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Wire Taps: Nationals take on Phillies after dropping two of three to Mets

The second series of the season starts at 7:05 PM EDT tonight in Citizens Bank Park where the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies begin a three-game set. Gio Gonzalez vs Jerome Williams tonight in CBP.

Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

At the end of the season-opening series with the New York Mets, Washington Nationals' second-year manager Matt Williams was asked for his take on the Nats' divisional rivals, with a reporter wondering what he thought of one of the two teams in the division that are expected to chase the defending NL East Champs?

"Well, right now we're chasing the Mets," Williams politely corrected. "I'll tell you that. So, they're 2-1, we're 1-2. They've got a really good team. They do a lot of things well on the baseball field. They're balanced offensively. Their starting pitching is really good. They had a loss at the back of their bullpen, but they've got somebody to step in and do that job. They've got good lefty matchups and guys that can fill the middle that can go multiple innings for them. So they play the game well. We'll have to play well if we're going to beat them. And they came through in this series a couple of times when they needed to, and pitched well and they beat us two out of three and we'll see if we can return the favor next time."

Up next, it's a three-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies in Citizens Bank Park with Gio Gonzalez on the mound in the series opener tonight opposite right-hander Jerome Williams.

While you wait for the start of tonight's game, catch up on the last 24 hours of Nationals news...

NATS BEAT: Werth's rehab outing; Desi's D; Strasburg vs Harvey

Werth wants back!:

• "On a cold, misty night, Werth played seven innings in left field and went 0 for 2 with a strikeout looking, a hard lineout to center field and a walk." - "Jayson Werth plays first rehab game at Class A Potomac" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "'It went good and we'll see how many more of these I need. But I just really want to get back with my team...'" - "Jayson Werth gets through first rehab game, says shoulder feels 'good'" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

Desmond's April defense:

• "'The object is to field the ball that’s rolling to you,' Desmond said after. 'I wasn’t able to convert.'" - "Ian Desmond’s April defensive woes continue, and continue to perplex" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post

• "Desmond's three errors are now responsible for six of the eight runs the Mets have scored this series." - "Nationals Pastime: Harvey steals spotlight in matchup with Strasburg (Mets win 6-3)" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com

Strasburg vs Harvey... the, uh, The Dark Knight of Gotham:

• "With three regulars out, runs may come at a premium, especially until they get Denard Span and Anthony Rendon back in place atop their usually deep lineup." - "Mistakes by Strasburg, Desmond stand out in Nats’ loss to Mets" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider

• "Harvey pounded the strike zone with both his fastball and a big, hard, nearly untouchable curveball." - "Despite start, NL East race is marathon affair" - Richard Justice, nationals.com

• "Bryce Harper struck out three times against Harvey, and he wasn't surprised by what the right-hander did on the mound." - "Harper praises Mets ace Harvey for stellar return" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com

• "After Desmond’s error, luck abandoned Strasburg." - "Shut down in Matt Harvey’s return, Nationals lose opening series to Mets" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post

• "Of the first eight runs the Mets scored this season, six were unearned coming immediately after Desmond errors." - "Strasburg, Nationals miss mark in rubber game" - Anthony DiComo and Bill Ladson, nationals.com

• "The Nationals were overwhelmed by Mets starter Matt Harvey in today's 6-3 loss." - "Nationals Pastime: Miscues, lack of offense haunt Nats in season's first series" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com

• "In a much-anticipated matchup of star pitchers – both famous veterans of Tommy John surgery – it was Matt Harvey who stood out above Stephen Strasburg on Thursday." - "Mets 6, Nats 3: Harvey bests Strasburg in return" Chase Hughes, Nats Insider

• "Because he had limited action during Spring Training because of injuries, Nationals manager Matt Williams thought Strasburg pitched well." - "Nats' defense isn't up to par behind Strasburg" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com

• "And so, Stephen Strasburg summed up his performance in the Nats 6-3 loss to the Mets on Thursday as follows during his post game interview..." - "Strasburg on loss: "I don't think anything went wrong" - Nats Enquirer

More Nationals links and stuff:

• "Harper struck out five times against the tough Mets starters in the series, but did manage four hits in 11 at-bats, including a solo homer in the opener." - "Nationals Pastime: More on Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond and Tanner Roark's role" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com

• "Let’s run through the topics that most concern everyone at the moment, then decide whether it’s appropriate to actually be worried right now or not…" - "Too early to draw any real conclusions" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "Scherzer repeatedly got ahead in counts Monday, throwing a staggering 23 first-pitch strikes against the 31 Mets batters he faced." - "Nationals’ Max Scherzer makes throwing first-pitch strikes a goal this season" - Jason Butt, The Washington Post

