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Davey returns to Baltimore

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Davey returns to Baltimore

He's been too busy managing the first-place Nationals to contemplate such matters, so Davey Johnson was taken aback Thursday when someone mentioned it had been 15 years since he managed his final game with the Orioles.

"Time flies," he said.

Tonight, Johnson will be in the dugout at Camden Yards for the first time since 1997, the year he guided Baltimore to its lone AL East title of the last 28 years, then abruptly resigned over a spat with owner Peter Angelos on the same day he was named AL Manager of the Year.

The Orioles haven't experienced a winning season since, but they'll enter tonight's opener of Round 2 of the Battle of Beltways with a 39-30 record, good enough for second place in the division.

"I think it's great," Johnson said of Baltimore's success this season. "The only history I know in Baltimore is always being a contender and a great team, great organization. And I know they haven't been living up to that reputation, and it's great to see them doing the things that most Oriole teams I've ever been involved with did."

Much of Johnson's baseball life has been associated with the Orioles franchise. He signed there in 1962, straight out of Texas A&M. Three years later, he made his big-league debut, then spent eight seasons manning second base at Memorial Stadium.

"I think so highly of Baltimore," he said. "That's where I broke in. That's where I chose to sign with. My kids were all born there. We won championships there. It was a like a family there."

In something akin to a family spat, though, Johnson's relationship with the Orioles for the last 15 years has been nearly nonexistent. He hasn't spoken directly to Angelos during this span, though he admitted he was touched when Angelos sent flowers after Johnson's 32-year-old daughter Andrea died in 2005 of septic shock.

Asked on Thursday to describe the current status of his relationship with Angelos, Johnson at first asked: "We have to go there?"

"I'm fine," he added. "I'm still an Oriole fan."

Johnson's only other managerial stint in the last decade and a half -- 1999-2000 with the Dodgers -- didn't coincide with any interleague series against the Orioles. And by the time he took over as skipper in Washington last summer, the Nationals had already made their annual trek north to Baltimore.

So tonight's game will mark Johnson's return to the Camden Yards dugout.

He has, however, been back to the ballpark once since he left the organization. In 2010, he joined ex-teammates and manager Earl Weaver for the 40th anniversary celebration of the Orioles' 1970 World Series title. That's his lone appearance at Camden Yards in 15 years.

"I haven't been back, not in any capacity other than a fan," he said.

Soft spot for the Orioles or not, Johnson's intentions this weekend are unmistakable.

"I know they beat us two out of three here," he said. "And I'd like to return that favor."

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Bryce Harper returns to lineup as the Nationals host the Marlins

Bryce Harper returns to lineup as the Nationals host the Marlins

Nats (93-66) vs. Miami Marlins (78-80) at Nationals Park

At long last, we've reached the final series of the regular season. The Nationals will host the Miami Marlins in a weekend set that will likely determine playoff seeding. Washington's magic number to clinch home-field advantage over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the division series is two, so a win and a Los Angeles loss could sew it up on Friday night.

Seeding aside, the biggest development heading into this game is the return of Bryce Harper, who's back in the lineup after missing four games with a thumb injury. Prior to the injury, Harper had hits in five out of his previous seven games. The Nats have to hope he can pick up where he left off.   

Right hander A.J. Cole, who is currently appealing his five-game suspension as a result of Sunday’s brouhaha with the Pittsburgh Pirates, will get the start tonight. The 24-year-old is 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA. He’ll be opposed by the Marlins Andrew Cashner (5-11, 5.13 ERA).

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - A.J. Cole vs. Miami Marlins - Andrew Cashner

NATS 

CF Trea Turner
LF Jayson Werth
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
2B Stephen Drew
1B Clint Robinson
SS Danny Espinosa
C Jose Lobaton
RHP A.J. Cole

MARLINS

TBA

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Max Scherzer argues Metro should stay open later for Nats playoffs

Max Scherzer argues Metro should stay open later for Nats playoffs

The Nationals are back in the postseason, which means it's time once again to revisit D.C. Metro's policy about staying open late.

As of now, it is not in the plans for Metro to remain operative beyond their usual 12 a.m. cutoff. And, with games that often run late and past midnight, that could leave many fans at Nationals Park for playoff games with a choice between leaving early or getting stranded.

Scherzer joined Grant and Danny on 106.7 The Fan on Friday and spoke out on the matter:

“God, I would hope to believe that playoff games here in D.C. would mean more than shutting down the lines for a couple hours,” Scherzer said.

“I mean, isn’t it a supply and demand issue? We have a supply of people that demand to use the line to go the park. Why wouldn’t you want to meet that?”

Scherzer went on to suggest a movement on Twitter to convince Metro to make an exception.

“You need to get like a hashtag going and like keep the metro line open, and try to get some peer pressure through social media that way."

Metro responded to calls for staying open late by arguing it would be a "slippery slope" and lead to other requests throughout the year. They are holding strong on it, too, as they have in the past. In 2012, the company Living Social paid to keep Metro open later. And in 2014, American University did the same. The price to keep Metro open is around $30,000 an hour.

It may take another company to step up like that to ensure Nats fans won't be left out in the cold.

[RELATED: Wilson Ramos hopes to be back with Nationals]

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