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The Washington Nationals used Chien-Ming Wang in relief for the first time Friday, summoning him with one out in the fifth when manager Davey Johnson felt it was time to pull the plug on Ross Detwiler's night.
Wilson Ramos sat with his right leg outstretched, the bulky black brace engulfing his knee visible beneath his athletic shorts. As he stared out at the field where his teammates were taking batting practice, he slipped his catcher's mitt onto his left hand and tossed a ball to himself for a few minutes.
It wasn't until the final pitch of the game that the Pittsburgh Pirates finally brought the Washington Nationals to their knees in a literal fashion. Ian Desmond swung through Joel Hanrahan's 0-2 slider after being fed two screaming fastballs, fell to one knee and stared off into the distance down the left field line. Game over, an opportunity lost.
Danny Espinosa stood in front of his locker Friday night, asked to talk about something good for the first time in weeks. It had been 104 at-bats since Espinosa had hit a home run. A span of 28 games that featured not only a home run drought but a deep slump and what seemed like countless strikeouts.
The Washington Nationals didn't shine in their first coast-to-coast broadcast since Nationals Park opened in 2008. ESPN's audience for Sunday Night Baseball saw Philadelphia deliver a 9-3 beating and watched Washington outfielder Jayson Werth suffer a broken wrist.
When it was over, when the Philadelphia Phillies had announced that they weren't ready just to hand the Washington Nationals the division in May by avoiding a series sweep, the Nationals had much bigger things to worry about.
Baseball, as Drew Storen lives it, is all about perspective. That has been especially important inside the Washington Nationals' clubhouse recently.
Most of Tuesday at Nationals Park was about Bryce Harper. Cameras followed his every move, crowding around his locker even when he was nowhere to be found. Teammates marveled at the sudden surge in media infiltrating their clubhouse as the Washington Nationals returned home, carrying with them their 19-year-old phenom.
Ryan Zimmerman sat and watched from the dugout Wednesday, helpless to his team for the time being with inflammation in his right AC joint. Michael Morse was thousands of miles away, two weeks into a six-week rest period for his torn right lat muscle.