Lining up some possibilities for Orioles batting order

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A week remains in the month of January and I’m already seeing mock lineups posted online. They’re built upon a foundation of past orders and current assumptions.

I’ve done it with less.

Cedric Mullins is leading off for the Orioles, and that’s the only certainty on the team. He did it in 141 games last season – the club went 73-68 – and he’ll be missing at the top only if on the bench or perhaps on some occasions when he’s facing a tough left-hander.

Mullins batted .209/.265/.313 against southpaws last season, compared to .279/.340/.441 against right-handers.

Deciding on an actual opening day lineup is harder when the Red Sox haven’t announced their starter. Their rotation candidates include left-handers Chris Sale and James Paxson, and right-handers Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock, Corey Kluber and Brayan Bello.

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Could Orioles field a homegrown lineup in 2023? (Bemboom update)

Ryan McKenna Austin Hays jump black road

As I sorted through the mailbag that I emptied this week, I came across a question that nudged my curiosity.

A question that made me want to do a little digging.

More of a team effort. I’ll admit that I passed the shovel to a few hands.

Could there be at least one game next year with a homegrown Orioles lineup? With nine position players drafted by the club or signed as an amateur free agent?

My first reaction was to scan each one posted this season to make sure it didn’t happen.

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Game 162 lineups: Nats at Mets

Erick Fedde throws gray

NEW YORK – And so we have come to the end of the road. The worst season in Nationals history concludes later this afternoon with one final game against the Mets, who no longer have anything at stake after the Braves clinched the NL East on Tuesday night. New York will host the Padres in a best-of-three Wild Card Series beginning Friday, so Buck Showalter’s only goal today is make sure his team is ready for that assignment.

The Nats limp into the finish line, not only because of their record but because of injuries. They lost CJ Abrams to a jammed left shoulder and Victor Robles to tight right calf during Tuesday’s doubleheader. They’ve already been without Nelson Cruz (left eye infection) for more than two weeks. So Davey Martinez has to piece together his lineup for Game 162 with whatever remaining healthy bodies he still has.

Erick Fedde has the distinct honor of starting the finale. It’s his 27th start of the season, matching his total from 2021. Fedde’s last start here at Citi Field, one month ago, was one of his best of the year: six innings of one-run ball on 101 pitches. He’ll try to duplicate that feat and head home for the winter on a positive note.

Speaking of positive notes: The weather finally looks decent for the first time in a week. It’s still cloudy and windy and cold, but most of the rain appears finally to have cleared out.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at NEW YORK METS
Where:
Citi Field
Gametime: 4:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Cloudy, 59 degrees, wind 10 mph in from left field

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Game 161 lineups: Nats at Mets

garcia hr @ NYM gray

NEW YORK – All right, they were able to get the first game of today’s doubleheader in. Let’s see if they can get the nightcap in as well. And if the Nationals can beat the Mets and officially eliminate them from the National League East race.

It’s Paolo Espino on the mound for the Nationals for his final start of the season, and he is still seeking his first win of the season. Espino enters the day with 113 innings pitched. The record for most innings pitched in a season without earning a win is 117 1/3, set by the Twins’ Terry Felton in 1982. That record is very much at stake tonight.

Taijuan Walker starts for the Mets. It’s only his second outing against the Nationals this season. Way back on May 12 in D.C., he tossed seven scoreless innings on only 85 pitches. He’ll try to duplicate that feat this evening.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at NEW YORK METS
Where:
Citi Field

Gametime: 8:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Rain, 56 degrees, wind 18 mph in from left field

NATIONALS
RF Lane Thomas
SS CJ Abrams
1B Joey Meneses
2B Luis García
DH Luke Voit
3B César Hernández
CF Alex Call
LF Josh Palacios
C Tres Barrera

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Game 160 lineups: Nats at Mets (take two)

abbott blue @ ATL

NEW YORK – Well, guess we’re going to try to do this yet again. Even though the weather here continues to be miserable.

The Nationals and Mets couldn’t open their season-ending series as planned Monday night, so they’ll try to not only play that game today, but then another game as well. It’s a straight doubleheader, beginning at 4:10 p.m., with only 30 minutes between games. The problem, as it’s been for days, is that it continues to rain, the wind continues to howl and there’s no end in sight.

