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I feel like I suggest this notion every few weeks, but tonight the Nationals open arguably the biggest series in team history. (And, assuming things continue the way they have been, I'll probably be making the same declaration several more times over the next two months.) But you can't dispute the importance of this four-games-in-three-days showdown with the Braves, who enter 3 12 games back in the NL East.
And who better to send to the mound for tonight's opener than Stephen Strasburg, who will be pitching on his 24th birthday (and hoping to have better luck against the Braves than he did earlier this month in the record heat at Turner Field)? Ian Desmond, meanwhile, is back in the Nationals' lineup for the first time in six days, an encouraging sign. And throwing out the ceremonial first pitch: None other than ex-Nationals closer Chad Cordero.
The forecast isn't great -- good chance of storms throughout the afternoon and evening -- but with a doubleheader scheduled tomorrow, they'll do whatever they can to try to get this one in.
Check back for updates...
ATLANTA BRAVES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Storms, 79 degrees, Wind 12 mph in from CF
LF Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Jesus Flores
RHP Stephen Strasburg
CF Michael Bourn
LF Martin Prado
RF Jason Heyward
3B Chipper Jones
1B Freddie Freeman
C Brian McCann
2B Dan Uggla
SS Paul Janish
RHP Tommy Hanson
The Washington Nationals recently released the dates of their promotional days and giveaways this season, and there are some real gems in this schedule.
Among the standard bobblehead giveaways — Daniel Murphy on April 14, Trea Turner on May 12 and Tanner Roark on June 9 — and the highly recommended Pups in the Park days — April 29, May 13, June 10, June 25, September 7 and September 30 — pick the right game and you could get a snow globe, an American flag shirt or even a fedora. Seriously.
On May 24’s game against the Mariners, the first 25,000 fans will get a Max Scherzer snow globe, which has the potential to be the coolest knickknack in your house. Or on June 14 against the Braves — oddly not closer to the Fourth of July — Budweiser is behind the first 15,000 21-and-up fans getting an American flag tank top.
But truly the most unique item on this list is the Nationals-themed fedora, which will go to the first 25,000 fans at the Brewers’ July 26 matchup. How the Nats landed on this promotional item remains a mystery, but if you like hats beyond a traditional baseball cap, this is the game to attend.
Other cool or oddball promotions include the Nats Magic 8-Ball game April 3, the Chewbacca Koozie day May 27, Bryce Harper action figure day August 29 and Oktoberfest beer stein day Sept. 29.
Here's the complete list of the team's promotional days and giveaways.
MORE NATS: Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well in 2016
Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers.
Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.
Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS.
With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years.
Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan