Wire Taps: Washington Nationals And Atlanta Braves Set To Meet In Three-Game Weekend Series

USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson told reporters last night that he might turn to Drew Storen in the ninth if he needs a closer in the first game of three with the Atlanta Braves in D.C. The Nats try to keep their 6-0 record at home in tact and the Braves try to win their seventh straight. One streak ends tonight.

Davey Johnson was happy with the improvements he saw from Dan Haren in his second start of the year last night in the Washington Nationals' win over the Chicago White Sox. The Nationals' 32-year-old right-hander gave up 10 hits and three runs, but no home runs in the 5.0 innings he was on the mound. He also managed to throw 101 pitches in just five innings of work. "He's still not where he wants to be I'm sure," Johnson told reporters after the Nationals swept the Sox. "They've got a lot of guys that can swing the bat over there, but he's getting better."

"[Haren is] throwing the ball good. He's got good velocity," Johnson explained, "That was the one thing that was missing last year. But it's command, it's all about command. Making your pitches. He was up a lot today." The Nats' 70-year-old skipper said he thought it was important that Haren's teammates helped him to his first win of the season. "That was big for him," the manager said, "We wanted to get him a win. Get him more on a positive note."

After Haren's night was over, the Nationals turned to right-hander Ryan Mattheus, who came on strong after a few days off then settled in over 2.0 innings in which he gave up two hits, a walk and one run. A long sixth was followed by a relatively quick seventh. "He's also more effective when he's not as strong and rested," Johnson said, "and he had about three days off and I kind of just felt like he was a better matchup than even Zach Duke. I figured I could get a couple of innings out of him although after the first inning he was missing a lot and that's from just too long off and actually when he got a little [more tired] he wasn't throwing as hard, he had better success, better sink."

Mattheus handled the sixth and seventh, Tyler Clippard took care of the eighth and for the third time in three days, Rafael Soriano came out and saved the game in the ninth. "I was tempted to go another route," Johnson said of the closer who'd thrown in the first two games of the series with the Sox, "but he hadn't cried uncle for me yet." Johnson hinted that Soriano probably won't be available tonight. So will we see Drew Storen if the Nats have a lead in the ninth? "It's possible, yeah. We've played nine games [Soriano's] been in six of them."

The Nationals' manager has faith in whatever option he turns to. "I've got all the confidence in my bullpen in the world," Johnson said, "it's been a little spotty here early but I'm not worried about it."

The Nats and Braves play the first of three tonight at 7:05 pm EST in Nationals Park. Until then, it's links and lots of them. Starting... RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!! (Which Really Gets This Spot For Its Title):

• "This weekend, Natitude meets Gattitude. And J-Up." - "Gattitude’ vs. ‘Natitude’ as Braves face Nationals" - David O'Brien, www.ajc.com

• NATS BEAT:

• "Manager Davey Johnson, overall, thought Haren threw the ball well. In his mind, it’s too early for him to have a full grasp on Haren’s potential and ability..." - "More on Dan Haren’s second start, his reliance on his splitter" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "The tour de force the Nationals’ 20-year-old left fielder has put on in the first three series can be borne out in his stat line." - "Nationals complete sweep of White Sox with 7-4 win" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Nationals right-hander Dan Haren played with Braves outfielder Justin Upton for three years when they were with the D-Backs from 2008-10." - "Haren impressed by Justin Upton's hot start" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "Tonight's 7-4 win over the White Sox gave the Nats another three-game sweep at Nats Park and made a winner of Dan Haren for the first time this season." - "Nationals Pastime: Johnson talks after Nats pick up sweep of White Sox" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "[Dan] Haren fared better than his woeful six-earned run outing in Cincinnati last weekend, but he was nowhere near his best in front of the 24,785 fans at Nationals Park on Thursday night." - "Haren gets win as Nats sweep White Sox" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "The ballpark in Cincinnati known derisively as the Great American Launching Pad was a difficult place for Dan Haren to make his Nationals debut." - "Dan Haren delivers -- at the plate -- for Nationals in win over White Sox" - Kevin Dunleavy, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "[Davey] Johnson's confidence in [Dan] Haren paid off. Haren battled and managed to win his first game as a member of the Nationals." - "Chicago White Sox at Washington Nationals - April 11, 2013" - Bill Ladson, MLB.com WSH Recap

• "Nationals manager Davey Johnson raised an eyebrow and grinned when asked what he thought about that sequence." - "Zimmerman delivers, Nationals top White Sox 7-4" - Howard Fendrich, AP/WTOP.com

