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Rays 5, Nats 3: Fister returns, but Harper injured in loss

Jun 18, 2015, 10:25 PM EST

Jun 18, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper (34) hits an RBI single in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Doug Fister made his return from the disabled list on Thursday and matched Rays’ ace Chris Archer through five innings, but it was all spoiled by a sixth inning that proved nothing short of a disaster for the Nats.

Not only did they surrender a lead in their eventual 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay, they saw superstar right fielder Bryce Harper leave the game with an apparent left knee injury.

Harper hurt his knee while attempting a throw to home on a single by Asdrubal Cabrera. He fell and immediately grabbed for his leg as teammates, head trainer Lee Kuntz and manager Matt Williams rushed to his aid. Harper would limp off the field on his own, but it represented an unfortunate turn on a night that was going well for Washington up until that point.

Fister finished with 5 1/3 innings and nine hits, five earned runs, no walks, three strikeouts and a homer allowed on 87 pitches. He ran into trouble in the sixth after cruising for his first five innings.

Archer was the opposite, in that he struggled early with three runs in the first two innings before settling in. He allowed his first run on a Harper single off his ankle, but stayed in the game. Archer finished with three runs allowed across five innings on eight hits and two walks.

The Nationals fell to 34-33 on the season after losing this four-game series to the Rays. They will now hope for better results against the Pirates, who had won seven straight games entering Thursday.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The Nationals got off to a surprisingly good start against Archer, who has been one of the best pitchers in baseball so far this year. Denard Span got them started with a leadoff walk and then stole second base on an Anthony Rendon strikeout. Span moved to third on a Yunel Escobar single to right field and then scored on Harper’s hit off Archer. Harper smoked a ball off Archer’s ankle and it flew all the way to left field.

Escobar would come home two batters later on a fielder’s choice groundball by Danny Espinosa. The Nats were up 2-0 after one and added a third run in the second on an RBI single by Escobar, giving them an unexpected three-run lead on Archer after two. They were, however, not able to capitalize.

Escobar did go 5-for-5 for the third time this season, but it was in a losing effort.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Fister looked in control until the sixth inning when he started things off by allowing a solo home run to Joey Butler. Butler sailed a high flyball just over the fence in right field. Evan Longoria and Logan Forsythe then followed with back-to-back singles before the biggest play of the night went down.

That play began with a single to right field by Cabrera, which brought Forsythe around third and convinced Harper he had a play at home. Harper set up the throw, but tweaked his knee while preparing to plant his back leg for the throw. He then fell to the ground as the throw sailed into the Rays’ dugout. Forsythe scored and then another run came home on Harper’s error.

Blake Treinen took over for Fister and promptly allowed a triple to David DeJesus, who was in to pinch-hit. The ball caromed off the wall in center field over the shoulder of Span and scored another run.

KEY STAT: Entering Thursday’s game, Harper was batting .440 with 14 homers, 39 RBI and a 1.509 OPS in Nationals wins (33), and .245 with eight homers, 13 RBI and an .882 OPS in losses (31).

UP NEXT: The Pittsburgh Pirates come to town to face the Nationals in a weekend series. The first game will feature rookie Joe Ross (1-1, 3.46) against veteran A.J. Burnett (6-2, 1.89).

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:28 PM

    Dan Helie is saying that Harper’s leg tweak was not serious. Day to day.

    • ehay2k - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:30 PM

      So, that means, like Werth’s wrist (and Espi’s before it), it’s broken?

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:35 PM

        +1.

        Worse than MW’s pitching decisions is our medical staff’s conclusions.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:39 PM

        Slow your roll.

        This is a tweet from an NFL TV guy, about what somebody “in the organization” told him.

        If it’s wrong, don’t go howling about the medical staff. Go howling about the tweeter.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:30 PM

      Helie saying it’s a sprain.

  2. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:29 PM

    Welcome back Fister…. he was pretty good, until he clearly hit the wall….

    All I can say is I hope Bryce is okay… and I’m glad that the NL East is not a strong division….

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:37 PM

      Why does MW always allows our pitchers to hit the wall.

      Is he clueless to it happening?

      HadcTreinan started that inning like I wanted, my guess is Harper would not be news tonight.

      Cause and effect in action.

    • conatsguy - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:54 PM

      +1

  3. ehay2k - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:29 PM

    “Hey trainer, Ruffian looks alittle gimpy, should we give him a rest? ”
    “Nah, these thoroughbreds are tough, and they love to run. We’ll send him out there.”

    That’s what I feel like the clubhouse conversation is when players are injured. I really, really hope Bryce is basically OK, but injured enough that they have to rest him.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:44 PM

      Ruffian was a her.

      • ehay2k - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:50 PM

        Invalidates my whole point I guess.

