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St. Louis native Detwiler has chance of a lifetime

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St. Louis native Detwiler has chance of a lifetime

ST. LOUIS -- Ross Detwiler sat by his locker Friday afternoon, doing the math in his head. The Nationals' magic number at that point was 3. He knew there was a chance he would take the mound today with the Nationals in position to clinch the NL East title, and he knew he really wanted that opportunity, unlikely as he thought that might be.

"You always want to be the guy to do it," he said. "I have a feeling it's going to happen before I get the ball. But it would definitely be a very special moment if I was the person that got handed the ball with a chance to clinch."

Well, turns out Detwiler will get that chance. The magic number is down to 1 this morning, so when the left-hander takes the mound at Busch Stadium, he knows he can pitch the Nationals to their first-ever division title, no matter what anyone else does.

And he can do it in his hometown, in front of dozens of friends and family.

A native of nearby Wentzville, Mo., Detwiler is making his first-ever start in St. Louis against the Cardinals franchise he grew up rooting for from his living room sofa.

"Any time you walk out onto a field that you watched on TV growing up, it's definitely pretty special," he said.

Detwiler has never pitched at the current Busch Stadium, which opened in 2006, but he did play in a high school game at the former Busch, across the street, in 2003.

He and his family made occasional trips into town to watch games from the stands, but the commute from Wentzville -- located 40 miles west of downtown St. Louis -- was a bit too much to allow for regular trips, especially on school nights.

Plenty of folks from his hometown will make the drive in today, though. Not only to see Detwiler try to pitch the Nationals to a division crown, but also to see their beloved Cardinals try to move a step closer to a Wild Card berth.

So, who exactly will the Detwiler clan be cheering for inside the ballpark today?

"I don't know. It's going to be kind of neat figuring that out," he said. "See, the Cardinals have such a strong following. Maybe not out loud, but definitely inside they're all Cardinals fans."

Whether he wins or loses today, Detwiler has firmly established himself as a front-ling, big-league starter this season, five years after the Nationals made him the sixth overall pick in the country out of Missouri State.

Teammates, coaches, even Detwiler himself point to one major reason above all else for his emergence this season: Confidence. At 26, he finally trusts his own ability and takes control when he's handed the ball.

Which is why, on this potentially significant day for the Nationals, Detwiler can't wait to be handed the ball.

"That's what I strive for," he said. "I want to be that guy that gets it done, the guy when you look back you say: 'He won the clinching game.' And then, the chance for that to happen, for it to be in St. Louis in front of everybody I went to high school with and grew up with, it definitely would be pretty special."

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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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The Nationals have had their eyes on Kelvin Herrera for years

The Nationals have had their eyes on Kelvin Herrera for years

On Monday, in the middle of their game with the Yankees, Mike Rizzo did a very Mike Rizzo thing and added another strong arm to the Nationals' bullpen well before the trade deadline.

In a trade with the Kansas City Royals, the Nats dealt prospects Kelvin Gutierrez, Blake Perkins and Yohanse Morel for relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera.

Herrera, who's in his eighth season, has walked only two batters in the last 27 games and is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. 

"We just thought that it was a good idea to strike early," Rizzo said Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, simulcasted on NBC Sports Washington.

"We thought the closer to the deadline we get, the more competition we'll have for Kelvin [Herrera]. We were able to strike a deal with Dayton Moore quickly and [we] couldn't be happier about it."

But Mike Rizzo didn't just come across Herrera by chance, he's had his sights on him for years.

"He was one of the guys that we kind of kicked the tires on [last year] and obviously the price for Kelvin at that time with a year and a half of control was a lot different than it was with four and a half months of control."

"We did have our eyes on him for years. He's been a great reliever for years. He's one of the guys we talked about when we talked about improving our bullpen." 

Herrera has spent all of his eight seasons in the big leagues with the Royals, even winning a World Series. Trades can bring both joy and angst, but Rizzo knows Herrera is excited to get back to playing meaningful baseball.

"This guy is such a competitor; World Series tested and playoff tested. He's happy to be playing meaningful games. He talked about what it takes to win a World Series, and you know, our guys were all ears. I think he's really thankful for getting the opportunity to get after it again and get another ring."

"At the same time, you know, it's hard for those old relationship to die and to move on, but he was very excited about being with us. I spoke to him after we made the trade and he [was] a little shocked, but really fired up about it. And when he got to the clubhouse, [he] met some of his old teammates - Timmy Collins and Ryan Madson -  and was welcome with open arms by not only the bullpen guys but everyone on the team." 

Herrera will join Sean Doolittle, Brandon Kintzler, and Ryan Madson to make about as deep of a bullpen as any in baseball right now.

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