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Nationals call up Soto, youngest player in MLB

19-year-old outfielder is club's first teenage player since Harper
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto has completed a meteoric rise through the Nationals' system. After beginning the season at Class A Hagerstown and skyrocketing through two different promotions, Soto was promoted to the Majors on Sunday.

Soto -- the Nats' 19-year old outfielder and No. 2 prospect, and the No. 15 Major League prospect overall, as rated by MLB Pipeline -- has joined the club in Washington for Sunday's series finale vs. the Dodgers.

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto has completed a meteoric rise through the Nationals' system. After beginning the season at Class A Hagerstown and skyrocketing through two different promotions, Soto was promoted to the Majors on Sunday.

Soto -- the Nats' 19-year old outfielder and No. 2 prospect, and the No. 15 Major League prospect overall, as rated by MLB Pipeline -- has joined the club in Washington for Sunday's series finale vs. the Dodgers.

Video: Top Prospects: Juan Soto, OF, Nationals

Soto has already earned two promotions this season in Washington's farm system and excelled at each level. He started the season at Hagerstown before it became clear he was not being challenged when he posted a 1.300 OPS and five home runs in 16 games. So, he was bumped up to Class A Advanced Potomac, where he continued to rake to the tune of seven home runs and a 1.256 OPS in 15 games. A little more than a week ago, he was promoted to Double-A Harrisburg, and in eight games he had a .981 OPS and a pair of home runs.

Soto's next challenge comes in the Majors, where he will become the youngest player on a Major League roster. Soto does not turn 20 until Oct. 25. He will become the first teenager to appear in a game for the Nationals since Bryce Harper in 2012, and the third in franchise history -- Tim Raines for the Expos was the other, in 1979.

Soto's rapid rise also coincides with the Nationals being depleted by injuries, the most recent of which came Saturday afternoon when Howie Kendrick ruptured his Achilles while making a play in left field vs. the Dodgers in the first game of a doubleheader, ending his season. Kendrick now joins the list of injured outfielders that includes starting left fielder Adam Eaton (ankle), Brian Goodwin (wrist), top prospect Victor Robles (elbow) and Rafael Bautista, who will undergo season-ending knee surgery next week. Other injured Nationals include second baseman Daniel Murphy, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and catcher Matt Wieters.

So the future has come a little bit sooner than everyone expected. And Soto will have his chance to prove he belongs in the Majors.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals

Here are the 10 biggest surprises this season

MLB.com @RichardJustice

Once when Theo Epstein was being grilled by a couple of us hard-hitting and smart reporters about a variety of topics, he interrupted the whole thing to offer a thought that rings true today.

"You're going to have surprises."

Once when Theo Epstein was being grilled by a couple of us hard-hitting and smart reporters about a variety of topics, he interrupted the whole thing to offer a thought that rings true today.

"You're going to have surprises."

He said plenty more that day, some of it way more colorfully than that. Boiled down, his point seemed to be twofold:

1. Sometimes the more you know, the more you realize all that you don't know.

2. Stuff happens.

We've been reminded of that wisdom virtually every day of a season that hasn't played out the way we thought it would.

If the season ended today, the Braves, Phillies, Pirates and Brewers would make the playoffs while last season's three National League division winners -- Cubs, Dodgers, Nationals -- would not.

How did we get here? Actually, that's the easy part. If we'd known then what we know now…

Let's check out 10 things that have surprised us:

1. Braves' offense

The Braves were tied for 10th in the NL in runs last season. They're first in 2018, averaging almost a run per game more. Raise your hand if you saw this coming. Sure, that's partly because of the kids -- Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies -- but it's also veterans Nick Markakis and Freddie Freeman having great years. In addition, infielder Ryan Flaherty and outfielder Preston Tucker have been smart acquisitions by GM Alex Anthopoulos.

Video: CHC@ATL: Albies, Acuna Jr. combine to put Braves up

2. Aaron Judge, Yankees RF

How would he follow up a season in which he led the American League in homers, runs, walks and strikeouts? Surely, there would be some regression as opposing scouting reports exposed the weaknesses in his swing. That has not happened. His OBP is up. His batting average is way up. He's on a pace for more walks (and strikeouts) and slightly fewer home runs. Judge just celebrated his 26th birthday and is showing that he's going to do things in this game others simply can't do.

Video: OAK@NYY: Judge skies 2-run homer to left field in 5th

3. D-backs' bullpen

This has been the best bullpen in the Majors thanks to a couple of tweaks by GM Mike Hazen in adding setup man Yoshihisa Hirano and closer Brad Boxberger. Also, there's the continued emergence of Archie Bradley as one of baseball's best relievers. The thing is, the D-backs had the NL's second-lowest bullpen ERA last season at 3.78. This season, they've lowered that by more than a run to 2.52. 

Video: MIL@ARI: Boxberger freezes Villar to earn the save

4. Gerrit Cole, Astros RHP

Having watched Justin Verlander get even better and Charlie Morton get dramatically better, we probably should not have been surprised by Cole's improvement in his first season after being traded from the Pirates to the Astros in the offseason. His repertoire has changed some, and his strikeouts are way up and baserunners way down. This seems to be the case of a really smart and really talented player taking advantage of the Astros' deep reservoir of data to take advantage of his own strengths and to exploit the weaknesses of opposing hitters. At this point, Verlander, Cole and Morton might finish one-two-three in AL Cy Young voting.

