Connect Four

The Nats won’t make it to the playoffs but they could alter the playoff picture this weekend. The Braves were just swept by the Phillies–essentially eliminating their chances to win the division but they do hold a half game lead on the Padres in the Wild Card race. The Nats are winners of three straight and will gun for their fourth consecutive victory in the series opener. This season, the Nationals have won three games in a row on eight occasions, including three times since the All-Star break. But it is interesting to note that in subsequent contests with a four-game winning streak on the line, Washington is 0-7 this season.

 * Tonight’s matchup features two starting pitchers who have undergone Tommy John surgery within the past two seasons in Tim Hudson, who underwent the knife in mid-2008, and Jordan Zimmermann, who will log his sixth start since his return from the procedure tonight.

 * In his final nine games as a Major League manager, Bobby Cox is just one win away from 2,500 managerial victories.

 * Despite missing power hitters three and four (Dunn and Zimmerman) in the lineup due to injury last night, the Nationals blasted three long balls (Morse, Espinosa, Bernadina) and possible played their best defensive game all season en route to a 7-2 victory and the series win over the Astros. Morse also hit the game-winning double and is batting .366 (30-for-82) with eight doubles, one triple, four homers and 14 RBI in his last 24 games.

 * The Royals are the only other club who have not won as many as four straight in 2010.


Braves (86-67):

1.    Omar Infante – 2B

2.    Jason Heyward – RF

3.    Martin Prado – 3B

4.    Brian McCann – C

5.    Derrek Lee – 1B

6.    Nate McLouth – CF

7.    Alex Gonzalez – SS

8.    Matt Diaz – LF

9.    Tim Hudson – SP (16-8, 2.61 ERA)

Nationals (65-88):

1.      Danny Espinosa – 2B

2.      Roger Bernadina – CF

3.      Ian Desmond – SS

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Michael Morse – RF

6.      Willie Harris – LF  

7.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

8.      Alberto Gonzalez – 3B

9.      Jordan Zimmermann – SP (0-2, 6.75 ERA)

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