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Tanner Roark is Nationals' last hope of preventing sweep by Cubs

Tanner Roark is Nationals' last hope of preventing sweep by Cubs

Nats (19-11) vs. Cubs (23-6) at Wrigley Field

The Nationals come into Sunday having lost three games in a row to the Cubs, who hold the best record in baseball. Washington can't afford a four-game sweep in Chicago, less from a record perspective and more for pride reasons. 

After last year's disappointing season, the Nats want to prove this time around is different. 

Tanner Roark (2-2, 2.35 ERA) has the unenviable job of facing a lineup with the most runs (180) and best on base percentage (.368) in the league. In the first three games of the series, Chicago batters have scored 21 runs. 

Washington's lineup won't have it any easier against Cubs starter Jake Arrieta (6-0, 0.84 ERA). He'll be going for his 20th straight win, dating back to July 25 of 2015 when Cole Hamels threw a no-hitter for Philadelphia.

To prevent the sweep, the Nats have to find a way to hit Arreita while simultaneously holding Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant and company in check. 

Roark, if you're reading this, Mother's Day would be the perfect time for your first career no-hitter. 

First pitch: 2:20 p.m.
TV: MASN 2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, XM 869
Starting pitchers: Nats - Tanner Roark vs. Cubs - Jake Arrieta

NATS

CF Ben Revere
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
2B Daniel Murphy
LF Jayson Werth
C Wilson Ramos
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Tanner Roark

CUBS

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Jason Heyward
3B Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
2B Ben Zobrist
LF Jorge Soler
SS Addison Russell
C Tim Federowicz
RHP Jake Arrieta

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Ex-Oriole Manny Machado homers off ex-National Gio Gonzalez in NLCS Game 1

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USA Today Sports

Ex-Oriole Manny Machado homers off ex-National Gio Gonzalez in NLCS Game 1

Sure, the Nationals and Orioles didn't make the playoffs, but that didn't stop a "Battle of the Beltways" moment from breaking out during NLCS Game 1.

Ex-National Gio Gonzalez started the game for the Brewers. In the second inning, ex-Oriole Manny Machado stepped to the plate for the Dodgers.

Here's what happened next:

If you squint, you can imagine the ball flying into the Nationals Park bullpen or the Camden Yards bleachers. 

And in case you're wondering, we have indeed entered the Twilight Zone. 

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Nationals get offseason started by acquiring righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Marlins

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USA Today Sports

Nationals get offseason started by acquiring righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Marlins

The Washington Nationals picked up righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Miami in their first offseason move to rebuild the bullpen.

The Nationals said Wednesday that they gave the Marlins international slot value in the deal.

The hard-throwing Barraclough went 1-6 with 4.20 ERA and 10 saves in 17 chances, with 61 appearances this year. He allowed one hit in 36 at-bats in June, when he was chosen NL reliever of the month, but struggled with his command the rest of the season.

Barraclough's ERA ballooned to 10.24 over his final 24 games and he lost the Marlins closer's job.

He has a career ERA of 3.21 with 279 strikeouts and 134 walks in 218 2/3 innings over four seasons, all with Miami.

Washington general manager Mike Rizzo is in need of relievers after jettisoning Shawn Kelley and Brandon Kintzler late this season.

The deal helps the Marlins in their pursuit of top international free-agent Victor Victor Mesa, a Cuban outfielder who tried out for major league scouts at Marlins Park last week.

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