Video: HOU@LAA: Cole whiffs Kinsler for 7th strikeout

5. Angels' rotation

We just knew that one of these seasons the Angels would be able to keep enough of those talented arms healthy to create a first-rate rotation. So far, so good. Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano have all done exactly what the Angels hoped they would do, and rookie Shohei Ohtani has been every bit as good as advertised.

Video: MIN@LAA: Ohtani K's Kepler for 6th straight strikeout

6. Josh Hader, Brewers reliever

He dropped his changeup to throw more sliders, but he's still about as basic as they come, throwing a 94-mph fastball more than 70 percent of the time. With a whip-like delivery, the ball is hard to pick up and has some wicked movement. The result has been video game-like numbers: 56 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings and a 0.51 WHIP (seven hits, seven walks). The Brewers are back in the middle of the playoff race for a lot of reasons, including arguably baseball's most unhittable reliever.

Video: MIL@MIN: Hader strikes out Morrison to complete win

7. Aaron Nola, Phillies RHP

He has emerged as a true ace in his fourth season with the Phillies. He's throwing fewer fastballs and curves and more changeups to give opposing hitters a different look. Beyond the Xs and Os, we're probably simply watching the final emergence of a 24-year-old who was projected to do just that from the moment the Phillies used the seventh pick of the 2014 Draft on him.

Video: NYM@PHI: Nola gets Conforto to strand bases loaded

8. Pirates' offense

We were so focused on the trade of franchise icon Andrew McCutchen that it was easy to overlook how much talent the Pirates still had. That has shown up in an offense that has gone from 13th (4.1 runs per game) to third (4.89 per game). Colin Moran and Corey Dickerson have been terrific additions, and Starling Marte is having his best season. Catcher Francisco Cervelli is one of the most underrated players in the game.

Video: SF@PIT: Marte belts a 2-run homer to left-center

9. Mookie Betts, Red Sox RF

He finished second in AL MVP voting in 2016, sixth in 2017. He's a two-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner. So how does Betts qualify as a surprise? How much better can a very good player get? Turns out, lots. He has taken pretty much every part of his game to a new level. He's leading the AL in an assortment of offensive departments, and if the season ended today, he'd probably be the MVP.

Video: BOS@BAL: Betts jacks 14th homer over the Monster

10. Trevor Bauer, Indians RHP

For most of his career, he has been that wild stallion, immensely talented who had been unable to fully harness all his gifts. He appears to have taken that final step this season and emerged as one of baseball's most dominant starters after adding a slider to his arsenal that seems to have made all his other stuff better.

Video: CLE@DET: Bauer fans season-high 10 over 8 scoreless

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Romo to start 2nd straight game ... vs. Ohtani

MLB.com

It took Sergio Romo 11 years in the Majors to get his first big league start. His second comes with a much shorter wait.

The Rays right-hander, who started Saturday night and pitched a scoreless inning in Tampa Bay's 5-3 victory over the Angels, will be on the bump to begin Sunday's finale against the Halos. The opposing pitcher? Rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani.

View Full Game Coverage

It took Sergio Romo 11 years in the Majors to get his first big league start. His second comes with a much shorter wait.

The Rays right-hander, who started Saturday night and pitched a scoreless inning in Tampa Bay's 5-3 victory over the Angels, will be on the bump to begin Sunday's finale against the Halos. The opposing pitcher? Rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani.

View Full Game Coverage

Ohtani in HR Derby? Scioscia won't stop him

Romo will join a short list of players who have started on consecutive days in the last 40 years, including Zack Greinke and former big league hurlers C.J. Wilson, Aaron Myette, and Steve McCatty.

For Rays manager Norm Cash, the experiment of using a career reliever as a starter couldn't be off to a better beginning.

"It did go really, really well," Cash said of Romo's start Saturday. "He opened the game with a slider just like he was pitching the eighth or ninth inning. So, we're going back to Sergio, because it worked so well."

Romo even enjoyed the benefits associated with a starter. He was sent home early after his Saturday outing to prepare for Sunday's start.

"Sergio is pumped," Cash said after the game "He's treated himself as a starter. He's left to get his rest and throw his one or two innings."

While making consecutive starts may have been commonplace early in the game's history, it hasn't happened in nearly six years. The most recent occurrence was in 2012, when both Greinke and Wilson each started successive games.

Greinke was ejected in his start on July 7, 2012, after throwing four pitches against the Astros. He returned the next night and allowed three runs in three innings.

Greinke started the next Brewers game as well, but that was because it came after the All-Star break. Still, with the back-to-back-to-back starts, he became the first pitcher to start three consecutive games in a season since Red Faber in 1917.

Weather was the factor for Wilson's feat. He started for the Angels against the Rangers on May 11, 2012. But his start was cut short by a two-hour rain delay. He faced only five batters before departing after the delay. He took the mound the following game and threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits.

