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Maddon vs. Johnson settles down

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Maddon vs. Johnson settles down

The animosity drawn from Tuesdays pine tar incident between the Nationals and Rays carried over prominently in each teams managers pregame comments, but through Wednesdays 3-2 Washington win there was little substance to what looked like signs of a continued feud.

No, Joe Maddon didnt have the umpires check Stephen Strasburgs ball before the first pitch. No, Maddon and Joel Peralta didnt try to rile up Nats fans when he ran out prematurely from the dugout. And, no Maddon didnt mouth I want to tick these guys off, when he sent Peralta to the mound.

In fact, the rift between Maddon and Davey Johnson seems to have been squashed sometime between their pregame comments and the first pitch of the game.

After being called a weird wuss by Johnson, eyes were opened at 7:05 p.m. as umpire Jeff Nelson trotted to the mound to inspect the ball Strasburg was about to commence the game with.

I thought he was going to check my glove, but he didnt ask for that. He just wanted the baseball because I threw it in the dirt and I think Flores short-hopped to second or something like that, Strasburg said.

Johnson told the same story afterwards, that catcher Jesus Flores bounced it to the bag on a routine warm-up throw to second and the umpires were just being cautious.

We kind of had a laugh on the bench. When the umpire came out he wanted to look at the ball and he came out to look at it instead of asking for the ball because it bounced on the throw to second, he said.

Stras was getting ready to undress. He took his glove off, he had everything, and the ump said 'No, I just want the ball.' I mean, Zim came in and everybody was making fun, he's ready to take everything off and let them search him.

Things got interesting again at the end of the seventh inning as Peralta was warming in the bullpen with Nats lefty Sean Burnett on the mound. Burnett induced an inning-ending double play by Hideki Matsui that Maddon hadnt anticipated. He thought Peralta would have more time warming before the inning was over. Peralta ran out of the bullpen five or six strides before turning around and going back in.

Thats my fault because Matsui grounded into the double play so fast we could not do all the things that we wanted to do. So, get him back and let Burke Badenhop pitch to the first guy and then make the switch after that, he said.

Maddon basically balked in making the switch as he wanted Badenhop to remain in the game because their ninth hitter was due up in the next frame.

Peralta did end up making it in the game as Maddon summoned the right-hander as part of a double switch after the first batter of the eighth was retired. Several Tampa reporters thought they read Maddons lips on their local broadcast saying basically he was trying to irk the Nats by bringing him in the game.

Maddon didnt exactly deny saying it, but didnt offer up any confirmation either.

I say that a lot. I dont remember that honestly. I would absolutely admit to it, but I dont remember saying that, he said. Peralta was jacked up enough, he didnt need me to say anything to him.

When Peralta took the mound he did hear it from the Nationals crowd, they booed loudly as he approached the mound and scattered taunts throughout his appearance. But all in all, the fireworks of Johnson vs. Maddon was kept between them and set aside when the game started.

Even the players said they thought something was going to happen, it just never did.

You kind of expected something to happen especially after yesterday, but nothing really went down, Strasburg said.

There is one more chance of course as the Nationals host the Rays for the third game of the series on Thursday at Nats Park. Whether the feud is re-ignited or not, this sure has been a unique year for the Nationals both on and off the field.

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Juan Soto's 2-run double carries Nationals past Orioles

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Juan Soto's 2-run double carries Nationals past Orioles

WASHINGTON -- A teenager among men, Juan Soto has impressed his teammates on the Washington Nationals with his maturity and, even more so, his potent bat.

Soto hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning, and Washington beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 Thursday night in the deciding matchup of a three-game interleague series between neighboring rivals.

Soto, a 19-year-old rookie, is batting .326 with 16 RBIs in 28 games. Starting in the cleanup spot for the first time, he drew a walk and delivered the game's pivotal hit.

"I think we're all amazed every single day," Washington ace Max Scherzer said. "He puts together great ABs. He has antics and has some flair. He's a great young player. He's just enjoying himself."

Bryce Harper led off the eighth with a double off Mychal Givens (0-4) and Trea Turner followed with a single. After Anthony Rendon struck out, Soto hit a liner into the gap in left-center.

"He's got unbelievable poise," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Soto. "No matter what the situation is, he goes out there with a game plan."

Whatever that plan is, it's effective.

"I just try to be focused and keep working," Soto said.

Rendon homered for the Nationals, who received seven strong innings from Scherzer and flawless work from their bullpen.

Newcomer Kelvin Herrera (1-0) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Sean Doolittle got three straight outs for his 20th save in 21 tries.

Seeking to end a rare run of two straight losses, Scherzer left a tied game after allowing two runs -- both on solo homers -- and striking out nine.

Afterward, the right-hander heaped praise upon Soto for the manner in which he's adapted to playing in the big leagues.

"He has a great feel for the strike zone," Scherzer said. "To have that type of eye, it's remarkable for him to be able to do that at this time and this age and this level."

Activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game, Colby Rasmus homered for the Orioles in his first at-bat since April 6.

"Me and Max, we go way back, so I felt real good," said Rasmus, who had been sidelined with a hip injury.

In addition, Rasmus made an outstanding throw from right field to the plate, nailing Wilmer Difo on a tag-up play in the seventh inning with the score tied.

Mark Trumbo also homered for Baltimore, his sixth of the season and third in four games.

Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman gave up two runs and four hits over six innings. The right-hander was lifted with the score tied, leaving him winless in his last seven starts.

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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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