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Nats Game Day – NLDS Game 3 vs. Cardinals

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Photo - Fans enter Nationals Park before Game 3 of the National League division baseball series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Fans enter Nationals Park before Game 3 of the National League division baseball series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Beanballs,Sports,Brian McNally

Nationals at Cardinals

Game » NLDS Game 3

Series » Tied 1-1

Starters » Edwin Jackson (10-11, 4.03 ERA) vs. Chris Carpenter (0-2, 3.71 ERA)

When » Wednesday, 1:07 p.m.

Where » National Park, Washington, D.C.

TV » MLB Network

Radio » 106.7 The Fan FM, WFED 1500, WHFS 1580

This is why you win 98 games and finish in first place in your division. The Nationals went out to St. Louis and returned home with a split in one of the sport’s toughest venues. Only the Yankees had a better home record than the Cardinals (50-31) in 2012 – though the Nats, Reds, A’s, Rangers and Tigers all went 50-31 at home, too. But St. Louis had a losing record (38-43) on the road and that’s where they’ll have to knock off Washington in what’s become a best-of-three series at Nationals Park.

Nats manager Davey Johnson wasn’t exactly a fan of the temporary 2-3 format where the lower seed gets the first two games at home. But the advantage swung his way when Washington took Game 1 on Sunday 3-2. Still, his team hasn’t exactly looked crisp early on in this series. The Cardinals battered the Nats’ pitching staff in a 12-4 win on Monday at Busch Stadium. Maybe te home environment will help change that theme.

“It helps. I think more so it helps us forget about the game [Monday], kind of brush that aside,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “Come back out, get some work in today and start over. We’ve started a race to two here. So nice to be able to do it at home, for sure.”

The 1:07 p.m. start time could cause a couple of issues later in the game. We saw in Busch Stadium how the shadows can affect hitters as they creep towards the pitchers’ mound. That should start to happen later in the game after 3 p.m.

Also, the sun became an issue in September during afternoon games at Nationals Park. There were multiple dropped pop ups by both the Nats and their opponents late in the year as the angle of the sun lowers and wreaks havoc even on players wearing sunglasses and eye black. Both center fielder Bryce Harper and right fielder Jayson Werth were victims.

“The time before was around four o’clock. That was a bad time with sun,” Johnson said. “The other team had problems with it, too.  I’m glad it’s not a four o’clock start.”

But with three minutes of commercials in between each half inning and each pitch meaning so much in a playoff game the contest could easily go three hours or longer making late-game fly balls more harrowing than normal. Still – better to deal with that in the District than in St. Louis.

“They don’t call it home-field advantage for nothing,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “Obviously, you hope it doesn’t come down to the last at-bat, but we feel very comfortable playing at home. We’ve been a good home team. We put ourselves in a good position to come home and just win a series. If we do that, like we’ve done a lot of times this year, then we’ll be sitting pretty.”

Here are today’s lineups, which are the same as Games 1 and 2:

Nats

RF – Jayson Werth

CF – Bryce Harper (L)

3B – Ryan Zimmerman

1B – Adam LaRoche (L)

LF – Michael Morse

SS – Ian Desmond

2B – Danny Espinosa (S)

C – Kurt Suzuki

RHP – Edwin Jackson

 

Cardinals

CF – Jon Jay (L)

RF – Carlos Beltran (S)

LF – Matt Holliday

1B – Allen Craig

C – Yadier Molina

3B – David Freese

2B – Daniel Descalso (L)

SS – Peter Kozma

RHP – Chris Carpenter

Follow me on Twitter @bmcnally14

 

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