A chance to clinch in Philly

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has gotten a lot of heat over the years. How's Selig look in comparison to his NFL counterpart, Roger Goodell, this morning?

While everyone will still be busy ripping Goodell for subjecting us to replacement officials who look completely overmatched, I'll be making the trip up to Philadelphia this afternoon for the Nationals' final 2012 series at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies are still technically in the mix for a postseason berth, but in reality, sitting 5 1/2 games back with four teams in between them and the final wild card spot, only a miracle keeps them off the golf course next weekend.

The Nationals, on the other hand, could end up clinching the division in Philadelphia, which would be a fitting place to do it. The Phillies have won the NL East each of the last five years and have pushed the Nats around quite a bit during that time. This would be a chance for the Nationals to exact a little revenge and celebrate on a field on which they've had some low moments.

The earliest the Nats would be able to clinch, however, would be Thursday. Their magic number sits at five, so even if the Nationals win their next two games and the Braves drop these next two, Thursday would be the first time the champagne would need to be put on ice.

We'll have to see if Michael Morse will be available for these games after sitting out yesterday's contest. Manager Davey Johnson said that Morse got a shot of some kind yesterday to ease the inflammation in his hand, but Morse claimed it was just a B-12 shot. He said he has some discomfort in the hand but would have been ready to play yesterday if Johnson had written him into the lineup.

The guy who replaced Morse in the five-hole in the lineup, Ian Desmond, reached another milestone during yesterday's game, becoming just the second player in Nationals' history to join the 20-20 club.

Desmond has 24 home runs on the season and, after swiping second base in the fifth inning yesterday, notched his 20th stolen base this year. He's just the seventh player to top 20 homers and 20 steals this season, another impressive accomplishment in what has been a breakout season for the 27-year-old shortstop.

desmond off balance throw fenway sidebar.jpgIn typical Desmond fashion, he downplayed the individual accomplishments yesterday, saying that it was nicer to win yesterday's game over the Brewers than to join the 20-20 club. But he did reflect back to a conversation he had with Johnson in spring training, a conversation that gave him the confidence to go out and produce at a high level this year.

"I've kind of put the comparison on it: When Davey came in in spring training and was like, 'Hey, you're going to play every single day, and I don't care what you do. You're out there. You're my shortstop no matter what,' that was, to me, like a multi-year contract," Desmond said. "That was all I needed to, someone's word, to say, 'Hey, you're the guy.' The audition kind of went away, and now it became just go out and play your game. You can do whatever you want, and he believes in you. You go out there and perform and play the game the way you know how.

"That's what you're looking for as a player. Obviously we all have families and you want that security. You want to know that every day you come to the field you're going to be the guy. Davey pretty much locked that in for me. I guess it's helped me this year."

I guess it has. Desmond has made the All-Star team, he's hitting .299 and he's joined the 20-20 club. More important to him, however, is that the Nationals are in line to win the National League East. And if things play out just right, they might get to do it in the City of Brotherly Love.

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