Myette accomplished the feat with the Rangers in 2002. He faced a similar situation as Greinke. He was ejected after two pitches against the Orioles on Sept. 3, and came back the next game.

McCatty was a member of the A's when he started two straight games in 1980, and his path to pitching the beginning of successive games most resembles Romo's outing, as he threw an inning in his first outing and then started the next day.

Jaylon Thompson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter at @jaylonthompson.

Tampa Bay Rays, Sergio Romo

J-Hay activated from DL; Kingham to Triple-A

MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' sparkplug second baseman is back.

The Bucs activated Josh Harrison from the 10-day disabled list before Sunday's series finale against the Padres at PNC Park. To make room for Harrison on the roster, Pittsburgh optioned right-hander Nick Kingham to Triple-A Indianapolis.

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PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' sparkplug second baseman is back.

The Bucs activated Josh Harrison from the 10-day disabled list before Sunday's series finale against the Padres at PNC Park. To make room for Harrison on the roster, Pittsburgh optioned right-hander Nick Kingham to Triple-A Indianapolis.

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Harrison has been sidelined since April 15 by a fractured left hand, which he sustained when he was hit by a Jose Urena fastball at Marlins Park. The Pirates went 15-15 during his absence -- using Adam Frazier, Sean Rodriguez and Max Moroff at second base, while experimenting with a number of different leadoff hitters.

Harrison hit .263/.328/.351 with a home run and five RBIs in 14 games before the injury. After a brief Minor League rehab assignment with Double-A Altoona, he rejoined the Pirates at PNC Park on Saturday.

"He's one of our best players," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He helps us on both sides of the ball. He helps us in the clubhouse. He helps us in everything we do."

Video: CIN@PIT: Harrison makes the quick throw to first

Sending out Kingham was not an easy decision for the Pirates, especially after he showed his stuff and resiliency in a quality start against the Padres on Saturday night. Kingham carried a perfect game into the seventh inning of his Major League debut on April 29, earning another start and beat the Brewers in Milwaukee on May 4. Kingham went to Triple-A and down to Double-A to stay in line for Saturday's spot start, only to be optioned back to Indianapolis.

"Nick continues to be very professional in everything that he does and everything that he touches. He understands the roster, the way it's set up to work right now," Hurdle said. "Obviously he's done everything he can do to keep himself fresh in our minds as we move forward. Whether there's injury, performance, whatever it might be, he's shown the ability to pitch at this level."

The Pirates will fill Kingham's spot in the rotation with right-hander Joe Musgrove, who is scheduled to come off the disabled list and join Pittsburgh's staff Friday against the Cardinals at PNC Park. Musgrove has not pitched for the Bucs this season due to a muscle strain in his right shoulder, so this will be the first time the Pirates see the rotation they envisioned entering Spring Training.

Video: SD@PIT: Kingham strikes out Hosmer swinging

"He's put in the work. He's to that point where he's ready to go," Hurdle said. "He put himself in the best position that he can be in to have success when he goes out there for the team. I look forward to that as well."

To make room for Musgrove, the Pirates will have to make another move in the coming days. With Harrison back and Kingham sent down, they are carrying a five-man bench and an eight-man bullpen to complement their four-man rotation. When Musgrove returns, they could drop a reliever or use a short bench as they did earlier this season.

Around the horn
• Center fielder Starling Marte (right oblique strain) said Sunday he is feeling better but not yet taking part in any baseball activities. Marte noted that his injury is not as painful as the one he endured in 2012 and agreed with Hurdle's assessment that it won't require a long stay on the disabled list.

"I believe we're going to be able to bounce back right away," Marte said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez. "I just need to continue to work with my trainers, submit to them and what they have in store for me, and I should be back as soon as possible."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Josh Harrison, Joe Musgrove

D-backs shuffle the deck, call up Buchholz

MLB.com

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks selected the contract of RHP Clay Buchholz from Triple-A Reno and optioned RHP Jimmie Sherfy to Reno following last night's game. To make room on the 40-man roster for Buchholz, the D-backs transferred RHP Randall Delgado (strained left oblique) to the 60-day disabled list.

Buchholz, 33, a 2-time AL All-Star (2010, '13), combined to go 1-1 with a 2.93 ERA (9 ER in 27.2 IP) in 5 starts with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha in the Kansas City Royals' organization and Reno in 2018. He signed with Arizona as a Minor League free agent on May 4 after his release from the Royals on May 1.

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PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks selected the contract of RHP Clay Buchholz from Triple-A Reno and optioned RHP Jimmie Sherfy to Reno following last night's game. To make room on the 40-man roster for Buchholz, the D-backs transferred RHP Randall Delgado (strained left oblique) to the 60-day disabled list.

Buchholz, 33, a 2-time AL All-Star (2010, '13), combined to go 1-1 with a 2.93 ERA (9 ER in 27.2 IP) in 5 starts with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha in the Kansas City Royals' organization and Reno in 2018. He signed with Arizona as a Minor League free agent on May 4 after his release from the Royals on May 1.

