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Instant Analysis: Nats take series vs. D-Backs

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Instant Analysis: Nats take series vs. D-Backs

Nationals 2, Diamondbacks 1

Game in a nutshell: Given his first opportunity to bat third in the big leagues, Bryce Harper delivered again. The rookie's one-out double in the bottom of the sixth brought home Ian Desmond to put the Nationals ahead, his latest contribution in a key spot. Ross Detwiler, meanwhile, kept doing what he's been doing all season: shutting down opposing lineups with ease. The left-hander allowed one run in 6 13 innings, then handed things over to his bullpen. Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Clippard and Henry Rodriguez combined to record the final eight outs and secure the Nationals' seventh series victory in eight tries.

Hitting highlight: It's not just that Harper has great athletic ability (which he does). The 19-year-old is also a very smart ballplayer with a true gameplan every time he steps to the plate. Just look at his sixth-inning RBI double. With the infield drawn in, Harper shortened his swing and poked an outside pitch down the left-field line to score Desmond with the go-ahead run. Harper now has an incredible four extra-base hits in his first 16 big-league at-bats.
Pitching highlight: Technically speaking, Detwiler is a No. 5 starter, but that's in name only. There's no other No. 5 starter in baseball pitching the way the left-hander is right now. With 6 13 innings of 1-run, 3-hit ball, Detwiler lowered his already-low ERA to 1.59 and his WHIP to 0.99. He's allowed one earned run or fewer in four of his five starts to date. Could the Nationals actually bump him to the bullpen in another week or two when Chien-Ming Wang returns from the DL? It's really difficult to see that happening.
Key stat: Harper's run-scoring double in the bottom of the sixth was the first RBI by the Nationals' starting No. 3 hitter since Ryan Zimmerman homered against the Astros on April 19, a span of 11 games.
Up next: You've been waiting for this for months: It's "Take Back Our Park" weekend as the hated Phillies come to town. The Nationals couldn't have scripted a better scenario for Friday's 7:05 p.m. opener, with NL Pitcher of the Month Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 1.13) facing right-hander Kyle Kendrick (0-2, 6.59).

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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

MORE NATS: Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well in 2016