Wire Taps: Washington Nationals Almost Through D-Backs' Invasion, Series Finale With Arizona Tonight. Nats Park Officially Reclaimed!!

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 02: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after a 5-4 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park on May 2, 2012 in Washington, DC. Harper scored on Ian Desmond's #20 walk off home run in the ninth inning.(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

• Steel yourself. Day three of the D-Backs' Invasion of Nationals Park is almost over. The Washington Nationals have successfully taken the park back from the invading hordes of Arizona fans and reclaimed the home field advantage against their rivals from the NL West. The D-Backs blogs out there have been able to get some national press coverage by bringing their traveling circus to the nation's capital, but the overall feeling after the first two games of their three-game visit to Nationals Park is that the Nats fans have finally proven their dedication to their hometown team. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray today declared this weekend, "NATITUDE Weekend" in recognition of what the team and its fans accomplished over the last few days with the D-Backs in town. Last night's win which featured heroics from both Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond has to be seen as a turning point for the franchise and its fanbase. After one more tonight with the Diamondbacks, the Nationals will welcome their NL East rivals from Philadelphia to Nats Park for what will likely be an uneventful weekend series with the division's fourth-place team... (ed. note - I may have misunderstood some things in the above paragraph.")

• THE BIG STORY!!!! (Like occasional NY Times' Arts & Leisure sections, "Today in Two Parts"):

• "One of Andrew Feffer's jobs is getting Washington Nationals fans to come to the ballpark. But this year, the team's chief operating officer has another goal: keeping Philadelphia Phillies fans out." - "For D.C. Baseball Team, Deluge" - Brad Reagan, WSJ.com

• "After some months of hype, the first series against the Phillies is just about here, and the hype is continuing." - "Vincent Gray declares ‘Natitude Weekend’ in D.C." - Dan Steinberg, DC Sports Bog - The Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "As Arizona Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz threw his warm-up pitches, preparing to protect a one-run lead, Desmond remembered a nugget of advice former Washington Nationals manager Frank Robinson once told him." - "Nats end 5-game skid as Desmond, Harper bring offense to life" - James Campbell, Washington Times

• "Playing in his second game at Nats Park, [Bryce] Harper was all over the field last night." - "Nationals Pastime: Harping on Harper's stellar night" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "He's only 26, but he's logged more time in a Nationals uniform than almost anybody else in the current clubhouse." - "Harper sets stage, Desmond takes curtain call" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

Podcast: Craig Heist talks Harper with MLB's Bill Ladson - WTOP.com

• "[Henry] Rodriguez has closer ability: an explosive fastball, a slider and curveball. And with his chance to fill that role with Manager Davey Johnson’s blessing..." - "Henry Rodriguez rebounds well after tough outing" - James Wagner, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "Second baseman Danny Espinosa, who himself has been struggling to find his rhythm in the first month of the season, saw exactly what Desmond was doing during the game-changing play." - "Desmond leads by example with walk-off rocket" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "There isn't much rich history for the Nationals, who have been in the District only since moving from Montreal after the 2004 season." - "Nationals are failing history" - Thom Loverro, Washington Examiner

• "If things go well, [Ryan] Zimmerman hopes to play in a big league game by Tuesday against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Johnson is willing to have Zimmerman return without going on a rehab assignment." - "Zimmerman planning to hit off tee on Friday" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "[Stephen] Strasburg has yet to allow a home run in 32 innings, largely because 74.2 percent of his at-bats have resulted in groundballs or strikeouts." - "Stephen Strasburg named National League Pitcher of the Month" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "The Diamondbacks had no answer for rookie Bryce Harper, who helped the Nationals in the field, at the plate and on the bases." - "Diamondbacks fall to Nationals, 5-4" - AP/WTOP.com

• "Nationals manager Davey Johnson said [Ryan] Zimmerman will begin hitting off a tee Friday, and he'll likely need a few more days to ramp up his stroke..." - "Zimmerman may not return until Tuesday" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "Baseball, as Drew Storen lives it, is all about perspective. That has been especially important inside the Washington Nationals' clubhouse recently." - "Injuries contributing to Nationals' lackluster run production" - Rich Campbell, Washington Times

• "[Michael] Morse said he is hoping to be back in time for the team’s games against American League teams in early June so he could serve as a designated hitter." - "Michael Morse progressing well, hoping for June return" - James Wagner, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "Washington was 2-of-13 with runners in scoring position tonight prior to Desmond's homer, and trailing 4-3, they squandered a prime chance in the eighth..." - "Nationals Pastime: Johnson: 'We needed it, no doubt about it'" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "[Ian] Kennedy will try to run his consecutive win streak to double digits Thursday opposite Nationals starter Ross Detwiler, as the Nats and D-backs battle in the rubber game of their three-game set." - "Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals - May 3, 2012" - Tyler Emerick, MLB.com Preview

• "There may be days when we're reminded he's a mere 19 years old, and absolutely overwhelmed by baseball's biggest stage. So far, though, he has made the hardest game on earth look easy." - "Richard Justice: Bryce Harper just doing what he knows to do as a ballplayer" - Richard Justice, nationals.com: News

• "For much of the night, the perplexed Nats appeared destined to waste another brilliant game by rookie Bryce Harper (3-for-4)..." - "Desmond delivers for Nats" - Kevin Dunleavy, Washington Examiner

• "With the anticipation and pressure of his home debut a thing of the past, Harper was free to go out and just play a ballgame. And what a game he played." - "Instant analysis: Nats 5, D'backs 4" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "The team’s five-game losing streak was over. The Nationals (15-9) maintained their hold on first place in the National League East." - "Nationals vs. Diamondbacks: Ian Desmond drives in Bryce Harper with walk-off home run to end skid at five" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft has posted the second-lowest ERA among qualifying Major League pitchers, and is tied for third with teammate Gio Gonzalez among NL strikeout leaders." - "Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg takes home NL's April pitching honor" - Adam Berry, nationals.com: News

• "[Frank Robinson] said, 'You have to watch the pitcher.' Desmond remembered. 'Putz was throwing his splits up in the zone, and his fastball was elevated to both guys ahead of me..." - "Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals - May 2, 2012" - Bill Ladson, MLB.com WSH Recap

• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama): "If the work is worthwhile, then whether we can complete it or not, it's worth making the attempt. That's why courage is important."

