Nats need Strasburg to avoid sweep

Nats need Strasburg to avoid sweep
May 20, 2012, 3:53 pm
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Remember all those close games the Nationals were winning? Yeah, not so much anymore. In dropping the first two games of this series to the Orioles by scores of 2-1 and 6-5, the Nats have lost their first two one-run games at home this season. They had been 8-0 at Nationals Park. Overall, they've gone 4-7 in their last 11 one-run contests after opening the season 6-1 in those ultra-close ballgames.

If they are to reverse that trend today (and salvage one game from this Battle of the Beltways series) they'll both need Stephen Strasburg to bounce back from his shaky start against the Padres -- here's guessing he avoids all ointments, creams and other topical medications this morning -- and their lineup to produce early against Orioles left-hander Wie-Yin Chen.

Not wanting to tinker too much with the reconfigured lineup he used last night, Davey Johnson is sticking with his second baseman as his leadoff man. That man, however, is not Steve Lombardozzi as it was last night but Danny Espinosa, who returns after getting one night off. Though he hasn't done it yet this year, Espinosa has led off 38 times in his career ... producing a .162 average and .235 on-base percentage.

Plenty of updates to come on the Nats Insider live game thread, so please check it out...

BALTIMORE ORIOLES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MASN2, Ch. 50, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WWXT (92.7 FM), WWXX (94.3 FM), WTEM (980 AM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 184
Weather: Partly cloudy, 79 degrees, Wind 14 mph in from CF

NATIONALS (23-17)
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
RF Xavier Nady
LF Tyler Moore
C Jesus Flores
RHP Stephen Strasburg

ORIOLES (27-14)
LF Xavier Avery
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
3B Wilson Betemit
1B Chris Davis
2B Robert Andino
C Luis Exposito
LHP Wie-Yin Chen

UMPIRES
HP Rob Drake, 1B Joe West (cc), 2B Sam Holbrook, 3B Andy Fletcher