Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore's recent profile of Washington Nationals' skipper Davey Johnson ends with the 70-year-old manager lamenting, to no one in particular the WaPost reporters notes, "'My left-handers got to start hitting left-handers sooner or later.'" It's not just the Nationals' left-handed batters who've struggled against lefties, of course. The team as a whole has a .222/.286/.361 line against LHPs, good for 15th in AVG in the NL, 15th in OBP and 13th of 15 in SLG. It doesn't get any easier for left-or-right-handed hitters tonight when the Nats take on San Francisco Giants' left-hander Madison Bumgarner in the first game of a three-game set in the nation's capital. But Adam LaRoche (.190/.246/.324 vs LHP), Denard Span (.167/.221/.202) and Bryce Harper (more on him in a minute) have put up disappointing numbers against their fellow southpaws this season.
Bumgarner, 24, has held left-handed hitters to a .150/.194/.299 line so far this season. The '07 1st Round pick (10th overall), held the Nationals to one run on four hits in 7.0 IP when he faced them earlier this season. His opponent on the mound tonight, Gio Gonzalez, matched up against him in that game in AT&T Park as well, going 7 1/3 IP in which he too gave up one run on four hits in what ended up a 2-1 Nationals' win. Bryce Harper was 2 for 5 in that game, with a home run off Bumgarner in the sixth that put the Nats up 1-0 before the Giants rallied to tie it, leaving the Nationals' 20-year-old slugger 3 for 9 against the Giants' lefty in Harper's second year in the majors.
Harper's struggled against left-handers overall, however, with a .172/.270/.276 line against lefties in 120 plate appearances in his second major league season. Harper's sitting tonight after going 1 for 15 in this past weekend's series with the Phillies, during which he faced left-handers John Lannan and Cliff Lee. Harper was 0 for 5 in the series finale, leaving him 6 for 36 in nine games so far in August, with a .262/.359/.507 line on the year.
Scott Hairston's getting a start in left field tonight, with Denard Span in center and Jayson Werth, whose knee is apparently okay, starting in right against the Giants.
Here's the Nationals' lineup for tonight's game:
#Nationals lineup vs. SFG: Span 8, Rendon 4, Zimmerman 5, Werth 9, Desmond 6, LaRoche 3, Ramos 2, Hairston 7, Gonzalez 1— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) August 13, 2013
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