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Nats forced to play afternoon games in NLDS

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Nats forced to play afternoon games in NLDS

The first two postseason games by a Washington baseball team in 79 years will have late-afternoon starting times, and don't be surprised if that trend continues next week once the National League Division Series returns to the District.

Major League Baseball today announced starting times for all postseason games through Tuesday, revealing that Game 1 of the NLDS between the Nationals and the winner of today's NL Wild Card Game between the Braves and Cardinals will begin at 3:07 p.m. EDT Sunday. Game 2 will be played at 4:37 p.m. EDT Monday.

Start times for Games 3-5 -- scheduled to be played Wednesday through Friday at Nationals Park -- have not been announced yet. But it's likely that Game 3 will feature another afternoon start, and it's possible the same could be true for potential Games 4 and 5.

Why all the day baseball? Because the Nationals, as the No. 1 seed in the NL, have the same Division Series schedule as the Yankees, the AL's top seed. And MLB and TBS (which is broadcasting all but two Division Series games over the next week) prefer to showcase the star-studded, 27-time World Series champs from New York in primetime whenever possible.

Thus, the Yankees will open their ALDS on the road Sunday night against the winner of tonight's Wild Card Game between the Orioles and Rangers at 6:15 p.m. EDT and will play Game 2 on Monday at 8:07 p.m., with the Nationals serving as the lead-in both days.

Sunday's Game 1 also will partially run up against the Redskins' 1 p.m. home game against the Falcons.

Start times for the final three games of the NLDS, all scheduled to be played in Washington, likely won't be announced until the last possible minute because they could be affected by the status of other Division Series that could be wrapped up by then. The NLDS between the Giants and Reds and the ALDS between the Tigers and Athletics could be over as early as Tuesday if one team sweeps the three-game series.

But if either of those series extends to four games, it would affect the starting time for Wednesday's Game 3 between the Nationals and Braves or Cardinals.

If the games at Nationals Park end up being played in the afternoon, outfielders from both teams will have to contend with the potentially difficult sun that resulted in three dropped flyballs over the course of two days Sept. 23-24.

Meanwhile, a familiar (and not-so-popular) face will be umpiring the Nationals' Division Series: Marvin Hudson. Hudson, who blew a call at first base during a Sept. 15 loss to the Braves that led to manager Davey Johnson's lone ejection of the season, was named by MLB as one of the six umpires on the crew for this series.

The full list of umpires: Joe West (crew chief), Paul Emmel, Ed Hickox, Hudson, Jim Joyce and Alfonso Marquez.

Per MLB rules, umpires are not allowed to work consecutive postseason rounds. Thus, anyone umpiring in the Division Series cannot work in the League Championship Series, though they are eligible to return for the World Series.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.