The Nationals add some insurance, lead the Cardinals 7-5 going into ninth inning

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The Nationals just added some valuable insurance in the bottom of the eighth inning, as Kurt Suzuki smacked an RBI single up the middle to push the score to 7-5 going into the top of the ninth.

Jason Motte allowed back-to-back singles to Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse to begin the inning, but bounced back to get Ian Desmond to ground into a force and Danny Espinosa on a pop-up. However, Suzuki delivered the two-out single for the Nationals’ first run since the third inning. Suzuki is 3-for-4 on the night.

Drew Storen is coming out for the top of the ninth as the Nationals are just three outs away from advancing to the NLCS to face the Giants. Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and Allen Craig are due up for the Cardinals.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.