BOSTON -- Hello from the one and only Fenway Park, where tonight a first-place club takes on a last-place club in interleague action. Just like we all expected at the start of the season, right?
It's been a topsy-turvy year so far, not only in the NL East but also in the AL East, where the beer-swilling, fried chicken-munching Red Sox are bringing up the rear (in spite of their 29-28 record). Boston still boasts a fairly potent lineup, even if the names aren't as intimidating as they used to be. And tonight's starter, left-hander Felix Doubront, is 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA over his last six starts.
Because of that lefty on the mound -- plus the need for a DH in the AL park -- Davey Johnson is going with a right-handed heavy lineup. Danny Espinosa will lead off. Michael Morse will hit cleanup and DH. Tyler Moore and Xavier Nady will man the corner outfield spots.
Oh yeah, and Stephen Strasburg is starting for the Nationals. Plenty of updates and analysis to come on the Nats Insider live game thread...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at BOSTON RED SOX
Where: Fenway Park
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 177
Weather: Scattered storms, 70 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to CF
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
DH Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
RF Xavier Nady
LF Tyler Moore
C Jesus Flores
(RHP Stephen Strasburg)
RED SOX (29-28)
LF Daniel Nava
2B Dustin Pedroia
1B Adrian Gonzalez
DH David Ortiz
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
3B Kevin Youkilis
RF Ryan Sweeney
SS Mike Aviles
CF Scott Podsednik
(LHP Felix Doubront)
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history.
Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him.
During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.
In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons.
Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store
Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract.
On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.
Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop.
It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series.
Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster.
Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.
The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda.
There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.
MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others