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Wire Taps: Washington Nationals earn split with Tampa Bay Rays; Nats’ Doug Harris is stepping away + more Nationals news...

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Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news while you wait for the start of tonight’s game with the Giants...

MLB: Washington Nationals at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

They almost blew it, but the Washington Nationals beat the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays last night, earning a split of the two-game set in Tropicana Field. So, did the way they had to battle to come out on top give the club a boost they can build on going forward after two+ months up often subpar performances?

“Absolutely,” Davey Martinez said after last night’s win. “We’ll see tomorrow when we get home at 5:00 in the morning. But it was a huge win. A huge win. We know coming in here we know Tampa is good, they are in first place, and I thought we battled, we battled with them, and like I told the boys, I said, ‘Hey, you know what, we can do this. We can do this, we really can. We got the team to do that.

“Keep working good at bats, and get the outs that we need and things can turn around really quickly.’”

They’ll keep working. You, go read your links...

NATS BEAT:

Castro has RBI double in 2-run 11th, Nationals beat Rays 9-7 - (Washington Times)
"Starlin Castro drove in a run with a double during a two-run 11th inning and the Washington Nationals beat the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays 9-7 on Wednesday night."

Nationals beat Rays in 11 innings - (WaPost)
"Starlin Castro comes through with a go-ahead double in the 11th, and the Nationals overcome their bullpen issues to snap a three-game skid."

Nats battle back, then battle back again to win in 11 - (MASN)
"The official game-winning hit was provided by Starlin Castro, whose leadoff double off the left field wall in the top of the 11th scored Jordy Mercer..."

Starlin Castro secures Nationals' extra-inning win vs. Rays - (MLB.com)
"The Nationals had been waiting for their offense to click, insisting they were one hit away from things shifting in their favor."

When the bases are full, the Nationals keep coming up empty - (WaPost)
"It is hard to decipher why, in the game’s biggest moments, the Nationals have wilted over and over this season."

What’s wrong with the Nationals? 4 biggest problems team has had in 2021 - (NBC Sports Washington)
"The problems begin early in games. Nationals pitchers have compiled a 4.74 ERA in the first three innings of games this season, fourth-worst in the NL."

Nationals executive Doug Harris steps away from baseball to focus on his health - (WaPost)
"Doug Harris has a wife and three daughters. Whether he has baseball, now or in the future, isn’t the point."

Mike Rizzo doesn't want safety overlooked in crackdown on foreign substances - (NBC Sports Washington)
"Although nothing has been proven yet, we've seen elite pitchers such as Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer have a dramatic dip in spin rate since news surfaced that baseball was going to look into foreign substance usage."

Strasburg not throwing yet, may see another specialist - (MASN)
"Martinez did say there’s 'a good chance' Strasburg will travel to visit with another specialist in the next few days, though he couldn’t offer any specifics about what that specialist would be looking for."

GM Mike Rizzo: Nationals have ‘five or six weeks’ to assess before trade deadline - (NBC Sports Washington)
"We’ve got about five or six weeks to see what we’ve got before the trade deadline, and then we’ll make decisions as we see fit,' Rizzo said in an interview with 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies this week."

Dave Martinez experiments with Nationals' lineup - (MLB.com)
"Martinez continues to make offensive adjustments in hopes that he’ll find the move that will be the catalyst for change in his clubhouse."

NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

MLB teams that can turn it around in 2021 - (MLB.com)
"Remember: The Washington Nationals were 19-31 two years ago and ended up winning the World Series. If you’re under .500 right now, there is hope for you yet."

Nationals Park makes changes to ballpark protocols as capacity restrictions lift - (WTOP)
"With Nationals Park returning to full capacity Thursday with a series opener against the San Francisco Giants, the Washington Nationals are reintroducing some pre-pandemic ballpark protocols."

Who is MLB sportscaster Bob Carpenter? - (The U.S. Sun)
"Carpenter launched his broadcasting career in 1976 on the radio with the Tulsa Oilers, a minor league baseball team."

NL EAST UPDATES:

Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius ramps up recovery, could return next week (NBC Sports Philadelphia)
"Shortstop Didi Gregorius was with the Triple A Lehigh Valley club on Wednesday to begin a minor-league rehabilitation assignment."

Mets' Pete Alonso destroys MLB over substance scandal - (NY Post)
"The Mets first baseman on Wednesday defended pitchers — who have come under recent scrutiny for applying substances to the ball, potentially increasing their advantage against the batter. Alonso instead turned his venom toward MLB for altering the baseball this season."

SS Miguel Rojas offers blunt assessment of Marlins struggles - (Miami Herald)
"The Miami Marlins are bringing another one of their top prospects up to the Majors, but this promotion is 'not ideal,' Kim Ng said."

Let the Austin Riley All-Star campaign begin - (AJC.com)
"When third baseman Austin Riley hit a game-tying homer Tuesday in the eighth inning of the Braves’ eventual win over the Phillies, the Braves’ official Twitter account shared the video with a link to the All-Star ballot."