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Nats open big series vs. Cardinals - 7:05 p.m.

Nats open big series vs. Cardinals - 7:05 p.m.

Amazing what a difference the outcome of one game can make. Had the Nationals lost last night in Miami, they'd return home today at tense bunch, their collars feeling a little bit tighter than usual thanks to a six-game losing streak. Instead, by beating the Marlins 8-4, they're a loose, upbeat group right now, having just joked around while taking the official 2012 team photo (you can sort of make it out above).

So begins an 11-game homestand, the longest of the season, with the defending World Series champion Cardinals in town the next four days. St. Louis will be up against a familiar foe tonight in Edwin Jackson (a member of that World Series club).

Left-hander Jaime Garcia gets the nod for the Cards, facing a Nats lineup that broke out of its slump in a big way last night. Plenty of updates to come, so please check back...

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv, MLB Network (outside D.C. market)
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM Internet 869
Weather: Mostly clear, 84 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to LF
NATIONALS (78-51)
Lineup TBA
RHP Edwin Jackson

CARDINALS (71-59)
Lineup TBA
LHP Jaime Garcia
UMPIRES
TBA

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Reports: White Sox trade Chris Sale to Red Sox, not Nationals

Reports: White Sox trade Chris Sale to Red Sox, not Nationals

The Nationals missed out on a major trade target when news broke this afternoon that the White Sox had traded ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox. 

The report comes from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. 

Washington had been the frontrunner to land Sale as recently as this morning. And as recently as 30 minutes ago, the Nationals vs. Red Sox contest seemed like it could go either way.

But apparently the Nats couldn't match Boston's offer of Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech plus two minor leaguers, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network. 

Now, the dream rotation of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Sale won't happen. 

The trade for Sale was so close, it could impact other potential deals for the Nationals. The team reportedly explored trading Gio Gonzalez to the Yankees if Sale indeed ended up in Washington. 

MORE NATIONALS: Report: Nats exploring trading Gio to Yankees

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MLB Hot Stove Rumors: Nationals exploring trading Gio Gonzalez to Yankees

MLB Hot Stove Rumors: Nationals exploring trading Gio Gonzalez to Yankees

Here's an interesting report for Nationals fans to keep an eye on: If Washington lands White Sox ace Chris Sale, they may trade left Gio Gonazlez to the Yankees. 

From Rich Mancuso of New York Sports Day:

A reliable National League source early this morning at the 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings confirmed that the Washington Nationals are close to a deal with the New York Yankees that would send lefthander Gio Gonzalez to the Bronx. In return the Yankees would send the Nationals two minor league prospects and maybe another player.

Mancuso stipulates that the trade agreement, which is not yet official, would be contingent upon the Nationals acquiring Sale. 

Gonzalez, 31, is in the last year of his contact with Washington after arriving in 2012 from Oakland. He finished the 2016 season with an 11-11 record, 4.57 ERA and 171 strikeouts. 

UPDATE 1:34 p.m.: The Nationals lost on out Sale, who was instead traded to the Red Sox. 

MORE NATIONALS: Syndergaard already tired of Sale to Nationals hype