The Washington Nationals have played one series with the St. Louis Cardinals since last October's NLDS. After the Cards knocked the Nats out of the first postseason appearance by a D.C.-based team since 1933, they came to the nation's capital in the third week of April and swept a three-game set in Nationals Park.
Tonight, the Nationals are in Busch Stadium in St. Louis to wrap up the season series with the NL Central-leading Cardinals and as Nats' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters this week, he sees an opportunity to get at least a little bit of revenge. The Cards (91-65) have a 2.0 game lead over both the Cincinnati Reds (89-67) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (89-67) in their division. Johnson said he'd like to see what his team can do to shake things up in the Central.
The Nationals' manager said last week he wasn't really scoreboard watching to see how the Reds and Pirates, who lead the Nats in the race for the second Wild Card, were doing because the Nats weren't going to play them.
"I was telling [Nats radio announcer] Charlie [Slowes]," Johnson told reporters, "that I'm more interested in what St. Louis is doing and how they're going to be, because it would be nice to come in there and play very well against them and tighten it up even further. Nothing worse than thinking about winning the division or losing it and having a one-game playoff. That would be the absolute worst thing. Or leading your division the whole way and then all-of-a-sudden having a one-game playoff."
Asked if he had an axe to grind with the Cards, Johnson said, "Not really," with a laugh. "I mean, first of all, they swept us here, and then they didn't do us any favors last year. So, I'd like to get back on even keel with them." Johnson said it might not be as much fun to beat St. Louis if they'd already wrapped up the division. "It's a lot more fun when one party has a whole lot riding on it," he explained, "because there's more energy. Just like that Pittsburgh/Cincinnati [series]. You could see the energy, electricity going around there. That's playoff baseball. That's the most fun."
• Here's the Nats' lineup for Game 1 of 3 with the Cards:
Davey's Lineup, Mon. @ STL/G157: Span cf, Zimmerman 3b, Werth rf, Harper lf, Desmond ss, LaRoche 1b, Ramos c, Rendon 2b, Roark rhp.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) September 23, 2013
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