What we're watching: Hudson returns against Marlins

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– Fresh off a sweep of the Rockies to move into a tie for the wild card lead, the Giants will begin a three-game series in Philadelphia tonight. The opener will feature dueling left-handers in Jonathan Sanchez and Cole Hamels. Sanchez, who pitched poorly enough in the first half to be bounced from the rotation for a time, has gone 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA since his return to starting games. That stretch includes a no-hitter against the Padres and a win over the Phillies. Hamels is winless in his last five starts, though he did shut out the Pirates for eight innings last time out. He’s 7-8 with a 4.52 ERA.
– The assignment facing Minnesota’s Jeff Manship in his first major league start would seem to have just gotten a whole lot easier. Now he’ll face a demoralized White Sox team that just saw Jim Thome and his 897 OPS against right-handers given away last night. Manship, a Notre Dame product with a decent fastball and a plus curve, is getting a shot in the rotation after allowing four runs over seven innings in five relief appearances. It’s left-handed power hitters that figure to provide him with the most problems, and the White Sox no longer have any of them.
Game of the Night
Atlanta vs. Florida – One day later than originally expected, Tim Hudson will make his return from Tommy John surgery tonight against the Marlins. The 34-year-old went 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in his four Triple-A starts, though it’s worth noting that International League hitters did bat .320 against him. The Marlins will counter with a rehabbing right-hander of their own in Anibal Sanchez. It will be his third start since returning from his latest round of shoulder woes. He beat the Braves by allowing one run and two hits over six innings in his return from the DL on Aug. 21, but he struggled last week against the Mets, giving up four runs — two earned — and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Nationals do not activate Bryce Harper for Monday’s game

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The Nationals were expected to activate outfielder Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list in advance of Monday’s series opener in Philadelphia, but they did not because Harper woke up with flulike symptoms, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports. It doesn’t have anything to do with the knee injury which sent him to the DL last month or the ensuing rehab, he adds.

Rain had fallen in Washington, D.C. on August 12 ahead of the Nationals’ game against the Giants. Harper attempted to beat out a ground out to first base but slipped on the wet first base bag and was later diagnosed with a bone bruise in his left knee.

Harper was in the midst of a great season prior to the injury, perhaps one that would have led to an NL MVP Award. When he comes back, he’ll do what he can to pad his .326/.419/.614 slash line along with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances. The Nationals are just concerned with getting him back in the flow of things in time for the playoffs. They have seven games remaining in the regular season.

Chris Archer on joining Bruce Maxwell’s protest: “I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me at this time.”

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Rays pitcher Chris Archer doesn’t see himself joining Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest any time soon, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports. Archer said, “From the feedback that I’ve gotten from my teammates, I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me, at this time. I agree with the message. I believe in equality.”

Archer continued, “I don’t want to offend anybody. No matter how you explain it or justify it, some people just can’t get past the military element of it and it’s not something I want to do, is ruffle my teammates’ feathers on my personal views that have nothing to do with baseball.”

Archer did express admiration for the way Maxwell handled his situation. The right-hander said, “The way he went about it was totally, I think, as respectful as possible, just letting everybody know that this doesn’t have anything to do with the military, first and foremost, noting that he has family members that are in the military. It’s a little bit tougher for baseball players to make that leap, but I think he was the right person to do it.”

Maxwell recently became the first baseball player to kneel as the national anthem was sung, a method of protest popularized by quarterback Colin Kaepernick. As Craig explained yesterday, baseball’s hierarchical culture has proven to be a strong deterrent for players to express their unpopular opinions. We can certainly see that in Archer’s justification. Archer was one of 62 African Americans on the Opening Day roster across 30 major league clubs (750 total players, 8.3%).