Harper received 11 stitches under his chin but did not suffer a concussion, according to Nationals officials and Harper’s agent Scott Boras. Harper also underwent “precautionary” X-rays on his jammed left shoulder, Manager Davey Johnson said. He also bruised his neck and knee. The prevailing sentiment was that Harper would probably miss a game or two — even if he pleaded to stay in Monday night as blood dripped down his neck.
“Bryce is going to be all right,” Johnson said.
Harper’s nasty crash into the outfield wall prevented the Nationals from fully celebrating the latest gem from Zimmermann, who is making a routine out of mastery. He allowed two runs over 72
3 innings, striking out five Dodgers and scattering nine hits as he became the first pitcher in the majors to reach seven wins. Zimmermann carved through the Dodgers’ lineup, daring them to hit his 95-mph fastballs, mixing in just enough biting sliders, always coming straight at them.
Paced by Zimmerman’s two-run, bases-loaded double, Zimmermann settled his ERA at 1.69. Since the start of the 2012 season, the only pitchers with an ERA better than his 2.65 are Clayton Kershaw (2.35) and Justin Verlander (2.52).
“I’ve always been confident,” Zimmermann said. “I feel like I haven’t changed anything all year, or changed anything from last year. It’s just the way the ball is bouncing right now. I’m pitching to contact, throwing strikes. If I keep that up, I’ll have more quality starts.”
Most nights, Zimmermann would have again held top billing. As Monday turned into Tuesday back east, though, the Nationals had to worry about the condition of their best player.
Leading off the fifth inning, Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis roped a line drive over Harper’s head in right field. Harper sprinted after the ball looking over his left shoulder, even as he reached the warning track. As the ball crashed off the wall, Harper turned, apparently unaware of his proximity to the fence. He smashed face-first into it like he never saw it coming.
“I thought he was going to try to brace himself or do something,” center fielder Denard Span said. “As the ball kept going, I just was like, ‘Is he going to stop?’ And he just kept going.
“It just looked weird, like it caught him by surprise the ball was hit to him,” Span added. “The way he ran into the wall, he definitely had no idea where he was. As soon as he ran into it, it’s like his body locked up. I’ve never seen anybody run into the wall like that.”