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Wire Taps: Washington Nationals down in Tampa Bay now; Luis García swinging hot bat at Triple-A; Cade Cavalli big jump...

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Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news while you wait for the start of the 1st of 2 with the Rays in Tampa Bay.

Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

With back-to-back losses heading into tonight’s game, and seven losses in the last 10, which have them eight games under .500 and 8.5 games out in the NL East, what gives the players for the Washington Nationals hope that they can turn this thing around. If you say, “2019.” I’d probably grant you that, but there was a reason that run was so spectacular, and it’s the fact that they defied the odds. Not easy to repeat that sort of thing.

But what does give the Nats hope?

“We’ve been talking as a group, we’ve been talking as a team,” Starlin Castro said after the loss in Sunday’s series finale with the Phillies.

“We’ve been talking to try to keep in the same place and try to keep playing,” he added.

“I think that things don’t happen in the right way right now, and we just got to continue doing what we’ve been doing and be ready, be ready when we get those opportunities to score runs, and try to get it. I know it’s not easy, but we just grind it out, continue as a team, keep the line moving and I think we’re going to get better.”

Hopefully some sort of run starts tonight, but the Tampa Bay Rays are a pretty good team.

Go read your links...

NATS BEAT:

Nationals' prospect Luis García named Triple-A East Player of the Week - (NBC Sports Washington)
"On Monday, the Nationals announced García was named Triple-A East Player of the Week as the infielder hit .407, including this bomb against Worcester."

Is the bullpen starting to show cracks? - (MASN)
"There was bad luck involved, to be sure, but there was also really poor command from Sam Clay (four-pitch walk of Realmuto) and Finnegan (back-to-back walks with the bases loaded)."

Stephen Strasburg is injured, but the Nationals are still fortunate - (WaPost)
"Baseball’s highest-paid stars keep getting hurt — and the Nationals keep getting lucky."

Nationals’ Cade Cavalli jumps nearly 50 spots in Baseball America Top 100 - (NBC Sports Washington)
"Following an 11-strikeout performance Sunday that pushed his minors-leading strikeout total to 56 on the season, Nationals right-hander Cade Cavalli was named the 33rd overall prospect by Baseball America in its latest Top 100 update released Monday."

To stick or not to stick: The debate around MLB's foreign substance issue - (Washington Times)
"Dave Martinez hesitated before heading down the path. But after watching Austin Voth suffer a broken nose when he was hit in the face with an errant pitch Sunday afternoon, the Washington Nationals manager decided it was time to speak up."

NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

The Top 25 MLB Players Under 25 Years Old - (The Ringer)
"Fernando Tatis Jr. Ronald Acuña. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Juan Soto. The league has more superstar young talent than ever before. Who’s the best of the bunch?"

Jacob deGrom’s Mets teammates come to his defense over cheating accusation - (NBC Sports Washington)
“Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom’s teammates came to his defense on Monday after a Dodgers fan on Twitter accused him of cheating.”

The 2021 MLB Home Run Derby field that baseball fans deserve - (NBC Sports Washington)
"In just over a month, eight of MLB’s premier power hitters will take center stage at the most hitter-friendly ballpark in baseball to determine the 2021 Home Run Derby champion."

Philadelphia Phillies defeat Washington Nationals in front of historically small crowd - (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Catcher J.T. Realmuto said the Phillies need to play better to persuade fans to return to Citizens Bank Park after the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down ballparks a year ago."

NL EAST UPDATES:

Phillies' Vince Velasquez shaken up after breaking Austin Voth's nose with pitch - (NBC Sports Washington)
"'It can be traumatizing on both ends,' Vince Velasquez said Sunday, still shaken up after hitting his counterpart in the face with a pitch."

The Braves just reminded us how good they can be - (AJC.com)
"The Braves know how good they can be. They’ve won the National League East three years running."

Mets' 'grand plan' has turned around their defense - (NY Post)
"The shift has become the Mets’ weapon of choice this season, deployed at a 55.6 percentage rate, which ranks second in MLB behind only the Dodgers."

Marlins prospect JJ Bleday heating up after slow start - (MLB.com)
"While Jesús Sánchez got off to a torrid start at Triple-A Jacksonville, the same could not be said for JJ Bleday at Double-A Pensacola."