Tracking Bryce Harper’s major league debut

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We’ll provide updates throughout the night as baseball’s top prospect, 19-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper, makes his MLB debut against the Dodgers. Here’s the lineup, via Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

First pitch is scheduled for 9:10 p.m. ET. Washington’s Stephen Strasburg is facing LA’s Chad Billingsley.

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6:58 PM: From Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times comes this shot of Harper speaking to the media at Dodger Stadium before pregame batting practice. “I’m not actually that nervous,” he told reporters.

source:

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7:03 PM: CBS Sports’ Scott Miller says Harper’s mom, dad, sister and brother-in-law will be in attendance.

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7:47 PM: It should come as no surprise that Harper, who once smashed a 502-foot dinger during a high school home run derby contest, absolutely demolishes pitches in batting practice. Via Kilgore:

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9:15 PM: We’re underway. CSNWashington.com’s Mark Zuckerman brings the all-important uniform update:

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9:31 PM: Harper walks to the plate to heavy boos from the Dodger Stadium crowd, takes three pitches (two balls, one strike), then grounds out on a chopper to Billingsley. It’s 0-0 in the second inning.

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9:35 PM: Hernandez snapped this photo of Harper’s first at-bat from the Dodger Stadium press box:

source:

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9:59 PM: Harper just barely avoided a full-speed collision with Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond on a bloop single by Dodgers outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. in the third inning. The ball fell in between the two Nats.

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10:20 PM: Harper flew out softly to left field in his second trip to the plate after working another 2-1 count.

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10:54 PM: Harper blasted a double to the base of the center field wall in his third at-bat, after working a 3-2 count. He threw his helmet off heading into second base, showing off a sort of hybrid mohawk.

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11:13 PM: Harper threw a bullet to home plate in the bottom of the seventh inning, nearly nabbing Dodgers infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. as he tried to score from second base on a ball slapped into left field. But Wilson Ramos dropped the ball while applying the tag. The game is tied at 1-1 as we move to the top of the eighth.

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11:54 PM: Harper drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to left field in the top of the ninth inning. Ramos then added an RBI single, giving the Nationals a late 3-1 lead over Los Angeles.

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12:09 AM: A fan ran onto the field in the bottom of the ninth inning, interrupting play. Both television broadcasts avoided showing him for obvious reasons, but Kilgore passes along a mini recap:

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12:18 AM: Nationals setup man Henry Rodriguez surrendered two runs on three hits while recording only two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Dodgers tied it 3-3 and we’re heading to extras.

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12:37 AM: Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp hit a walkoff home run over the center field fence to win it in the bottom of the 10th inning. Harper finished 1-for-3 with an RBI. A fantastic night of baseball all around.

Matt Shepard to be the Tigers new full-time play-by-play guy

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Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.

This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.

Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.

Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.