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Buchholz, who will wear No. 32, finished sixth in the 2010 AL Cy Young Award voting, going 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA (45 ER in 173.2 IP) with the Boston Red Sox. He also threw the 17th no-hitter in Red Sox history in his second start on September 1, 2007 vs. Baltimore Orioles, the second pitcher to throw a no-hitter in their first or second career Major League start (also: Wilson Alvarez of the Chicago White Sox on August 11, 1992 @ Orioles).

The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder has gone 81-62 with a 4.01 ERA (524 ER in 1,175.0 IP) in 208 games (190 starts) in 11 Major League seasons with the Red Sox (2007-16) and Philadelphia Phillies (2017). He made 2 starts with the Phillies last season before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm on April 18.

Sherfy, 26, made 3 scoreless appearances (2.0 IP) with Arizona this season, and has not allowed a run in 14 career outings, the fifth-longest streak to start a D-backs career.

Delgado, 28, was placed on the 10-day disabled list on March 26.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Clay Buchholz

Ohtani in HR Derby? Scioscia won't stop him

Two-way player to start Sunday's series finale on mound
MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani regularly flaunts his impressive raw power during pregame batting practice, but he created some buzz on Friday after crushing a ball off the new right-field scoreboard at Angel Stadium.

The official estimate on Ohtani's moonshot was 513 feet, according to the Angels.

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ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani regularly flaunts his impressive raw power during pregame batting practice, but he created some buzz on Friday after crushing a ball off the new right-field scoreboard at Angel Stadium.

The official estimate on Ohtani's moonshot was 513 feet, according to the Angels.

View Full Game Coverage

"I'm not sure if it was the farthest ball I've hit," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "But I think that kind of proves that I'm improving in all aspects of my game."

Manager Mike Scioscia, for his part, had little interest in discussing Ohtani's batting practice exploits.

"BP is BP," Scioscia shrugged. "Shohei has a lot of power."

Ohtani, of course, also put on a memorable show during batting practice at Coors Field earlier this month, hammering a ball into the third deck and leaving a mark on one of the stadium railings.

His big power would seem to make him a logical candidate to participate in the Home Run Derby during the All-Star Game at Nationals Park in July, though the field won't be set for a while. Ohtani competed in Japan's Home Run Derby in 2016, and won the event while playing for the Nippon-Ham Fighters. His six home runs this season are tied with the Yankees' Tyler Austin for the most among American League rookies.

Scioscia said he would leave the decision up to Ohtani if he were invited to participate in the Home Run Derby this year.

"That's a player's decision," Scioscia said. "I'm sure there's going to be a lot of things that come into what a player decides, but it's always been the prerogative of a player if he wants to participate in things like that."

Ohtani was not in the Angels' lineup on Saturday, as he is slated to make his seventh pitching appearance in Sunday's series finale against the Rays. Ohtani has logged a 3.58 ERA with 43 strikeouts over 32 2/3 innings this season.

Ohtani said that he thinks being able to see the Rays' hitters in person for three games will help prepare him for his start on Sunday.

"Rather than seeing it on video, actually seeing it in person like this, I think it's a lot more information to digest," Ohtani said. "I think it's going to help me out."

Upton returns

Justin Upton returned to the Angels' lineup on Saturday, batting third and starting in left field. Upton missed Friday's game after being struck on the left hand by a 95-mph fastball from Chris Archer on Thursday.

Video: TB@LAA: Upton day-to-day after getting hit in hand

Worth noting

• The Angels called up left-handed reliever Ian Krol and optioned Eduardo Paredes to Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday. To clear a spot for Krol on the 40-man roster, the Angels transferred Matt Shoemaker (right forearm strain) to the 60-day disabled list.

The Angels needed a fresh arm after their bullpen was forced to pitch 6 1/3 innings in relief of Nick Tropeano on Friday. Krol, 27, has logged a 1.71 ERA over 21 innings with Triple-A Salt Lake this season.

"I don't think Ian threw the ball in the spring that poorly, but it certainly wasn't quite where he is right now," Scioscia said. "He needed some time, I think, to work on some things, and to go out there and just find his pitches on a consistent basis, and he's done that. He's been throwing the ball very well down there."

• Reliever Blake Wood (right elbow impingement) will need at least one more rehab appearance before being activated from the disabled list, Scioscia said. Wood, who has been sidelined since April 23, has allowed two runs over 2 1/3 innings in three outings for Class A Advanced Inland Empire this week. He made his third rehab appearance on Saturday, and allowed one run on two hits in 2/3 of an inning.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani

Hill exits with blister after throwing 2 pitches

Special to MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- After starter Rich Hill exited the first inning after only two pitches due to a blister on his left middle finger in the second game of a split doubleheader Saturday against the Nationals, the Dodgers placed him on the 10-day disabled list on Sunday.

Manager Dave Roberts said on Sunday the left-hander will miss about four weeks. In Hill's place, Los Angeles called up ambidextrous reliever Pat Venditte from Triple-A Oklahoma City

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WASHINGTON -- After starter Rich Hill exited the first inning after only two pitches due to a blister on his left middle finger in the second game of a split doubleheader Saturday against the Nationals, the Dodgers placed him on the 10-day disabled list on Sunday.

