Results tagged ‘ Michael Morse ’

What to Watch for: 7/21

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Atlanta Braves (51-41) vs. Washington Nationals (53-38)

Game 1: RHP Ben Sheets (1-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (5-5, 3.89)

Game 2: RHP Randall Delgado (4-9, 4.52) vs. LHP John Lannan (NR, -.–)

The Nationals stormed out to a 9-0 lead in Friday night’s series opener, only to have the Braves come back for an 11-10 victory in 11 innings. Washington powered out three home runs in the loss, though, including just the second all year off Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth (leading to his second blown save) by Danny Espinosa, and the longest home run in the history of Nats Park, a 465-foot, three-run bomb by Michael Morse in the first inning.

NATIONALS LINEUP, GAME 1:

1. Lombardozzi LF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Morse RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Flores C

9. Jackson RHP

LET’S PLAY TWO

According to MLB’s Official Baseball Rules and the Elias Sports Bureau, “A doubleheader is two regularly scheduled or rescheduled games, played in immediate succession,” so today’s day-night or split “doubleheader” is actually not considered a doubleheader. Pragmatists, however, know that the Nationals are 4-3-6 (sweeps-swept-splits) when playing twice in a single day, or 14-12 overall, since landing in D.C. in 2005.

LOMBO SKOFFS AT TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA

Steve Lombardozzi has hit safely in 13 straight games. Note that Lombardozzi executed a sacrifice bunt in his lone plate appearance on July 7 vs. Colorado, but that did not terminate his hitting streak per Rule 10.23(a) in the Official Baseball Rules. His 13-gamer is the longest hit streak posted by a National this season.

EDWIN LOOKS TO FINALLY TOP BRAVES; LANNAN MAKES 2012 DEBUT

Over his six-year major league career, Edwin Jackson has beaten 25 of 30 MLB teams, but never the  Braves. In addition to never beating Atlanta, he has yet to top the Nationals, Phillies, Padres and Cardinals. In the nightcap, John Lannan will make his 2012 MLB debut. Since facing Atlanta for the first time on April 12th, 2008, Lannan’s eight career wins against the Braves are tied for the MLB lead with Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels.

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Guest Post: Will Kubzansky

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Will Kubzansky is a sixth grader at The Edmund Burke School in Washington, D.C. He has been attending Nationals games since the team’s first season in the District back in 2005, and his work has been published in Sports Illustrated for Kids. Check out his blog here.

If you look in the Nats dugout every fifth day, you’ll notice something. Gio Gonzalez is smiling. And now I can truthfully say that it’s just like him to do that.

After writing an article for SI Kids about the Nationals and how this was going to be a big year for them, the team invited me to go on the field during batting practice on June 19.

When the field elevator went down, I still couldn’t believe it. Going through the umpire’s tunnel, I was so excited, my heart felt like it was going as fast as a Stephen Strasburg fastball.

Will Kubzansky with the Beast himself, Michael Morse.

Once we made it on to the field, the pitchers were taking batting practice. I think one thing you forget is that these guys are superstars in high school, so they can hit pretty well. Strasburg had at least four home runs, and all of them had power and control.

I called out to Gonzalez, and he told me he just couldn’t hit right now. I laughed, and told him that on the home opener he wasn’t having trouble. He said that he was fine then, but now he could barely slash it.

When Bryce Harper came out, he signed an autograph and said hi. He’s really nice and signed for a lot of people. What I find cool about that is with all the attention he gets, he still finds time for the fans.

I met both F.P. Santangelo and Johnny Holliday, who both advised me not to take their jobs. I told them I wasn’t planning on it.

All the pitchers seemed to be having a good time and laughing. This team was having a good time being in first place – it wasn’t all business – until game time.

Bryce Harper signs autographs during batting practice.

Jesus Flores also came over to sign some autographs, and so did Danny Espinosa. Both of them are really nice. As it turns out, my dad works two blocks away from where Espinosa lives, and they had a long chat about the neighborhood.