  4. nattygoats - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:30 PM

    Lose the lead. Lose your best player. Then lose the game. 6 errors in the last two games and ZERO accountability for this.. Just a middle of the pack go hum baseball team who is only still alive because they are in an awful division. They will be under .500 by Monday as they are nowhere near the level of the Pirates

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:39 PM

      Come back when you are ready to cheer for a victory.

      Nothing you said tonight indicated you are a fan as usual.

      I should let it go as it is obvious you are trying to pas fans off.

      Next time youvsay your not coming keep your promise.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:42 PM

        MNF

        Stay strong and ignore the goat farts.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:45 PM

        Wish I could but I hate it when people claim to be fans say things that only haters say not what a fan would ever say.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 18, 2015 at 11:03 PM

        You do realize, don’t you, MNF, that by responding, you are inviting him to come back tomorrow. It doesn’t matter what you post, if it’s a response, it’s a big ol’ “Y’all come back now!”

  5. lesatcsc - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:31 PM

    Really hard to remain positive right now. Have to keep going back and trying to remember what this team looked like when they were hot a couple weeks ago. Here’s hoping the injury to Harper is not serious, but it sure seems like a lot of “not serious” injuries and in some cases, no apparent injury at all, seem to have landed a lot of Nats on the DL for a spell.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:40 PM

      Remember the Giants barely make the playoffs and win the World Series. We can do the same.

      • wmlsays - Jun 18, 2015 at 11:24 PM

        The Giants have a great manager that knows how to win. The Nats have Matt Williams. Great managers can take a good team all the way. The Nats don’t have a great manager. It is questionable whether they even have a good one.

  6. manassasnatsfan - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:34 PM

    I am out of town.

    Someone give highlights of the Presser.

    When will MW error on the side of not allowing a starter to be gassed in a game?

    • ehay2k - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:35 PM

      9th inning of a playoff game? He pulls them, he has a quick hook, he leaves them in, he doesn’t know they are based. Manager can’t win.

      • nattygoats - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:38 PM

        Your correcr this manager can’t win. And he ISNT winning. He’s poor.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:42 PM

        You go by the stuff. JZim was hiring spits in the 9th. Most our starters this year are leaving the ball up.

        Not rocket science.

      • stoatva - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:52 PM

        He can win if he, y’know, wins.

    • nattygoats - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:36 PM

      Foster should have been pulled after the Longoria hit which was immediately after a homer.

    • Toot D. Blan - Jun 18, 2015 at 11:23 PM

      A real fan wouldn’t be asking such negative questions. Come back when you can be positive about this team and its manager.

  7. nattygoats - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:35 PM

    Is Ugla hurt? He’s gotta be a better choice then Desmond.

  8. David Proctor - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:35 PM

    Rendon with one of the worst games of his career today. 0-4 with 3 strikeouts and a DP. It was really the difference in the game.

    I don’t care about that though. All I care about is Harper. Not to be melodramatic, but this season is dependent on his health. Without him, it’s over.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:41 PM

      Tony looked lost. Get some rest and get them tomorrow.

      • knoxvillenat - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:52 PM

        Rendon looked asleep at bat tonight almost as if he wasn’t interested in playing.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:46 PM

      +1.

      I know it’s still basically March for Rendon, but the Nats really need him.

    • Karl Kolchak - Jun 18, 2015 at 11:06 PM

      I’ve been saying to the wife for two weeks that I won’t believe Rendon is back 100% until he hits a couple of home runs.

      • David Proctor - Jun 18, 2015 at 11:07 PM

        He should have two. He hit one that the wind knocked down against the Cubs and one over 400 feet that was caught at the wall in TB. They’ll go out.

        Tonight was terrible though. His first career three strikeout game.

  9. raleighnat - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:38 PM

    I don’t hink I like Matt Williams any more. Why did he leave Fister in when he had 2 on and was clearly gassed? Is there some rule that we just wait until he coughs it up before pulling him. And Harper…ugh… Anyway, I’ll be back in sunshine club if we win tomorrow.

    • David Proctor - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:48 PM

      Bullpen got up as soon as the home run was hit. The next two hits happened so quickly, there was no way Treinen would be warm at the time.

      • Toot D. Blan - Jun 18, 2015 at 11:28 PM

        That’s too late. Someone should have been warming up even in the fifth as a precaution since this was Fister’s first game back off the DL. As Phil Wood correctly pointed out in the postgame show, the tarps weren’t even off the bullpen mounds until well after the home run.

      • David Proctor - Jun 18, 2015 at 11:38 PM

        I heard Phil, he was overreacting. Fister was cruising up until the home run.

      • Toot D. Blan - Jun 18, 2015 at 11:48 PM

        Fister may have been cruising, but he hit the wall. MW should have been expecting that and been prepared for it. It was Fister’s first time back off the DL, after all. But MW was asleep at the wheel, as he has been several times before already this season. No over-reaction on Phil Wood’s part. He was spot on.

      • David Proctor - Jun 18, 2015 at 11:50 PM

        This is classic hindsight management. If MW pulls Fister after he’s cruising and one of the middle relievers (Treinen?) gives up some runs, he gets blasted.

