Game 34 lineups: Nats vs. Astros

The Nationals are facing the Astros this weekend, if you haven’t heard, and that means it’s going to be a weekend filled with nostalgia. This is, of course, the first matchup between the two clubs since the 2019 World Series (non-spring training matchup, that is). So you’re going to see a lot of highlights from that glorious 10-day stretch in late-October 2019 all weekend, for better or worse.

It’s also Dusty Baker’s return to D.C. for the first time since he was let go by the Nationals following the 2017 season. At the time, it was reasonable to think Baker would never get another chance to manage in the big leagues. As it turned out, he did get another chance, and not only that but a chance to manage a World Series contender. We’ll see what kind of reception he gets this weekend from Nats fans, but I would imagine it will be a resoundingly positive one.

As for tonight’s series opener, Josiah Gray gets the ball against a tough Houston lineup. It’s the latest big test for the young right-hander, who in the big picture has impressed this season. He shut out the Giants over six innings two starts ago, then held the Angels to three runs over 5 1/3 innings last time out in a start that looked better than that final line would indicate.

The Nationals lineup, meanwhile, has to try to solve an Astros pitching staff that has been lights out. Those arms have allowed a total of 11 runs during the 10-game winning streak they carry into this series. Yes, only 11 runs allowed in 10 games. Left-hander Framber Valdez, who starts tonight, has been somewhat less effective than his rotation mates, allowing five total runs over his last two starts. Still pretty good, though.

HOUSTON ASTROS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 980 AM, MLB.com
Weather: Chance of rain, 71 degrees, wind 7 mph in from right field

NATIONALS
2B César Hernández
RF Juan Soto
1B Josh Bell
DH Nelson Cruz
C Keibert Ruiz
3B Maikel Franco
LF Lane Thomas
SS Alcides Escobar
CF Victor Robles

RHP Josiah Gray

ASTROS
2B José Altuve
DH Michael Brantley
3B Alex Bregman
LF Yordan Alvarez
RF Kyle Tucker
1B Yuli Gurriel
SS Aledmys Díaz
CF Chas McCormick
C  Martín Maldonado

LHP Framber Valdez

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