Mark DeRosa was really nice too, and told me that “These guys will come over if you just yell loud enough,” which made me laugh.

Steve Lombardozzi and Gonzalez promised they would come over, and when they did, I was really happy. These guys didn’t have to sign autographs, but they did, and I was glad they remembered the fans too.

What surprised me was that these guys were friends. It wasn’t like they had been all over the MLB, which some of them had – it looked like they had known each other since the first grade. Gio continued to ham it up once the Rays got on the field, pretending to bat with a glove. The Nats came back laughing and talking with each other.

These guys are normal people, they’re nice, and they enjoy what they’re doing – they’re just a whole lot better at baseball then the rest of us – and at the moment, the rest of the NL too. These guys have some serious Natitude!

From the Desk of Mark Lerner: Happy Fourth of July

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Greetings Nationals fans.

What a week for the ballclub.

In one week’s time, the offense seems to have clicked (thanks Coors Field for the spark!), we received thrilling news that we’ll have three All-Stars in Kansas City next week and we won a huge intradivision series down in Atlanta.

But perhaps most importantly, Ryan Zimmerman is again “right” offensively. I know Rick Eckstein, Davey and Ryan himself worked tirelessly to get him out of his funk. But the worm turned and he’s producing offense seemingly every night.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that you now see Michael Morse hitting the ball with authority. After almost two months without, we finally have our 3-4-5 hitters in place. The sky’s the limit.

The Nationals 2012 All-Stars (left to right): Stephen Strasburg, Ian Desmond and Gio Gonzalez.

As for next week’s All-Star Game, I really could not be happier for Ian, Gio, Stephen, their families and of course our fans.

With that said, take yourself back one calendar year. Ian was on the verge of emerging both offensively and defensively, but was not quite there yet. Gio was pitching well, at an All-Star level, but in the AL West with Oakland. And Stephen was on the verge of beginning his 6-start rehab stint in our minor-league system after having Tommy John surgery.

Nope, this All-Star trifecta was not on my radar. And I doubt it was on anyone else’s.

As for Bryce Harper’s bid for a spot on Tony La Russa’s All-Star roster, I say why not? What Bryce is doing at the age of 19 is remarkable. And to pair him with a talent like Mike Trout (age 20) on the AL  side would create great theatre that is likely to last in our memories a lot longer than the game’s final score.

Thank you for your efforts to send Bryce to Kansas City. Fans turned out in droves to vote for Bryce and the Orioles Jason Hammel as part of the Beltway Ballot at mlb.com and for #BryceIn12 on Twitter.

While I am always excited for the Mid-Summer Classic, this year more than ever the game’s results just might matter to us directly. Yet another consequence of being in a pennant race I suppose. This really is fun isn’t it?

Those were enormous wins the last two days over Lincecum, Bumgarner and the Giants to begin the big homestand to close out the season’s first half. The series against the Giants is of special interest as it pits the top two teams in the NL, at least in terms of winning percentage. The Giants are coming off a big week in which they overtook the Dodgers for the top spot in the NL West. Should be a great finale tonight.

I hope you had a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July and I’ll see you at the ballpark.

The Rally Napkin

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Baseball is a game loaded with more odd traditions and superstitions than any other sport. With 162 games in the regular season, everyone goes through boons and swoons, streaks and slumps. And when they want to find a way to keep a hot streak alive, or break out of a cold one, players will try most any type of ritual or routine that they can believe in, in order to help them find the magic that got them to the big leagues in the first place.

The Nationals entered Tuesday night’s game in Colorado having dropped seven of their last 10 contests, posting an average of just 2.5 runs per game. That included just two runs of offense with Stephen Strasburg on the hill in the first of a four-game set on Monday, as the Nats took a rare loss behind one of their top two starters. That sputtering offensive output came despite playing in the rarefied air of Coors Field, the hitters’ paradise, where curveballs come to die.

