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Bryce Harper had a pair of sacrifice flies and drew a walk last night.
-- Bryce Harper bounced back from his rough Houston series with a productive game at the plate, even though he didn't produce a base hit. The rookie went 0-for-2 with a pair of sacrifice flies and a walk and generally looked more relaxed than he did Wednesday in Houston when he twice argued with umpire Angel Hernandez over called third strikes and then made an ill-advised throw from center field.
Davey Johnson decided to give Harper the final game of that series off, citing his need for a mental break after that difficult game (not to mention a difficult stretch since the All-Star break). Well, the manager is giving the 19-year-old another day off tonight, but not as a reaction to anything he did last night. Instead, Johnson wants to find a way to give Tyler Moore a start in the outfield.
"I might as well tell you now, I'm going to get Tyler Moore in the lineup, because once [Jayson] Werth got here I haven't had that opportunity," he said. "There's nothing wrong with Bryce. He played a good game, and he'll play the day game against the left-hander [Sunday]. I'm just telling you up-front now so I don't have to hear all this crap tomorrow."
So the outfield alignment tonight should have Moore in left field, Werth in center field and Michael Morse in right field. Johnson also said he plans to hit Werth leadoff for the first time, with Danny Espinosa batting second.
-- The baseball world was abuzz yet again yesterday with Stephen Strasburg Shutdown Fever after a Yahoo! Sports report citing GM Mike Rizzo saying the right-hander won't pitch more than 180 innings this season. All of a sudden, media members and fans alike wondered whether Rizzo was suggesting Strasburg could be allowed to pitch deeper into the season than everyone originally thought.
Well, here's the lowdown, straight from Rizzo: Nothing has changed at all. The Nationals' plan for Strasburg has been consistent from the first day of spring training. There is no exact number of innings. It's a broad range, probably no fewer than 160, almost certainly no more than 180.
That doesn't mean Strasburg is going to get to 180, though. Rizzo is going to watch him closely over the next several weeks and make the decision when to pull the plug based on what he sees, not based on what the precise innings count is.
Point is, the Nationals will shut down Strasburg before the end of the regular season and he will not pitch in the postseason. That plan hasn't changed one bit since February.
-- Steve Lombardozzi quietly put together a four-hit, four-run game last night, impressing his manager.
"He had a heck of a game today," Johnson said. "He's been actually getting more aggressive at the plate. He's had a tendency to take everything the other way, and Rick Eckstein's been working with him on getting the head out, hit the ball more where it's pitched. He got that double yesterday down the right-field line, and then today the first time up turned on one inside and then the triple. That's who he can be, because he's right on top of the plate and they pound him. He doesn't get to extend very much. But he's another one, he's just a babe in the woods."