Nationals 5, Diamondbacks 4
Game in a nutshell: Bryce Harper did his part, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles off the right-field wall. Then Ian Desmond finished the deal, crushing a two-run, walk-off homer off J.J. Putz to lift the Nationals to a dramatic victory. Harper twice came within inches of hitting his first career home run, scored a key run with his hustle and dazzled in the field again. His leadoff double in the ninth set the stage for Desmond to be the hero and snap the Nationals' six-game losing streak.
Hitting highlight: With the anticipation and pressure of his home debut a thing of the past, Harper was free to go out and just play a ballgame. And what a game he played. The 19-year-old beat out a little dribbler in the second inning. He missed his first career homer by inches in the fourth, settling instead for an RBI double. Moments later, he scored by knocking the ball out of catcher Miguel Montero's glove. He even made a barehanded catch of a flyball in center while falling to the ground. Yeah, he misread the ball off the bat, but still. And then he just missed a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth, rattling another double off the wall.
Pitching lowlight: Considering how little run support the Nationals' pitching staff has gotten this season, Jackson had to be thanking his lucky stars when he took the mound in the fourth with a 1-0 lead (and again in the sixth with a 3-2 lead). Each time, though, the right-hander gave the run(s) back. He served up a solo homer to Justin Upton on a 2-0 fastball to lead off the fourth. Then he gave up back-to-back two-out RBI hits in the sixth to put the Diamondbacks ahead. It was a disappointing performance for Jackson on a rare night in which his teammates gave him some help.
Key stat: Xavier Nady has one hit in his last 29 at-bats and is now batting .123 for the season.
Up next: Ross Detwiler looks to bounce back following his first shaky start of the season, taking on 2011 NL Cy Young Award runner-up Ian Kennedy at 7:05 p.m. in the finale of this series.
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