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Washington takes series opener in Houston: Nationals & Astros play tight game in Minute Maid Park...

Dusty Baker talked before and after the Nationals’ win last night about facing the Astros and the Nats testing themselves against an injured but impressive opponent.

Washington Nationals v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Houston’s offense started the night leading the majors in runs scored (699), total hits (1240), doubles (266), AVG (.287), OBP (.351), and SLG (.491).

Dusty Baker talked before the series opener with the Astros in Minute Maid Park about the team he and the Washington Nationals were set to face.

“They can hit,” the Nats’ skipper said, “and they’re an aggressive club. They run, they play good defense, and they’re capable, like I said, much like us, they’re capable of a big inning, you know what I mean, so we might have to take the air out of the ball a few times, because they strike and they strike in a hurry.

“They got some formidable guys there, they’ve got quite a few left-hand hitters there, and they have a pretty even lineup.”

Washington’s offense began the three-game set leading the NL in SLG (.465) and OPS (.800), and the Nationals were ranked second in AVG (.271), extra-base hits (438), and runs scored (647), and third in OBP (.337) and home runs (178).

Early on on Tuesday night, it looked like it would be a high-scoring game, with seven runs between the two teams in the first four innings, before the bullpens took over with each side able to keep the other off the board after the fourth.

Baker was asked after the game, a 4-3 win, if he was able to learn anything about the Astros, after the Nationals played them for the first time since 2014.

Washington started the night with eight straight wins over Houston and wins in 12 of the last 13 with the one-time National League team, who moved to the AL in 2013.

Baker said one game wasn’t enough to really learn anything, especially when both teams started the series with a numbers of players injured and unavailable.

“Anybody can beat you in the big leagues, and that was the first time we’ve seen them, first time they’ve seen us since Spring Training,” he explained, “... and they’re a little banged up, they don’t have their full squad, and we don’t have our full squad, so you really haven’t learned a whole lot about the guys that aren’t here, and they have some key guys that aren’t here and we have some key guys that aren’t here, so it was a good ballgame nonetheless.”

The Astros scored runs in each of the first three innings, but stranded one in each of the first two, and they left the bases loaded in a one-out opportunity to put up a few more runs in the third.

Houston loaded the bases with one out in the eighth as well, in their last serious push of the night, but right-hander Brandon Kintzler got an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play out of Max Stassi to preserve Washington’s 4-3 lead.

“They did a good job of winning those spots, especially early in the third,” Astros’ skipper A.J. Hinch told reporters after the game.

“We had a little bit of an opportunity — obviously an opportunity in the eighth as well, those big moments obviously are big swing moments.

“They had some good swings on mistakes that Charlie [Morton] made and their pitching came through at the big moments, so that was a tough game to lose.”

“It was a good ballgame to watch,” Baker said, “... and it got a little tight in the eighth and we came out with the victory.”

Tonight in Minute Maid Park, the Nationals and Astros are back at it again, after the Nats’ win gave them the second-best record in the majors... ahead of Houston and behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers.