Last week Felix Hernandez had his start delayed due to what the Mariners were calling a lower back cramp, but it turns out it was actually an oblique injury and now he’ll miss the rescheduled start too.
Hernandez was supposed to pitch Wednesday against the Astros, but Brandon Maurer will take his place after a weekend throwing session didn’t go well.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge told Greg Johns of MLB.com that Hernandez’s injury is “a minor oblique strain” but oblique strains tend to linger a whole lot longer than initial estimates and with the team out of contention there’s no real motivation to rush him back.
Hernandez has been his usual excellent self this season, throwing 194 innings with a 3.01 ERA and 200 strikeouts, but also like usual the Mariners haven’t provided him with much run support on the way to a 12-9 record.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.