But press on they will, and if they can play it’ll be the same pitching matchup that was planned for Monday night: Cory Abbott for the Nats, Carlos Carrasco for the Mets. Keep in mind: The Mets still technically can win the NL East, but only if they win three games over the Nationals while the Braves (who lost Monday night) lose two more to the Marlins.

That’s why, for now, they have to proceed as if it’s necessary to play all three games of this series. If that changes, perhaps the urgency to get these games in will disappear.

One roster note: Reliever Reed Garrett, who joined the Nationals on this trip in case his services were needed, has been activated to serve as the 29th man for the doubleheader. He's available out of the bullpen for both games.

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Game 160 lineups: Nats at Mets

vargas swing @ STL gray

NEW YORK – You’ll never guess what the weather’s going to be like the next three days here at Citi Field! It’s like somebody purposely decided to have a massive storm follow the Nationals up the East Coast, because just as soon as things cleared up in D.C., the remnants of Hurricane Ian have made their way to New York, where tonight the Nats and Mets are supposed to open the final series of the season.

For now, these games matter. But they may not matter nearly as much as we thought they would after the Braves swept the Mets in Atlanta over the weekend, reducing their magic number to clinch the National League East to one. In other words, all it will take is one Braves win over the Marlins or one Nationals win over the Mets to end the division race and leave New York as the top wild card participant instead.

New York used up its big three starters in Atlanta, so it’s Carlos Carrasco here tonight. The Nats hit him around pretty good last month, knocking him out in the third inning after scoring five runs (only one earned) on six hits. They had far less success in three previous games against Carrasco earlier in the season.

Cory Abbott is tonight’s starter for the Nationals, getting one last chance to leave a positive impression heading into the winter. It’s been a struggle for the right-hander, who has completed more than five innings only once in eight starts. The good news: He has yet to surrender a run to the Mets in seven total innings.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at NEW YORK METS
Where:
Citi Field

Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Rain, 55 degrees, wind 17 mph in from center field

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Game 159 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

patrick corbin blue

The Nationals and Phillies have been able to play three games so far this weekend. They have one more scheduled today to wrap up this four-game series and the home portion of the 2022 regular season at Nats Park.

The forecast isn’t great for today, but it looks like it’s mostly light rain this afternoon, which they might be able to play through. If not, we could either be here for a long time or back on Thursday if the National League wild card isn’t settled. 

Patrick Corbin makes his last start of the season today and fourth against the Phillies, who have been really good against him. The left-hander is 0-3 with a 10.97 ERA, 2.625 WHIP and six home runs allowed in 10 ⅓ innings against the Phils.

Zack Wheeler makes his second start against the Nationals this year. He held them to one run over seven innings in a win at Nats Park on June 16. He’s 9-14 with a 4.44 ERA in 27 career starts against the Nats.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, MLB.com
Weather: Rain, 57 degrees, wind 13 mph in from left-center field 

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Game 158 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

Luke Voit swing cherry blossom

The Nationals and Phillies have managed to complete the first two games of this weekend’s four-game series on schedule (that is, the original schedule). Now they’ll try to get Game 3 completed as planned tonight before another round of rain arrives in the region.

They’ve split these two games so far, each winning comfortably once, including the Nats’ 13-4 rout this afternoon. They’ll hope they can keep that kind of aggressive offensive attack going tonight against Noah Syndergaard, who they face for the third time this season. They’ve done OK against the former Mets right-hander, totaling seven runs and 19 hits in 11 innings. They’re also 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts against the notoriously slow worker, so look for them to run again.

We’ll be getting our first look at Tommy Romero, a 25-year-old right-hander who was claimed off waivers from the Rays last month and then pitched well in six games (two starts) at Triple-A Rochester, going 3-1 with a 2.33 ERA and 1.138 WHIP. Romero is not a power pitcher; he relies on weak contact. So infield defense will be key tonight as the Nationals try to emerge with another win and deal the Phillies’ playoff hopes another blow.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where:
Nationals Park

Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Rain, 62 degrees, wind 13 mph in from center field

NATIONALS
RF Lane Thomas
SS CJ Abrams
1B Joey Meneses
DH Luke Voit
2B Luis García
LF César Hernández
3B Ildemaro Vargas
CF Victor Robles
C Tres Barrera

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Game 157 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

Anibal Sanchez throw blue back away

What do you say we try this again?

The first attempt to play a day-night doubleheader at Nationals Park this weekend didn’t work. Though the Phillies beat the Nats 5-1 on Friday afternoon, the nightcap was postponed about 30 minutes before scheduled first pitch. So now they’ll attempt to do it again today and tonight, despite the forecast still looking really bad.

