The Washington Nationals traveled to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers and took the first game of a three game set, 6-2. But that isn’t the big news from tonight’s game.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Dodgers catcher AJ Ellis smashed a liner to deep right-center and Bryce Harper sprinted back in an oddly circular path to try to get to the ball. Harper ran full speed through the warning track and into the wall, slamming face first into the out of town scoreboard. Harper immediately crumpled to the ground and stayed there. Harper appeared dazed after getting up but was able to walk off the field under his own power with Nationals trainer Lee Kuntz. He was replaced by Roger Bernadina.
After the game it was announced that Harper needed 11 stitches, but that he did not have a concussion. He will also have an X-ray on a jammed shoulder, but there were no immediate issues with it.
In regular game action the Nationals offense picked back up again as every single starter got on-base at least once through the course of the game.
The runs came early and often, starting off in the top of the first. Singles by Denard Span and Bryce Harper left runners in the corners for Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman grounded out to second to score Span and stake the Nats to a 1-0 lead.
Zimmerman picked up two more RBIs in the third inning. Jordan Zimmermann led off the inning with a walk, then Steve Lombardozzi reached base on an error by Adrian Gonzalez. Harper showed his patience by taking a walk to load the bases. Zimmerman delivered with double to deep right scoring two. Adam LaRoche followed that with an RBI ground out to make it 4-0 Nats.
The Nationals scoring came to an end in the fifth inning. A single by Lombardozzi and another Harper walk set up another RBI situation for Zimmerman. Zimmerman grounded weakly to the pitcher but Dodgers reliever Javy Guerra threw the ball into center field, allowing Lombardozzi to score and Harper to reach third. Adam LaRoche followed that up with an RBI single to score Harper and extend the lead to 6-0.
That was more than enough for Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann, who was yet again on the top of his game. Zimmermann through a sterling 7.2 innings, giving up two runs on nine hits, while striking out five and walking none. The only runs coming in the fifth after the Harper collision and in the eighth at the end of his day.
Zimmermann was aided by some superb defense from the eight guys behind him. LaRoche saw his life flash before his eyes while fielding a hot shot from Andre Ethier to end the fourth inning. Desmond made his own contribution in the seventh when he made a diving stop behind second and threw a laser to first to rob AJ Ellis of a base hit.
Zimmermann’s counterpart, Josh Beckett, struggled early and left after only three innings. Beckett gave up four runs, two earned, on three hits, two walks and five strikeouts.
The Nationals bullpen had little trouble with the Dodgers hitters. Tyler Clippard came on to get the last out of the eighth inning and got Andre Ethier to fly out to left to end the inning. Drew Storen, sporting a new hair cut, came out for the ninth and got a 1-2-3 inning to end the game.
The Nationals will be looking to continue their winning ways tomorrow with Dan Haren facing off against perhaps the best pitcher in Major League Baseball, Clayton Kershaw.