The Washington Times - September 27, 2012, 03:40PM

PHILADELPHIA — The Cincinnati Reds just walked off on the Milwaukee Brewers, a win that means if the Nationals do not beat the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday evening they will become the No. 2 best team in baseball. That number won’t matter until the playoff spots are set, but the difference between being No. 1 and No. 2 in the National League could mean a lot — and it might be better to be No. 2 for planning purposes.

At any rate, the Nationals enter Thursday’s game against the Phillies with Gio Gonzalez on the mound needing a win to drop their magic number to clinch the NL East down to three.


The Braves will play the Miami Marlins Thursday night as well and a win by the Nationals coupled with a loss by the Braves could drop that number down to two before the Nationals board their plane for St. Louis.

This was supposed to be Roy Halladay’s start but Tyler Cloyd will go in Halladay’s place as the Phillies have bumped him back to the weekend amid speculation they could’ve shut him down for the season. 

It’s already been a busy day for the Nationals, who saw third base coach Bo Porter get named the Astros manager for 2013. Porter will be with the Nationals for the remainder of the season, though. 

Danny Espinosa returned to the Nationals lineup after not starting in Wednesday’s game.

Here are the full lineups: 


Jayson Werth RF
Bryce Harper CF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Adam LaRoche 1B
Michael Morse LF
Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Kurt Suzuki C
Gio Gonzalez P


Jimmy Rollins SS
Kevin Frandsen 3B
Chase Utley 2B
Ryan Howard 1B
John Mayberry Jr. CF
Darin Ruf LF
Domonic Brown RF
Erik Kratz C
Tyler Cloyd P