Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is sitting out Friday’s series opener against the Pirates after suffering a mild hamstring strain on Thursday against the Rays. Clint Robinson is batting fourth and playing right field in Harper’s place.
Per CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman, Manager Matt Williams said that Harper is still sore but would try some light swings. Harper hasn’t undergone an MRI yet but would if the soreness lingers.
Harper, 22, has been baseball’s best hitter all season, batting .344/.476/.720 with 22 home runs, 53 RBI, and a league-leading total of 54 walks in 275 plate appearances.
2019 has been one long nightmare for the Pirates. They’re in last place in the NL Central, have had multiple clubhouse fights, and can’t stop getting into bench-clearing incidents. The embarrassment continued on Sunday as the club lost 16-6 to the Cubs, suffering a three-game series sweep in Chicago.
One of those 16 runs the Pirates allowed was particularly noteworthy. In the bottom of the third inning, with the game tied at 5-5, the Cubs had runners on first and second with two outs. Tony Kemp hit a triple to right field, allowing both Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward to score to make it 7-5. The Pirates thought one of the Cubs’ base runners didn’t touch third base on their way home. Reliever Michael Feliz attempted to make an appeal throw to third base, but it was way too high for Erik González to catch, so Kemp scored easily on the error.
The Pirates lost Friday’s game to the Cubs 17-8 and Saturday’s game 14-1. They were outscored 47-15 in the three-game series. According to Baseball Reference, since 1908, the Pirates never allowed 14+ runs in three consecutive games and only did it two games in a row twice before this series, in 1949 and in 1950. The Cubs scored 14+ in three consecutive games just one other time, in 1930.