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Tyler Clippard says chasing down the 'beatable' Nats will be 'a lot of fun'

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Tyler Clippard says chasing down the 'beatable' Nats will be 'a lot of fun'

BY PETER HAILEY

Even though Tyler Clippard just became a member of the Mets on Monday, he's already adopting a philosophy that his new teammates have had all season long: The Nationals are public enemy No. 1, and they need to be taken down.

Clippard, who pitched for Washington from 2008-2014, was acquired by New York in exchange for a minor leaguer just a few days ahead of the MLB's trade deadline, as the team wanted to bolster its bullpen for the year's stretch run. Currently, the Mets are two games back from the NL East-leading Nats, and have been pursuing them for a few months now.

It sure sounds like Clippard is eager to join the hunt.

"The Mets, here, are right in the mix," Clippard said to ESPN. "And it's going to be a lot of fun chasing down my old teammates there in Washington. There's a lot of incentive there for me on a personal level and on a professional level to get the job done here in New York."

That wasn't the only thing Clippard said about his former employer, though. Not only does he want to catch the Nationals -- he thinks it can be done, too.

"They're beatable," Clippard said. "There's no perfect team in baseball right now. Everybody can go on skids. Everybody is vulnerable... It's one of those things -- you've got to play the season out and see what happens."

The 30-year-old reliever, who is currently sporting a 2.79 ERA, won't have to wait long to face his old club: New York and Washington will square off this weekend in the Big Apple in a three game series that concludes with a Sunday night game. The showdown will give Clippard his first chance to act on what he's said about the Nationals -- and provide an opportunity for Nationals' hitters to respond as well.

MORE NATIONALS: Team acquires Jonathan Papelbon for minor leaguer

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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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