Nationals GM cites “dangerous field conditions” and “safety threat” at high Single-A Potomac

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When the Nationals promoted Bryce Harper from low Single-A to Double-A two weeks ago there was speculation that they decided to have the game’s best prospect skip high Single-A altogether because of the terrible field conditions in Potomoc.

Mike Rizzo denied that was the case at the time, but yesterday the general manager issued a statement about what he called “dangerous field conditions” at Pfitzner Stadium:

The Washington Nationals would never consider asking our players, or those of our opponents, to play on a field that we believe represents a safety threat. The Nationals have repeatedly requested that dangerous field conditions be addressed under the supervision of Major League Baseball. Recent unsupervised work has resulted in a field that is even more dangerous. We regret any inconvenience this may cause to fans of the Potomac Nationals, but we know they join us in wanting only the best for our players.

I’m sure the quality of the playing surface wasn’t the sole driving force behind where the Nationals assigned one of the most valuable assets in all of baseball, but based on Rizzo’s statement it sure sounds like they would have been extremely hesitant to send Harper to “a field that we believe represents a safety threat.”

What a mess.

Anderson shines, Braves shut out Reds again to sweep series

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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ATLANTA — Ian Anderson dazzled during another shutout performance, as the Braves won a playoff series for the first time in almost two decades thanks to 5-0 victory against the Reds.

Ronald Acuna Jr. had three hits for the NL East champions, including a run-scoring double in the fifth. After winning Wednesday’s series opener 1-0 in 13 innings, Atlanta broke open Game 2 on two-run homers by Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall off Raisel Iglesias in the eighth.

Anderson struck out nine in six innings as the Braves snapped their record-tying string of losses in 10 consecutive postseason rounds since their last playoff series win in 2001. Atlanta will face Miami or the Chicago Cubs in the NL Division Series in Houston.

Just like in 2001, when Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz helped lead the way, Atlanta’s pitching staff delivered.

The 22-year-old Anderson allowed two hits and walked two in his playoff debut after six regular-season starts. Will Smith, Chris Martin and Mark Melancon each threw one perfect inning.

Cincinnati wasted a solid performance by Luis Castillo, who struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings in his first postseason start. Trevor Bauer struck out 12 in 7 2/3 scoreless innings in the Reds’ Game 1 loss.

Atlanta jumped in front in the fifth. With two outs, Austin Riley took off from first base on a pitch Acuna lined into the gap in left center. Riley scored easily and Acuna stood on second base, pumping both fists in the air in celebration.

Cincinnati left 13 runners on base Wednesday, and its scoring frustrations continued.

Anderson’s second walk of the second, to Freddy Galvis, loaded the bases with two outs. Tucker Barnhart‘s groundout to second base ended the inning.

The Braves had been 0-7 in their last seven potential clinching games in the postseason, including 0-2 in their NL division series loss to St. Louis last year.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds: C Curt Casali, who normally starts with Castillo, was held out due to a sore wrist before entering the game in the eighth. Barnhart, who has split playing time with Casali, was the starting catcher.

Braves: After sitting out the final two regular-season games with a sore quadriceps, Riley had no setback in the series opener. That doesn’t mean Riley is fully recovered. “I think he’s sore,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I don’t think this is something that is just going to go away. … He’s just going to have to manage it. I think he’ll be all right. He just has to be careful out of the box and on certain plays.”

UP NEXT

Reds: Will play the Cleveland Indians in their 2021 spring training opener on Feb. 27 in Goodyear, Ariz.

Braves: Will face Miami or the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of the NL division series in Houston on Tuesday.