Nationals (78-51) vs. Cardinals (71-59)
Game » 130
Starters » Edwin Jackson (7-9, 3.72 ERA) vs. Jaime Garcia (3-5, 4.15 ERA)
When » Thursday, 7:05 p.m.
Where » Nationals Park, Washington
TV » MASN HD
Radio » 106.7 The Fan FM, WFED 1500, WHFS 1580
Time for the next latest big series of the season. Last we saw the Nationals in the District they were taking 2-of-3 from NL East rival Atlanta. Despite a five-game losing streak on the recent road trip to Philadelphia and Miami that first-place lead was only trimmed from six games to five Not ideal, but they’ll take it.
This four-game series against St. Louis will be a challenge. The Cardinals own the second and final NL wild-card berth. They had won 9 of 13 games until falling twice in Pittsburgh this week. They are eight games behind Washington in the overall NL standings, but the two teams play seven times between now and the end of the season.
No NL team has scored more runs than St. Louis (632) despite the loss of star slugger Albert Pujols last winter. They also lead the league in team OPS (.770). Six starter are batting .300 or better and that doesn’t include Carlos Beltran, who has a team-high 28 home runs and ranks second in RBI (85).
“Definitely a great offensive ballclub,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said. He later added that “I like the fact that we’re playing a good ballclub right out of the chute. I like the fact that we’re home.”
The Nats snapped a five-game losing streak with an 8-4 win at Miami on Wednesday night. A bit of panic was starting to creep in amongst the fanbase as the Braves chipped into that NL East lead. But that was a necessary win for a team whose flight didn’t arrive home until the wee hours Thursday morning. It was just one win, but a victory like that can go a long way for a team trying to find its footing. But that has to continue against a club that leads the majors with a +113 run differential.
“Nobody knows how this is going to end up so if we run into some adversity late in the season that’s something we can draw back on,” Washington reliever Drew Storen said of his team’s losing streak. “And who is to say – we haven’t necessarily turned it all the way around. We’re playing a really good team here for the next four days and they’re going to grind it out, they’re going to play the game hard and do the right things. But if we keep it going from last night we’ll be right where we need to be.”
Here are tonight’s lineups:
CF – John Jay
RF – Carlos Beltran
LF – Matt Holliday
1B – Allen Craig
C – Yadier Molina
3B – David Freese
2B – Skip Schumaker
SS – Rafael Furcal
LHP – Jamie Garcia
RF – Jayson Werth
CF – Bryce Harper
3B – Ryan Zimmerman
LF – Michael Morse
1B – Adam LaRoche
SS – Ian Desmond
2B – Danny Espinosa
C – Jesus Flores
RHP – Edwin Jackson
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