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Previewing the National League.
If not for the sound system and the organist at Citi Field, blaring life into the otherwise dingy day in New York, you could be excused if you didn't think a major league baseball game was happening inside.
The pitch was a changeup, no different than 178 other changeups Stephen Strasburg had thrown for the Washington Nationals.
Five hours and 19 minutes after Livan Hernandez stood on the mound at Nationals Park for the first time Friday night, Jayson Werth stood 60 feet, 6 inches away from it representing the start of the Nationals' final stand. Philadelphia Phillies closer Ryan Madson had been summoned. A two-run lead was his protect and the Phillies' 81st victory was seemingly moments away.
Ryan Mattheus climbed the mound with more energy pulsing through him than almost any other time in his career. Jordan Zimmermann prayed that he wouldn't "walk the world." Sean Burnett thought about the long road he'd traversed to get to that point and Todd Coffey reminded himself not to put an undue burden on his shoulder while trying to protect his elbow.
HOUSTON | Though the Washington Nationals lost three of their final four games entering the All-Star
HOUSTON | Though the Washington Nationals lost three of their final four games entering the All-Star break, they still were one of the hottest teams in baseball. The coin that had flipped against them in so many one-run games early in the year had turned in their favor.
Though the Washington Nationals lost three of their final four games entering the All-Star break, they still were one of the hottest teams in baseball. The coin that had flipped against them in so many one-run games early in the year had turned in their favor.
John McLaren, red-faced and irate, pointing violently at umpire Mike Estabrook after an eighth-inning out call at first base was reversed, ensured that his first game as interim manager of the Washington Nationals would end abruptly. The way the previous 24 hours had gone for the Nationals, that seemed a fitting way for it to happen.
Two months ago — maybe even two weeks ago — a game like the one the Nationals played against the Orioles on Friday night would have been out of reach after Baltimore's fourth run crossed home plate. While the Nationals pitching and defense have been their strong suits this season, it was no secret that their offense lagged behind.