Manager Dave Roberts said on Sunday the left-hander will miss about four weeks. In Hill's place, Los Angeles called up ambidextrous reliever Pat Venditte from Triple-A Oklahoma City

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Hill took the mound against Washington ace Max Scherzer in a game Los Angeles rallied to win, 5-4. Hill told reporters after the game that he felt something on the second-to-last warmup pitch "break open."

"I just continued to pitch," Hill said. "I knew at some point I'd have to come out."

That unwanted moment occurred as he put Nationals leadoff hitter Trea Turner in an 0-2 hole following two foul balls. Roberts, a member of the training staff and the entire infield convened by the mound for a brief meeting that ended with Hill leaving.

"Rich is frustrated as we all are," Roberts said on Saturday. "It was clearly sliced, essentially. This is as bad as I've seen it since he's been here. I don't know what the timeline is. We have to make sure it's right and can sustain itself before we get him back."

Seven relievers followed Hill. Left-hander Scott Alexander struck out the side in the first inning. Washington did not have a hit until its four-run sixth inning.

Video: LAD@WSH: Alexander strikes out Harper, the side

Erik Goeddel (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth in his Los Angeles debut after being claimed off waivers from Seattle on Friday. Kenley Jansen retired the final three batters to record his second save of the day. The Dodgers won the first game of the doubleheader, 4-1.

The blister issue is a lingering one for Hill, who is 1-2 with a 6.20 ERA in six starts this season.

"It's frustrating as anything for me," Hill said. "To go out there and put the bullpen and team in this position. With that said, they did a great job picking me up, picking everyone up tonight. They did tremendous. Unfortunately, I don't have answers at this time for the blister issue."

Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Rich Hill

Braves release Bautista; Camargo to play third

MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- Once Saturday afternoon's staff meeting led to the decision to have Johan Camargo serve as the Braves' everyday third baseman, general manager Alex Anthopoulos approached Jose Bautista and came to the agreement it was best to end what proved to be just a two-week experiment.

Before Sunday afternoon's game against the Marlins, Anthopoulous revealed that Bautista has been released and can attempt to extend his career elsewhere. The 37-year-old spent the past two weeks creating regular reminders he is not close to what he was when he won consecutive American League Hank Aaron Awards, earned six All-Star selections and had four top-10 finishes in MVP balloting.

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ATLANTA -- Once Saturday afternoon's staff meeting led to the decision to have Johan Camargo serve as the Braves' everyday third baseman, general manager Alex Anthopoulos approached Jose Bautista and came to the agreement it was best to end what proved to be just a two-week experiment.

Before Sunday afternoon's game against the Marlins, Anthopoulous revealed that Bautista has been released and can attempt to extend his career elsewhere. The 37-year-old spent the past two weeks creating regular reminders he is not close to what he was when he won consecutive American League Hank Aaron Awards, earned six All-Star selections and had four top-10 finishes in MVP balloting.

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Now that shortstop Dansby Swanson is back from the disabled list and Camargo has a chance to play third base on an everyday basis, the Braves simply couldn't afford to provide Bautista the regular opportunities he needs to prove he might still have something left to offer.

"We agreed if there's not going to be playing time and there's not going to be at-bats here, that's not right for him," Anthopoulos said. "He needed to get going. We just agreed it was best to give him that chance to get that playing time."

Tweet from @Braves: The Atlanta #Braves today granted 3B Jos�� Bautista his release. Johan Camargo will be the everyday 3B. RHP Lucas Sims has been recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett. pic.twitter.com/yKjgghnlhe

This wasn't necessarily an enjoyable responsibility for Anthopoulos, who developed a strong friendship with Bautista when he served as his GM in Toronto. But as is the case with most decisions he and his peers make, it was best to remove any emotional attachment from the equation and look at the reality that the once-feared slugger hit .143 (5-for-35) with two home runs and 12 strikeouts since joining Atlanta on May 4.

"This is about the Braves at all times," Anthopoulous said. "I think everybody understands that."

After Bautista remained unsigned throughout Spring Training, Anthopoulos took a chance by giving him a Minor League contract in April with the understanding he would need to play third base, a position he had not manned on an everyday basis for more than a decade.

As expected, Bautista's range was limited. More importantly, his bat didn't come close to compensating for his defensive limitations at the hot corner. The former Blue Jays outfielder has batted .136 with a .522 OPS against right-handed pitchers since last year's All-Star break. The tremendous power he once had was not witnessed, as he produced a 100-plus mph exit velocity with just five of the 23 balls put in play for Atlanta.

"We took a shot," Anthopoulos said. "There was a lot of upside for us if it clicked. We felt that was the reward at the end of it, but we certainly didn't feel like there was any downside."

Video: MIA@ATL: Camargo plates Suzuki with a single to right

Now, the Braves will turn to Camargo, who is arguably the best defensive infielder within the entire organization. The slick-fielding switch-hitter was projected to be Atlanta's everyday third baseman until he missed the final two weeks of Spring Training with an oblique strain that sidelined him through April's first couple of weeks. This led to the signing of Ryan Flaherty a few days before Opening Day.

When Camargo returned from the DL, Flaherty remained a fixture at third base, primarily because he ranked among the league leaders in batting average throughout April. Bautista then arrived the same day that Swanson's move to the DL led Camargo to spend two weeks as Atlanta's shortstop.

