For the first time Manager Davey Johnson took over on June 27, the Nationals will face a left-handed starting pitcher. J.A. Happ is on the mound for the Astros, and Johnson responded with some changed to his lineup, shifting Danny Espinosa to the leadoff spot, Ian Desmond to second and Roger Bernadina to seventh.
Johnson said he’ll return to his usual lineup, with Bernadina first and Espinosa second, tomorrow. He dropped Bernadina because of the lefty, and he said he wanted to reward Desmond for his recent performance, particularly his showing more patience at the plate. In his past seven games, Desmond is 7 for 22 with two walks, a double and a triple.
Once he decided he wanted to pull Desmond out of the eighth spot, Johnson thought it made more sense to bat Espinosa in front of Desmond. Late in the game, he’d rather have a situation where Desmond would be bunting Espinosa over rather than Espinosa bunting.
Jerry Hairston will make his first appearance since June 29, when he broke a bone in his left wrist. Johnson wanted to give him a start to remove some rust, but also wanted to let Laynce Nix rest his nagging, sore right Achilles heel. Johnson doesn’t want Nix playing a night game before a day game, and with Happ pitching tonight he figured he might as well sit him tonight rather than tomorrow.