Enter, The Rally Napkin. With Washington leading 1-0 in the top of the third inning on Tuesday night, Danny Espinosa stood at first base with two outs. Nationals television color-man F.P. Santangelo pointed out a piece of trash from the stands, a white ballpark napkin, that had escaped a fan’s grasp and wisped across the field, coming to rest against Espinosa’s leg. Santangelo dubbed it “The Rally Napkin,” and immediately after he did so, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse came through with back-to-back doubles to put the Nationals ahead, 3-0.

The offense was hardly done there, though. Ian Desmond rapped out four hits, including a trio of doubles, and now leads all Major League shortstops in extra-base hits. Zimmerman, whose double in the third was the 999th hit of his career, came through with his 1,000th in his next at-bat, and later homered. LaRoche, who opened the scoring for the evening with a solo shot in the second, went deep again in the sixth for Washington’s final score. Tyler Moore launched perhaps the longest home run of the year, a back-breaking three-run shot, measured at 462 feet straight into the teeth of the Denver wind.

When the dust had settled, the Nationals had racked up a season high 12 runs. They tied a franchise record with 21 hits. When Mark DeRosa’s ninth-inning double rattled into the left-field corner, they set a new club mark with 11 extra-base hits. They even spawned a new Twitter account. By the end of the sixth inning, Santangelo was holding court on camera with a napkin tucked into his collar.

In a Nationals season full of big moments – and the memes that follow them – it was just the latest to come along. You can be willing to bet tough-luck starter Jordan Zimmermann, who has just three wins despite a stellar ERA of just 2.89, will be looking for some floating paper around Coors Field to spark the offense when he takes the hill Wednesday night.

Hey, whatever works.

What to Watch for: 6/7

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New York Mets (31-26) vs. Washington Nationals (32-22)

RHP Robert Alan Dickey (8-1, 2.69) vs. RHP Chien-Ming Wang (1-1, 6.43)

As the Nationals lead the series (2-0), the Mets are hoping to prevent the home team from walking away with a series sweep this afternoon. Mets’ pitcher R.A. Dickey, is coming off of a shutout, when he faced the Cardinals last Saturday, while Nationals starter Chien-Ming Wang makes his first home start of the season.

ADAM’S BOMB PROVIDES NEEDED SUPPORT

After Bryce Harper reached on an error and Ryan Zimmerman followed with a walk, Adam LaRoche hit his ninth home run of the season to put the Nationals ahead 3-0 in the first inning last night. With one swing, LaRoche provided Edwin Jackson with more run support than he received in five of his previous 10 starts as a member of the Nationals.

SERIES BUSINESS AT NATS PARK

With last night’s 5-3 victory over the visiting New York Mets, the Nationals now boast a 6-1-3 record in series at Nationals Park in 2012. A victory today would give the Nats their second home sweep of the season (Miami, 4/20-21).

MORSE CODE

Michael Morse plated his first RBI of the season last night with a single to right field in the fifth inning, plating Ryan Zimmerman. After going 0-for-9 since his return from the DL, Morse now has four hits in his last seven at-bats, with two doubles and an RBI.

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September Comes Early

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Of the 26,256 fans who paid to see the Nationals and Mets duke it out over 12 thoroughly entertaining innings Tuesday night, those that stuck out the entirety of the affair were treated to almost everything the game of baseball has to offer. A tightly fought contest throughout between the division rivals, with first place in the National League East on the line, there was even a slight chill to the air, which only added to the feeling that – despite the calendar reading June 5 – it felt like September baseball.

Tuesday’s contest certainly was not the prettiest of games, nor the most cleanly played. It may not have appealed to the baseball purist. But can you imagine if that was your very first game? If your introduction to watching the sport in person was punch followed by counterpunch, heapings of clutch hitting, costly errors and bases loaded situations, all wrapped into a three-comeback, 12-inning, four-hour 15-minute marathon, ending on the first walk-off of Bryce Harper’s career? Where do you go from there?

For at least one fan at the ballpark last night, it was their first Nationals game. Of course, the walk-off part is nothing new to fans who have been coming all season. In their 26 home games so far this year through Tuesday night, the Nats have walked off a Major League-leading six times, five of which have come in extra innings. They’ve done so twice against the Reds, and once apiece vs. the Marlins, Phillies, and now, the Mets.

The Nationals mob Harper following his first career walk-off hit.

Harper’s walk-off hit was the first by a teenager since Gary Sheffield, as a rookie playing for the then-American League Milwaukee Brewers, singled home pinch-runner Mike Felder in the bottom of the 11th inning to beat the Seattle Mariners, 2-1, on September 9, 1988. For those trying to do the math, that was more than four years before Harper was born.

That storyline overshadowed a tremendous game from Ian Desmond, who almost single-handedly kept the Nationals alive long enough to allow Harper’s heroics to even happen. After the Mets pushed in front for the first time with two runs in the top of the eighth, Desmond drove home Ryan Zimmerman with a two-out hit in the bottom of the frame to tie it up. When New York forged ahead once again in the 10th, Desmond hit a screaming liner to shortstop that ate up Jordany Valdespin, allowing Zimmerman to score the tying run again. And when he batted in the 12th, following Michael Morse’s leadoff double, he came through once more, ripping a two-bagger of his own down the left field line to level the score at 6-6 and set the stage for Harper’s game-winner four batters later.

A single game-tying RBI makes for a decent night. To turn the trick twice is quite an accomplishment. But to help your team come from behind to tie the game three times in the same night, all in the eighth inning or later? That is a truly impressive performance, punctuated by a stellar, pure reaction defensive play on a bad hop at shortstop that shows just how complete a player Desmond is growing into this season.

Yet, it is the sign of a truly epic game that Desmond’s performance will be forgotten by many, or at least take a backseat to the ending, complete with the compulsory Gatorade bath. It was fitting that by the time eventual winning pitcher Ross Detwiler departed the bullpen and made his way to the mound for the 11th inning, the only man left in uniform behind him was Nationals Bullpen Coach Jim Lett, who saw each of his hurlers contribute to the victory. And the best part about it? We get to do it all over again tonight, and 55 more times after that at home this season.

 

From the Desk of Mark Lerner: NATITUDE Park

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Hello again Nats fans,

I hope everyone is well and enjoying the season thus far.

I’d like to start with last weekend’s crowds at ‘NATITUDE Park.’ I am very proud to say that over 100,000 were in attendance for the three-game set against the rival Philadelphia Phillies. D.C. baseball fans left little doubt that they take their baseball seriously. Taking two of three from the Phillies is always welcome, but to do so in front of back-to-back-to-back large crowds made the weekend memorable for all.

Bryce Harper has provided an extra spark for the Nats lineup.

Being a part of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball was a thrill for all of us. It was our first ESPN Sunday Night game since Nationals Park opened on March 30, 2008. Everything looked fantastic, as usual, in HD and the entire atmosphere was electric.

How about Bryce’s steal of home on Sunday? Not only won’t that moment be forgotten, it’s likely to be talked about with reverence for years to come. I have had friends tell me this week that the swipe was Bryce’s “arrival” on a national stage.

I know that Jayson Werth and Bo Porter both had a hand in educating Bryce on Cole Hamels’ pickoff tendencies. That was a true team effort. All in all, everything about last weekend went perfectly, Sunday’s result and especially Jayson’s wrist injury notwithstanding.

As I write this, the Nationals are caught in a three-game losing streak. The bats have been a tad flat, but that should be temporary, especially with Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche now back in the lineup. And Mike Rizzo tells me that Michael Morse and his Beast Mode are progressing quite well. We can really use that jolt in the middle of the lineup.

I’d also like to recognize the strong play of LaRoche thus far. He’s leading the club in the Triple Crown categories: a .316 batting average, five homers and 19 RBI. After an injured left shoulder hindered his play last season, I am glad to he is back this season and playing at the levels he expects for himself. Rizzo calls Adam a two-way player. In my mind, he is a three-way player, as there is also no finer gentleman or community advocate in our clubhouse.

Adam’s homer in the ninth inning on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh was the 1,000th home run hit by the Nationals since arriving in Washington in 2005. I remember being at the Nationals first game in Philadelphia and watching Terrmel Sledge launch our first homer at Citizens Bank Park. Why does that initial game in April of 2005 seem like such a long time ago? And at the same time, why does it seem like yesterday? I suppose that is the nature of this game.

Stephen Strasburg returns to the hill for the Nationals Thursday night.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the continued excellence of Steve McCatty’s starting rotation. Collectively, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler are the best rotation in the game right now. I don’t think anyone can objectively argue this point. Consider, in 16 the last games, the rotation has posted 15 quality starts and allowed one run or less 8 times. That’s sustained dominance.

Tonight, Strasburg takes the mound at PNC Park. Here’s to this three-game slide being temporary!

The NHL playoffs, and the Capitals series with the New York Rangers, also have my attention.

Game 6 was really something last night. I attended the game with Drew Storen as my guest. Drew along with many of his teammates, are really enjoying the Caps and their march through the Eastern Conference. Incidentally, Drew’s elbow is feeling fantastic and he is very anxious to get back on the mound.

As for the game, Ovechkin’s early goal really set the stage for loud evening at the Verizon Center. In between the pipes, Braden Holtby played with a grace and poise well beyond his years. He’s been just fantastic.

After further review, I just noted that the Nationals play in Cincinnati on Sat. at 7:05 p.m. And the Caps play Game 7 that same night at Madison Square Garden at 7:30 p.m.

Nearly simultaneous starts, again? That’s two straight weekends! Not that I am counting!

We will start at our homestand Monday night against the San Diego Padres. Please come out and support the team. They are playing great ball and as we all know they are fun to watch.

Let’s go Caps!

Let’s go Nats!

Please enjoy the weekend and Happy Mother’s Day!

NATITUDE Weekend: Night 1

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It may not have been a perfect Hollywood ending, but it was as good as it gets for the folks in D.C. on Friday night. With the rival Philadelphia Phillies in town for the first of three defining games between the two franchises, the pressure to get a series–opening win, especially with ace Stephen Strasburg on the hill – was enormous. And while things didn’t start all that well, they ended just fine, as they have seemed to do quite often for the Nationals so far this young season.

Washington battled back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 to tie the game at three in the eighth and eventually force extra innings. Wilson Ramos would ultimately play the hero, capping a two-out, 11th-inning rally with a line single up the middle to score Steve Lombardozzi and send the fans into that familiar frenzy to which they have grown accustomed over the season’s first month.

Wilson Ramos sent the Nationals to their Major League-leading fifth walk-off win Friday Night.

Sure, a Bryce Harper game-winner would have really brought the house down. The chants from the crowd, far more boisterous than your average game, would have been heard from across the Anacostia. But it was perhaps more fitting that it came from Ramos, the last man available on Davey Johnson’s bench.

The Phillies are somewhat short-handed, missing their starting first and second basemen in Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. But the Nationals are making due without their top two offensive threats from last year, with Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse both on the Disabled List. As such, the matchups between these teams become more a test of depth than of star-power, right down to the last name that hasn’t been scratched out yet on the lineup card.

Tonight, that was Ramos. And as so many Nationals have done already, he delivered when his team needed him most. The walk-off Curly W marked Washington’s fifth in just 14 home games, and the fourth to come in extra innings. The Nationals improved to a National League East-best 17-9 on the season and 11-3 at home with the victory.

It will be a quick turnaround to Saturday’s 1:05pm start, but the atmosphere should be electric once again. With the largest anticipated crowd of the series, expect another boisterous day of baseball at Nationals Park.

From the Desk of Mark Lerner: Welcome to The Show

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Hello again Nationals fans,

As everyone undoubtedly knows by now, tonight is a special night. Bryce Harper will be making his MLB debut as we continue our series at Chavez Ravine.

As I talked about in my last blog, Dodger Stadium is one of the iconic venues in all of sports, and it is fitting that a 19 year-old kid from Las Vegas will be making his much-anticipated big league entrance on this stage.

