Bryce Harper made is MLB debut for the Washington Nationals on Saturday night in Los Angeles, and he set out to show that he deserved to be there from the start. He looked mostly comfortable at the plate, and when given the opportunity, he sure did shine. His line drive double off the center field wall was a ridiculous and his hustle is admirable. One of the most impressive things about Harper’s evening was his Ankiel-like laser to home plate in the seventh inning. If Wilson Ramos was able to cleanly field that ball, it might have been a different game.
When Harper hit that sac fly to left to make it 3-1 in favor of the Nats, it felt like the game was in the bag, and it looked like Harper had put his stamp on his first career MLB start. Henry Rodriguez and Wilson Ramos had other plans, though. Rodriguez threw two wild pitches that ultimately ended up tying the game in the ninth, giving him a blown save. Tom Gorzelanny had the final say though, when he gave up the walk-off home run to center in the tenth to Matt Kemp. It was probably an unfair task to ask a guy like Gorzelanny to face Kemp, but it happened, and it ended the game with a 4-3 win for the Dodgers. It was the Nats first series loss of the season.
- Lost in the hubbub of the Harpermania and the los: Stephen Strasburg was absolutely magnificent again tonight. He threw seven innings of five hit baseball, gave up just one run, struck out nine, and didn’t walk anyone. The run is officially earned, but that could be changed by the official scorer. An error on Danny Espinosa in the seventh should have made that run unearned, but we’ll see. For now, he’s got a ludicrous 1.13 ERA.
- Wilson Ramos had quite the up-and-down night. He went 1-for-2 with a crucial RBI giving the Nats their second run, but his defense was atrocious. Harper’s throw from left was a perfect strike, but he was unable to catch the ball to complete the out. After getting rocked by a foul tip in the ninth, he seemed unwilling to slide around to block any pitches from the erratic Henry Rodriguez which ultimately led to two wild pitches. His pitch selection with Rodriguez was also suspect, calling numerous breaking pitches when hitters clearly had it timed. It’s a day game on Sunday, so expect to see Jesus Flores, but you might have seen him anyway after Saturday’s performance.
- Tom Gorzelanny somehow earned just his first loss of the year and continues to show why I keep calling for him to be cut. He’s now got a 6.17 ERA and hasn’t shown that he can provide the Nats with consistent outings from a long-relief role. When Chien-Ming Wang returns, I still think there’s a chance he gets cut.
- The many injuries to key players were as prevalent tonight as ever. No Ryan Zimmerman or Michael Morse at the heart of the line up continues to devastate the team’s offensive production, especially in the early innings. Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche have been really good, but the depth from one to eight hasn’t been there. The injury to Drew Storen continues to be a huge one for the Nats relievers, who have blown four saves this year. Storen blew five saves all of last season.
Ramos CANNOT be a major league catcher and be that bad at blocking balls in the dirt. Good Little League catchers don't take backhand stabs at balls with tying run on 3rd. Want to see Flores. Have Pudge tutor Wilson. Terrible catching.
What a heartbreaker. I actually had 6 friends watching this game with me, they were really into it. It's these little mistakes that have cost the Nats this series, but those things are correctible. It's clear the team has the talent to be elite.