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Instant Analysis: Nats 2, Cubs 1

Instant Analysis: Nats 2, Cubs 1

Game in a nutshell: Facing the Cubs for the first time since the season-opening series, the Nationals found themselves in the same kind of pitchers' duel they experienced five months ago at Wrigley Field. Ross Detwiler and Jeff Samardzija traded blows, with Samardzija making only one mistake: Adam LaRoche's second-inning homer. Detwiler never did cave in, tossing seven scoreless innings before turning it over to his bullpen. With Sean Burnett sidelined for at least a couple of days with elbow irritation, Drew Storen pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Tyler Clippard then closed out the ninth (despite giving up a run) to record his 30th save and give the Nationals their 82nd win of the season. That's right, D.C.: You've officially got yourselves a winning ballclub for the first time in 43 years.

Hitting highlight: Samardzija has had just about every member of the Nationals lineup's number this season. Except for LaRoche. The veteran first baseman crushed a ninth-inning homer of Samardzija way back on April 8 at Wrigley Field. Then he struck again in his first at-bat today, belting Samardzija's second pitch of the second inning into the second deck down the right-field line. After going through a month-long power slump, LaRoche may have found his stroke again. This was his second homer in three days, giving him a team-high 25 for the season and giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead that stayed intact almost the entire afternoon.

Pitching highlight: The Nationals have wanted Detwiler to be more aggressive, pound his fastball early in the game and go right after hitters. Well, he took the advice to heart today, because he did everything the club could have asked of him and more. Detwiler threw plenty of fastballs early, retiring the side in the top of the first on 10 pitches. He spread out four hits and three walks, only once putting more than one man on base in the same inning. He did have to pitch out of the stretch a lot, but delivered some big pitches when he needed them, especially in inducing a pair of double-play grounders to end the sixth and seventh innings. At 93 pitches, Detwiler might have been able to take the mound for the eighth. But with the Nationals clinging to a 1-0 lead, Davey Johnson preferred to use pinch-hitter Chad Tracy and turn to his bullpen to record the final six outs.

Key stat: Since the All-Star break, the Nationals are 32-5 when scoring three or more runs. They were 0-13 when scoring fewer than three runs ... until today.

Up next: The series continues at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday when Edwin Jackson seeks his ninth win of the season against left-hander Chris Rusin.

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This year's Nationals roster is stacked with glorious facial hair

This year's Nationals roster is stacked with glorious facial hair

The following is a list of things the 2017 Washington Nationals appear to have: A talented outfield led by Bryce Harper and Adam Eaton. A rising superstar at shortstop in Trea Turner. A possibly major hole at closer.

The following is a list of things the 2017 Washington Nationals appear to not have: Razors. Shaving cream. A desire to groom their faces.

A fun tradition at each team's spring training is the annual photo day, because photo day forces professional athletes to pose in front of cameras like they're being featured in the poster of an upcoming blockbuster movie. And after poring through the snapshots from the Nationals' photo day, a single trend emerged.

This year's team is a hairy bunch.

Among that bunch are the usual suspects, such as Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth:

But there are some surprises, most notably of which is Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander tends to keep his mug 100-percent clean-shaven, but for now, at least, he's allowed his face to become quite fertile:

Then there's newcomer Adam Lind, who has a goatee that Duke's Blue Devil logo would be forced to respect:

Shawn Kelley, meanwhile, who's pictured below, has a beard that looks like...

...Derek Norris' beard, before Derek Norris' beard hit puberty and grew up to be the strong, mature beard it is today:

There are scraggly ones, such as Daniel Murphy's:

And fuller, more complete ones, like Eaton's (full marks, by the way, for the trade acquisition's ability to seamlessly connect 'stache to beard):

The most wild photo of all, however, was this one of Turner. Is this the Nats stud, or a picture of Leonard DiCaprio from a scene in The Revenant? Hard to tell with all that stubble the infielder's cultivating:

One potential positive of this team-wide movement: If Turner and his teammates keep what they're growing down in Florida going throughout the season, their faces will be plenty warm by the time playoff baseball comes around. 

RELATED: HARPER GOES YARD IN FIRST AT-BAT OF THE SPRING

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Nationals' Bryce Harper mashes monster homer on second pitch of spring training

Nationals' Bryce Harper mashes monster homer on second pitch of spring training

The Nationals played their first game of spring training today against the Mets. They won, but that's not nearly the biggest story of the day. It was Bryce Harper's first at-bat that stole the show. 

On just the second pitch he saw of spring training, from lefty Sean Gilmartin, Harper mashed a ginormous home run to right center field. MLB.com shared video of the bomb. 

According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Harper smacked the ball at least 400 feet. In his second at-bat, he hit a line-drive single on the first pitch. 

Let's just say it was an exciting start to the year for Harper, who won the 2015 NL MVP only to endure a let-down last season. As Castillo points out, the slugger hit .226 against left-handed pitchers in 2016. 

Harper enters spring training at 230 pounds, up 15 pounds of muscle from last year. 

“I just felt going into the offseason you want to get as strong as you can, try to maintain your weight the best you can and just do everything the right way,” he told the Post. 

MORE NATIONALS: Baker thinks DC sports teams can win a championship this year