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1st-place Nats face last-place Red Sox

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1st-place Nats face last-place Red Sox

BOSTON -- Hello from the one and only Fenway Park, where tonight a first-place club takes on a last-place club in interleague action. Just like we all expected at the start of the season, right?

It's been a topsy-turvy year so far, not only in the NL East but also in the AL East, where the beer-swilling, fried chicken-munching Red Sox are bringing up the rear (in spite of their 29-28 record). Boston still boasts a fairly potent lineup, even if the names aren't as intimidating as they used to be. And tonight's starter, left-hander Felix Doubront, is 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA over his last six starts.

Because of that lefty on the mound -- plus the need for a DH in the AL park -- Davey Johnson is going with a right-handed heavy lineup. Danny Espinosa will lead off. Michael Morse will hit cleanup and DH. Tyler Moore and Xavier Nady will man the corner outfield spots.

Oh yeah, and Stephen Strasburg is starting for the Nationals. Plenty of updates and analysis to come on the Nats Insider live game thread...

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at BOSTON RED SOX
Where: Fenway Park
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 177
Weather: Scattered storms, 70 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to CF

NATIONALS (32-23)
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
DH Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
RF Xavier Nady
LF Tyler Moore
C Jesus Flores
(RHP Stephen Strasburg)

RED SOX (29-28)
LF Daniel Nava
2B Dustin Pedroia
1B Adrian Gonzalez
DH David Ortiz
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
3B Kevin Youkilis
RF Ryan Sweeney
SS Mike Aviles
CF Scott Podsednik
(LHP Felix Doubront)

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018. 

Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.

Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.

The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.

Only the Marlins have had as many.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER THANKS NATIONALS' FANS FOR SUPPORT

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report. 

Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:

"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."

"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.

RELATED: HARPER THANKS FANS FOR SUPPORT