Another test, this time out west

SEATTLE - Hello from the great Northwest, where the weather is lovely, the seafood is tremendous and there is practically a Starbucks on every single corner.

I had heard that coming in - that coffee shops were all over the place here. But you seriously cannot walk half a block in Seattle without seeing coffee sold somewhere, and Starbucks logos can be spotted pretty much everywhere you go.

After a much-needed day off yesterday, the Nationals get back at it tonight, hoping to snap their mini three-game losing streak.

Seeing some fans' reactions to the sweep at the hands of the Phillies, you would think the Nats' season was in a tailspin. This, of course, comes after the Nats had just won 12 of 13 entering this road trip.

Three-game losing streaks will happen over the course of a 162-game season, folks. Let's not start to panic here just because a resurgent Phillies team took three straight over Matt Williams' bunch.

Yes, the Nats' lead in the National League East is down to six games (seven in the loss column) after Atlanta's win over the Mets last night, but let's take a big-picture perspective just for a second.

According to Fangraphs, the Nats have a 97.5 percent chance of winning the NL East. So I'm sayin' there's a chance.

The Nats will have their work cut out for them tonight, as Felix Hernandez and his 2.07 ERA take the mound for the Mariners.

King Felix was originally scheduled to start on Wednesday, meaning he would miss the Nats this series, but the Mariners bumped the right-hander back a couple of days to give him some extra rest. As a result, the Nats will face the leading Cy Young candidate in the American League, a guy who is 13-4 and has allowed more than three earned runs in an outing just once this season. zimmermann-getting-sign-intense-red.jpg

Yeah, just once. And in that one start, he allowed four runs.

Hernandez has excelled at home this season, going 9-2 with a 1.96 ERA and ridiculous 0.797 WHIP in 13 starts at Safeco Field. (Compared to just an atrocious line of 4-2 with a 2.19 ERA and 0.975 WHIP on the road.)

Hernandez hasn't been quite as sharp his last two times out, however, going just five innings back on August 16, allowing two runs on seven hits in a loss to the Tigers, and then allowing three runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Red Sox his last time out.

Jordan Zimmermann will get the ball for the Nats, looking to keep a hot streak going. Over his last five outings, Zimmermann has gone 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA, with 27 strikeouts and three walks.

The Nats are 5-0 in those starts.

They could use another strong outing from Zimmermann tonight, in what should be a tremendous pitching matchup in front of a big crowd.

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