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Laynce Nix and Jonny Gomes make their return to the Queen city (plus lineups)

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CINCINNATI — While the east coast braces for Hurricane Irene (the Mets and Braves have already shortened their weekend series in New York to tonight’s game only) the Nationals are getting out of town at just the right time. Instead of battling rain, wind and (likely) cancellations, they’ll be in the Queen City reuniting their left fielders with their previous home and hoping to recreate some of the good fortune they had against the Reds 10 days ago when they took two of three at Nationals Park.

Laynce Nix and Jonny Gomes make their returns to Great American Ballpark tonight, and they both do so in an intriguing position. Gomes, who was traded to the Nationals on July 26, does it having put up very good numbers for his new team — including in games against his former one. Gomes’ average has continued to languish, but he’s hit three home runs, two doubles and a triple, walked five times and knocked in 10 RBI. He’s come up big for the Nationals on a handful of occasions already, despite having just 68 plate appearances to this point.

Gomes has also provided one of the main things the Nationals lacked for much of the season and that’s a right-handed yin to Nix’s left-handed yang. This way, no matter which of them is playing left field, there is always a power threat on Davey Johnson’s bench that the opposing team has to think about when running through matchups.

Nix has been with the Nationals all season, making the team as a non-roster invitee at spring training and putting up numbers better than anyone could have asked for. There was a time when Nix was the team’s cleanup hitter, most consistent batter and biggest power threat. Nix’s value when Ryan Zimmerman was on the disabled list and even active but not at full strength, shouldn’t be something that goes overlooked. In the season’s first half, Nix hit .274 with 12 homers and 33 RBI. He had a .326 BABIP and .817 OPS. His production has tailed off a bit of late, batting just .182 since the break with three homers, but he’s been hampered by a sore right Achilles for much of the season and his playing time has diminished some with the addition of Gomes.

In 2010, Gomes and Nix worked in something of a platoon in left field for the Reds. They hit .272 with 35 doubles, five triples and 22 HR. Together, they knocked in 54 runs as the Reds made their way to the National League Central title. This year, though, the Reds decided that they’d be better off without Nix, and eventually Gomes as well. Both have said how much they enjoyed playing in Cincinnati and don’t regret their time here. It will be interesting to see what, if any, reception either or both get this weekend.

The Nationals will hope to give them both a sweet return and they’ll send Chien-Ming Wang to the mound to do it, though only Gomes will be in the starting lineup against the left-hander Dontrelle Willis. Wang faced the Reds last week and pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs, in a 6-4 Nationals victory. 

Here are the lineups behind them:

Nationals:

Ian Desmond SS
Brian Bixler CF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Michael Morse 1B
Jayson Werth RF
Danny Espinosa 2B
Jonny Gomes LF
Wilson Ramos C
Chien-Ming Wang P 

Reds:

Brandon Phillips 2B
Fred Lewis LF
Joey Votto 1B
Jay Bruce RF
Ramon Hernandez C
Drew Stubbs CF
Todd Frazier 3B
Paul Janish SS
Dontrelle Willis P 

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About the Author
Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at acomak@washingtontimes.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.

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