Tests rule out fracture in Bryce Harper’s left ankle

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UPDATE: Feel free to exhale, Nats fans. According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, tests on Harper’s ankle revealed a contusion and not a break. He’s sitting out the nightcap of today’s doubleheader against the Braves.

2:21 PM: Word from the Nationals is that Harper is dealing with left ankle soreness. His exit from today’s game was considered precautionary.

2:05 PM: According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, Bryce Harper left the first game of this afternoon’s doubleheader against the Braves after fouling a ball off his left ankle/foot on a bunt attempt.

Harper suffered the injury in the bottom of the first inning. He struck out swinging to finish the at-bat and remained in the game initially, but Roger Bernadina replaced him in center field to begin the top of the third inning. The severity of the injury isn’t yet known, but it’s ill-timed for the Nationals, who have designated outfielders Rick Ankiel and Xavier Nady for assignment in recent days.

Harper, 19, is batting .268/.339/.440 with eight home runs, 26 RBI, 11 stolen bases and a .779 OPS in 72 games played during his rookie season.

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

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Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.

Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.

Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.

Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.