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On Desmond, Stammen and Harper

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On Desmond, Stammen and Harper

PHILADELPHIA -- We kind of got caught up in the ninth-inning drama from last night's game, but there were plenty of other significant developments that played out during the 2-1 win over the Phillies. And we wouldn't want to ignore those altogether. So let's run through the other hot postgame topics of discussion...

-- Ian Desmond once again produced at the plate. With a second-inning homer (his seventh of the season) and a fourth-inning RBI single, he wound up driving in both of the Nationals' runs. Desmond seems to have taken quite well to the fifth spot in this new-look lineup -- he's 5-for-13 with three doubles, a homer and four RBI -- and he certainly seems comfortable as a middle-of-the-lineup hitter.

The third-year shortstop had an interesting explanation for his sudden power surge, which you can read in Chase Hughes' postgame article.

-- Also lost in the shuffle a bit was another fantastic performance by Craig Stammen, who took over for Gio Gonzalez in the seventh and wound up tossing two scoreless innings. How remarkable (and unexpected) is it that the 28-year-old right-hander has transformed himself from a back-of-the-rotation also-ran into a long reliever into one of the most-dominant setup men in the majors?

Though he admits he's surprised how this all worked out, Stammen isn't surprised that he's been able to make this transition, thanks in large part to the manner in which Davey Johnson has been using him since Opening Day.

"The way Davey's used me pretty much the entire year is if a lefty starter is pitching, I was kind of getting in the game at any point," he said. "So there's been games, not necessarily we were winning 2-0, but we're losing 2-1 or it's tied. I've been in games like that. So pitching in close ballgames is nothing new. To me, it's the same whether you're winning or losing. If it's close, you can't give them an inch."

With Henry Rodriguez struggling and Brad Lidge and Drew Storen still recovering from injury, some have questioned whether Stammen could take over as closer. He does have a little experience doing that at the University of Dayton, but he's not expecting to get the call from Johnson yet.

"I'll leave that up to him," Stammen said. "I did that in college, and it was pretty fun. We'll see. I don't think I've quite earned it yet. There's other people in our bullpen that have done the job quite well over the years."

-- Perhaps the biggest storyline entering the game was Bryce Harper making his first appearance at Citizens Bank Park, but that didn't turn out to be much of an issue. Yes, the kid was booed every time he stepped to the plate, but the catcalls almost seemed cursory, as if the Philly crowd felt like it was just supposed to boo Harper but not entirely sure why.

No Duracells or Energizers were thrown in Harper's direction, though it did appear someone tossed some kind of garbage near him as he caught a flyball in the ninth.

Perhaps the most interesting interaction Harper had yesterday came hours before the game, as Chase explains in this piece.

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Nats prospect update: Three minor-leaguers sent to Kansas City for Kelvin Herrera

Nats prospect update: Three minor-leaguers sent to Kansas City for Kelvin Herrera

The biggest story in Nationals prospects this week is the three Washington lost to the Royals in return for closer Kelvin Herrera. Here’s a look at what the Nationals gave up to add more depth to the bullpen.

Kelvin Gutierrez, AA 3B

The infielder, formerly on the Nationals’ 40-man roster, has posted a .285/.344/.388 line through his six-season minor league tenure. One of his greatest strengths is his speed, with 55 career stolen bases and 14 extra-base hits this season. His other notable tool is his powerful arm strength, which may help explain his transition from shortstop to the hot corner.

Blake Perkins, High A OF

The Nationals chose outfielder Blake Perkins in the second round of the 2015 draft. He has quite a bit of room to improve at the plate, batting .234/.344/.290 this season in Hagerstown. However, what he lacks offensively, he makes up for in the outfield. According to Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser, Perkins has “plus speed, mature instincts, excellent routes and an above-average arm.”

Yohanse Morel, RHP

The biggest wild card of the group, Morel is a 17-year-old outfielder-turned-pitcher from the Dominican Republic. His fastball reaches 95 mph and he certainly has huge potential for growth. He has not yet pitched in the U.S. since making his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in early June.

So, what did the Nationals gain?

Right-handed closer Kelvin Herrera is a two-time All-Star who is currently in the midst of a stellar season. In his Nats debut, he needed just six pitches to shut down the Orioles in the eight. The team is reportedly (and understandably) thrilled to have Herrera joining the roster. Adam Eaton said, "I'm so happy he's here and he's on my team and I don't have to face him anytime in the near future."

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Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

WASHINGTON -- The rain was heavy and relentless. As the puddles grew deeper on the tarp at Nationals Park, the Baltimore Orioles were left to wonder if their bid for a rare road victory would be thwarted by, of all things, the weather.

During a season in which very little has worked in their favor, the Orioles withstood a long rain delay to beat the Washington Nationals 3-0 Wednesday night.

Baltimore led 2-0 after four innings when play was stopped. After a wait of 2 hours, 43 minutes, the game resumed with a few hundred fans from the announced crowd of 32,153 sprinkled around the lower seating bowl.

Mark Trumbo homered for Baltimore, and Andrew Cashner and four relievers combined on a five-hitter in a game that ended long after midnight.

"It was nice," Trumbo said. "I'm glad that we actually kept the game going. Had we not been able to, it might have been a wash. But it ended up being pretty big for us."

Baltimore ended a six-game losing streak to Washington that began last May, won for only the fourth time in 20 games and improved the majors' worst road record to 10-28.

This one was worth the wait.

"It's never easy, especially when you get over the hour mark, two-hour mark," Trumbo said. "Then you have to restart. It's almost two games in one, so, great job by our guys tonight."

The Nationals managed only two hits following the delay, both in the ninth inning.

"It happens. You can't do anything about the rain," manager Dave Martinez said. "You've got to come out and get yourself ready to play. I'm not going to make any excuses."

The rain delay cut short a solid pitching performance by Cashner, who allowed three hits and no walks over four innings in his return from an 11-day stay on the disabled list with back spasms.

Miguel Castro (2-2) followed with two hitless innings, Darren O'Day pitched a perfect seventh and Zach Britton got four outs.

Brad Brach allowed the Nationals to load the bases with two outs in the ninth before striking out Mark Reynolds .

Trumbo hit a two-run homer in the second inning off Gio Gonzalez (6-4), and for a while it appeared the drive would be washed out by the rain.

"One pitch. That was the whole game," Gonzalez lamented. "That was it."

Indeed, it all ended well for the Orioles, who added a run in the sixth when Adam Jones doubled off Shawn Kelley and scored on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia .

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