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Washington Nationals’ lineup for series opener with Houston Astros in Minute Maid Park...

Washington and Houston start a three-game set in Minute Maid Park tonight at 8:10 PM EDT. Here is the Nationals’ lineup for the series opener...

MLB: Washington Nationals at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Houston is 76-48 on the season with a 12.0-game lead in the AL West heading into this week’s three-game set with the Washington Nationals, who arrive in Minute Maid Park with a 74-48 record and a 14.0-game lead in the NL East.

Both teams lead their respective divisions, but each team is dealing with numerous injury issues as the series gets underway.

A.J. Hinch’s Astros are just 7-12 in August, but the manager told reporters he thinks that his team will turn things around, having won four of the last six games heading into this week’s matchup.

“It’s a big series because they’re a good team,” Hinch told reporters this weekend, as quoted by

“They present a lot of challenges. They do a lot of things well, which is why they’re at where they are. So do we.”

Washington’s won 11 of 18 games this month, four shy of Dusty Baker’s goal of 15 wins per month that his team has reached in all-but one month this season, now their injury impacted lineup heads to Houston for a three-game set after taking three of four from San Diego in this past weekend’s series with the Padres.

In Minute Maid Park this season, the Astros are 36-27, good for the eighth-best home record in the majors.

Baker’s Nationals have the third-best road record this season, at 39-23, which is the second-best mark in the National League, and the third-best road record in the majors, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers (37-21) and Astros (40-21).

Washington visits Houston for the first time since 2014, when the Nationals swept a two-game set and took all four games with the Astros that season.

This will be the Nats’ first visit to Minute Maid Park since they leveled out Tal’s Hill, which, with all the injuries to the Nationals’ outfielders this season, has to be a good thing... though I admit I don’t remember anyone getting injured on it. Just always scared me...


LINEUP NOTES: Please don’t ask me why De Aza is leading off. What the [blank] is a DH? Am I the only one happy they got rid of that hill in Houston? Sorry, Tal Smith. No offense, and saying that means you really can’t take offense, right? Howie Kendrick, Michael A. Taylor and Alejandro De Aza left to right. Just like the Nationals planned it this Spring...