Nationals complete sweep of Marlins, continue to creep up in Wild Card race

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Don’t sleep on the Nationals. Aided by seven scoreless innings from Gio Gonzalez and home runs from Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, and Ian Desmond, the Nationals wrapped up a three-game sweep of the Marlins tonight with a 9-0 victory at Nationals Park.

Gonzalez gave up just three hits (all of them singles) and three walks while striking out eight. The victory was his first since way back on July 10. Werth’s homer was his fourth in his past seven games and 13th since the beginning of July. His OPS is up to .947 for the season.

The Nationals have won eight out of their last nine games to improve to 68-65 for the year and will go into Friday’s action 6 1/2 games behind the Reds for the second Wild Card spot. As Craig mentioned this morning, they have a pretty soft schedule the rest of the way, so stranger things have happened.

Texas Rangers fire manager Jeff Banister

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The Texas Rangers just announced that they have fired Jeff Banister as the team’s manager. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu has been named interim manager for the remainder of 2018 season.

Banister was in the last year of his contract with the club, but there was an option for 2019. Rangers brass, obviously, has decided to go in a different direction following what will be the club’s worst finish in Banister’s tenure. At the moment the Rangers are 64-88 and are assured of last place in the AL West.

Banister was hired before the 2015 season and led the Rangers to first place finishes in each of his first two seasons, willing the Manager of the Year Award in 2015. The club fell to a disappointing third place and a 78-84 record last season, however and, after an offseason that neither helped the Rangers rebuild OR reload, this season the descent has continued.

Injuries and under achievement has been the order of the day for the past two years and, with the career of Adrian Beltre nearing its end and the Rangers having been passed up by the Astros as the class of the division, a full rebuild is in the club’s future. Even if that was not the case, however, recently there have been some reports about Banister having trouble communicating with his players, suggesting that, perhaps, the Rangers would move on from him even if the results on the field had been better.

Banister ends his reign as the Rangers’ skipper with a record of 325-313.