The Nationals rebounded from Sunday’s late giveaway at Cincinnati with their fourth win in the last five games, an 8-5 triumph over San Diego, marking a moment in time with Bryce Harper’s first Major League home run and unbelievably losing yet another player to what could be a pretty serious injury – in his big league debut, no less.
It’s always eventful at Nationals Park, even when it’s barely half full, or much less, due to the weather and the weeknight.
The Nats and Padres meet again in 13 hours, too, so here are just a few tidbits from afterward:
*Poor Sandy Leon came into the clubhouse with his right ankle in a boot and rolling on a cart after what Nationals manager Davey Johnson called a clean play when Chase Headley barreled into him in the fourth inning, prematurely ending his MLB debut. To replace him, the nationals will purchase the contract of Carlos Maldonado from Triple-A Syracuse before Tuesday's game.
*Harper was pretty humble about his home run, taking questions from reporters with the ball sitting in the middle cubby hole of his locker over his shoulder, inscribed with “1st ML HR.” Ian Desmond was 3-for-5 with two RBI and tow runs scored, but The Kid was the star again. Asked if he usually sprints around the bases that fast, he said, “I always have since I can remember. I never want to show up that pitcher. I never have wanted to. The only time I would do that is if you’re messing with my team. That’d be the only moment that I do that. I never want to disrespect that guy on the mound. He’s been there, done things, and it’s just how I’ve always played.”
He also said it was the veteran players who urged him to accept the curtain call request from the crowd.
“I thought it was great,” Johnson said. “I don’t think it’s going to calm him down any. I think that’s impossible. But it was good to see him hit the ball hard.”
Harper was little less forthcoming on his fielding error in the second inning, when Orlando Hudson’s shot clanked off his glove. The gaffe was Harper’s second in consecutive nights, having lost a ball in the twilight in Cincinnati on Sunday night. Both errors allowed runs to score.
“I have no comment on that, sorry,” Harper said. “I think that’s hilarious. Thanks for bringing that up.”
*Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard and Alex Burnett were stellar in relief of Ross Detwiler, who Johnson said he had to pull when he gave up the lead twice and his pitch count started to climb. Henry Rodriguez was not great, walking the bases loaded in the ninth inning.
Detweiler said it wasn't about the misty conditions. "Stammen came out there and did what he's been doing all year," he said. "The team, they could tell I didn't have my best stuff. But they kept me in the game, and it's more time I'm going to go out there and try to keep them in the game."
Asked about Stammen, who got his third victory of the season - leading Johnson to talk about the "vultures" in his bullpen - Detwiler said, "To see some of the movement he has, and then the sinker, it's unbelievable. It's great to see. It's a guy I came up with through the minor leagues, and I get to see him every year. He's definitely at the top of his game right now."
After pitching Rodriguez three straight nights, Johnson said fatigue might’ve played a role – along with memories of Joey Votto’s walkoff grand slam. Even though Rodriguez would have Tuesday off not matter what, Johnson said he still had confidence in Rodriguez three times in his postgame press conference.