"Everything happens for a reason," Camargo said. "God has a plan, and I think [my injury in Spring Training] was another trial, another test for me to kind of go through, and now this is the moment we are in right now and just kind of move forward."

Video: ATL@DET: Riley hits a two-run homer in the 6th

With highly touted prospect Austin Riley (No. 8 per MLB Pipeline) now with Triple-A Gwinnett and one step away from beginning his potential tenure as Atlanta's third baseman of the future, there might be a point this season or next when Camargo returns to a utility role. But for now, the third-base job is rightfully his.

"Obviously, we're high on [Riley] and excited about him," Anthopoulos said. "He'll tell us when he's ready. If he performs and gets hot, that's a good problem to have. You can never have too many good players. If Austin can show us he's ready, we'd love to be in that spot where we have a tough decision to make."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Jose Bautista

Kenley saves the day twice in DH sweep in DC

Bullpen gets 27 outs as Dodgers overcome dominant Scherzer in Game 2
Special to MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- The Dodgers know plenty of work remains to fix their 42-game start. With Kenley Jansen saving both ends of their doubleheader sweep, Saturday was a very good two steps in the right direction.

Pinch-hitter Matt Kemp delivered a two-run double in the ninth as the Dodgers rallied past the Nationals, 5-4, on Saturday night at Nationals Park.

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WASHINGTON -- The Dodgers know plenty of work remains to fix their 42-game start. With Kenley Jansen saving both ends of their doubleheader sweep, Saturday was a very good two steps in the right direction.

Pinch-hitter Matt Kemp delivered a two-run double in the ninth as the Dodgers rallied past the Nationals, 5-4, on Saturday night at Nationals Park.

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"It felt good," Kemp said about his go-ahead hit off Nationals closer Sean Doolittle. "It's a buildup. We haven't been playing as good as we're capable of playing. Today we beat two good pitchers in one day. That's a pretty big day for us."

Video: LAD@WSH: Kemp gives Dodgers lead with double in 9th

Jansen, one of seven Dodgers relievers used in the nightcap after starter Rich Hill left following two pitches because of a blister, retired all six batters he faced in both contests. The final three earned him his eighth save; No. 7 came in the opening 4-1 victory. Jansen became the second pitcher this season to save both ends of a doubleheader, following Pittsburgh's Felipe Vazquez on April 1.

The Dodgers (19-26) trailed, 4-2, after Washington scored four in the sixth but came up with three runs after Nationals starter Max Scherzer left in the seventh. Cody Bellinger homered in the eighth.

Video: LAD@WSH: Bellinger crushes a solo homer to center

Rain washed out Friday's opener, remained in the area until shortly before the doubleheader began and reappeared briefly in the second game.

Hill also appeared briefly in the second game. It's not that Hill didn't record an out. It's that he technically never faced a batter. He left due to a blister on his left middle finger. Los Angeles won its first game without the starting pitcher recording out since May 31, 1981. The last MLB team to have its bullpen get all 27 outs in a win was the Tigers on Sept. 5, 2017, against the Royals.

From there, manager Dave Roberts sent a parade of relievers to the mound. Washington didn't have a hit through five innings. Los Angeles had the big knocks late in its third consecutive win after losing six in a row.

Video: LAD@WSH: Muncy opens the scoring with an RBI single

"I honestly had a really good feeling about tonight," Roberts said. "Obviously, we couldn't have predicted Rich's stint. ... Just the way we were preparing for today, I just had a good feeling. To the last out, our guys fought. The guys in the 'pen did a fantastic job."

Erik Goeddel (1-0), activated for the second game after being claimed off waivers Friday from Seattle, pitched a scoreless eighth in his Los Angeles debut.

Max Muncy had an RBI single in the first and a solo home run in the fifth off Scherzer, who struck out 13 and allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings.

Video: LAD@WSH: Muncy lifts a solo home run to right

Two other pitchers not on the Dodgers' active roster 24 hours prior -- Yimi Garcia and Tony Cingrani -- were charged with all four runs. Garcia, added for the second game of the doubleheader as the 26th man, allowed Trea Turner's leadoff double. Turner scored on Mark Reynolds' double off Cingrani, who was activated off the disabled list Saturday after dealing with left shoulder inflammation.

The third reliever in the inning, Daniel Hudson, allowed two-out singles by pinch-hitter Matt Adams and Scherzer. Washington had four hits, an intentional walk and hit batter in the inning. In the other eight innings, zero hits.

"They did a tremendous job," Hill said of the relievers. "Unfortunately, I don't have answers at this time for the blister issue."

Video: LAD@WSH: Hill leaves after 2 pitches with blister

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Kemp's double off Doolittle (1-2) came after Austin Barnes and Logan Forsythe led off the ninth with singles.

SOUND SMART
The first innings of both games were eerily similar. Joc Pederson led off both games with an extra-base hit -- triple in the opener, double in the finale -- and scored the first run. In the bottom of the inning, the Dodgers retired the side with three strikeouts. Trea Turner was caught looking twice.

