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Head trainer Lee Kuntz tends to a banged-up Jesus Flores on Sunday.
-- Jesus Flores is taking an absolute pounding behind the plate right now, but he's managing to keep himself together enough to keep starting behind the plate.
This weekend alone, Flores was done in by pitches in the dirt, curveballs that were supposed to be fastballs and foul tips, including one late during Sunday's game that caught him square on his right hand. He went down in a heap and stayed down for a while as head trainer Lee Kuntz and manager Davey Johnson emerged from the dugout to check on him.
Flores and Kuntz were initially worried he had broken a finger, but the sting began to wear off after a minute or two.
"Boy, he got it bad," Johnson said. "It was black and blue when I went out there, and miraculously he could stay in the game. You hate to, in that kind of game, change catchers. He knows the hitters. He knows what to call. It was a gutty move on his part to be able to stay in the game."
Flores has now started 18 of 25 games since Wilson Ramos tore his ACL and was lost for the season ... and that includes a three-day stretch in Miami when he wasn't available due to a minor hamstring strain.
Flores, who hasn't played this much since early in 2009 (before his career was derailed by a major shoulder injury), insists he can handle the workload. Johnson might want to consider giving him a few more days off along the way, though, to ensure his best catcher still has something left in the tank come September ... or beyond.
-- Speaking of guys getting a lot of work, Tyler Clippard on Sunday recorded his third save in as many days and appeared in his fifth game in six days. That's the first time this season the right-hander has pitched this much, but he insisted it was no big deal.
"I felt good," he said. "It's a little sore, but it's normal soreness. After I got through the month of April, I've been feeling really good. There was no problem today."
Clippard needed 25 pitches to get through a harrowing bottom of the ninth in which none of the four Red Sox batters he faced put the ball in play (he walked one and struck out three). That was easily the most pitches he's thrown since taking over closer duties three weeks ago, during which time he's gone 8-for-8 in save situations.
Will Johnson need to turn to someone else tonight in Toronto if the Nationals hold a slim lead in the ninth?
"[Bullpen coach] Jimmy Lett said we might have to put him in sneakers tomorrow," the manager said. "He threw the heck out of the ball. I'm going to wait until he comes to me."
-- Danny Espinosa's night-and-day batting splits only turned more dramatic over the weekend. Against Boston's left-handed pitchers, he went 4-for-6 with four doubles and two walks. Against Boston's right-handers, he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Espinosa is now hitting .381 with a .480 on-base percentage and 1.194 OPS against left-handers, among the best offensive numbers in baseball. Against right-handers, he's hitting .188 with a .268 on-base percentage and a .556 OPS, among the worst offensive numbers in baseball.
-- Your Bizarro World fact of the morning: If the playoffs began today, the NL East champion Nationals would face the NL Central champion Pirates in the NLDS.