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Instant Analysis: Nats take first game vs. Marlins

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Instant Analysis: Nats take first game vs. Marlins

Nationals 7, Marlins 4

Game in a nutshell: For the second time in two weeks, the Nationals summoned John Lannan from Syracuse to start one half of a doubleheader. And for the second time in two weeks, the left-hander delivered. He wasn't quite as sharp as his July 23 outing against the Braves, but Lannan tossed six-plus innings to earn the quality start and improve to 2-0 for the season. He was bolstered by an early offensive explosion that featured another home run from Adam LaRoche, a two-run single from Mark DeRosa and a whole lotta production from the heart of the lineup. Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and LaRoche combined to go 6-for-9 with two doubles, a homer and five walks. And though it took some finagling of the bullpen late to seal this one, the Nationals emerged with a relatively easy win over a self-imploding Marlins club in the first game of tonight's twinbill.

Hitting highlight: Everything's coming up LaRoche! After a 3-hit, 2-RBI performance Thursday night, the veteran first baseman brought out the big stick again for this one. He picked up three more hits, including his 21st homer of the season, and added three more RBI to raise his team-leading total to 67. Combine the two games, and LaRoche drove in a run four times in a span of six at-bats. Not bad. Also not bad: LaRoche's numbers over a longer stretch. In 14 games since July 20, he's hitting .396 with five homers and 12 RBI.

Pitching highlight: The Nationals really couldn't have asked for much more than they've gotten from Lannan in these two fill-in starts. He reached the seventh inning both times, held the opposition to three runs or less both times, allowed a total of nine hits in 13 innings and kept his pitch count relatively low. Lannan did battle some command issues in this game, issuing five walks (three in the first two innings). But he retired 13 of 14 batters at one point and effectively pitched with a big lead, going right after the Marlins. If these two outings don't convince the Nats he's capable of taking over Stephen Strasburg's rotation spot in September, nothing will.

Key stat: The Marlins pitching staff has issued 13 bases-loaded walks this season, more than any other team in the majors, including two today.

Up next: They're already warming up for Game 2! Gio Gonzalez faces Josh Johnson in a game that will begin in approximately 25 minutes.

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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

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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

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