• "Although they were not the dominant team they were in the late 2000s, the Phillies gave the Nationals a tough time in their home ballpark last year..." - "Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies - April 10, 2015" - Bill Ladson, MLB.com Preview

NATIONAL(S) BEAT: More Harvey vs Strasburg

• "The Hall of Fame pitcher examined, in painstaking detail, the mechanics of Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg in their Thursday matchup..." - "Pedro Martinez explains why Matt Harvey outdueled Stephen Strasburg" - Ted Berg, For The Win

• "Injuries to both Denard Span and Jayson Werth ensured Taylor had an opportunity to play everyday for the Nationals in April." - "Previewing the Freshman Hitters" - Marc Hulet, FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball

• "We were specifically promised a runaway division title by the Nationals, and we demand our money back, or at the very least, an opportunity to change our [pick] back to someone else, provided we get the chance to change it back to the Nationals next month." - "BP Daily Hit List" - Matt Sussman, Baseball Prospectus

• "The day belonged to Matt Harvey, but the Mets established a mindset this opening series against the Nationals..." - "The ‘Cuddyer approach’ may be Mets’ offensive breakthrough" - Kevin Kernan, New York Post

• "After struggling to push runs across the plate in their first two games of the season, the Mets finally enjoyed an offensive breakthrough in their 6-3 win over the Washington Nationals on Thursday." - "Mets offense comes alive in 6-3 win over Washington Nationals" - Maria Guardado, NJ.com

• "Ross Detwiler had pushed and pushed and pushed to be a starting pitcher again after he spent all of last season with the Washington Nationals as a reliever." - "Detwiler Shows Why He's Maybe Meant to Relieve" - Adam Boedeker, NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

NATIONALS MINORS:

Low-A Hagerstown: "The Hagerstown Suns (0-1) began their South Atlantic League Northern Division title defense on Thursday night with a 5-2 setback against the Hickory Crawdads (1-0)." - "Suns fall to Crawdads in Opener 5-2" - Eli Pearlstein, Hagerstown Suns News

High-A Potomac: "Potomac's starting pitcher RHP Nick Pivetta got the nod on opening night and did not disappoint, hurling five innings of three hit ball, allowing just one run, walking two and striking out seven." - "P-Nats Ninth Inning Rally Falls Short on Werth's Rehab" - Potomac Nationals News

Double-A Harrisburg: "In the catcher's first game as a Harrisburg Senator, he showed everyone what the hoopla is about as he caught three Altoona Curve base runners attempting to steal and another looking to advance on a ball in the dirt." - "Harrisburg catcher Pedro Severino shows off his arm in an impressive debut at Double-A" - Mick Reinhard, PennLive.com

Triple-A Syracuse: "Cutter Dykstra uses his speed to run toward the comparison, not away from it." - "Syracuse Chiefs second baseman Cutter Dykstra grinds away in father's footsteps" - Lindsay Kramer, syracuse.com

Triple-A Syracuse: "Both starters went decision-less in the contest. A.J. Cole lasted five innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on eight hits." - "Syracuse Chiefs drop Season Opener to Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders after cycle from Ramon Flores" - Syracuse Chiefs News

Triple-A Syracuse: "Both starters went decision-less in the contest. A.J. Cole lasted five innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on eight hits." - "Syracuse Chiefs drop Season Opener to Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders after cycle from Ramon Flores" - Syracuse Chiefs News

• "Erick Fedde had targeted the date of his first post-Tommy John surgery first bullpen session last month with such anxiousness that, once it was over, it was all a blur." - "Erick Fedde happy to be back on the mound" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

NL EAST UPDATES: Sandy's angry; Hamels rumors; Braves' start + Adeiny extension

Phillies: "Over the winter, we were inundated with national baseball writers clamoring for a Cole Hamels trade." - "More Cole Hamels Trade Clamor" - Bill Baer, Crashburn Alley

Marlins: "The Marlins expressed interest in extending shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, however according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, extension talks with Hechavarria have stalled..." - "Miami Marlins' extension talks with Adeiny Hechavarria stalled" - Scott Gelman, Fish Stripes

Braves: "Hart and assistant general manager John Coppolella have spent the past six months attempting to enrich the franchise by improving the farm system and cleansing the payroll." - "Revamped Braves ready to compete this season" - Mark Bowman, braves.com

Mets: "After jokingly presenting manager Terry Collins with the lineup card on Wednesday after all the speculation over how involved the front office was in that decision, he told The Daily News, 'The only lineup I want to change is the one on WFAN in the morning.'" - "WATCH: Mets' Sandy Alderson ignites feud with WFAN, Craig Carton after rip job" - Charles Curtis, NJ.com