After maintaining a six-game lead in the National League East Friday night with a series-opening win against the Mariners fueled by six home runs, the Nationals will send right-hander Stephen Strasburg to the mound for Saturday night's rematch at Safeco Field.
Strasburg will look to bounce back from a poor performance against the Giants at home on Sunday, when he allowed five runs on eight hits, including two home runs. In his previous two starts, Strasburg has surrendered one earned run over 15 innings.
"I was making dumb pitches," Strasburg said Sunday. "You want to challenge them, but at the same time you have to focus on hitting your spots. I really wasn't doing that."
Strasburg will face off against rookie southpaw Roenis Elias (9-11, 4.01 ERA), who is starting in place of Chris Young. Elias was originally scheduled to pitch Monday against the A's in Oakland, but the Mariners likely moved his start up to provide Young with some rest. With more than 150 innings pitched so far this season, Young, 35, is on an innings pace he hasn't encountered since 2007.
In his last time out on Monday, Elias went fewer than six innings for the eighth consecutive start. He surrendered one earned run on three hits and four walks over five innings in a home loss to the Rangers.
"He was his own worst enemy tonight," manager Lloyd McClendon said of Elias' outing. "He battled the whole night with himself, command. I'm not sure what's going on. Can't quite put my finger on it, but we got to get him straightened out. He's got to go deeper into ballgames."
Nationals: Zimmerman progressing well through rehab
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who's been on the disabled list for more than a month because of a Grade 3 right hamstring strain, received MRI results on his injured right leg on Friday, and the test yielded positive results, according to manager Matt Williams.
Zimmerman has started jogging lightly while throwing every other day. His next steps will be running at full speed, running the bases and finally taking batting practice, Williams said. The first-year skipper still expects a late September return date for the right-handed slugger.
"He is making the progress that he should make," Williams said. "The strength will increase now that he could start pushing it. ... Once he feels good about that, he can get out and start running and doing some sprint work, all the while being mindful that you don't want to push it too hard. If you lose him, you lose him for good at this point."
Mariners: Jones recalled from Triple-A
The Mariners optioned pitcher Erasmo Ramirez to Triple-A Tacoma on Friday and recalled James Jones. The outfielder didn't see any action in the Mariners' loss to the Nationals that night.
Ramirez allowed 10 runs over three innings Wednesday against the Rangers in a spot start, as the Mariners fell, 12-4. In six stints with Seattle this season, Ramirez has gone 1-6 with a 5.21 ERA in 14 starts.
Jones was recalled to the big leagues for the fourth time in 2014. In 83 games with the Mariners, he is hitting .256 with eight doubles, four triples and 20 stolen bases in 21 attempts. In 37 games with Tacoma, he hit .282 with six doubles, two home runs and 15 RBIs.
"He'll be in a supporting role. There's an opportunity for him to get the job done," said Mariners interim manager Trent Jewett. "You know him. Great energy. Great student. He'll be a nice addition to the ballclub."
• The Nationals announced the signing of a two-year player development contract extension with Class A Hagerstown on Friday.
• By Monday, the Nationals are expected to call up right-handers Blake Treinen and Aaron Barrett and outfielder Michael Taylor from Triple-A Syracuse.
• Mariners right fielder Michael Saunders returned to Safeco Field on Friday for an on-field workout. He reported feeling healthier after recovering from a viral infection he came down with while on paternity leave for the birth of his daughter.