• NATS MINORS:

• "'Matt Purke is in Florida, rehabbing and doing well,' Rizzo said. 'He will be getting on one of the minor league affiliates soon and starting.'" - "Rizzo: prospects Purke and Ray making progress" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

Class-A Hagerstown: "Steven Souza went 2-for-5 with a double, home run and three more RBIs versus the Braves." - "Suns Use Seven Extra Base Hits to Topple Rome, 10-5" - Hagerstown Suns News

Class-A Potomac: "Potomac started the scoring in the second off of Winston-Salem RHP Jake Petricka. David Freitas singled to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a Zach Walters double." - "Olbrychowski Tosses Gem In 5-0 P-Nats Win" - Potomac Nationals News

Double-A Harrisburg: Rock Cats 5, Senators 4 - Tim Pahuta - 2 for 4, 1 HR; Mike Ballard - 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 K's - Harrisburg Senators Scoreboard

Triple-A Syracuse: "The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, gave up five runs in the third and fourth innings en route to a 5-2 loss at Buffalo on Wednesday night." - "Bisons run past Chiefs, 5-2" - Syracuse Chiefs News

Triple-A Chiefs: "The Syracuse Chiefs ran into hot Mets prospect Matt Harvey and got to him for a pair of runs, but fell to Buffalo, 5-2, on Wednesday." - "Chiefs lose in Buffalo as Bison hit three triples" - Ben Meyers, The Auburn Citizen

• "Last Night In Woodbridge"- Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• NATSTOWN:

• "No, there were several notable people around on Tuesday night, including a father and son with Werth beards, a man with a blue HarperHawk, Mark Rypien, and a man in a Speedo playing the saxophone." - "A Jayson Werth-Bryce Harper hybrid, and other scenes from Harper’s home debut' - Dan Steinberg, DC Sports Bog - The Washington Post

• "And then there was his accidental barehanded catch of routine fly ball while falling down in the sixth inning..." - "When Bryce Harper caught a routine fly ball barehanded, then fell down" - Nats Enquirer

• "If anyone had any doubts about the ability of 19-year-old Bryce Harper in a major league uniform, those concerns might have been put to rest on Wednesday night at Nationals Park." - "Washington Nationals Game 24 Review: Harper has big night; Desmond walks-off with win" - Anthony Amobi, District Sports Page

• "May 3, 1949: The Senators (3-11) arrive in Chicago (8-5) for a short two game series with the White Sox. The team is looking to snap a two game slide." - "This Day in D.C. Baseball History – Tearing Down the Chicken Wire" - Mark Hornbaker, D.C. Baseball History

• "Edwin Jackson's fastball looked very flat all day. That's a problem when you are a pitcher who in part relies on a good moving fastball to force mistakes in hitters." - "Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Serve As Heros In Nats 5-4 Win" - Will Yoder, The Nats Blog

• "Great stuff, but I also liked the rundown in the top of the ninth, which erased a D-backs baserunner and yielded my photo of the day." - "Caught stealing" - Jenn Jenson, Nationals Fangirl

• "Bryce Harper helped the Washington Nationals end a five-game losing streak, and found himself on the winning side for the first time as a major leaguer." - "The Juice: Chipper’s walkoff ends ‘psychotic’ game, Desmond and Giambi join in the dramatics" - Kevin Kaduk, Big League Stew - Yahoo! Sports

• "Three Things from last night" - traderkirk, Bang! Zoom!

• "So, that Sports Illustrated jinx is over, right?" - "Ian Desmond hits walkoff to get first Nats win in a week" - William F. Yurasko, William World News

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Mets: "The Met knuckleballer will be at Tompkins Square Park in East Village today at 1:30pm for anyone who wants to showcase the best wiffle ball pitch that they have for Dickey to see." - "R.A. Dickey Wants to See Your Best Wiffle Ball Pitch" - Matt Musico, Rising Apple - A New York Mets Blog Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Phillies: "Clearly, this team has been scuffling on the offensive side of the ball, but have they struggled against good pitchers in particular, like they had last year? To find out, let's check the graphs." - "Quick Update: Phillies vs. Different types of pitchers" - philsandthrills, The Good Phight

Marlins: "[Giancarlo] Stanton’s solo home run in the 10th inning propelled the Marlins to a 3-2 victory over the Giants after relievers Heath Bell and Steve Cishek failed to protect a 2-0 lead in the ninth." - "Giancarlo Stanton rescues Miami Marlins in 10th inning win over Giants" - Clark Spencer, MiamiHerald.com

Braves: "It was already one of the wildest games in recent Braves history, and Chipper Jones took it to another level with his two-run walk-off homer in the 11th inning..." - "Braves beat Phillies in 11 on Chipper Jones’ walk-off home run" - David O'Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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