Apr 8, 2010, 4:14 PM EDT
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals look to avoid a season-opening sweep this afternoon.
A lot of things have gone wrong for the Nationals in the last 72 hours. But here's one thing that's gone right: The cherry blossoms have been in perfect bloom all week.
OK, so if that's the best thing they've got going for them, you know it's been a rough start to the season. But at least the weather's been great and those cherry blossom trees behind the left-field fence turned pink right on schedule for the first time since Nationals Park opened in 2008.
As for the on-field product … well, the Nats had better hope Craig Stammen puts together a better start today than John Lannan or Jason Marquis did in Games 1 and 2. Stammen had a very encouraging spring. Healthy after pitching much of last season with bone chips in his elbow, the young right-hander had a very nice spring and legitimately earned his spot in the rotation. When he keeps his sinker down and has his breaking ball working as well, he's got a pretty solid groundball/strikeout combo that should be effective against even the Phillies' vaunted lineup.
Couple of lineup changes from Jim Riggleman, both expected. Cristian Guzman starts at shortstop and bats second, with Ian Desmond getting the day off. And Wil Nieves makes his first start behind the plate, giving Ivan Rodriguez a breather.
Check back for updates and analysis throughout the game, and check the homepage for other news and notes…
PHILLIES AT NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:35 p.m.
TV: MASN HD
Radio: WFED-1500 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 84 degrees, Wind 19 mph out to CF
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
NL EAST STANDINGS
Through Saturday's games
NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Saturday's games
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
Full season schedule
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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