Quick Links

Instant Analysis: Nats 9, Cubs 2

875227.png

Instant Analysis: Nats 9, Cubs 2

Game in a nutshell: So, they played a ballgame on South Capitol Street tonight. The Nationals once again pulverized the Cubs' calamitous pitching staff, either scoring or loading the bases in seven of their eight offensive innings. Because of all that, plus seven strong innings from Jordan Zimmermann, they pulled off a four-game sweep of Chicago and maintained their 7 12-game lead in the NL East. But enough about actual baseball. This game will long be remembered more for the two incidents in the fifth and sixth innings that resulted in both benches and bullpens emptying. It all appeared to start when the Cubs took issue with Jayson Werth swinging away on a 3-0 pitch with the bases loaded and the Nats up five runs in the bottom of the fifth. That led to a shouting match between Nationals third base coach Bo Porter and Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk (who was ejected). One inning later, Chicago reliever Lendy Castillo's very first pitch just missed Bryce Harper's hip. The 19-year-old said a few words to the pitcher, and that set off an actual kerfuffle during which Cubs catcher Steve Clevenger shoved Michael Morse with some force. Clevenger was ejected, as were Chicago reliever Manny Corpas and Nats reliever Michael Gonzalez. Order was finally restored and the game continued without incident.

Hitting highlight: We could highlight Adam LaRoche's sixth homer in as many days (and his 29th of the season). Or we could highlight Harper's first-inning triple. But how about Kurt Suzuki, who is becoming a much more potent force at the plate the more time he logs with the Nationals. After struggling through much of his first three weeks with the club, the catcher has turned it up a notch. He's now homered three times in a week, including a three-run blast in the bottom of the second tonight. Suzuki later added a couple more singles, and all of a sudden he's hitting .269 since the trade. The Nationals will happily take that from their No. 8 batter.

Pitching highlight: Lost in the chaos of the benches and bullpens clearing twice, Zimmermann authored up one of his best starts in a month. And boy did he need it. The right-hander labored early, serving up a first-inning homer to Anthony Rizzo and a pair of triples in the second inning. But he quickly settled down and retired 12 in a row at one point. The long delay during the fracas left Zimmermann sitting on the bench for a long time waiting to return for the top of the seventh, and he faltered a bit in that inning. But at the end of the night, Zimmermann gave the Nats exactly what they needed from him: Seven innings of two-run ball, striking out nine, to right his ship entering the final month of the season.

Key stat: Harper is the first major-league teenager with seven triples since Buddy Lewis of the 1936 Senators recorded 13 of them.

Up next: After this wild, four-game series, the Nationals now welcome the Marlins to town for a weekend tilt. Stephen Strasburg takes the mound for his final home start of the season, looking to bounce back after getting shelled in Miami last month. Right-hander Jacob Turner will oppose him at 7:05 p.m. Friday.

Quick Links

Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

The Washington Nationals have signed former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year deal with a player option for a second year, according to multiple reports. 

Wieters spent the first eight years in the Majors with the Baltimore Orioles, being named to the AL All-Star team four times and winning two gold glove awards. Last season the switch-hitting catcher posted a .243 average with 17 homers and 66 RBI.  

The Nationals have been in the market for catchers all offseason after Wilson Ramos left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The team traded for former Padres catcher Derek Norris, whose role is now in question. The Nationals still have Jose Lobaton on the roster as a strong defensive backup catcher who has a proven rapport with many of the pitchers in the Nationals rotation. Wieters had been linked to the Nationals all offseason because of the team's need a the position and because of the Nationals close relationship with Wieters' agent Scott Boras. 

The only significant time that Wieters has missed due to injury in his career came in 2014-15 when he had Tommy John surgury. Prior to that surgury, however, Wieters had played in at least 130 games for four straight seasons and became a large part of the Orioles' identity. 

The 30-year-old backstop will give the Nationals lineup more depth and power. Wieters had three consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2011-13 and since 2009 when his career began, he ranks fifth among catchers in all of baseball in home runs with 117. 

Related: Nationals 2017 promotional schedule includes snow globes and fedoras

Quick Links

Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

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