Wire Taps: Washington Nationals' Davey Johnson's Balk, Stephen Strasburg's BP.

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 24: Livan Hernandez #61 of the Washington Nationals is taken out of the game by manager Davey Johnson #5 in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park on August 24, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

• Programming Notes: The Washington Nationals avoided getting shut out in back-to-back games, but couldn't avoid the second straight loss to Arizona as another D-Backs' starter shut the Nats down until the ninth when Laynce Nix and Jonny Gomes hit back-to-back jacks to end Daniel Hudson's night. After the game, Davey Johnson took the blame for his management of the pitchers in a quick press conference. Earlier in the day, Stephen Strasburg, who's scheduled to start for the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, took his first BP cuts since surgery in preparation for having to hit in that International League outing. Tonight, in the finale of the four-game series with the NL West's top team, the Nats turn to lefty John Lannan against D-Backs' lefty Wade Miley as they look to earn the split. MASN HD, MLB.tv, 106.7 the FAN in D.C., 1500 WFED, Sirius/XM ch. 189. Who's Watching The Nationals?

• LINKS AND LINKS AND...

• NATS BEAT: 

• Beast Mode! Beast Mode! Beast Mode! Apparently Jordan Zimmermann needs a catchphrase...

• "[Jordan] Zimmermann will be in Stephen Strasburg's shadow as long as the two are teammates on the Nationals, but the former's star has shone brightly this season. " - "Washington Nationals' Michael Morse heads All-Underrated team" - Joe Lemire - SI.com

• "Rizzo makes lists of possible managers for next season. 'But that’s a tough list to compile: managers who are better than Davey Johnson,' Rizzo said." - "Davey Johnson should be manager of the Washington Nationals in 2012" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

• "Why, Johnson wondered, did he let Livan Hernandez start the eighth inning?" - "Davey Johnson's 'balk' plays into Nats' 4-2 loss to D-Backs" - Nathan Fenno, Washington Times

• "Nationals manager Davey Johnson has said since his first week at the helm that he wants his starters to be able to go seven innings and then have the bullpen take over." - "Johnson takes blame for not pulling Hernandez, but when is right time?" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "'I take responsibility for that one,' the manager said. 'He was really pitching a great game. And when he's good, he's pretty good...'" - "Davey's "balk" comes back to haunt Nats" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "Even after losing two straight, during which they’ve scored two runs, the Nationals are on a 78-win pace..." - "The importance of Laynce Nix’s home run" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "'He's under heavy restrictions, and I just lifted them,' manager Davey Johnson said. 'I figure if he can throw a 99-mph fastball, he can hit.'" - "Stephen Strasburg takes batting practice at Nationals Park" - Ben Goessling, MASNSports.com

• "The pitcher’s rehabilitation took another step after he convinced manager Davey Johnson to allow his first round of batting practice since Tommy John surgery." - "Strasburg rehab includes getting in swing of things" - Nathan Fenno, Washington Times

• "It was 'vintage Livo,' according to Ryan Zimmerman, as Hernandez worked his way into and out of trouble with just 83 pitches through the first seven innings." - "Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals: Back-to-back homers too little, too late" - Steven Miller, MLB.com WSH Recap

• "Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he is less concerned with Strasburg's breaking ball as he is with getting his arm back to where it was prior to ligament replacement surgery." - "Johnson and McCatty: No concern for Strasburg's breaking ball command" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "The right-hander noted after his last outing at Hagerstown that he could benefit from pitching against higher competition after facing nothing but Class A batters..." - "Strasburg takes BP, ready for Syracuse" - Mark Zuckerman, CSNWashington.com

• "Strasburg will throw 70 to 80 pitches in his fifth rehab start Saturday with Triple-A Syracuse, where the pitcher hits at National League-affiliated parks." - "Strasburg takes batting practice for first time" - Steven Miller, nationals.com: News

• "After completing his fourth rehab start earlier this week, Strasburg talked about what has changed in the year since his major league debut." - "Chronicling Stephen Strasburg's return to the major leagues" - Brian Eller, MASNSports.com: Nationals Buzz: The Road Back

• "Jayson Werth could pinch-hit tonight, and Ivan Rodriguez will take batting practice tomorrow." - "Updates on Jayson Werth and Ivan Rodriguez" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "[Werth] would play if we were in a pennant race or something, but there's no sense," said Nationals manager Davey Johnson." - "Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals: The climb: Miley seeking first Major League victory" - Adam Holt, MLB.com Preview

• "Manager Davey Johnson said Werth's injury isn't serious. While he's listed as day-to-day, Werth is available to pinch hit. If he reaches base, Johnson will use a pinch runner." - "Werth sits out plus Nationals-D-backs lineups" - Nathan Fenno, Washington Times

