Game in a nutshell: An emotional weekend series ended with emotions ramped up to even higher levels. It all started with Cole Hamels drilling Bryce Harper in the back with a first-inning, first-pitch fastball. How did Harper respond? By stealing home. How did Jordan Zimmermann respond? By plunking Hamels in the leg. The Phillies got the last laugh, though. Hunter Pence crushed a two-run homer off Zimmermann in the fourth, and Hamels cruised the rest of the night to deal the Nationals a tough loss in the series finale. Making matters even worse, Jayson Werth suffered an apparent serious left wrist injury trying to make a sliding catch in right field in the sixth. And that was before the entire game blew up during a torturous, six-run ninth inning for the Phillies.
Hitting highlight: What else can you say about Harper? The kid has both the physical gifts and the baseball instincts to do some incredibly special things on the field. He didn't just go 2-for-3 and reach another time on the hit-by-pitch. He single-handedly swiped four extra bases with his hustle, going first-to-third on a single, turning a little looper to left into a double and -- of course -- stealing home.
Pitching lowlight: Zimmermann was sharp early on and showed some intestinal fortitude in retaliating Hamels' plunking of Harper by drilling the Phillies pitcher in the leg. But he fell apart during the fourth inning, serving up a two-run homer to Pence and allowing three more hits. He also loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh, needing Craig Stammen to enter from the bullpen and bail him out. He still got credit for a quality start, but by Zimmermann's lofty standards, this was not a quality performance.
Key stat: Harper became only the second Nationals player to steal home (Ian Desmond did it last year on the back end of a double-steal) and the first teenager to steal home in a major-league game since the Angels' Ed Kirkpatrick in 1964.
Up next: After a much-needed day off, the Nationals open a six-game road trip Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche are both expected to return to the lineup for the 7:05 p.m. game at PNC Park.
Here's something you don't see every day. The Single-A Potomac Nationals, an affilliate of the Washington Nationals, will play three games on Wednesday in a rare tripleheader.
Doubleheaders in baseball are common. The Nationals have one coming up in just over a week on Saturday May 14. Three games in one day, though? That's a lot of baseball.
Here's how it will work. The P-Nats and the Lynchburg Hillcats will play their first game at 3 p.m. in Lynchburg. It's a continuation of Monday's game that was suspended in the fifth inning due to rain. That game will go nine innings. They will then play two seven-inning games to close out their series.
So, barring extras, that means 19 innings of baseball. That's about the same as a doubleheader of two nine-inning games, but this day will have three different game results.
A tripleheader, by the way, has not been played in the majors since 1920. It has been almost a hundred years and it may never happen again.
For more on the tripleheader, click here.
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On this week's episode of 'Baseball in the District,' we examined the Nats' resurgence in the Midwest, Bryce Harper's surprising struggles and how the suspension of Dee Gordon could affect the NL East. We also projected what Harper's idea of a U.S.A. super team for the World Baseball Classic would like.
This week's episode also featured a very special guest: D.C. Washington, the national anthem extraordinnaire that has become a fan favorite around town. How did he get his name? How did he get his start singing anthems? Does he still get nervous before them? D.C. answered those questions and more in what turned out to be a very fun interview.
You can listen to the show on ESPN 980's website or download the show on iTunes.
Nats (18-7) vs. Royals (13-12) at Kauffman Stadium
After yet another impressive victory on Monday for the Nationals, who have all of a sudden found their groove against baseball's best teams, Washington aims for their fifth straight win on Tuesday night at the Kansas City Royals.
Tanner Roark (2-2, 2.03) will make his sixth start of the season. He's coming off to consecutive outings of seven scoreless innings. This is the second time Roark has faced the Royals in his career. He went 4 2/3 innings without allowing a run at Kauffman Stadium back in August of 2013.
Pitching for Kansas City will be former Nats minor leaguer Chris Young (1-4, 6.12). He and Roark were teammates on the 2013 Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs.
Wilson Ramos is back in the lineup to catch Roark. He spent five days on MLB's bereavement list to grieve the death of his grandfather.
First pitch: 8:15 p.m.
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Tanner Roark vs. Royals - Chris Young
CF Michael Taylor
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
2B Daniel Murphy
DH Jayson Werth
C Wilson Ramos
SS Danny Espinosa
LF Chris Heisey
(RHP Tanner Roark)
SS Alcides Escobar
CF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Kendrys Morales
LF Alex Gordon
C Salvador Perez
2B Omar Infante
3B Christian Colon
RF Jarrod Dyson
(RHP Chris Young)
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