Nationals get their lefty, acquire Jerry Blevins from A’s

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Washington has been linked to basically every possible left-handed reliever all offseason and the Nationals finally snagged one, acquiring Jerry Blevins from the A’s for minor-league outfielder Billy Burns.

Blevins was expendable because of Oakland’s impressive bullpen depth, but he’s been much more than a strict southpaw specialist with a 2.81 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 154 innings during the past three seasons while actually faring better against righties (.205 AVG, .634 OPS) than lefties (.224 AVG, .674 OPS).

Burns was just named the Nationals’ minor league player of the year after hitting .315 with 74 steals in 121 games between high Single-A and Double-A as a 23-year-old. He’s not considered a top prospect, failing to crack Baseball America‘s recent top 10 for the Nationals’ system, but with a .421 on-base percentage and excellent strikeout-to-walk ratios it’s easy to see why the A’s targeted him.

Video: Dexter Fowler robs Asdrúbal Cabrera of three-run homer

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Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler made a critical catch in the eighth inning of Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Nationals. With the Cardinals leading 5-1, the Nationals were threatening with runners on first and second with one out against lefty Andrew Miller. Asdrúbal Cabrera worked a full count before serving a 3-2 outside slider to right field. The ball had home run distance, but Fowler tracked it, leaped at the wall, and robbed Cabrera of a three-run home run.

Carlos Martínez relieved Miller, getting Victor Robles to ground out to end the inning. The Cardinals would go on to win 5-1.

The game had playoff implications on both sides. The win bumped the Cardinals’ hold on first place in the NL Central to 2.5 games while the Nationals’ lead over the Cubs and Brewers for the first NL Wild Card shrinks to just one game.

The Nationals will close out their final road trip of the regular season with three games against the Marlins before hosting the Phillies for five games and the Indians for three. The Cardinals, meanwhile, begin their final road trip of the regular season with four against the Cubs followed by three against the Diamondbacks before closing out the season at home with three games versus the Cubs.