While the Nationals postponed last night’s game in the wake of the mass shooting at the Navy Yard just blocks from Nationals Park, the rest of the baseball world did play on yesterday.
And the Nats wake up a half-game farther back in the National League wild card chase than they were this time yesterday.
The Reds beat the Astros last night, pushing Cincinnati five games ahead of the Nats for the final NL playoff spot. The Nats remain four back in the loss column, and have 13 games remaining compared to the Reds’ 11.
Today’s split doubleheader at Nats Park - which will see the first game start at 1:05 p.m. and the nightcap at 7:05 p.m. - will obviously have huge ramifications when it comes to the playoff picture.
Two wins Nats wins and a Reds loss would catapult the Nationals closer to the wild card mix and would put them just 3 1/2 games back. Two Nats losses today, and not only do their postseason hopes take a massive hit, but the Braves would be celebrating an NL East title on the field at Nats Park.
Atlanta’s magic number is four, so if the Braves sweep the doubleheader with the Nats today, the division title is theirs.
Today’s pitching matchups will pit Dan Haren (9-13, 5.02 ERA) against Braves lefty Mike Minor (13-7, 3.15 ERA) in the afternoon game, and Tanner Roark (6-0, 1.30 ERA) against veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia (4-6, 4.86 ERA) in the nightcap.
Minor has squared off against the Nats twice this season, both in a two-week span in August. The lefty held the Nats to two runs over six innings in a no-decision on Aug. 5, then was touched for four runs over just 1 2/3 innings in a Nats win on Aug. 17.
Haren has faced the Braves twice this season, but only once as a starter. He allowed just one run over eight stellar innings in a Nats win over the Braves back on May 2, and then worked the 15th inning of that Aug. 17 game on just one day’s rest, picking up the save in the Nats’ marathon win in Atlanta.
Even mentioning that 15-inning game makes me delirious.
Garcia faced the Nats back in May as a member of the Orioles, and he dominated Washington to the tune of eight scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and striking out six. Roark, meanwhile, is looking to become the first rookie to win seven straight decisions this season. This will be his third career major league start.
Ross Ohlendorf is scheduled to face Braves lefty Alex Wood in tomorrow’s series finale.
I’m not sure how united this movement is (it might just be a couple people trying to get something started), but I’ve had some followers on Twitter ask me to pass along that people should wear blue and gold colors in honor of the Navy if they’re coming to the games at Nats Park today. I’ll certainly be doing so, and I’m sure the Nats wouldn’t mind seeing people in colors other than red or white today, if it’s paying tribute to yesterday’s tragedy at the Navy Yard.
For fans who had tickets to last night’s game, the Nationals have released the following ticket exchange policy:
Fans with game tickets to Monday’s postponed contest may use their original tickets for the 1:05 p.m. make-up game today. Those unable to attend the 1:05 p.m. game today can exchange their tickets for any remaining home game during the 2013 regular season or any value game during the 2014 regular season. Exchanged tickets will be issued from available inventory in the closest pricing category of equal or lesser value to the original seats.