• "Scattering 10 hits over five innings, Haren held the Chicago White Sox to three runs and notched his first victory of the season, a 7-4 Nationals' win." - "Haren still not where he wants to be, but a win is a 'few steps forward'" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "More than a decade has passed since B.J. Upton, Ryan Zimmerman and David Wright last played together with the Tidewater Mets..." - "Former Tidewater Mets B.J. Upton, Justin Upton, David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman reunited in NL East" - Mark Bowman, nationals.com: News

• "Asked about the decision after the game, [Robin] Ventura indicated that it was less about the righty/righty matchup and more just about getting the bat out of [Bryce] Harper's hands." - "Nationals Pastime: Ventura, Zimmerman and Harper on the questionable intentional walk" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Chicago White Sox Manager Robin Ventura had enough of the Washington Nationals lineup and the restless Bryce Harper." - "Nationals vs. White Sox: Ryan Zimmerman makes Chicago pay after early intentional walk to Bryce Harper" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "In the bottom of the fourth inning, with the game tied at three and Bryce Harper at the plate, [Dylan] Axelrod uncorked a wild pitch." - "IBB to Harper proves costly for White Sox" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "After [Bryce] Harper drove in an insurance run in the eighth, [Rafael] Soriano pitched the ninth for his fifth save in six chances, and third this series." - "Zimmerman Delivers, Nationals Sweep White Sox" - Dan Morrison, CBS DC

• "Coming into tonight, the hitter in front of Ryan Zimmerman in the Nationals' batting order had only been intentionally walked once since 2009." - "Nationals Pastime: Zimmerman makes Ventura's gamble look silly (Nats sweep White Sox)" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

Zimmerman's Two-Run Double:


• "'I thought the Braves were a little too left-handed,' [Davey] Johnson said. 'They added the Upton boys. I thought Chris Johnson was a great addition, too.'" - "Johnson: Additions make Braves more balanced" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "[Freddie] Freeman won’t play this weekend. He’s on the disabled list with an oblique injury and guess what? It wasn’t his call." - "In Freddie Freeman injury, a flip side to Redskins' RG3 approach" - Mike Harris, Washington Times

• "Manager Robin Ventura and the rest of the Chicago White Sox hardly enjoyed their visit to the nation's capital." - "White Sox lose Beckham, Cooper, 3 games in DC" - Howard Fendrich, AP/WTOP.com

• "Dan Haren (1-1) earned his first win of the season despite a long day in his first appearance before the Nationals' home crowd." - "Instant Analysis: Nats 7, White Sox 4" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "Chicago White Sox broadcaster and former All-Star first baseman and right fielder Ken 'Hawk' Harrelson paid a visit to Johnson's office during pregame and complimented the skipper on his roster." - "Nationals developing home-field advantage and opponents notice" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "'If you’re going to do it, every other day is the way to do it,' said bench coach Randy Knorr, a former major league catcher who handles the catchers." - "Nationals catchers succeeding despite splitting time" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "Way back in November, when the Nationals‘ plans for the offseason had yet to be executed, they were intrigued by [B.J.] Upton." - "Nationals' Span, Braves' B.J. Upton could have been in the other's shoes" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "The Nationals dominated the season series early on in 2012, but the Braves rebounded toward the end of the year." - "Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals - April 12, 2013" - Austin Laymance, MLB.com Preview

• "To this point, the Nationals’ competition has been stiffer than the Braves’. The Braves are off to a hot start thanks to their home run-bashing offense..." - "The Braves are coming to Washington" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "In each of the Nationals’ three wins to sweep the series with the Chicago White Sox, manager Davey Johnson went to Rafael Soriano to close." - "Johnson shows faith in workhorse Soriano" - Kevin Duleavy, WashingtonExaminer.com

Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama):

• Davey Johnson's Post Game Press Conference:


• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "Nationals OF Denard Span went 2-for-4 with a walk, a steal and two runs scored against the White Sox." - "Daily Roundup: Around the League: April 12, 2013" - Clint Chisam, Baseball Prospectus

• "With a man on second base and Dylan Axelrod near 100 pitches in the fourth inning on Thursday night Robin Ventura faced an unenviable decision." - "White Sox swept away by Nationals" - Dan Hayes, CSN Chicago

• "Sergio Romo shut the door on save number six this afternoon at Wrigley. He now has double the saves of any other closer except for Craig Kimbrel and Rafael Soriano." - "Bullpen Report: April 11, 2013" - Colin Zarzycki, FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball

• "None of Harper's homers have been cheapies. The lone homer that wasn't hit at Nationals Park (and that didn't go 400 feet) would've been one had it been hit in D.C." - "Pitchers Are Trying To Fool Bryce Harper With Changeups, And They Are Failing" - Erik Malinkowski, Buzzfeed Sports

