Bryce Harper turned in a memorable performance in Wednesday’s 8-4 victory over the Marlins, notching a multi-homer game for the first time in his promising young career. According to the MLB public relations department, only nine times in the history of baseball has a player younger than Harper blasted two homers in a game, and that’s with Ken Griffey Jr. and Mel Ott each accomplishing the feat twice.
Harper got the Nationals on the board, launching a two-run homer to right field off Jacob Turner in the fourth inning. He followed it up with a mammoth 425-foot blast off Turner in the fifth frame, increasing the Nats lead to 5-0. He had a pair of chances to make history by launching a third homer, but grounded out in the eighth inning, then bounced into a double play in the ninth. He got very animated after the double play, slamming his helmet to the ground in frustration as he incorrectly thought he had beaten the throw. 1st base umpire C.B. Bucknor wasn’t having any of it though, and gave Harper the quick heave-ho.
With Wednesday’s pair of homers, Harper now has 14 on the season, passing the great Mickey Mantle (13) and tying Phil Cavarretta for the fourth most HR’s ever hit as a teenager, trailing only Tony Conigliaro (24), Ott (19) and Griffey Jr. (16).
While it may get somewhat overlooked by the tremendous season that rookie sensation Mike Trout is having in Anaheim, what Harper is doing as a 19-year-old in Washington is nearly unprecedented. Even though he’s cooled off considerably, hitting just .201 since the All-Star break, he still owns a .250/.320/.425 line with 14 homers, 40 RBI and 13 stolen bases on the season. It certainly goes without saying, but this young man is going to be a superstar very soon.
Heart problems sideline Jansen
Kenley Jansen was unavailable for Wednesday’s game against the Rockies as he’s dealing with a heart condition. He spent time on the disabled list with a similar issue during the 2011 season and will be monitored extremely closely over the next few days before the Dodgers determine the proper course of action.
Jansen has been superb since taking over the closer’s job from Javy Guerra early in the season, compiling a 5-3 record, 2.54 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 86/19 K/BB ratio over 56 2/3 innings, converting 25 of his 31 save chances along the way.
His health is certainly the most important thing to consider in this situation, and the Dodgers organization will do everything in its power to make sure that he has the best care possible. It does sound like he could be sidelined for a while though, perhaps even the remainder of the season, and that would be a tough blow to the Dodgers playoff chances with as well as he’s been pitching.
Ronald Belisario recorded a save in his absence on Wednesday, and could continue to get looks should Jansen hit the DL. He’s posted a 3-1 record, 2.75 ERA and 47/21 K/BB ratio over 52 1/3 innings on the season. Brandon League has experience in the role and could also merit consideration if necessary.
Kemp day-to-day, no structural damage
Those in Dodger nation could breathe a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday as MRI results revealed no structural damage to Matt Kemp’s left knee or his jaw. He was removed from Tuesday’s game after crashing into the center field fence trying to chase down a Josh Rutledge triple.
He sat out Wednesday’s contest against the Rockies as a precautionary measure, with what’s being called “a bone bruise around the left knee and intense body soreness overall.” Kemp hopes to return to the starting lineup on Thursday against the Diamondbacks, but should be back by the weekend regardless.
He’s been scuffling at the plate over his last 12 games, hitting .220 (9-for-41) with just three RBI and 10 strikeouts, and hasn’t homered since August 8. Make no mistake about it though, they’ll need his bat to heat up again if they plan to chase down the Giants for the NL West crown.
National League Quick Hits: Mets manager Terry Collins announced on Wednesday that Matt Harvey will be shut down once he reaches around 175 total innings on the season. The promising young right-hander has accumulated 146 innings between Triple-A and the Mets, compiling a 2.75 ERA and 10.8 K/9 ratio over his first six MLB starts… Neil Walker missed the entire three-game set against the Cardinals with tightness in his lower back, and still looks to be a few days away from returning… Yadier Molina passed a round of concussion tests on Wednesday, but is still dealing with soreness in his back, neck and shoulder after Tuesday’s scary home plate collision with Josh Harrison. He maintains that he’ll avoid a trip to the DL and expects to return to the lineup at some point over the weekend… Vance Worley will undergo surgery to remove loose bodies from his pitching elbow, ending his 2012 season… Cole Hamels was scratched from Wednesday’s start against the Braves due to an illness, but should rejoin the rotation later in the week against the Braves… Domonic Brown missed Wednesday’s contest against the Mets, dealing with continued soreness in his left knee… Reds GM Walt Jocketty said Wednesday that speedster Billy Hamilton was unlikely to join the club in September… The Pirates promoted top pitching prospect Gerrit Cole to Triple-A after dominating at the High-A and Double-A levels… Emilio Bonifacio may be shut down for the season with his knee injury… A.J. Ellis blasted a grand slam in a victory over the Rockies, and is enjoying a solid month of August, hitting .301 with three homers and 12 RBI… Tyler Cloyd pitched fairly well in his MLB debut, allowing three runs on seven hits over six innings in a loss to the Mets… Chris Heisey smacked a pair of homers and drove home three in a victory over the Diamondbacks… John Axford successfully converted his fourth straight save opportunity and appears to have fully regained his role. Mustache aficionados everywhere are rejoicing… Pedro Alvarez stayed scorching hot, smashing his 26th home run in a victory over the Cardinals… Matt Harvey posted his fourth consecutive quality start in a win over the Phillies… Lance Berkman had an RBI double and a pair of walks during his rehab game for Triple-A Memphis, but will be used almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter down the stretch… Roger Clemens will make another start on September 7 for the Sugar Land Skeeters, and still hasn’t ruled out pitching for the Astros this season.
American League Quick Hits: The Orioles announced that they’ll send Dylan Bundy to the instructional league once his Double-A season concludes, making in extremely unlikely that he’ll make his MLB debut in September… Joe Mauer passed through revocable waivers unclaimed, but it was merely a procedural move and he’s unlikely to be moved… An MRI on Denard Span’s troublesome collarbone revealed a sprained SC joint, and he’s likely to miss most, if not all, of the weekend’s series against the Royals… Scott Diamond dropped the appeal of his six-game suspension for throwing at the head of Josh Hamilton, and will begin serving it immediately. This pushes his next start back until Tuesday against the White Sox in Chicago… The Red Sox will recall Daniel Bard to rejoin the bullpen on Thursday. He’s compiled a horrifying 7.03 ERA, 1.88 WHIP and 32/29 K/BB ratio over 32 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket since his early-season demotion… Michael Saunders missed his fifth consecutive game with a right groin strain, but is expected to return to the lineup over the weekend… Yunel Escobar had himself a day in a victory over the Yankees, going 4-for-5 with a homer, three doubles and five RBI… Josh Hamilton blasted his 36th homer in a losing effort against the Rays, and leads all of baseball with 112 RBI… Bruce Chen astoundingly baffled the Tigers on Wednesday, scattering five hits over eight scoreless innings in a Royals victory… Evan Longoria launched a pair of home runs and plated three in a victory over the Rangers… Joe Saunders was hit hard in his Orioles’ debut, allowing six earned runs on 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the White Sox… Samuel Deduno pitched a terrific game in a victory over the Mariners, scattering just two hits over seven scoreless innings while striking out nine and astoundingly walking none… Trevor Plouffe homered, his 20th of the season, and drove home four to lead the Twins offense in a 10-0 victory over the Mariners.