Washington Nationals' outfielder Bryce Harper was 7 for 18 early in his career against Miami Marlins' right-hander Ricky Nolasco after he took a 2-2 curve to center for a two-out single in the top of the first tonight. Harper was stranded when Ryan Zimmerman lined out to right, but the Nats' 20-year-old, 2010 no.1 overall pick broke an 0 for 13 streak at the plate with the hit, reaching without walking for the first time since he took Braves' right-hander Julio Teheran deep in his first at bat in last Friday night's loss to Atlanta. Returning to the lineup after missing a game with flu-like symptoms on Tuesday, Harper looked rather pale, but ended up going 4 for 5 in tonight's game as the Nats took the series finale from the Fish by a score of 6-1.
Here's how it happened:
27-year-old Nats' lefty Ross Detwiler retired the first two batters he faced on five pitches, but Placido Polanco singled to right-center with two down in the Marlins' first. Detwiler's 13th pitch of the night was a 95 mph 0-2 sinker that Marlins' OF Justin Ruggiano fouled into Nationals' backstop Kurt Suzuki's mitt for a foul-tip strike three. 0-0 after one in Miami.
Adam LaRoche went the other way with a 3-1 fastball outside and singled to left-center to start the second. The Nats' first baseman went first-to-third in the next at bat when Ian Desmond bounced a sharp grounder off Placido Polanco's glove and into short left. Desmond was running and safe at second as Roger Bernadina took a 2-2 pitch inside, and the Shark hit a groundout to short on the full-count pitch from Nolasco, advancing both runners with a groundout that made it a 1-0 game in the series finale with the Fish. A sac fly to center by Nats' catcher Kurt Suzuki scored Desmond and made it 2-0 Nationals before Detwiler retook the mound in the Marlins' second.
Greg Dobbs and Austin Kearns hit back-to-back singles off Ross Detwiler in the bottom of the second. The first non-fastball Detwiler threw came on his 25th pitch of the game, and it was an 0-2 curve to Fish catcher Miguel Olivo, who wasn't expecting it at all and K'd swinging. A fly to center off Chris Valaika's bat in the next AB made it two on and two out and a 94 mph 1-2 fastball to the opposing pitcher ended a 19-pitch frame after which Detwiler was at 32 pitches overall.
Bryce Harper singled again with two down in the third, taking a 1-1 fastball to left for his second hit of the night. 8 for 19 career vs Nolasco, but he was stranded again when Ryan Zimmerman whiffed chasing a wicked 2-2 slider from the Fish starter... Grounder. Desmond. Out. Marlins' leadoff man Juan Pierre started the Marlins' third with a groundout to short. A 95 mph 1-2 fastball from Detwiler got Jhonatan's brother Donovan Solano swinging for out no.2, but Placido Polanco beat Ryan Zimmerman to the line with a two-out double into the corner in left. The inning ended how it started, however, with a groundout to short, this one by Justin Ruggiano. Grounder. Desmond. Out. 3.0 scoreless on 46 pitches by Detwiler after a 14-pitch 3rd.
A 15-pitch 4th had Ricky Nolasco at 69 pitches, down 2-0 to the visiting Nats. Ross Detwiler's 61st pitch was a 3-2 fastball to Miguel Olivo that induced a two-out groundout to short. Grounder. Desmond. Out. 4.0 scoreless for Detwiler after a 15-pitch inning of his own. Kurt Suzuki took Nolasco's 77th pitch to left to end an eight-pitch at bat with a home run that soared over the visitor's bullpen for a solo blast and a 3-0 Nats' lead after four and a half in Miami. Chris Valaika lined a 3-1 fastball to left-center for a leadoff double off Detwiler in the Marlins' fifth, but Ricky Nolasco wasted an out trying and failing to bunt his teammate over to third when he fouled off an attempt on a 1-2 pitch. A strong throw from short got Juan Pierre by a step for out no.2. [ed. note - "Grounder. Desmond. Out."] But Fish infielder Donovan Solano lined to right with two down and Valaika came around from second and was called safe at home in spite of the fact that it looked like Suzuki tagged him on the helmet before he reached and tagged the plate. Home plate ump Greg Gibson went to punch him out and changed his mind. Davey Johnson didn't like that and he let Gibson know in a brief chat at the plate 16-pitch frame had Detwiler at 77 overall. 3-1 Nats after five.
• Evidence via MLB.tv screenshot [ed. note - "I thought Suzuki got the tag in."]:
Bryce Harper was 3 for 3 tonight and 9 for 20 career vs Nolasco after doubling to right to start the sixth. A Zimmerman groundout moved Harper to third and an opposite field single by Adam LaRoche brought Nats' left fielder home to make it 4-1 Nationals after the top of the sixth. No one's worried about the way Zimmerman throws when he charges and sidearms it like he did to get Justin Ruggiano for the first out of the home-half of the frame. Greg Dobbs flew to left on Detwiler's 85th pitch of the night, and the Nationals' left-hander was at 91 pitches overall when a groundout to second by Miguel Olivo ended a 14-pitch frame. Still 4-1 Nats.
Kurt Suzuki tripled to start the seventh, sticking one in the corner Juan Pierre had to dig out. One out later, Marlins' reliever Ryan Webb walked Jayson Werth to bring Steve Lombardozzi up, and Lombo's RBI single scored Suzuki from third to make it a 5-1 game. Harper flew out, leaving him 3 for 4 tonight and Webb got Ryan Zimmerman swinging to end the top of the seventh. Ross Detwiler popped Chris Valaika up for the first out of the Marlins' seventh, but Ian Desmond bobbled a groundout that should have been out no.2. LaRoche threw to second for the force on a Juan Pierre grounder, and Detwiler was up to 107 pitches overall when Donovan Solano grounded into another force to end the seventh.
Detwiler's Line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks, 107 P, 80 S, 11/2 GO/FO. ERA down to 0.90.
After Chad Qualls threw a scoreless top of the eighth, Tyler Clippard came on for the Nats and retired the Marlins in order on 11 pitches in the bottom of the inning. Still 5-1 Nationals. Steve Cishek had Jayson Werth reach safely with two down when Chris Valaika made an error on a grounder to short, and after a Steve Lombardozzi single moved Werth around to third, Bryce Harper drove in a run on the Marlins' submarining right-hander with an infield single to short that made it 6-1 Nats. Harper 4 for 5 tonight. Rafael Soriano struck Austin Kearns out for the first out of the Miami ninth. Miguel Olivo K'd swinging for out no.2 and Chris Valaika's groundout to second ended it.
Nationals win, 6-1 final.
Nationals now 9-6