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Game 156: Braves at Nats

Sep 26, 2010, 3:45 PM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez faces rookie Brandon Beachy today at Nationals Park.

Ryan Zimmerman is out of the Nationals' lineup with a strained rib muscle for the fourth straight day, which is not all that surprising. The Nationals figured to take the extreme cautious route with their star third baseman, and I don't think anyone would be surprised if Zim doesn't return to play this season. At this point, is it really worth the risk?

Danny Espinosa, who sat yesterday, returns to the leadoff spot in Jim Riggleman's lineup today, with Nyjer Morgan batting second and Ian Desmond hitting third. This will definitely be an interesting dilemma for Riggleman next season, assuming all three players are regulars in the Nats' 2011 lineup. Which two bat in the top two spots, and where does the other guy wind up? Both Espinosa and Desmond have potential to drive in runs, so perhaps the 6-hole could work for either. Then again, they both have speed, and Desmond has been his best this season when hitting second.

Livan Hernandez takes the mound today for his penultimate start of the season. Given the way he's pitched all year, it would be a shame for Livo to wind up with a losing record. But at 10-12, he's going to need to get the win in each of these last two starts just to salvage a .500 record.

With right-hander Jair Jurrjens hampered by a meniscus tear in his knee, the Braves are forced to send rookie Brandon Beachy to the mound for only his second career start today. Given what's at stake — the Phillies could clinch the NL East with a win and a Nats win — it's not an ideal scenario for Bobby Cox, who will be honored before today's game (his last one in Washington as Atlanta manager).

Thanks to everyone who turned out for yesterday's informal meet-and-greet in the stands. It was a real treat to meet so many of you and chat about both the team and the website. For those who couldn't make it, sorry we didn't get a chance to meet in person, but hopefully we'll cross paths down the road.

I'm not at the ballpark today, but I'll be back out there tomorrow and will have full coverage of all of the Nationals' final six games of the season. Enjoy the ongoing conversation with each other, and to those of you at the park: Stay dry!…

BRAVES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: MASN
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Chance of showers, 69 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from CF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (66-89)
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam Dunn

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  1. Kevin Rusch, Section406 - Sep 26, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    something tells me that photo's not from today. :-)

  2. BQ - Sep 26, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    @ Kevin, "I'm not at the ballpark today."I don't know why some people are so fixated on ball park pictures just before the game. Makes no sense to me.Anyways, would love to see Livan end a solid season on a high note.

  3. BQ - Sep 26, 2010 at 7:16 PM

    why so quiet here today? Nats are leading 2-1 after Ankiel hit HR in top of the fifth. We got one hit from Espinosa but that was erased when he was caught stealing right after Morgan struck out swinging. Ian also got called out on strikes. Livan has been decent I guess.

  4. JaneB - Sep 26, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    C'mon Ian!

  5. Another_Sam - Sep 26, 2010 at 8:44 PM

    IMHO, Livan's already locked up the openening day start next year.

  6. Dryw - Sep 26, 2010 at 9:37 PM

    Much more fun than yesterday! Not just because we won; the game was a better game. But I do love winning. Starting to see chances for more of it next year…..SIGN ADAM DUNN!

  7. natsfan1a - Sep 26, 2010 at 10:50 PM

    Yeah, that was a lot more fun than yesterday, and it's sooo much nicer to ride back on a happy train.

  8. Sec3MySofa - Sep 27, 2010 at 12:32 AM

    that sounds like it should be a euphemism for something…"Looks like she's on the Happy Train!"

  9. natsfan1a - Sep 27, 2010 at 1:10 AM

    Perhaps, but then there's the matter of riding the sad train. :-)

  10. natsfan1a - Sep 27, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    A close relative is the happy bus, which I've ridden from Wrigley to the Loop.

  11. Anonymous - Sep 27, 2010 at 2:29 AM

    Yet, this offseason is looking more and more perilous … one false move and …The loss of Strasburg, the time its taking for Zimmermann and Detwiler to become consistent, reliable major league starters is making trading for a top notch top-of-the-rotation power pitcher ace almost a hard requirement for 2011. In 2 -3 years the rotation should hopefully be fairly stable depending less on pitch-to-contact innings eaters. But for now looks like they need help from outside to improve over this year's record.

  12. Tcostant - Sep 27, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    I said all alone that 2011 could be ugly. Zimmermann needs a full season before we should consider him back. Maya doesn't look that impressive. Please pay up and sign Yu Darvish, he was the BEST pitcher I saw last year in the World Baseball Classic.http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/yu_darvish/I saw it, this guy is a #1 ML starter.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 58 -- 19
ATLANTA 72 66 7.0
MIAMI 67 69 11.0
NEW YORK 64 74 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 63 74 15.5
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

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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