Video: LAD@WSH: Alexander strikes out Harper, the side

UP NEXT
Left-hander Alex Wood (0-4, 3.35) closes out the series for Los Angeles against Washington's other All-Star starter, right-hander Stephen Strasburg (5-3, 3.28). Wood received a no-decision in a 4-3 win over the Nationals on April 22 after allowing three runs (two earned) and six hits in six innings.

Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Cody Bellinger, Kenley Jansen, Matt Kemp, Max Muncy

Mookie's MLB-best 15th HR propels Red Sox

Killer B's hit consecutive homers, combine for 5 RBIs
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Perhaps Mookie Betts will cool off at some point this season. But it hasn't happened yet. As if Betts doesn't prevent enough of a problem to Boston's opponents as the leadoff man, No. 2 hitter Andrew Benintendi is now getting hot also.

The 1-2 punch supported a strong pitching performance by Rick Porcello in leading the Red Sox to a 6-3 victory over the Orioles on Saturday night at Fenway Park.

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BOSTON -- Perhaps Mookie Betts will cool off at some point this season. But it hasn't happened yet. As if Betts doesn't prevent enough of a problem to Boston's opponents as the leadoff man, No. 2 hitter Andrew Benintendi is now getting hot also.

The 1-2 punch supported a strong pitching performance by Rick Porcello in leading the Red Sox to a 6-3 victory over the Orioles on Saturday night at Fenway Park.

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Betts and Benintendi changed the momentum of the game by smashing back-to-back homers in the bottom of the fifth to snap a 1-1 tie. For Betts, it was his MLB-leading 15th homer of the season, passing Baltimore's Manny Machado.

"It's incredible," Porcello said of what Betts is doing. "It's a lot of fun to watch. I don't even know what to say. It's pretty incredible. When he gets his pitch, he's not missing it. When he doesn't get his pitch, he's not missing it. I'm sure as hell glad I don't have to face him."

Video: BAL@BOS: Cora on Betts, Benintendi in win

And when the Orioles drew close again on Pedro Alvarez's two-run homer in the sixth, Benintendi opened up breathing room again with a two-run single up the middle.

The Killer B's at the top of the order provided the Red Sox with five of their six RBIs in the game. This was what Red Sox manager Alex Cora envisioned when he decided well in advance of Spring Training that the lineup would start with Betts-Benintendi.

After an unspectacular start, Benintendi has eight hits in his last 18 at-bats with a double, two homers and six RBIs.

"I'm starting to feel a little better," said Benintendi. "I wouldn't call it a groove or anything, but I'm starting to make contact -- harder contact more often."

Hard contact is what it seems like Betts does in just about every at-bat. Benintendi knows better than anyone from watching him from the on-deck circle.

"It's awesome," Benintendi said. "He's always on the basepaths scoring runs. He's doing everything to help the team win. He's in a groove right now, but it's not like he's hot-hot. I feel like he can get hotter than he is right now. It seems like he squares up the ball every at-bat. He's doing everything right."

For the season, Betts is slashing .368/.439/.767 and has 18 doubles and 32 RBIs to go with all the homers.

"We like everything about the player," said Cora. "What he brings on a daily basis and him hunting pitches in the strike zone, that's the key."

Video: BAL@BOS: Devers belts an opposite-field home run

While Betts and Benintendi made most of the impact at the plate, Rafael Devers was responsible for the other run by belting an opposite-field solo shot over the Green Monster to tie it at 1 in the fourth.

Betts got all of his homer to untie it, ripping his blast a projected distance of 406 feet, according to Statcast™, against Orioles righty Dylan Bundy.

"I think about how I'd pitch him, and I have no idea," Porcello said. "A lot of times, you get power hitters that, if you make a mistake, they're going to hurt you, but there's holes. I don't see a hole."

Video: BAL@BOS: Porcello fans 9 over 6 solid innings

Other than the blast by Alvarez, Porcello (6-1) turned in an effective start. The righty went six innings and scattered six hits while striking out nine.

The setup crew of Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes provided a clean handoff to closer Craig Kimbrel, who earned his 13th save of the season.

Video: BAL@BOS: Kimbrel gets 1-2-3 inning to notch the save

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Bradley's hustle pays off: Though Jackie Bradley Jr. (0-for-2, .161 average) continues to be mired in one of the worst slumps of his career, he worked a key walk against lefty Tanner Scott in the seventh and made a heads-up play tagging up from first on a fly ball by Betts that didn't even reach the warning track in right. That set up runners at second and third with one out, enabling Bradley to score on Benintendi's single up the middle.

Video: BAL@BOS: Benintendi hits a 2-run single in the 7th

"Outstanding job," said Cora. "I mean, he walks against a tough lefty. Then he's able to read the outfielder [Mark Trumbo]. He was flat-footed and actually kind of like, drifting back, and he took advantage of it. Second and third, he did a good job."

SOUND SMART
After ranking last in the American League with 168 homers last season, the Red Sox are second so far this season with 65, and are tied with the 1977 squad with the most long balls through the first 46 games in team history.

