowan. The ball first struck his bat down near the handle, then somehow connected again near the end of the barrel before shooting back up the middle and into center field for an RBI single.

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Espinosa's sliding grab shows his glove versatility

Espinosa's sliding grab shows his glove versatility

WASHINGTON -- Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa may be having difficulty hitting with consistency, but he is having no trouble with the glove, and he proved it once again Sunday during a 4-1 victory over the Phillies.

With one out in the fourth inning, Freddy Galvis hit a popup near the third-base seats. Espinosa chased it down and made a nice sliding catch.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryce Harper hit the longest home run of his career

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Bryce Harper hit the longest home run of his career

With arms as thick as a nest of snakes that have become horribly tangled and a swing as powerful as, I dunno, 18 magically powered oxen (not sure how to measure that exactly), it's tough to remember that Bryce Harper is still only 22 years old. Which means that every time he hits a home run, there's a chance for a personal milestone to be set. 

The right fielder did just that on Saturday afternoon. Facing Aaron Harang in the fifth inning, Harper bounced the 89-mph two-seam offering off the wall behind the fence in center field.

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Desmond vows to fix issues on defense

Nats shortstop makes two crucial fielding gaffes during loss to Phillies

Desmond vows to fix issues on defense

WASHINGTON -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond had a game he would like to forget on defense. He made a crucial error and mishandled a throw by second baseman Dan Uggla in the third inning of a 5-3 loss to the Phillies on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park.

With one out, Aaron Harang hit what looked like a routine ground ball to Desmond, who bobbled the ball but threw to first in time to get Harang, according to first-base umpire Vic Carapazza. But the Phillies thought Harang beat the throw, so they challenged the call, which was overturned.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zimmermann calls 4-walk start 'unacceptable'

Nationals righty hadn't allowed that many free passes in a game since 2013

Zimmermann calls 4-walk start 'unacceptable'

WASHINGTON -- On paper, right-hander Jordan Zimmermann had a better outing during Saturday afternoon's 5-3 loss to the Phillies than he did against the Red Sox five days earlier. In the game against Boston, Zimmermann allowed eight runs (seven earned) in 2 1/3 innings.

On Saturday, Zimmermann pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits, struck out three batters and walked four, which is unusually high for the right-hander. The last time Zimmermann walked four in a game prior to Saturday was Aug. 2, 2013, against the Brewers. Two of the four walks he allowed against the Phillies scored.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Key error haunts Nationals in loss to Phils

Key error haunts Nationals in loss to Phils

WASHINGTON -- Ben Revere scored the go-ahead run on a fielder's choice by Grady Sizemore as the Phillies defeated the Nationals, 5-3, at Nationals Park on Saturday afternoon.

The score was tied at 3 when the Phillies went ahead in the seventh inning. With Revere on third, one out and left-hander Matt Thornton on the mound, Sizemore hit into a fielder's choice, and Revere scored ahead of the throw from first baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Elliot Smith is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Umpire hit by pitch, leaves Phillies-Nats game in ninth

Umpire hit by pitch, leaves Phillies-Nats game in ninth

WASHINGTON -- Home-plate umpire Brian Knight had to leave the game between the Phillies and Nationals in the ninth after he was hit in the head by a pitch from Nationals right-hander Blake Treinen.

With Phillies infielder Freddy Galvis at the plate and Odubel Herrera at first base, Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton was looking for Treinen's sinker to go down in the zone, but the pitch stayed up, missed Lobaton's glove and hit Knight, who fell to the ground even though he had his mask on.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper, Espinosa power Scherzer to first win

Harper, Espinosa power Scherzer to first win

WASHINGTON -- Max Scherzer earned his first victory in a Nationals uniform on Friday night, leading the club to a 7-2 victory over the Phillies. It was the third consecutive win for the Nats after a 2-6 start and set them up to clinch their first series win on Saturday afternoon.

After signing a seven-year, $210 million contract this offseason, Scherzer posted a 0.66 ERA through his first two outings but was 0-1. This time, the Nats backed up his stellar pitching with ample run support and solid defense.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dominant Scherzer finally gets first win with Nats

Right-hander strikes out nine and allows one run over eight in win over Phillies

Dominant Scherzer finally gets first win with Nats

WASHINGTON -- As Nationals manager Matt Williams watched Max Scherzer pitch on Friday night against the Phillies, he didn't see his ace right-hander firing his best fastball. But Scherzer did just fine without it.

Compensating with his changeup, slider and curveball -- plus an occasional cutter -- Scherzer put up his third highly effective start in a row to begin his Nats career, after leaving the Tigers and signing a seven-year, $210 million deal with Washington. This time, he got enough offensive support to pick up a victory, as Washington won, 7-2. Scherzer's ERA now stands at 0.83, and he has 25 strikeouts and four walks over 21 2/3 innings.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Espinosa rediscovering left-handed stroke

Switch-hitter improves to 4-for-8 as a lefty with second homer in Friday's win

Espinosa rediscovering left-handed stroke

WASHINGTON -- Just a couple of weeks ago, before the Nationals left Spring Training and headed north, Danny Espinosa's switch-hitting days were supposed to be on hold. After two years of severe struggles as a left-handed hitter, Espinosa was batting exclusively right-handed during the Grapefruit League season.

Yet once the regular season began, Espinosa returned to his switch-hitting ways, and although the sample size remains tiny, the results certainly are intriguing. Espinosa went 1-for-2 with a walk and a huge solo home run as a lefty in Friday's 7-2 win over the Phillies, improving to 4-for-8 with a double, two homers and two walks from that side of the plate.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Escobar leaves Friday's win with strained groin

Escobar leaves Friday's win with strained groin

WASHINGTON -- Nationals third baseman Yunel Escobar left Friday night's 7-2 win over the Phillies after four innings with a strained groin, but manager Matt Williams said the club has not decided whether the injury will require a trip to the disabled list.

Escobar suffered the injury while running to first on a groundout to Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis to end the fourth inning. Dan Uggla entered the game at second base to start the fifth, with Danny Espinosa shifting to third.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stammen taking positive approach to injury

Official prognosis on elbow injury to be made following surgery on Sunday

Stammen taking positive approach to injury

WASHINGTON -- When an MRI this week revealed that Craig Stammen had suffered a flexor tear in his right arm, the Nationals reliever didn't turn to self-pity. Instead, he accepted the challenge presented by a potentially season-ending injury.

"My initial reaction was probably like, 'Bring it on,'" said Stammen, who is scheduled to undergo surgery on Sunday in Washington. "There's just no point in having a bad attitude about it. If you have a bad attitude, you can't get anything from it. So I'm going to choose to take the good approach and stay positive and try to overcome it."

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Homers back Fister as Nats top Hamels in series opener

Homers back Fister as Nats top Hamels in series opener

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals continued to break out of their early-season offensive funk with a 5-2 victory over the Phillies on Thursday night at Nationals Park. Washington has scored 22 runs in its past three games and has won two straight for the first time this season.

Yunel Escobar homered on the game's first pitch from Phillies starter Cole Hamels. Michael Taylor's fifth-inning solo home run gave Washington a 3-2 lead, and Ryan Zimmerman had a two-run double as the Nationals produced an efficient six hits.

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Damian Cristodero and Jeff Seidel are contributors to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Taylor: Homer doesn't totally ease sting of error

Taylor: Homer doesn't totally ease sting of error

WASHINGTON -- Nationals center fielder Michael Taylor was in no mood to explain what happened on the seemingly easy fly ball he misplayed in the fourth inning Thursday night against the Phillies.

"I'm not even going to tell you what happened, because it will sound like an excuse," Taylor said. "I just dropped it. It can't happen."

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Damian Cristodero is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Williams: Span feeling no pain, playing on instinct

Williams: Span feeling no pain, playing on instinct

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals on Thursday gave their most optimistic report to date concerning the rehab of Denard Span, who appears close to a return.

"What we don't want is pain," manager Matt Williams said before his club's 5-2 win over the Phillies. "So far, he hasn't experienced that."

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Damian Cristodero is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats recall southpaw Rivero, option righty Jordan to Triple-A

Nats recall southpaw Rivero, option righty Jordan to Triple-A

The Nationals have recalled left-hander Felipe Rivero from Triple-A Syracuse, and the reliever will be making his Major League debut if and when he takes the mound for the Nats.

In a corresponding move, the club optioned right-hander Taylor Jordan back to Syracuse. Jordan was called up to the Nationals on Wednesday, but he did not pitch.

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Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stammen needs surgery to repair flexor tear

Stammen needs surgery to repair flexor tear

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' bullpen took a significant blow Thursday when an MRI revealed right-hander Craig Stammen has a torn flexor tendon and will have surgery that could end his season.

"It depends on the extent of the damage and the rehab, but it's possible," manager Matt Williams said of his workhorse reliever. "We'll see."

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Damian Cristodero is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals team up to deliver Beantown rout

Nationals team up to deliver Beantown rout

BOSTON -- After a tough first eight games to their season, capped by two ugly losses in Boston, the Nationals regrouped nicely on Wednesday with a 10-5 victory over the Red Sox in the finale of a three-game series at Fenway Park.

"It's big," manager Matt Williams said. "Considering the way it's gone on the road trip, it's good for us. Now we get a chance to go home."

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Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats join MLB in celebrating legacy of Jackie

Nats join MLB in celebrating legacy of Jackie

BOSTON -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is a history buff and understands how important Jackie Robinson was to baseball and society in general.

"Being able to look back on history and see him being able to do what he did under the circumstances, it's truly unbelievable," Harper said. "To get that opportunity from [Dodgers executive] Branch Rickey and play in the big leagues, it's an unbelievable task to be able to do that under the circumstances he was under. You can't say enough about Jackie Robinson."

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Martin impresses Nats with dominant debut

Martin impresses Nats with dominant debut

BOSTON -- The Nationals may have found their setup man in Rafael Martin. The right-hander made his Major League debut at Fenway Park in Wednesday's 10-5 victory over the Red Sox and dominated, pitching two shutout innings and striking out five batters.

"Unbelievable. Everything I expected. I had a lot of adrenaline," said Martin, who was once a construction worker and started his professional baseball career in the Mexican League.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats' offense finds form in final two games at Fenway

Nats' offense finds form in final two games at Fenway

BOSTON -- The Nationals are showing signs of life on offense. In the last two games, they have scored 17 runs and are 9-for-22 with runners in scoring position.

Prior to Tuesday, the offense was stagnant, which meant the pitchers had to be perfect on the mound and the defense couldn't afford to make errors -- and they made plenty of them. Manager Matt Williams believes his position players were more aggressive at the plate against the Red Sox on Tuesday and in Wednesday's 10-5 win.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.