        Fans want relievers constantly warming “just in case.” You can’t do that. And no, other teams don’t do it either. MW did it early on his first season and the relievers told him to cut it out because he was wearing them out by having them warming nonstop.

      • Toot D. Blan - Jun 19, 2015 at 12:06 AM

        He didn’t need to pull Fister for the top of the sixth. But he should have had someone warming up and ready to come in as soon as Fister hit a rough spot – even if that happened on the first batter, which it did. You don’t wait until your starter gets in trouble to start warming up the bullpen. By then it’s too late. As we are seeing time and again with MW.

  10. nattygoats - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:41 PM

    Span Escobar, Bryce, Ramos, Robinson, Danny, rendon, MAT, pitcher. Winning lineup

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:43 PM

      It is wait and see.

  11. David Proctor - Jun 18, 2015 at 10:51 PM

    They can say mild hamstring strain all they want. I’ll believe it’s a hamstring strain and not knee. I’ll need to see him on the field before I believe how “mild” it is. The last mild strain sidelined Rendon for two months.

  12. conatsguy - Jun 18, 2015 at 11:09 PM

    Welcome back Doug. We missed you

    Great game Yunel!

    Hope it is not serious Bryce.

    I forgot everything else about tonite.

    GYFNG!

  13. Drew - Jun 18, 2015 at 11:19 PM

    On ESPN: Future Nat Andrew Stevenson of LSU just doubled in a run in what was probably the last AB of his college career.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:19 AM

      Manieri his coach in his postgame presser tearfully said goodbye to Bregman and a pitcher. Then talked more about Bregman as his guy. No mention of Andrew Stevenson who gave it all. If I’m Stevenson watching that on ESPN, I’d think I didn’t rate. Certainly Bregman was the star of the team but Bergman ain’t chopped liver.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:20 AM

        I blew that punchline. Stevenson ain’t chopped liver!

  14. npb99 - Jun 18, 2015 at 11:37 PM

    Hate to sound a gloomy note on top of the bad news tonight, but we now haven’t won a series since the Cubs series in late May.

  15. rlndtln - Jun 18, 2015 at 11:45 PM

    Should have had the pen warming at the start of the inning.Fister was fair at best and was coming off a rehab session.MW has zero confidence in BP.If Ross pitches another strong game tomorrow I would not take him out of the rotation period.Let the genius MW figure who to sit.

    • stoatva - Jun 19, 2015 at 12:18 AM

      There was all the opportunity in the world to send Ramos, then McCatty out to slow things down and give Treinen, or whomever, the chance to get loose.

  16. exposremains - Jun 19, 2015 at 12:07 AM

    8 straight win for the Pirates. Pitchers dominate. Just what they need.

    • stoatva - Jun 19, 2015 at 12:15 AM

      If anyone is wondering who REALLY has the best starting rotation in baseball, it’s the Buccos. Oh, well. Nothing to do but go out and try to win one baseball game at a time.

      • Theophilus T.S. - Jun 19, 2015 at 12:50 AM

        Fister was fine. Escobar — God has blessed his bat — cost him a run, even though he was hugging the line because he was playing in — because he doesn’t come in well and his arm isn’t 3B caliber. Desmond should have had a ground ball up the middle but wasn’t committed to the play. Harper’s half-legged throw was a disaster. Somehow, no unearned runs. Plus the rain delay. Without the delay and with decent D Fister goes six, gives up two earned and gets the win.

        Rivero isn’t pitching in high pressure situations but is showing gumption. Livan predicted early he would be major league star and is on the way to being proved right.

  17. rlndtln - Jun 19, 2015 at 7:05 AM

    Only explanation for Rendon not playing 3rd is Escobar is barking about moving to second.Rendon is 3 times the third baseman Escobar is.Escobar is at least the equal of Rendon at second.

    • Toot D. Blan - Jun 19, 2015 at 8:41 AM

      How do you know that? Escobar has never once played second since he played about 20 games there as a rookie. In 2007! Meanwhile Rendon played about half a season there as recently as last year. Is playing second base like riding a bicycle, something you never forget how to do? I don’t think so.

      • rlndtln - Jun 19, 2015 at 1:59 PM

        Listen.They brought Escobar here to plat SECOND base.Rendon is a premier 3rd baseman That would be like moving Brooks Robinson to second for a average 3rd baseman.

  18. Guapo - Jun 19, 2015 at 7:45 AM

    Desmond is on a pace to commit 38 errors this year. He’s hitting .224 and Doug Fister has a higher slugging percentage this season. Nats have at least two SS on the team who are better offensively and defensively, yet MW keeps on penciling #20 into the lineup. With injuries, #20 has to be on the field now. But if/when Werth and Zimmerman get healthy, Desmond will have to be benched to MW to retain any level of credibility with the clubhouse, assuming he still has any left.

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