All eyes - and cameras - will be on number 34 in red at Dodger Stadium tonight.

As “Hollywood” as this script seems, this was not how it was supposed to happen. Sure, the scenic backdrop, the 50,000-plus fans and the A-list celebs will be fantastic for the history books, but Bryce is here tonight on someone else’s terms.

Unfortunately, Ryan Zimmerman’s shoulder soreness has prompted a DL stint. Thankfully, this won’t be a prolonged absence for Ryan, but it does leave an immediate void in Davey’s lineup.

So, Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson talked. And they talked again. Ultimately, it was determined that they needed another left-handed bat in the lineup, and an outfielder if possible.

So, Mike went to chilly, Rochester, NY and watched Bryce play three games. He saw enough to know that this is what he had to do. He diverted from his plan. But how many of us see our best laid plans executed exactly as we scripted? Not nearly enough. That’s just reality.

So, when Mike called me yesterday with the news that he planned to recall Bryce on Saturday, I was taken aback. Like most, I did not see this happening so quickly.

Mike told me that Bryce was the best fit for what Davey needed, especially with Zimmerman and Michael Morse on the shelf.

He also told me that Bryce’s development plan is still not finished. There is a good chance that he’ll need more time, more reps and more at-bats at Triple-A. But that is a discussion for another day.

Bryce should not be seen as a panacea. He’s not our run-production savior. That would be unfair.

But Mike does think – and I agree – that Bryce can provide our roster a healthy jolt.

So, let’s see what he can do. Let’s dig deeper than his batting average, his power output and instead keep our eyes open for his total game – the base running, the defense, the throwing arm. Let’s resist the urge to make grand conclusions based on ridiculously small sample sizes.

But, at the same time, let’s have fun. On a personal level, I am thrilled that I am in Los Angeles and will be at Dodger Stadium tonight.

Tonight’s tilt is going to be memorable. But, so is Tuesday’s DC debut at Nationals Park against the Diamondbacks. And his first matchup next weekend against the Phillies.

It all starts for Bryce tonight, fittingly in Tinseltown.

The first page of what we believe will be a special Hollywood script.

Up goes the curtain: it’s time to enjoy the show.

Weekly Review (4/9)

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Here at Curly W Live, we will be conducting a weekly review every Tuesday of all the storylines from the week that was. If you’re new to the site or have just been too busy to stay current with all the day-to-day storylines, this is your way to get caught up on everything going on with the team.

After a long spring, the Nationals made their much-anticipated return to Washington to begin the 2012 season. Following one final game in Florida against the Red Sox at their brand new Grapefruit League home, JetBlue Park, the two teams squared off again in our Nation’s Capital. While the Nationals made a valiant comeback, rallying from a 6-0 deficit to take a late lead, the real story of the day came in the second game played on the field, as the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team soundly defeated a group of D.C. celebrities.

The Nationals hit the road to officially open the season, sending Stephen Strasburg to the hill at historic Wrigley Field for his first-ever Opening Day start. Washington couldn’t break through to provide the heralded right-hander with any run support during his seven strong innings, but rallied with single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to steal a 2-1 victory. Meanwhile, as the team enjoyed an off-day on Friday, outfielders Rick Ankiel and Michael Morse were just up the road from D.C. in Bowie, MD on Major League rehab stints with the Harrisburg Senators. Both players looked just fine at the plate, as each homered in a 5-2 victory.

On Saturday, the Nationals continued their come-from-behind ways, trailing by two late before a five-run, two-out rally in the eighth inning keyed a 7-4 victory. Sunday’s game began to follow the same script, as Washington cut a three-run deficit to one on Adam LaRoche’s two-out, two-run shot in the ninth. However, the team’s third comeback attempt in three days came up just shy in a 4-3 loss to the Cubs.

Thu. @ CHC: W, 2-1

Sat. @ CHC: W, 7-4

Sun. @ CHC: L, 4-3

Weekly Record: 2-1

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