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Wang makes first start of season for Nats

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Wang makes first start of season for Nats

MIAMI -- It's been eight months since Chien-Ming Wang last started a game for the Nationals, a 4-3 victory over the Braves in which the veteran right-hander allowed just one run over six innings. The Nats re-signed Wang for 4 million shortly after the season ended and expected him to open 2012 in their starting rotation.

Then Wang suffered a scary-looking hamstring injury during spring training, and those plans had to be revised. He finally returned from the disabled list last week in Philadelphia, made a long relief appearance Friday in Atlanta and tonight will make his much anticipated first start of the season in Miami.

Wang will be opposed by Josh Johnson, the designated ace of the Marlins staff who has pitched like anything but an ace so far this year (2-3, 4.87 ERA). On the other hand, Johnson has never lost to the Nationals in 14 career starts (7-0, 3.14 ERA).

Meanwhile, one night after doubling in his first career at-bat, Jhonatan Solano makes his debut behind the plate. Sadly, brother Donovan is not in Miami's lineup. Updates and analysis to come from Marlins Park (where it's currently pouring, with the roof wide open)...

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at MIAMI MARLINS
Where: Marlins Park
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 186
Weather: Indoors

NATIONALS (29-20)
LF Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
RF Roger Bernadina
C Jhonatan Solano
RHP Chien-Ming Wang

MARLINS (28-22)
SS Jose Reyes
2B Omar Infante
3B Hanley Ramirez
RF Giancarlo Stanton
1B Logan Morrison
CF Bryan Petersen
C John Buck
LF Chris Coghlan
RHP Josh Johnson

UMPIRES
HP James Hoye, 1B Jim Joyce (cc), 2B Jim Reynolds, 3B Dan Iassogna

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Bryce Harper thanks Nationals fans for support during 2017 season

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USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper thanks Nationals fans for support during 2017 season

It's been a week since the air was sucked out of D.C. in the Nationals Game 5, 9-8 loss to the Chicago Cubs. 

And now that we've had a few days to decompress from another early D.C. playoff exit, Nats right fielder Bryce Harper decided to take some time to thank fans for their support this season.

Harper posted an Instagram video Wednesday afternoon, with a fresh cut, and thanked fans for continuing to pack Nats Park. In the video he says he looks forward to "chasing that championship" again next spring. 

The 2017 season could be described as a rough one for Harper after missing the last few weeks of the season with a bone bruise in his left knee. 

Harper had a .319 average during the 2017 season, along with 29 home runs, 97 RBI's, 95 runs scored and 4 stolen bases. He is entering the final year of his contract.

RELATED: 20 THINGS SAD D.C. SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT

National Fans. Thank you!💯 #RedLightRecording

A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bharper3407) on

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

On Thursday night, a Washington, D.C. pro sports team did something Washington, D.C. pro sports teams are very good at doing: fall short of making a league or championship game.

The Nationals' disastrous fifth inning against the Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series was the beginning of the end, not to mention yet another in a long line of disappointing playoff results for Washington, D.C. sports teams.

You see, Washington, D.C. is the only city with at least three major pro sports teams to not have a single one make a conference or league championship game since 2000.

To make matters worse, Washington, D.C. sports teams have now lost 16 consecutive playoff games in which a win would've advanced the team to the conference or league championship. 

Think about that for a second. Four teams. Zero conference championship appearances since 1998. 

Here's the list.

Washington, D.C. sports fans are not greedy. We can't be. We've had some very good teams recently, with the type of talent, coaching and intangibles needed to win a championship. 

TRY THIS: 20 THINGS DC SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT. YES, HAPPY.

The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team won a world championship was in 1992 when the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI.  The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team even made a conference championship game was in 1998, when the Capitals advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, defeating the Sabres to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Washington, D.C. isn't allowed to have nice sports things.

Sure, we have great players and great teams, but when the playoffs roll around, all the nice things go away. We aren't privy to plucky upstarts who run the table and we aren't privy to dominant teams that make long postseason runs.

Washington, D.C. will have its day, eventually. Sure it may only be a conference championship appearance, but for us, that's fine. We don't expect world championships. We just want something to get invested in.

Early playoff exits are rarely worth the investment.