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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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Nationals stage spirited rally in ninth but fall just short in series opener vs. Cubs

Nationals stage spirited rally in ninth but fall just short in series opener vs. Cubs

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Wade Davis struck out batting leader Ryan Zimmerman with runners on second and third to end Washington's ninth-inning rally, and the Chicago Cubs held off the Nationals 5-4 Monday night.

In jeopardy of being shut out for the first time this season, the NL East-leading Nationals scored four times in the ninth. Their comeback began against Hector Rondon and continued when Davis entered.

MORE: CSN'S UPDATED MLB POWER RANKINGS

With Washington down 5-3, Bryce Harper's single loaded the bases with two outs. Davis threw a wild pitch that scored a run before striking out a swinging Zimmerman, who's hitting .344. The final pitch bounced, and catcher Willson Contreras zipped a low throw to first baseman Anthony Rizzo to close out the victory.

Contreras hit a leadoff home run in his first career game-opening at-bat and Eddie Butler (4-2) worked five scoreless innings to keep the Cubs ahead.

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2017 MLB Power Rankings: The Dodgers don't lose anymore

2017 MLB Power Rankings: The Dodgers don't lose anymore

The Dodgers are living their best life right now. 

Cody Bellinger looks like he's just going to go and hit two home runs a game for the rest of the year, Yasiel Puig is fun again and they're fresh off a 10-game win streak. Kenley Jansen went 112 batters without issuing a walk. All of this is coming, by the way, during a year when Clayton Kershaw is more Very Good than he is Great.

It's a good time to be a fan of an incredibly young and talented team in a top-5 market with a well-regarded front office that's been written a blank check. How did everyone not named the Dodgers do this week? To the rankings! 

2017 MLB POWER RANKINGS

30. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

2017 Record: 24-49
Previous Ranking: 30
Last 10 Games: 3-7
Notable Performance:  Maikel Franco (.333/.419/.481 last week)

And there goes Maikel Franco, right back on the trade block. The Phillies' rebuild is starting to look a lot murkier. 

29. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

2017 Record: 27-50
Previous Ranking: 29
Last 10 Games: 1-9
Notable Performance: Brandon Belt (.316/.409/.947 last week)

It's weird to see the Giants play THIS poorly. Johnny Cueto is arguably the best available starter on the trade market though, and that obviously bodes well for their future. 

28. CINCINNATI REDS

2017 Record: 29-38
Previous Ranking: 27
Last 10 Games: 1-9
Notable Performance: Joey Votto (.360/.385/.680 last week)

When you go 1-9 over the last 10 and let the Nats put an 18-spot on you, you drop a spot or two in the rankings. Them's the rules. 

27. SAN DIEGO PADRES

2017 Record: 31-44
Previous Ranking: 29
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Notable Performance: Yangervis Solarte (.364/.462/.909 last week)

In an annual July tradition, the Padres will fleece someone for one of their relievers. Brad Hand in a Dodgers uniform, anyone? 

26. DETROIT TIGERS

2017 Record: 32-42
Previous Ranking: 15
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Notable Performance: Miguel Cabrera (.400/.444/.840 last week)

The Tigers are our biggest fallers of the week. 2-8 in their last 10, including a frustrating Perfect Game bid broken up by a bunt single. Not their best week. 

SEE THE REST OF THE RANKINGS HERE