The Nationals will go with Aníbal Sánchez in this afternoon’s opener, holding Tommy Romero for a potential nightcap. Sánchez has been on quite the roll over the last six weeks. Add up his last seven starts, and the 38-year-old is 3-1 with a 1.31 ERA and 0.932 WHIP. He hasn’t surrendered more than two runs or more than four hits in any of those seven starts, truly a run of dominance to wind down his season.

Kyle Gibson starts for the Phillies, with Noah Syndergaard held back for the nightcap. Gibson faced the Nationals back on Aug. 5 and dominated, allowing one run on two hits over eight sparkling innings, though he was roughed up by the Blue Jays and Braves his last two starts.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where:
Nationals Park

Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Rain, 60 degrees, wind 16 mph in from center field

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Orioles and Yankees lineups

Gunnar Henderson swing helmet falls gray

NEW YORK – The quest has shifted for the Orioles. Finish above .500. That’s it beyond personal numbers.

A Mariners win early this morning eliminated the Orioles from wild card contention. Five games remain in the season.

Gunnar Henderson is batting leadoff today and playing third base. Adley Rutschman is batting third as the designated hitter.

Cedric Mullins stays in the lineup but moves down to sixth. Ryan McKenna is in left field and Austin Hays is in right as the cleanup hitter.

Anthony Santander is on the bench.

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Game 157 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

Luke Voit swing cherry blossom

One down, three to go. Hopefully, this is the last time this season the Nationals will play a doubleheader as they try to get tonight’s nightcap in before the remnants of Hurricane Ian hit our area. Unfortunately, the forecast doesn’t look good, even though I’m furiously knocking on wood.

The Nationals have been dreadful against National League East opponents, which may play into the Phillies’ advantage this weekend. The Nats are now 2-14 against the Phils this season after this afternoon’s 5-1 loss. The Phillies are clinging onto a one-game lead over the Brewers for the National League’s final wild card spot.

If we are able to play baseball tonight, Tommy Romero will make his Nationals debut after being claimed off waivers from the Rays on Aug. 25. He was brought up as the Nats’ 29th man for the doubleheader, and although technically available for both games, is scheduled to start the nightcap. The 25-year-old right-hander went 1-0 with a 7.71 ERA and 1.714 WHIP in 4 ⅔ innings over three appearances (one start) with the Rays. He posted a 2.33 ERA and 1.138 WHIP in six games (two starts) with Triple-A Rochester.

Noah Syndergaard will make his 10th appearance, ninth start, for the Phillies tonight. Since arriving in a trade with the Angels, the right-hander is 4-2 with a 4.59 ERA and 1.388 WHIP over 49 innings. His last outing was just his second relief appearance of his career (and first since 2016) as he pitched two scoreless innings against the Blue Jays.

Syndergaard has struggled against the Nats in his two starts against them this year, giving up 11 hits and four runs in five innings on Aug. 4 and eight hits and three runs in six innings on Sept. 9. Both of those games were at Citizens Bank Park and the Phillies won each. 

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Orioles and Yankees lineups

Adley Rutschman Cedric Mullins black away

NEW YORK – A weekend series at Yankee Stadium brings so much baggage to the Orioles.

They could be eliminated from the wild card race. They could surrender Aaron Judge’s record-setting 62nd home run of the season.

This is a unique visit that didn’t turn out as they wanted.

The Mariners won again last night and the Rays lost, leaving the Orioles five games behind the last wild card and with their magic number for elimination down to one. They still need a win to reach 81 and guarantee their first non-losing season since 2016.

The Orioles have lost five of their last six games, including three straight in Boston to close out the penultimate road series of the year.

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Game 156 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

victor robles swings white

And away we go …

It’s the final home series of the season, or at least it’s supposed to be the final home series of the season. Rain and the Phillies’ standing in the wild card race could force everyone to come back here Thursday to play however many games still need to be played to decide the race.

There’s plenty of time to worry about how the weekend is going to play out, but here’s the safest bet of all: Today’s first game should be completed with no issues. It’s Erick Fedde on the mound for what could be his final start of the season, facing a Phillies lineup that roughed him up for four runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings earlier this month.