HE SAID IT
"Not really. His hands are so quick, and he makes good contact it seems like every at-bat, so it doesn't really surprise me." -- Benintendi, asked if he is surprised by the power Betts is displaying

UP NEXT
Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez will try to get the Red Sox a win in the finale of this seven-game homestand when he pitches Sunday against the franchise he was originally signed by as an international free agent -- the Orioles. Rodriguez has struggled to be consistent this season, and last time out in a loss to the Athletics, his main issue was the inability to put hitters away with two strikes. David Hess starts for Baltimore, and first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rick Porcello

Hader fans 6 in relief as Crew pulls out win

Josh Hader has been absolutely electric out of the Brewers bullpen since coming to the Majors in 2017. Not content to sit on his laurels, though, he has somehow found an even higher level this season.

Scherzer strikes out 13 to surpass 100 for year

Scherzer fans 13, fastest ever to 100 K's in a season
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- Sean Doolittle blamed himself for mixing up the sign on the pitch that ultimately led to the Nationals' 5-4 loss to the Dodgers on Saturday night. He believed he and catcher Spencer Kieboom were on the same page with where they wanted to locate a fastball to Matt Kemp, but as Doolittle turned to deliver a pitch to the plate, Kieboom was on the opposite side.

Doolittle tried to adjust and threw a pitch he felt lacked commitment, and Kemp swatted it down the left-field line for a two-run double to lead Los Angeles to a come-from-behind victory and sweep Saturday's split doubleheader at Nationals Park.

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WASHINGTON -- Sean Doolittle blamed himself for mixing up the sign on the pitch that ultimately led to the Nationals' 5-4 loss to the Dodgers on Saturday night. He believed he and catcher Spencer Kieboom were on the same page with where they wanted to locate a fastball to Matt Kemp, but as Doolittle turned to deliver a pitch to the plate, Kieboom was on the opposite side.

Doolittle tried to adjust and threw a pitch he felt lacked commitment, and Kemp swatted it down the left-field line for a two-run double to lead Los Angeles to a come-from-behind victory and sweep Saturday's split doubleheader at Nationals Park.

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"I didn't have conviction behind that pitch because I messed it up," Doolittle said. "I feel terrible. It's frustrating when you go down on something other than your best bullet. If I hit my spot and he turns it around, I can live with that. But that's a tough one to swallow, because that would've been such a big win for us."

Video: LAD@WSH: Kemp gives Dodgers lead with double in 9th

It was Doolittle's first blown save of the season and just his second since joining Washington last summer. It spoiled a dominant effort from Max Scherzer, who collected a run-scoring single and struck out 13 in seven innings, and spoiled any chance at solace after the Nationals learned Howie Kendrick would be done for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

The Nationals were able to play a whole game Saturday for the first time in five days, but they were handed a pair of losses.

"It's been a very long day," manager Dave Martinez said. "But the boys battled ... when you go to the top of the ninth inning with your closer, you feel pretty good."

Video: LAD@WSH: Martinez talks Kendrick's achilles injury

With more than a week between starts, after rain pushed back his outing an extra three days, Scherzer knew he could push himself on the mound. He gave up a run-scoring single in the first inning and a solo home run in the fifth to Max Muncy, but Scherzer did not yield any more through seven innings. Even though he finished the sixth with more than 100 pitches, he walked off the mound and told the Nationals' dugout he was "1,000 percent good to go" for the seventh.

"It was like a college start, I'm pitching once a week," Scherzer said. "Plus, I checked the schedule and was going to be on six days' [rest the next time], so I knew I was going to have the ability to throw a lot of pitches tonight. And when I came out in the sixth -- put me back out there, I still have a lot left in the tank."

Video: LAD@WSH: Scherzer punches out Barnes for his 13th K

At that point in the game, the Nats had not even collected a hit. The Dodgers lost starting pitcher Rich Hill after just two pitches when a blister on his left middle finger forced him to leave the game. However, three Los Angeles relievers combined to carry a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

Then, the Nats offense finally broke out of its slumber. Trea Turner started the sixth with a double and scored on a double from Mark Reynolds. Matt Adams gave the Nats the lead with a two-run single. And then Scherzer drove in a run of his own with a run-scoring single up the middle and celebrated by slapping the hand of first-base coach Tim Bogar.

Scherzer talked his way into the seventh inning and finally retired Muncy by forcing him to bounce into an inning-ending double play to complete his outing. Scherzer threw a season-high 121 pitches to navigate through seven innings, the third most pitches thrown in baseball this season.

But his extended effort and the Nats' rally ultimately fell short on a rare blown save from Doolittle.

"I just messed it up," Doolittle said.

SOUND SMART
Scherzer recorded his 100th strikeout of the season in just his 63rd inning. That's the fewest innings to ever reach 100 strikeouts in a season (Kerry Wood needed 65 2/3 in 2001).

Scherzer is also batting .308 on the season after going 1-for-2.

Video: LAD@WSH: Scherzer helps himself with an RBI single 

UP NEXT
The Nationals wrap up this series of three games in two days against the Dodgers with Sunday's 1:35 p.m. ET finale. Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the Nats after winning his past three starts with a 2.61 ERA during that span. He will face off against left-hander Alex Wood, who held Washington to three runs (two earned) in six innings April 22 in Los Angeles.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Sean Doolittle, Max Scherzer