Game 144: Nationals at Braves

Adam Berry here at Turner Field, pinch-hitting for Bill Ladson. For more news and notes and in-game updates, check out Nationals.com and follow me on Twitter @adamdberry.

A few quick notes from Atlanta before the 7:35 p.m. first pitch…

-The full lineups are below, but you’ll notice Michael Morse (left wrist) isn’t in there for the Nats. He didn’t take BP with the team today and said it’ll be a wait-and-see thing tomorrow — he’ll come in, get evaluated, go through treatment and see how he feels. He didn’t sound too optimistic about returning this series, and neither did manager Davey Johnson.

“I kind of knew it was being real optimistic that he could’ve been available today,” Johnson said. “I think it’s more likely next Tuesday, and he’s still bothered by it.

“He’s got to come through a full workout before I even want to take a chance on him. I don’t want to make it worse. And we’ve got three guys chomping at the bit who’d like some playing time while he’s out — [Steve] Lombardozzi, [Roger] Bernadina and Tyler Moore. We’re all right.”

One other thing, which Johnson downplayed, in addition to Morse’s qualified backups: The Nats have a substantial lead over the Braves and are potentially a day away from clinching a playoff spot, so why bother rushing him back if he won’t be fully healthy?

-Speaking of that playoff spot, the math works out to the point where the Nationals could officially punch their playoff ticket tomorrow, guaranteeing themselves at least a Wild Card spot even if they lost the rest of the way. If you’d have said back in February that Washington would be making postseason plans on Sept. 15, surely you would’ve imagined that day being one to celebrate, right? Not so much.

Sharing a sentiment felt pretty strongly around baseball, Johnson said clinching a spot in the one-game Wild Card play-in would hardly be an occasion to break out the champagne.

“It’s not a big moment. It’s a nice moment, but it’s not a big moment,” Johnson said. ” The additional Wild Card, to me, just put more of a burden on the manager because nobody wants that one. The one-game playoff to get in — the other format, if you were the Wild Card, you’re in the playoffs. So, clinching a one-game playoff doesn’t have any appeal at all to me.”

As for tonight’s lineups…

Nationals (89-54)
Jayson Werth RF
Bryce Harper CF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Adam LaRoche 1B
Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Roger Bernadina LF
Kurt Suzuki C
Ross Detwiler LHP

Braves (81-63)
Reed Johnson CF
Martin Prado LF
Jason Heyward RF
Chipper Jones 3B
Freddie Freeman 1B
Dan Uggla 2B
David Ross C
Andrelton Simmons SS
Kris Medlen RHP

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