We have finally reached the final series of the Nationals' 32-game stretch against nothing but NL East and AL East opponents. They've already guaranteed they'll wind up with a winning record during this span, having gone 17-12 to this point, but they'd certainly like to add another couple (or three) victories to the pile this weekend against the Orioles.
The Nats also are motivated to take this series after losing two of three to Baltimore last month in D.C. Jordan Zimmermann did not pitch in that series, so he'll be making his first start of the season against the Orioles tonight (he has faced them three previous times in his career, going 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA).
Jason Hammel (who did face the Nats last month and came away with a win) is on the mound for Baltimore, so Davey Johnson is using his standard lineup against right-handers ... with one twist. Since they're in an American League, Michael Morse will serve as designated hitter for the seventh straight time). Roger Bernadina takes his spot in right field.
Unfortunately, I'm not able to cover tonight's game at Camden Yards. Rich Dubroff will have the full report on CSNwashington.com. Enjoy the game...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Where: Camden Yards
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WWXT (92.7 FM), WWXX (94.3 FM), WJFK (106.7 FM), WTEM (980 AM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 182
Weather: Scattered storms, 87 degrees, Wind 8 mph LF to RF
LF Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
DH Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
RF Roger Bernadina
C Jesus Flores
(RHP Jordan Zimmermann)
2B Brian Roberts
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Chris Davis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
3B Wilson Betemit
1B Mark Reynolds
DH Nick Johnson
LF Steve Pearce
(RHP Jason Hammel)
Nationals (58-41) vs. Indians (56-41) at Progressive Field
The Nationals are beginning their road trip in Cleveland on Tuesday night with several notable changes to their lineup, just in time for a big interleague series against the first-place Indians.
In center field for the first time will be Trea Turner, who remains in the lineup despite Ryan Zimmerman coming off the disabled list. Turner has six games of experience playing outfield in the minor leagues, but has never done so in the majors. Turner spoke on Sunday about how he feels ready for the challenge of playing center field.
Bryce Harper is back in the starting lineup, but is now hitting second. And Ben Revere is in at left field with Jayson Werth serving as the designated hitter.
The pitching matchup is a good one with Gio Gonzalez (6-8, 4.53) set to square off against Danny Salazar (11-3, 2.75). Gonzalez is hoping to build off his strong outing of six innings and one run allowed in his last start.
First pitch: 7:10 p.m.
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Gio Gonzaez vs. Indians - Danny Salazar
CF Trea Turner
RF Bryce Harper
2B Daniel Murphy
C Wilson Ramos
DH Jayson Werth
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Danny Espinosa
LF Ben Revere
(LHP Gio Gonzalez)
RHP Danny Salazar
Ryan Zimmerman has been reinstated off the 15-day disabled list, the Nationals announced Tuesday.
The veteran infielder sprained his rib cage in the first week of July and was retroactively placed on the 15-day DL on July 7.
Zimmerman, who was batting .221 with 44 runs, 38 RBIs and 12 HRs before his injury will be back in the lineup on Tuesday when the Nationals open a three-game road series against the Cleveland Indians Monday night.
The 31-year-old will bat sevenths and play first base.
With Zimmerman back at first base, Daniel Murphy will move back to second base and rookie Trea Turner will move from second to center field, his first-career start in center field.
The Nationals are 58-41, and lead the N.L. East by five games despite losing five of their last seven games.
RELATED: TAKING STOCK OF PROSPECTS AND SLUMPS
The Nationals have enjoyed some very good luck with their first round picks in recent years, from Bryce Harper to Stephen Strasburg to Anthony Rendon. Lucas Giolito is still in the very early stages of his MLB career, but looks like a future star.
That has not always been the case for Washington, though, as they swung and missed on plenty of draft picks before Mike Rizzo took over as GM. One of their busts was a left-handed pitcher named Josh Smoker, whom they took with the 31st overall pick in 2007.
Smoker never pitched for the Nats, but has finally reached the majors now nine years later. The New York Mets called him up on Tuesday for his long awaited MLB debut.
Smoker is now 27 and joins the Mets after posting a 4.73 ERA in 43 games at Triple-A Las Vegas. Last year he had a 3.12 ERA across three Mets affiliates.
With his numbers this year, it's hard to tell what type of impact he will make for the Mets in the majors. But if he sticks around, it could make for an interesting storyline in the Nats-Mets rivalry.
[RELATED: State of the Nats: Turner's pickoff steal, Indians next]
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