The Phillies, who have had all kinds of trouble scoring runs, desperately need a quality pitching performance from Bailey Falter, who makes his third start against the Nats this year. The lefty has allowed a total of five runs on 11 hits in nine innings, though he has struck out 10.

Both teams are allowed a 29th player for the doubleheader, and the Nationals are using theirs on right-hander Tommy Romero, who was called up from Triple-A Rochester. Claimed off waivers from the Rays last month, Romero had a 2.33 ERA in six games (two starts) for the Red Wings and has intrigued club officials. He's available to pitch either game today, if needed.

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Orioles and Red Sox lineups

Mullins Santander celebrate gray

BOSTON – The Orioles play their final game at Fenway Park today with Gunnar Henderson at third base and Kyle Stowers in left field.

Ryan Mountcastle, who struck out four times last night as the designated hitter, is playing first base.

Cedric Mullins is in center field and Austin Hays is in right. Anthony Santander is the designated hitter.

Terrin Vavra goes to the bench, with Rougned Odor playing second base.

Mike Baumann stays in the rotation and makes his third major league start. He went four innings and threw 58 pitches while allowing two runs against the Astros.

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Game 155 lineups: Nats vs. Braves

josiah gray pitches white

It hasn’t been a pleasant experience for the Nationals to face the Braves this season. (Not that it’s been much more pleasant to face anybody else in the NL East this season.) Tonight, they get one final shot at beating the defending World Series champions and perhaps dealing them a blow in their attempt to surpass the Mets to win the division this year.

It’s Josiah Gray back on the mound for what again could be his final start of 2022, though there still remains a need for somebody to pitch next week’s final series in New York, so don’t just assume this is the end of the road. Regardless, the 24-year-old right-hander would love to wrap things up on a positive note, because it’s been a difficult September for him (18 earned runs, 25 hits, 11 walks, five homers in 19 1/3 innings).

Gray has actually faced the Braves only once this season, way back on April 13 at Truist Park. He tossed five scoreless innings, allowing only one hit. A lot, of course, has changed since then.

Jake Odorizzi starts for Atlanta. The Nats saw him this spring when he was with the Astros, but this is the first time they’ve faced him since he was acquired by the Braves. Davey Martinez goes with a lineup that again includes CJ Abrams as No. 2 hitter, with Luis García returning to play second base after sitting out Tuesday’s game and Riley Adams back behind the plate.

ATLANTA BRAVES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where:
Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 66 degrees, wins 9 mph left field to right field

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Orioles and Red Sox lineups

urias dugout gray

BOSTON – Ramón Urías has returned to the Orioles lineup tonight as the third baseman, with rookie Gunnar Henderson moving to shortstop.

Urías is receiving treatment for spasms between his neck and right shoulder.

Rookie Terrin Vavra remains on the bench, but his left hamstring is much better and he’s available to play. Vavra felt it grab Sunday while running the bases and came out of the game.

Anthony Santander is the left fielder, and Austin Hays is in right. Rookie Kyle Stowers goes from left field last night to the designated hitter role tonight.

Kyle Bradish is making the 22nd start of his rookie season. He tossed 8 2/3 scoreless innings with two hits, no walks and 10 strikeouts Thursday night against the Astros and will try to bring the same stuff to Fenway Park.

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Game 154 lineups: Nats vs. Braves

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The disparity between the Nationals and Braves has been on display all year long when these two teams face each other. The Nats are 4-13 against Atlanta in 2022, and while there are multiple reasons for that, it’s hard to ignore this fact: They’ve been out-homered by the staggering total of 38 to 14. That disparity only increased Monday night, when the Braves hit three more home runs during an 8-0 shutout victory in which both teams finished with six hits.

This is all to make the point that the Nationals might want to try to break out the power bats tonight against Kyle Muller, called up by the Braves from Triple-A Gwinnett to start this game. The Nats faced the lefty once last season, scoring three runs in 4 2/3 innings off him. He’s made only two big league starts this season, producing a 10.57 ERA.

If the Nationals can score some runs, perhaps Paolo Espino can deliver five solid innings, keep Atlanta in the ballpark and put himself in position to finally earn his first win of the year. This is Espino’s fourth start (fifth overall appearance) against the Braves this season, and he’s allowed 11 runs (nine earned) on 20 hits in 16 1/3 innings.

ATLANTA BRAVES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where:
Nationals Park

Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 67 degrees, wins 9 mph left field to right field

NATIONALS
RF Lane Thomas
SS CJ Abrams
1B Joey Meneses
DH Luke Voit
LF Alex Call
2B César Hernández
3B Ildemaro Vargas
CF Victor Robles
C Tres Barrera

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Game 153 lineups: Nats vs. Braves

CJ Abrams swing red home

The last full week of the regular season is here, and with 10 games against division rivals playing for postseason positions remaining on the schedule, the Nationals can have an effect on the October playoff picture.

Tonight begins a three-game set against the Braves, who beat the Nats two out of three last week in Atlanta. The Braves have already secured their spot in the postseason but are looking to gain ground on the Mets, who have a 1 ½ game lead in the National League East and are idle today before starting a home series against the Marlins tomorrow. Having struggled against divisional foes all season long, the Nats are just 4-12 against the Braves this year and 1-6 against them at Nationals Park. 

Cory Abbott will make his eighth start of the season tonight while still searching for his first major league win. He’s 0-3 with a 4.85 ERA over his 14 appearances on the season with a 5.70 ERA as a starter. His lone outing against the Braves came in his last start a week ago, when he allowed four runs with six hits and two walks over four innings at Truist Park.

Likewise, rookie right-hander Bryce Elder will make his second consecutive start against the Nats. He held them to just one run on four hits and two walks with six strikeouts over 5 ⅔ innings on Wednesday, a game in which the Nats rallied to win. Elder is 1-3 with a 3.38 ERA over his eight appearances, seven of which were starts.

ATLANTA BRAVES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB Network (outside of D.C. and Atlanta markets only), MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 70 degrees, wind 7 mph left field to right field 

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Game 152 lineups: Nats at Marlins

Sanchez red

MIAMI – Though it’s been inevitable for a while now, the Nationals’ march to 100 losses nevertheless isn’t something anyone wanted to be a part of. Alas, the time has arrived to reach that unceremonious milestone, perhaps as soon as today if they can’t salvage one win this weekend against a Marlins team that has absolutely dominated them all season.

If they’re going to delay the inevitable for at least one more day, the Nats simply are going to need to score more runs than they have against this Miami pitching staff. How bad has it been? In 18 head-to-head games, they’ve scored an average of 2.55 runs, posting a .205/.279/.312 slash line. Is it any wonder they’ve gone 3-15 in those games?

Today’s Marlins starter looking to continue the trend is Edward Cabrera, who of course dominated the Nationals in his one previous outing against them this year: one run, two hits in six innings during a 12-2 win here on June 7.

Aníbal Sánchez starts for the Nats, and while that thought may have sent shivers down everyone’s spines earlier this summer, remarkably the veteran right-hander has become their most consistently effective starter down the stretch. Over his last six starts, Sánchez is 2-1 with a 1.53 ERA, having allowed a grand total of five runs on 14 hits over 29 1/3 innings. How about that?

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at MIAMI MARLINS
Where:
loanDepot Park
Gametime: 1:40 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Indoors

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Game 151 lineups: Nats at Marlins

Erick Fedde throws gray

MIAMI – It was only six days ago the Nationals faced Sandy Alcantara. The Marlins ace went the distance that afternoon at Nationals Park, tossing a complete game on only 103 pitches. The good news: The Nats managed seven hits off the right-hander. The bad news: They scored only one run. And because they were so aggressive, often putting the first or second pitch of an at-bat in play, they allowed him to keep his pitch count so low, he was able to cruise through nine innings.

So, what’s the strategy tonight at loanDepot Park? Continue to be aggressive and hope more of those hits produce runs? Or try to make Alcantara work and perhaps get him out of the game sooner and force the Marlins to go to their bullpen? There’s no right answer, of course. The Nats just have to hope they can find a way to beat the Cy Young Award favorite and avoid their 99th loss of the season.

Erick Fedde makes his 25th start of the year for the Nationals, his fourth against the Marlins. Historically, the right-hander has been successful against them, but he labored last weekend in D.C., allowing three runs on seven hits while throwing 87 pitches in only four innings before getting hooked. Fedde has got to find a way to be more efficient tonight to give his team a chance against Alcantara and Co.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at MIAMI MARLINS
Where:
loanDepot Park
Gametime: 6:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Indoors

NATIONALS
RF Lane Thomas
2B Luis García
1B Joey Meneses
DH Luke Voit
LF Alex Call
SS CJ Abrams
3B Ildemaro Vargas
CF Victor Robles
C Riley Adams 

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