The Nationals were forced Tuesday night to go up against baseball’s best pitcher this season without the services of baseball’s best hitter this season.
Bryce Harper was scratched from the Nationals’ lineup with left knee soreness, the club announced about two hours before first pitch at Dodger Stadium, leaving the rest of the team to take its chances against Cy Young candidate Zack Greinke.
Harper hurt himself trying to make a diving catch of Jose Peraza’s sinking liner to right in the bottom of the third inning during Monday night’s 8-3 victory, manager Matt Williams told reporters in Los Angeles. The 22-year-old slugger finished the game with no issues, but the knee swelled up afterward. Williams told reporters no MRI was needed of the knee and Harper was available to come off the bench during Tuesday’s game.
This is the same knee Harper seriously injured in 2013, coincidentally as a result of crashing into the fence at Dodger Stadium, and though it has caused no serious problems over the last two seasons it has occasionally acted up on him. This is the first time it has forced him to miss a game this year.
After battling through a variety of injuries both significant and minor the last two seasons, Harper has managed to stay relatively healthy in 2015. He has been in the lineup for 105 of the Nationals’ 112 games to date, sidelined only a handful of times due to minor ailments.
The healthy Harper has proven to be the most-productive hitter in the sport. He entered play Tuesday with a .333 batting average, an NL-best 29 homers and an MLB-best .460 on-base percentage, .650 slugging percentage and 1.110 OPS. No player has posted an OPS that high over a full major-league season since Albert Pujols in 2008.
With Harper sitting out Tuesday’s game, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman moved up to the No. 3 spot in the Nationals lineup. Clint Robinson took over in right field and served as cleanup hitter.
Watching Max Scherzrer rack up Ks during a game is a usual sight for fans.
Dancing is not.
On Wednesday while the Sports Junkies were broadcasting at Nats Spring Training in West Palm Beach, we got a taste of what the back-to-back Cy Young Award winner has to offer on the dance floor.
With just about a week left until their season kicks off, manager Dave Martinez hired a DJ for the day's workout, saying he wanted to "turn it up a notch."
Well he turned it up a few too many notches, causing the back end of the complex where the Junkies were broadcasting to lose power.
While the Junkies were put in a pickle because of said DJ, we were able to get a glance of Scherzer dancing to Drakes' "God's Plan."
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It's nice to see the usually lazer-focused pitcher let loose.
While Scherzer's dance moves didn't actually cause the Junkies to lose power, it's nice to think they were too much for the ballpark to handle.
106.7 The Fans Sports Junkies simulcasts on NBC Sports Washington every weekday morning from 6:00 to 10:00 am ET. You can stream the Sports Junkies right here.
It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.
It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.
They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training.
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Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.
Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.
Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats.
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