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Zimmermann leads bullpen in Game 4

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Zimmermann leads bullpen in Game 4

In an airtight, 1-1 NLDS Game 4 heading into the seventh inning, Nationals manager Davey Johnson called on unlikely arm to relieve starter Ross Detwiler.

After starting Game 2 just three days before, Jordan Zimmermann came in to make the first relief appearance of his career. Zimmermann had taken the loss on Monday after giving up five earned runs in just three innings of work.

Zimmermann had seen his fastball feasted on by the same Cardinals lineup in Monday’s game, but showed no hesitation in Game 4. He struck out the side on a total of 12 pitches with seven of them 97 mile per hour fastballs.

Zimmermann ranked third in the National League during the regular season with an average fastball velocity of 93.9, but not even Johnson had seen him throw that fast.

“He came in, and I mean, he was hyped. That's the hardest I've seen him throw all year,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Zimmermann walked up to pitching coach Steve McCatty after the seventh and told him, “I just tried to throw it as hard as I could throw it." The jump in velocity was not only seen on his fastball, but also his slider.

Zimmermann hit 91 three times with the breaking ball which some were even more impressed with.

“It was unbelievable, just a 91 mile per hour nasty slider?” Detwiler said. “That was a huge shot in the arm, the crowd went crazy after the third out.”

Johnson could only laugh.

“I mean, 91 mile an hour slider? You've got to be kidding me. That's pretty good, wasn't it?”

“Some guys in our club said, ‘That's our next closer.’  I said, ‘no way.’”

Zimmermann finished off the seventh inning, but there was more work for the Natioanls’ bullpen to do. Tyler Clippard spelled Zimmermann in the eighth and picked up right where he left off.

Clippard also got out of his inning on three strikeouts. He started with Carlos Beltran going down swinging then caught Matt Holliday looking. After a five-pitch walk to Allen Craig, he got Yadier Molina swinging on a 94 mile per hour fastball.

Clippard walked off the mound with a scream and several fist pumps, another boost of energy to the Nationals and their crowd.

Drew Storen pitched the ninth and began with two strikeouts before getting Matt Carpenter to pop up to Ian Desmond. His second strikeout was the eighth consecutive out by strikeout in total by the Nationals’ bullpen, only the 2005 Angels have matched that number in a postseason game.

Johnson said each player’s inning gave a jolt to the team.

“It was electric. It's been that way most of the year. But in both cases, the job they did was they rose to the occasion. All of them were throwing harder than I've seen them throw.”

Ryan Zimmerman acknowledged their effect on the offense and the team as a whole.

“With the way Ross threw and the way those guys threw out of the bullpen, we were like, ‘come one, we can’t afford to lose this game with the way they’ve pitched against that lineup.’ That was pretty impressive.”

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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