Francisco Liriano

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 07: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals bats during a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park on June 7, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Cubs won 6-3. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Bryce Harper sets new career-high with his 23rd home run


Bryce Harper is back in the Nationals’ lineup this afternoon against the Pirates after missing one game with a mild left hamstring strain. It’s safe to say he’s feeling pretty good.

With one out in the fourth inning, Harper launched a long solo home run off Francisco Liriano to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. You can watch the video here.

With that blast, the 22-year-old Harper is up to 23 home runs on the year, which gives him a new career-high. He previously hit 22 home runs as a 19-year-old rookie in 2012. If he can stay healthy, he’s going to blow that total away.

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

Red Sox

Braves 4, Red Sox 2: Seven straight losses for the Red Sox, but hey, no one really expects you to win when Williams Perez is on the mound for the other team. “What’s the deal with that ‘s’ at the end of his first name?” the opposing hitters say, fearfully. “How can we possibly hit against a guy whose parents are so dismissive of generally-accepted naming conventions?” After the game Pablo Sandoval actually said this:

“We’re fighting. We’re not giving at-bats away . . . We’ve got a good team.”

All evidence points to the contrary.

Orioles 4, Phillies 0: Wei-Yin Chen was great, striking out nine in eight shutout innings. As the season has gone on, game stories from Phillies losses have made them sound more and more like some sort of service provider, traveling the country and helping pitchers who have lost their confidence to find it again. It’s almost noble. It’s like they’re saying “hey, we’re technically major league hitters. Dominate us for a while. Remember what that feels like. It feels good, doesn’t it? We’re happy to help. No go out there and be the best pitcher you can be! Oh, no. We will accept no payment. Helping you was payment enough.”

Pirates 11, White Sox 0: Francisco Liriano was fantastic, going eight innings allowing only two hits and fanning 12. People don’t say “fanning” enough for strikeouts. I feel like they used to say that a lot more than they do now. Sort of how like people used to write “Chisox” for the White Sox and “Bosox” for the Red Sox. I blame it all on unrestrained speculation and shorting going on at the increasingly unregulated New York Word Exchange. Bernie Sanders will straighten them out if we just give him the chance, man.

Tigers 6, Reds 0: Anibal Sanchez with a two-hit shutout and J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera each with a couple driven in. Sanchez has now had two good starts after a couple of months of bad ones. And the Tigers have won six of eight. Scary moment in this one when Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart was on deck and Eugenio Suarez fouled a pitch back and hit him. Barnhart was unhurt, but I have always wondered when, not if, someone on deck was going to get smacked with a foul ball. Shocked we haven’t had more incidents like that.

Mets 4, Blue Jays 3: New York was down 3-2 in the 11th when the Mets rallied. Wilmer Flores had the walkoff hit which ended the Blue Jays’ 11-game winning streak. The Mets are now 35-30 on the season, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Nationals for first place in the National League East. Because . . .

Rays 6, Nationals 1: Erasmo Ramirez was shut out Washington for six innings and the Rays kept scratching out runs. Weird thing: Steven Souza walked five times but was stranded all five times. Tampa Bay won for the 12th time in 16 games to take a one-game lead in the AL East. Because . . .

Marlins 2, Yankees 1: Tom Koehler outdueled Masahiro Tanaka. Kohler allowed a Mark Teixeira homer, but that was it. Fun thing: A-Rod didn’t start due to there being no DH, but he came on to pinch hit in the ninth inning and got a huge ovation from his hometown Miami fans. I feel like the last time he got cheered on the road happened during the Clinton Administration. Oh well, just make him a player-manager, Jeff Loria. You know it’s a great idea.

Rangers 4, Dodgers 1: Rougned Odor had three hits, including a two-run single in his first game back after an over month-long demotion to the minors. Yovani Gallardo frustrated Dodgers hitters. How frustrated?

Royals 8, Brewers 5: The Royals were cruising and then put lights-out closer Greg Holland in the game despite having a six-run lead. He needed the work, you see. But he couldn’t close it out, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk. His ERA went from 1.76 to 3.52. The Royals still won, but this will sadly give fuel to the fire of people who insist on claiming that “save situations” are somehow different and more special and more magical than non-save situations and that a special breed of pitcher approaches them in a special sort of way and, my god, I hate that crap.

Astros 6, Rockies 3: Two homers for George Springer to go along with a couple of diving catches in the outfield. Colby Rasmus added a three-run homer. Carlos Correa had three hits.

Cardinals 3, Twins 2: John Lackey allowed two runs on five hits over eight innings and Mark Reynolds and Yadier Molina homered. Random from the AP game story: “Lackey said he missed Reynolds homer live because he was ‘in the bathroom.'” Good to know.

Diamondbacks 7, Angels 3: Robbie Ray allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings. No hits until after the fifth inning. The AP says that’s the third time in four days that a Dbacks starter held an opponent hitless through the first five innings. Luminaries all of them: Ray, Chase Anderson and Allen Webster.

Athletics 9, Padres 1: Stephen Vogt hit a grand slam and Jesse Hahn allowed only one run while pitching into the seventh, spoiling Dave Roberts’ managerial debut. Vogt had two other hits as well. He was 0-for-his-last-15 coming into the game.

Mariners 5, Giants 1: Kyle Seager hit a solo shot and Taijuan Walker struck out six in seven innings What an up-and-down season for San Francisco. The Giants have lost five in a row and nine straight at home.

Indians vs. Cubs: POSTPONED: See the sky about to rain,
broken clouds and rain.
Locomotive, pull the train,
whistle blowing
through my brain.
Signals curling on an open plain,
rolling down the track again.
See the sky about to rain.

Pirates starters had a weekend of double-digit strikeout performances

Francisco Liriano

With a fifth-inning strikeout of Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson, Pirates starter Francisco Liriano became the third Pirates starter to reach double-digit strikeouts in their weekend series. As the club’s Twitter pointed out, it’s the first time since September 1969 that three consecutive Pirates starters struck out 10-plus. The Pirates won 9-1 on Sunday to finish off a series sweep.

Here’s how the starters fared over the weekend:

  • Gerrit Cole, Friday: 8.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 10 K
  • A.J. Burnett, Saturday: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K
  • Francisco Liriano, Sunday: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 12 K
  • Total: 21.1 IP, 3 R (2 ER; 0.84 ERA), 3 BB, 32 K

With the sweep, the Pirates move to 21-22 and remain relevant in the NL Central. They’ll host the floundering Marlins for a three-game set starting Monday before heading out West on a road trip.