Braves-Nationals Preview

The Associated Press

Baseball will likely be of secondary concern in the nation's capital on Tuesday.

The Atlanta Braves will have an opportunity to clinch the NL East in a day-night doubleheader against the Washington Nationals - one day after the start of this three-game set was postponed due to the shootings at the Navy Yard.

Located just blocks from the Navy Yard, one of Nationals Park's parking lots was used for families of the Navy Yard employees to meet following the evacuation of the facility.

"It's a very emotional day. An extremely horrific act happened very near to the ballpark,'' Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims over there and all the people affected by this. We felt it was inappropriate to play a major league baseball game with such tragedy right down the street."

Atlanta (89-60) has a magic number of four to end a seven-year drought without an NL East title since the franchise won 11 straight from 1995-2005. The Braves, who can capture the division with a sweep, agreed with the decision to stay away from the park Monday.

"Nobody is thinking about baseball. Baseball is a game," pitcher Scott Downs told Major League Baseball's official website. "You look at the real-life perspective when things go on. That's the last thing I want to do or any team wants to do, especially when something is going on five minutes down the road."

Washington (79-70) is trying to catch Cincinnati for the NL's second wild card. Dan Haren (9-13, 5.02 ERA), who was scheduled to pitch Monday and will start Tuesday's opener, said the Nationals will move on when the game starts.

"I know we are waiting basically for 16 hours to play the game," Haren said. "We are doing the best we can. As inconsequential as the game may seem on a day like today, we have to play baseball at some point, and that will be tomorrow."

Washington native Denard Span has a chance to match the 27-game hitting streak of Colorado's Michael Cuddyer as the longest in the majors in 2013. Span is batting .387 during his career-high 26-game run.

Haren, meanwhile, is 5-2 with a 5.23 ERA in seven career starts against the Braves, yielding one run in eight innings for a 3-1 victory May 2 in the lone one this year.

The right-hander could have a favorable matchup against Mike Minor (13-7, 3.15), whose 5.03 career ERA against the Nationals is the left-hander's highest mark against any NL club. Minor has a 7.04 ERA and no decisions in two starts versus Washington this year.

Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, who has started the last 23 games, is 6 for 8 off Minor and 13 for 35 with five homers and 15 RBIs in his last eight games.

Tuesday night's contest pits Washington rookie Tanner Roark (6-0, 1.30) against veteran Freddy Garcia (1-1, 1.32).

Roark has allowed two runs over 12 innings in winning his first two starts, surrendering two in six frames last Thursday in a 7-2 win over the Mets.

This will be the right-hander's first home start and first against the Braves, who he threw two innings of scoreless relief against in his big league debut Aug. 7.

Garcia wasn't with Atlanta then, finishing up a poor stint with a Baltimore club that sent him to the minors June 24. His first start with the Braves, who acquired him Aug. 23, was successful as he gave up one run in six innings to earn a 6-1 win at Miami last Thursday.

The right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in three starts against the Nationals, including a season-high, eight-inning effort May 30 in a 2-0 victory for the Orioles.

Span is 2 for 18 off Garcia and Ryan Zimmerman is 0 for 7. Zimmerman has nine homers and 12 RBIs in 14 games this month for the Nationals, who have won eight of nine.

Atlanta has won 12 of 16 meetings behind Freddie Freeman, who has 12 of his 99 RBIs in the season series. Freeman also has 13 hits in his last 26 at-bats.

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