• "Once Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa pulled out of twin slumps almost in sync last week, the Nationals were feeling as good about their offense as they had all season." - "Nationals' offense back in a funk after loss to Diamondbacks" - Ben Goessling, MASNSports.com

• "The Nationals' right fielder is day to day, but he downplayed the injury after Tuesday's game and manager Davey Johnson is equally unconcerned." - "Groin strain keeps Werth out of Nats' lineup" - Steven Miller, nationals.com: News

• "Upton said the fans didn't get on him like they are Harper because the hype machine is a little different these days." - "D-Backs' Upton said early confidence helped him, will guide Bryce Harper" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Over the past two days, the Nationals are 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position and have stranded 14 base runners, a combination of poor timely hitting and rotten luck." - "Nationals vs. Diamondbacks: Washington held in check in 4-2 loss" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• NATS MINOR LEAGUE UPDATES: 

• Class-A Auburn: "With the win, Auburn now sits two and one-half games up on Williamsport and four games up on Mahoning Valley for first place in the New York-Penn League's Pinckney Division." - "Comeback Complete in Extra Innings Win" - Auburn Doubledays News

• Class-A Hagerstown: "Suns RHP A.J. Cole (4-7), the losing pitcher of record, made it through 4.1 innings and gave up five runs, four earned, on six hits, amidst one walk and five strikeouts..." - "Hickory SS Jurickson Profar Provides Game Three Difference" - Hagerstown Suns News

 Class-A Potomac: "The Potomac Nationals erupted for eight runs in the sixth and seventh innings against Jon Keck and Ryan Dennick on Wednesday night in Woodbridge, and scored an 11-3 victory over the Wilmington Blue Rocks." - "WHAT THE KECK: P-NATS ROCK RELIEVER" - Potomac Nationals News

• Double-A Harrisburg: "Tyler Moore, Tim Pahuta, and Chris Rahl all homered for the Senators while Adam Fox had a two-run triple in the Sens big five-run eighth inning." - "Senators use Long Ball to Sweep Portland with 9-3 Win" - Harrisburg Senators News

• Triple-A Syracuse: "Left-hander Tommy Milone picked up his eleventh win, allowing just one run in seven sharp innings." - "Bynum, Milone lead Chiefs past Red Sox" - Syracuse Chiefs News

• Triple-A Syracuse: 8/24 Chiefs vs Red Sox Highlights [Audio] Syracuse Chiefs Inside Pitch

• "Thursday’s News & Notes" - NationalsProspects.com

• Triple-A Syracuse Strasburg Hype Machine: 


• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama): "The point of our existence is that, as human beings, we live purposeful, meaningful lives." - 

• SHARKNATSTOWN: 

• "Apparently,  over a million Shark fans (coincidentally all sharks) rammed into some tectonic plates in the Atlantic to make a point." - "Million Shark March" - Sharkadina

• NATSTOWN: 

• "I was 12 years old when Mike Flanagan won the Cy Young and took the Baltimore Orioles to the World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979." - "When You Fall in Love with Baseball" - Dave Nichols, NATIONALS NEWS NETWORK

• "The Washington Nationals’ racing presidents are fond of taking on racing mascots from other teams, but Wednesday night at Nationals Park, they issued their first challenge on record targeting an opposing team’s broadcaster." - "Racing Presidents issue challenge to Mark Grace" - Presidents Race Fan, Let Teddy Win!

• "Davey Johnson has already called for them.  Jordan Zimmermann’s innings limit necessitates one of them.  Livan’s woes beg for one of them.  Who are they?" - "Predicting 9/1 callup and 40-man Roster moves" - Nationals Arm Race

• "Enter Davey Johnson - the veteran presence that Mike Rizzo has craved since he took over the GM job and inherited Jim Riggleman as manager." - "Earth To Davey" - Mac, Capitol Baseball

• NL EAST UPDATES: 

• Braves: "[Randy] Wells gave the Atlanta Braves only two hits over 6.2 innings, finally having to leave the game when Chipper Jones hit a monstrous home run almost to the center field bleachers..." - "Cubs' Randy Wells Shuts Down Braves In 3-2 Win" - Al Yellon, Bleed Cubbie Blue

Marlins: "Logan Morrison’s return energized the Marlins in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader, but Florida couldn’t carry the momentum over into the second contest..." - "Florida Marlins split doubleheader with Cincinnati Reds" - Matt Forman, MiamiHerald.com

Phillies/Mets: "Maybe this flat-as-a-pizzelle Mets visit to South Philadelphia wasn't the best way to test Placido Polanco's soundness." - "Polanco gives ailing Phils a boost" - Frank Fitzpatrick, Philadelphia Inquirer

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