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Instant Analysis: Strasburg shuts down Marlins

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Instant Analysis: Strasburg shuts down Marlins

Game in a nutshell: Stephen Strasburg was stuck in a three-game losing streak. Ian Desmond was out of the lineup with a lingering oblique strain. The Nationals were silenced at the plate. Reason to worry? Um, no. Strasburg tossed six scoreless innings to improve to 10-4 for the season. He also chimed in with another RBI single, setting in motion a two-run rally off Ricky Nolasco in the top of the fifth. The Nats added two more runs off Nolasco in the sixth, with Michael Morse driving in one run and Danny Espinosa driving in the other. Tyler Clippard got himself into a big jam in the ninth, loading the bases with nobody out. But he escaped it and thus secured the Nats' fifth shutout victory of the season.

Hitting highlight: With Desmond on the bench, the Nats needed an offensive spark from somebody. So they turned to their best hitter ... Strasburg. Seriously, nobody has consistently put up better numbers at the plate than the All-Star pitcher. Strasburg drew a two-out walk in the third, becoming the first player to reach base against Nolasco. Then with two outs in the fifth, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen decided to intentionally walk Jhonatan Solano and take his chances with the pitcher. Won't they ever learn? Strasburg laced an RBI single to right to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. He's now hitting .385 (10-for-26) this season with four RBI, a .448 on-base percentage and .654 slugging percentage.

Pitching highlight: Strasburg wasn't in top form today. He gave up six hits and a walk, bounced multiple pitches in front of the plate and put himself in trouble several times. But when he really needed to make pitches, he did. And that's how he still wound up tossing six shutout innings. With two on in the second, he struck out John Buck. With the bases loaded in the third, he struck out Logan Morrison and got Hanley Ramirez to ground out (with Ryan Zimmerman making a nice play). And with runners on second and third in the fifth, he struck out Ramirez on a 2-2 curveball. That's called rising to the occasion, and that's what the ace of a playoff staff is supposed to do.
Key stat: All seven of the Nats' hits today were singles, which means their consecutive streak of games with at least one extra-base hit ended at 85.

Up next: This series isn't over yet, folks. We're wrapping around the weekend and concluding with a 7:10 p.m. Monday game. Edwin Jackson will take the ball for the Nationals against the always-combustible Carlos Zambrano.

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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

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Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers. 

Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.  

Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS. 

With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years. 

Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan