Nationals' Harper leaves game with knee injury

Washington Nationals' Brian Goodwin right steals second against San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik left during the eighth inning of the first baseball game of a split doubleheader Sunday Aug. 13 2017 in Washington. (AP

Harper suffered a bone bruise injury in his knee during the play in Saturday's game. The play was not pretty.

After waiting three hours to start tonight's game, the Washington Nationals may have just had the worst news possible. They are bound to be upset and anxious now. The 2015 MVP is hitting.326 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs in 106 games this season, and his presence in the lineup is crucial to Washington playing deep into October.

Brandon Drury's two-run double keyed a four-run sixth inning that broke up Jon Lester's pitching duel with Patrick Corbin, and Arizona ended a three-game losing streak by beating Chicago.

"Jackson was a little shaky early, had a lot of pitches, but settled down in the middle innings and took us to our pen and took us to the seventh", Manager Dusty Baker said. Right now, the Nats are out of healthy outfielders on the 40-man roster since Michael Taylor and Jayson Werth are on the disabled list as well.

Even though first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is having an All-Star season, Washington's title hopes hinge largely on Harper's health.


Both teams were able to call up a 26th player for the doubleheader, and both chose hitters over pitchers: Orlando Calixte for the Giants and Pedro Severino for the Nationals. Giants manager Bruce Bochy realizes the situation Stratton faced. The 15-year veteran had to mentally prepare to pitch again Saturday, and had to wait out an additional three hours because of more rain.

Harper's loss will be felt by a team that is on pace to win 97 games yet will enter October as nobody's favorite because of the historic dominance that has happened at Dodger Stadium this season.

Of course, the Washington Nationals have had their fair share of those kinds of injuries this year when Adam Eaton tore his ACL in late April trying to beat out an infield single against the Mets.

Along with being rivals, Baker and Bochy are friends.

"The good thing is he's young and strong", Baker said. The times for Sunday's day-night double-header are 10:05 p.m. and 4:05 p.m. Stratton has taken the spot of Matt Cain in the rotation.

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