• "Through nine games, Bryce Harper is hitting .417 with four home runs and eight RBIs, and is showing why Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson believed in hitting the 20-year-old third in the lineup." - "Bryce Harper's aggressiveness hasn't hurt him yet" - David Schoenfield, ESPN

• "Off to their best start since 1994, Atlanta (8-1) takes the majors’ best record into an early-season showdown series with the Nationals (6-2)." - "PREVIEW: Braves, Nats ready to clash in first series" - Reuters/Albany Herald

• "Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals continued their winning ways with a 7-4 win at home against the Chicago White Sox." - "About Last Night: The Masters of Their Domain" - Spike Friedman, The Triangle Blog - Grantland

• NATS MINORS:

Class-A Hagerstown: "The Delmarva Shorebirds (5-3) continue to be a thorn in the side of the Hagerstown Suns (4-4), playing spoiler to the Suns home opener on Thursday night by dealing Hagerstown a 7-4 extra-inning loss." - "Shorebirds spoil home opener for Suns" - Eli Pearlstein, Hagerstown Suns News

Class-A Hagerstown: "Low Single-A Hagerstown Suns outfielder Wander Ramos has been placed on the seven-day disabled list with a hamstring injury, according to a club source." - "Hagerstown outfielder Wander Ramos placed on disabled list" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

Double-A Harrisburg:

Triple-A Syracuse: "Another civic institution is in deep financial trouble -- the Syracuse Chiefs -- and the 2013 season will be crucial to the club's existence." - "Syracuse Chiefs call for help, but is it too late?" - David M. Rubin, syracuse.com

• "The article had some interesting new information including the financial situation the Chiefs sit in (not good) and some outside consultants that have been brought in to try and get the turnstiles spinning more at NBT Bank Stadium..." - "Syracuse Chiefs: Why do you, or don't you, go to games?" - Brent Axe, syracuse.com

• "Friday’s News & Notes" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• NATSTOWN:

• "Park Tavern had planned to be up and running in time for opening day at Nationals Park. That didn’t happen. But the bar and restaurant in Canal Park finally began serving food and drinks on Monday, making it a prime stop before this week’s Nationals games." - "Enjoy the sun on Park Tavern’s new patio near Nationals Park" - Fritz Hahn, Washington Post

• "Video: John Wall throws first pitch, redeems himself for worst first pitch ever in 2011" - Nats Enquirer

• "The Nats offense decided to come alive once again, but this time with no long balls. It was well placed and well timed singles and doubles..." - "Nats Sweep White Sox For Second Consecutive Home Sweep" - Joe Drugan, The Nats Blog

• "Ryan Mattheus receives first Nats shaving cream pie of 2013" - Nats Enquirer

• "The Nats corrected the presidents race scoreboard Thursday night, after we called out Abe Lincoln’s undeserved ‘W’ in the victory column." - "Video: Nats correct standings, Abe & George skip across the finish line" - Presidents Race Fan, Let Teddy Win!

• "This past February at the D.C. Baseball History Winter Meeting the first hour of the meeting was set aside for theattendees to introduce themselves and to share a piece of their Washington baseball memorabilia with group." - "Speak softly and carry a Big Stick" - Mark Hornbaker, D.C. Baseball History

• "After two home series sweeps, the Nats clean slate will be challenged by division rival Atlanta over the weekend. But for now, that pristine 6-0 record at home is pretty to look at." - "Washington Nationals Game 9 Review: Nats complete sweep of Sox with 7-4 win" - Dave Nichols, District Sports Page

• "Review-Preview: South Side Sweep (White Sox) and Southern Unhospitality (Braves)" - Nationals 101

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Braves: "The Braves are riding high with sweeps of Chicago and Miami, but they now head to our nation's capital and put their six-game winning streak on the line against the reigning NL East champion Nationals." - "Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals Series Preview" - Tony Almeyda, Talking Chop

Mets: "The novelty of interleague play has long dissipated for the Mets, but this season brings a new twist." - "Mets could see snow in Minnesota" - Mike Puma, NYPOST.com

Phillies: "The Phillies hit three home runs in one inning and scored eight times on Tuesday night against the New York Mets. They hit three more home runs and scored seven times Wednesday to claim their first series victory of the season." - "Phillies' offense begins to produce" - Bob Brookover, Philadelphia Inquirer

Marlins: "Andre Dawson knows what Giancarlo Stanton is going through." - "Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton learning other pitchers, patience" - Manny Navarro, MiamiHerald.com

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