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Detwiler dominates to keep Nats alive

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Detwiler dominates to keep Nats alive

When Ross Detwiler took the mound on Thursday afternoon, he essentially held the Nationals’ 2012 season in his left hand. Three straight games the team’s starting pitching wasn’t what it had been all year, the offense had been putrid, and Stephen Strasburg’s name was starting to come up in the media.

Detwiler, after all, wouldn’t have been pitching Game 4 if Strasburg were on the roster.

It was a lot of pressure for a 26 year old in his first full season as a regular starting pitcher. He could have easily caved, but instead pitched six stellar innings allowing just three hits and zero earned runs to a scorching hot Cardinals lineup.

Veteran Jayson Werth, the eventual hero with his ninth inning walkoff homer, spoke proudly of the young lefty.

“Media can say whatever they want. We know the type of guy Ross is and what he brings to the team,” he said. “I said yesterday, I felt good about where we were at. I felt like Ross would handle business.”

“I tell you, I was so proud of him,” Davey Johnson said, still catching his breath from the season-saving win. “He was outstanding, unbelievable. Won the game for us.”

Within 30 minutes of Thursday’s game, Detwiler had already done something his fellow starters couldn’t do. Not the 21 game-winning Cy Young candidate, not the two-time finisher in the top ten of N.L. ERA leaders, not the World Series champion.

Detwiler had taken the Nats through two innings without a deficit, finally giving the searching Washington offense, and the sold out crowd, a chance to stay in the game.

“It was the only thing we could do,” Adam LaRoche said. “If he doesn’t, we go home.”

“We were in a bad situation having to win the next two games and we just made that a lot better.”

Once Detwiler got out of the top of the second, on a Daniel Descalso grounder to second, the 44,392 in attendance exploded at an instance before breathing a collective sigh of relief. It became clear that possibly, just maybe, this game would be different.

The energy carried on throughout the game and, because of the low scoring, was focused primarily on the Nationals’ pitching and defensive plays.

The Cardinals tied the game at one in the third, but the run wasn’t earned as the inning was extended by an error. After the third inning Detwiler never let a St. Louis player get past second base. As his wonderful start kept up, each third out brought an outburst from the crowd.

“You want to feed off that energy,” Detwiler said. “It was unbelievable. It is our first experience in the postseason, but we want to keep coming back for more.”

Detwiler pitched Thursday on ten days rest, a circumstance that had plagued his teammates earlier in the series. He was also coming off two of his worst starts of the entire season, including a seven-run (three earned), 2 1/3 inning debacle to the very same St. Louis Cardinals lineup he shut down on Thursday.

Somehow the team’s former sixth overall pick, who at times looked like he would never realize his potential, rose to the occasion with a spectacular postseason performance. For a first time playoff start, it was even more than the Nationals could ask for.

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Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history. 

Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him. 

During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.  

In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons. 

Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store

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Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract

On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop. 

It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series. 

Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster. 

Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.

The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda. 

There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others