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Instant analysis: Braves 5, Nats 1

Instant analysis: Braves 5, Nats 1

Game in a nutshell: With a chance to pull off a rousing series sweep and extend their lead over the Braves to a commanding eight games, the Nationals were silenced by the unheralded Kris Medlen. The right-hander, who has pitched brilliantly since moving into the rotation, tossed seven scoreless innings, out-dueling Ross Detwiler, who faded quickly after a strong start to his evening. Ultimately, a lack of clutch hitting and some very shaky defense -- Bryce Harper took a bad route on a two-run double, and Ryan Zimmerman and Kurt Suzuki each committed errors during an ugly top of the ninth -- did in the Nationals. They didn't sweep the series, but they still took two of three and still hold a six-game advantage on the only team still challenging them in the NL East.

Hitting lowlight: How bad is Harper struggling at the plate? Really bad. After wearing a Golden Sombrero Tuesday night, he looked silly again in his first three plate appearances tonight. How you can tell Harper is lost at the plate: He's taking first-pitch fastballs for strikes, then swinging at breaking balls out of the zone. The rookie did redeem himself in the eighth, knocking Eric O'Flaherty's pitch into left field and then hustling into second base. But the way he's going right now, especially against left-handers, you have to wonder if Harper might be looking at some more bench time moving forward.

Pitching highlight: They say there's no better pitch in baseball than a well-placed fastball, and Detwiler proved that theory correct through the first three innings of this start. Relying almost 100 percent on his heater, the lefty retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced and looked ready to cruise through the start. But a two-out, four-pitch walk of the opposing pitcher seemed to unnerve Detwiler; he wasn't the same after that. Martin Prado drilled a two-run double to deep center (after Harper took a bad jump) to put the Braves ahead. A couple more hits surrendered in the sixth ended Detwiler's night much sooner than anyone would have expected only a few innings earlier.

Key stat: On June 3, all five teams in the NL East were separated by only 3 12 games. When play began today, the Mets, Phillies and Marlins were all 20 games back, with the Braves seven games back.

Up next: After a day off, the Nationals head north to Philadelphia for a weekend series with the fading Phillies. Edwin Jackson takes on Kyle Kendrick in Friday's 7:05 p.m. opener at Citizens Bank Park.

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2017 ballpark foods that are way better than peanuts and Cracker Jack

2017 ballpark foods that are way better than peanuts and Cracker Jack

Back in the olden days, cotton candy or a plate of nachos were considered bold ballpark snacks. Thankfully, the olden days are over, and a new era of ballpark food has begun.

And in this era, a menu item isn't considered complete until it's fried, sandwiched between something else and then finally drizzled with some sort of sauce. 

So, what's on the menu for 2017? Well, peanuts, hot dogs and apple pie nachos, of course.

CLICK HERE TO FEAST YOUR EYES ON THE CRAZIEST BALLPARK FOODS YOU'LL FIND AROUND MLB THIS YEAR

With a new season about to begin, CSNmidatlantic.com has identified 10 of the most eye-popping and artery-clogging foods available around Major League Baseball in 2017. To see them, simply click on the link above or below to open our gallery (no fork and knife necessary).

After all, while peanuts and Cracker Jack are cute, they simply can't match up with a hot dog topped with bacon and a fried egg. 

CLICK HERE TO FEAST YOUR EYES ON THE CRAZIEST BALLPARK FOODS YOU'LL FIND AROUND MLB THIS YEAR

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Nationals Ace Max Scherzer will not be team's opening day starter

Nationals Ace Max Scherzer will not be team's opening day starter

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team's opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation. 

Scherzer has been the team's starter on opening day for the past two seasons, but a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger caused him to miss the start of spring training, and the World Baseball Classic. 

Scherzer did, however, make his first MLB spring training start of 2017 on Wednesday. The 2016 NL Cy Young award winner allowed two earned runs on five hits over 4.2 innings. He added four strikeouts and one walk, and reportedly looked just like you would expect from Max Scherzer. 

"To be out there competing, throwing all my pitches, throwing them for strikes, that's a great first outing," Scherzer told Eddie Matz of ESPN after the game. "Finger's good. Finger feels like a finger. I'm getting through that injury. It's behind me now."

With Scherzer set to open the season as the third starter in the rotation, that likely means that Stephen Strasburg will start on opening day against the Miami Marlins, and Tanner Roark will slot in behind him. 

While it's nice to have your ace pitcher starting on opening day, it's not a huge deal to have Scherzer start the season third in the rotation, especially because the Nationals starting rotation is the strength of the team

RELATED: Nationals' Tanner Roark pitches four scoreless innings to help Team USA beat Japan in WBC