Wire Taps: Washington Nationals And Los Angeles Dodgers Start Three-Game Set In D.C.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 8: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals watches his homerun in the fifth inning against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on September 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)

• Apparently Bryce Harper took advantage of the last off day of the season to hang out with Wale and visit Ben's Chili Bowl. Oh, there are pictures if you don't believe that the 19-year-old Nats' outfielder hits up the local eateries. Just like a real person!!! He also said he liked my favorite breakfast spot in the nation's capital during an interview with the Washington Post earlier this season... Yeah, it was that kind of off day on Monday. The kind where no one wants to talk about the Nats because some local "football" team played a game the day before in which lots of super-interesting things happened... er, uh, so I'm told.

In NatsTown folks were waiting on word on Danny Espinosa's shoulder (while tracking Bryce Harper's lunch plans). Now it's back to baseball. The LA Dodgers are in town and they're going to face Jordan Zimmermann for the first time this year tonight in Nationals Park. The NL West's second-place team has lost 8 of their last 11 and dropped 8.0 games back in their division and they're currently a game out in the Wild Card race. They do, however, hold a 3-0 lead over the Nationals this season, having swept the three-game set in LA earlier this year. Zimmermann faces the Dodgers for the second time in his career tonight, and tries to win his eleventh game of 2012. 7:05 pm EDT tonight in D.C. Until then, lots of pics of Bryce Harper in local eateries and links... starting RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!!:

"[Jayson] Werth shatters stereotypes about batting first and excels at reaching base, the one thing that truly matters." - "Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth make a potent 1-2 punch" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "[Danny] Espinosa has played in 144 of the Nationals 146 games and is the only projected opening day starter who has yet to miss time with a significant injury." - "Nationals not expecting resolution on Danny Espinosa's MRI until Tuesday" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "[Danny] Espinosa had been swinging a red-hot bat for a while. Over a 21-game stretch from Aug. 13-Sept. 5, he hit .333 with five homers, 11 RBI and a .947 OPS." - "How serious is Espinosa's injury?" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "As I was in the cab back from the airport this afternoon, I stumbled upon an article on Fangraphs in which Dave Cameron had a really interesting suggestion for the teams which win the wild card spots..." - "Nationals Pastime: A radical - and interesting - postseason idea" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "[Danny] Espinosa, [Davey] Johnson said, had discussed his injury with Adam LaRoche to see if it was similar to what LaRoche endured last season."- "Nationals wouldn’t be the same without Danny Espinosa" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "It was never going to be as easy as it looked for the Nationals." - "Nationals return home to lick their wounds" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "It's unlikely you'll flip on the TV any time soon and see a national political news broadcast discussing Ross Detwiler, like you may have witnessed with Stephen Strasburg this summer." - "With Stephen Strasburg shut down, Nationals have four strong, under-the-radar starters" - Adam Berry, nationals.com: News

• "[Jayson] Werth called him the 'glue,' and manager Davey Johnson opined that he’s 'one of the best infielders in the league.' LaRoche only shrugged." - "Could Adam LaRoche's impressive year price him out of Nationals' plans?" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "FWIW, the Nats aren't the Caps. They have much more responsible young players and a much more seasoned analytical manager. We'll see how much that helps." - "Ask Boswell: All things Washington sports" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

• "More perspective: Even if the Nationals collapse and go 4-12 down the stretch, they'll still finish 93-69, forcing Atlanta to go 9-5 to leapfrog them." - "Crunch time" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "Finally healthy, after recovering from shoulder surgery that forced him to miss the 2010 season, [Nathan] Karns rolled through the 2012 season and earned Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors." - "Daubach: Nationals' Karns was the 'best pitcher in our league'" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Shortly after Werth finally returned from the disabled list on Aug. 2, Nats manager Davey Johnson installed him at the top of the batting order." - "Nationals' Werth becomes top option as leadoff hitter" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "Atlanta won again last night, beating the Marlins to move within five games of the Nats in the division. They're making a charge now." - "Nationals Pastime: Waiting for word on Espinosa" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Consider this: If the Nationals played .500 baseball, 8-8 over their final 16 games, the Braves would have to be a near-perfect 13-1 over their final 14 games to win the division." - "Nationals still in firm control of playoff fate despite sweep" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "This surely violates all sorts of sports scripture because nobody is promised tomorrow, which is part of the root of the debate on the Stephen Strasburg shutdown." - "Get used to the Nationals making the playoffs" - Thom Loverro, WashingtonExaminer.com

• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama): "The more adept we are in cultivating altruism, the happier we will be and the better the atmosphere we will create around us."

• NATSTOWN:

• "Reports of Bryce Harper and Wale showing up at Ben’s Chili Bowl last night began with one annoyed customer tweeting that Harper had pulled rank and cut the line." - "Bryce Harper and Wale at Ben’s Chili Bowl" - Sarah Kogod, DC Sports Bog - The Washington Post

• "Remember, it was last November when Harper asked Wale on Twitter to name drop him." - "Bryce Harper with Wale at Ben's Chili Bowl Monday night" - Nats Enquirer

• "Gifted with one last off day this regular season, Washington Nationals rookie Bryce Harper blew a few minds in D.C." - "Bryce Harper makes a stop at Ben’s Chili Bowl" - Kevin Kaduk, Big League Stew - Yahoo! Sports

• "Instructional League Roster – Final Thoughts" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• "September 18, 1908 - Chicago musters only 3 hits off Walter Johnson, but the Pale Hose edge the Nationals, 1-0, on the South Side. "Big" Ed Walsh is the winner for Chicago." - "This Date in Washington Senators History – Valentine’s triple denies the A’s a place in the record books" - Art Audley, D.C. Baseball History

• "Could the playoff fate of the Nationals hinge on one player's shoulder?" - "Losing Espy" - Harper, Nationals Baseball

• "It’s certainly a small sample size for Garcia’s MLB experience, but it's been impressive nonetheless. He has thrown six innings in seven games since being called up with expanded rosters in early September." - "Could Christian Garcia Make The Postseason Roster?" - Joe Drugan, The Nats Blog

• "Johnson wants LaRoche in a Nationals uniform for 2013" - Joseph Michelizzi, Positive Mental Natitude

• Click Click: Bruce Springsteen at Nationals Park: DCist

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Phillies: "It seems inevitable that some team is going to eventually serve as the anvil that crushes the Phillies' faded playoff hopes." - "Not dead yet, Phillies beat Mets, 3-1" - Bob Brookover, Philadelphia Inquirer

Mets: "[R.A.] Dickey hardly damaged his candidacy Monday night, allowing two earned runs and striking out eight over seven innings (112 pitches) to exceed 200 K’s for the season." - "R.A. Dickey still stuck on 18 wins, takes loss as Mets fall at home to Philadelphia Phillies" - Petter Botte, NY Daily News

Marlins: "The Marlins topped the two-million mark in season attendance on Monday for only the third time in franchise history." - "Marlins reach two-million milestone at gate but fall again, this time to Braves" - Clark Spencer, MiamiHerald.com

Braves: "The Marlins began playing major league baseball the same year that Chipper Jones did in 1993, and no hitter has done quite as much damage against them as the Braves third baseman." - "400th HR, ‘97 LCS … Chipper has many Marlins memories" - David O'Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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