After a promising start from their prized left-handed hitter, the Washington Nationals are hoping to get another impressive outing by their southpaw starter.
Bryce Harper, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, doubled and drove in a run on a sacrifice fly during his highly anticipated major league debut for Washington on Saturday night. He also nearly had an outfield assist in left field on a strong throw to the plate, but catcher Wilson Ramos was unable to prevent Jerry Hairston Jr. from slapping the ball out of his glove in the seventh inning.
“Sometimes when there’s too much hype about it, the tendency is to try to do too much,” manager Davey Johnson said. “Bryce is so driven, a lot of times he tries to do too much. But if he just stays within himself and does the things he’s capable of doing, he’ll be fine.”
It was Kemp, though, that stole the spotlight from the 19-year-old Harper in Los Angeles’ 4-3 win in 10 innings.
The Dodgers outfielder, batting .442 with 24 RBIs, hit his 11th homer of this young season to finish off a comeback victory and break Gary Sheffield’s team record for April homers set in 2000.
“He’s a great player and a great hitter,” Harper said. “I know that if I had a No. 1 pick, he’d be it. He’s unbelievable.”
The Dodgers (15-6) trailed 3-1 heading into the bottom half of the ninth inning. A ground-rule double from Juan Uribe and Nationals closer Henry Rodriguez’s wild pitch - his third of the inning - provided the tying runs.
The loss denied the Nationals (14-7) the chance for their first series win at Dodger Stadium since May 2-4, 2005, and was their 16th loss in 19 games there.
Gonzalez (2-0, 1.52 ERA), though, might be just the one to help his club earn a rare win in Los Angeles. The left-hander yielded just two hits for the third straight outing and posted his second consecutive win Tuesday with a 3-1 victory in San Diego.
“Gio was outstanding,” Johnson said.
However, Gonzalez, who has never faced the Dodgers, might have to outduel fellow left-hander Chris Capuano (2-0, 3.52) for another win.
Capuano, who has a 2.45 ERA over his last three starts, gave up a season-low one run over seven innings during a 7-2 win over Atlanta on Monday but needed to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning. He also walked four and has given out 11 free passes over his four starts this season.
“It was frustrating. Every time I looked up there were runners on base,” Capuano told the team’s website.
The left-hander is 1-2 with a 7.94 ERA in his last three starts against Washington and gave up a combined eight runs while splitting two matchups last season.
The Nationals could have used Ryan Zimmerman’s help in Sunday’s game as he’s 6 for 10 lifetime against Capuano. The third baseman is on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder.
Uribe is the Dodgers’ only healthy player with hits against Gonzalez, going 3 for 6 with a home run. Juan Rivera, 4 for 11 with a homer, is dealing with a strained left hamstring.