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Instant analysis: Nats 11, Padres 1

Apr 25, 2014, 11:10 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: On the heels of an agonizing, extra-inning loss in which they simply could not buy a clutch hit, the Nationals completely flipped the script. But this lopsided victory may have come at a price, with Bryce Harper leaving early with an apparent left hand injury.

Harper appeared to hurt himself sliding into third base on a 3-run triple in the bottom of the third, a clutch hit by the struggling young star that put the Nationals up 6-0 but put a real damper on this rainy night, with everyone waiting to find out whether he is seriously injured.

Harper’s lineup-mates did plenty to add to the offensive attack. They combined for 17 hits, making this the first time since the franchise arrived in D.C. with at least 16 hits in back-to-back games. Anthony Rendon produced four of those hits, and Ian Desmond and Jose Lobaton each added three of his own to the total.

Given all that run support, Stephen Strasburg cruised against his hometown club. The right-hander tossed seven scoreless innings, scattering seven hits while striking out 11 en route to an easy (and much-needed) victory.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The biggest hit of the night unfortunately also resulted in the biggest loss of the night. When Harper drilled a 3-2 fastball off the out-of-town scoreboard in the bottom of the third, bringing three runs home, he motored around the bases with confidence after delivering his biggest hit since his third-deck homer two weeks ago. But upon sliding headfirst into third base, Harper immediately clutched his left hand and shook it around for a few seconds. He remained in the game and scored moments later on Jose Lobaton’s RBI single, but he didn’t look totally comfortable in left field in the top of the fourth. When the fifth inning arrived, Nate McLouth took over in left field, with Harper nowhere to be found in the Nationals’ dugout. They’ll have to hope it’s not a serious injury.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: This was the Strasburg start the Nationals were looking for all month. Facing his hometown club, the right-hander came right out and established his dominance from the moment he took the mound. He cruised through the game’s first two innings on 21 total pitches, striking out three. He did scatter seven hits and two walks over the rest of his outing, but he made pitches when he needed to and never let the Padres even sniff the possibility of a comeback. That’s what an ace is supposed to do when handed a big lead. Strasburg also finished strong. Sent to the mound for the top of the seventh on 101 pitches, he completed the inning on eight pitches to wrap up a stellar evening. With 11 K’s, he topped double-digit strikeouts for the 14th time in his career.

KEY STAT: Robbie Erlin has now pitched 9 1/3 career innings against the Nationals and given up 17 earned runs.

UP NEXT: After a late night delayed by rain, these two teams will be right back at the park early Saturday for a 1:05 p.m. start. Tanner Roark starts for the Nationals against Padres ace (and occasional left fielder) Andrew Cashner.

  1. David Proctor - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    Just once I’d like to have a win without some bad news surrounding it. I sure hope Harper is healthy.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:14 PM

      He certainly didn’t appear to be in the kind of pain Ryan Zimmerman was when he broke his thumb. But, of course, that’s watching on a tiny iPad screen from the other side of the continent, so you probably shouldn’t consider that a formal diagnosis.

      • David Proctor - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:15 PM

        I agree with you. He stayed in and played defense the next half inning, too. Though he booted a ball in the outfield (had no impact on the play with Span backing it up). Wrist/hand may have had an impact on that.

  2. secretwasianman - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:12 PM

    Great win hope Harper OK. Man I agree with David.

  3. waddueyeno - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:13 PM

    having more runs than the starter had strikeouts is nice. especially when stras is the starter. but praying for harper’s hand. or whatever.

  4. Theophilus T.S. - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    Well, who shall we demand that Rizzo trade tonight?

    • David Proctor - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:16 PM

      Espinosa was 0-4. He’s back to being the worst player ever.

    • veejh - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:21 PM

      This team needs to be blown up, no doubt.

    • zmunchkin - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:46 PM

      Clearly Blevins needs to go! :-).

  5. David Proctor - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    Jammed thumb for Harper. X-Ray negative. Could have continued to play, but it got swollen. Day-to-day.

  6. veejh - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    MW just said Harper appears to be fine. Good news.

  7. Theophilus T.S. - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    Harper wasn’t fine — he tried to pick up that hit that dropped in front of him and Spann with his glove and couldn’t close the mitt on it.

    I’ll be optimistic but I’d be shocked if he’s in the lineup tomorrow.

    • David Proctor - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:33 PM

      I’m sure it was painful. Question is if it was a pain issue or a structural issue. X-Rays negative is good, but still have to make sure the ligaments are okay.

    • Eric - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:36 PM

      Looked like he just misplayed an odd bloop…

      We’ll see

  8. Eric - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:32 PM

    So long as it’s not a sprain of some sort (especially wrist), I think it’ll be a day off or two, tops.

  9. David Proctor - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:43 PM

    Dan Kolko ‏@masnKolko 1m
    Harper said he didn’t think thumb injury was serious at any point. Thumb was wrapped up postgame but Harper said he hopes to play tomorrow.

  10. Doc - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:44 PM

    In other news, the Nats are 2nd in runs scored in NL—without the Buffalo and RZim for the past few weeks.

    Only the Rocks are ahead of them, and their runs don’t count anyway!

    • Eric - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:47 PM

      Ah, but the Buffalo *is* in.

      ::: looks in dugout, flashes buffalo sign :::

  11. nats128 - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:33 AM

    Finally a fun game! No drama, just sayin.

    • llf0701 - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:11 AM

      I agree Nats128….I could watch the game without pacing.

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