WASHINGTON D.C. — At 1:16 a.m. at Nationals Park, the Giants lost the game 3-1. The home team lost much more than that on this night.
Nationals superstar right fielder Bryce Harper appeared to suffer a serious injury to his left knee in the first inning, putting another dark cloud over a long night. The Nationals scored two runs in that inning and that would be all they needed.
A night after the teams were rained out, they waited three hours and one minute to get started because of an ugly storm that drenched the area. The crowd stayed engaged, but within minutes, a hush fell over Nationals Stadium. Harper slipped on first base while trying to beat out a grounder to Ryder Jones, and his knee went the wrong direction. He immediately grabbed at it as he rolled on the ground, and he was helped off the field without putting any pressure on his leg.
The Nationals did not have an update during the game. For now, here are five things to know from a wet night …
—- Ryder Jones isn’t hitting much, but he sure plays a nice first base. His diving stop robbed Andrew Stevenson of a single in the fifth. Jones also showed his athleticism a couple of ways on the Harper play, first by stopping the hard shot and then by twisting his body to avoid a collision with Harper at the bag.
—- The Giants are looking at 27 innings of baseball in about 24 hours, so every out from Jeff Samardzija was huge. He threw 120 pitches on a humid night while getting through six innings. He tied Matt Moore for the most pitches thrown by a Giants starter this season.
—- Mark Melancon pitched the eighth, making his first appearance since June 27. He gave up a single and struck out one. His fastball topped out at 93 mph. That's a good sign on the first night back.
—- Joe Panik opened the scoring with a long homer in the first. It was his seventh of the year. He has a chance to surpass his career-high of 10.
—- Denard Span is in a funk. He rolled out to second three times in four plate appearances, and he has just five hits in his last 41 at-bats.
WASHINTON D.C. -- The Giants believe they have the pieces to have a good bullpen next year. On Saturday, one of those relievers returned.
Mark Melancon was activated after spending about six weeks on the disabled list with a right pronator injury. To clear a roster spot, the Giants put Miguel Gomez on the disabled list with right knee inflammation that's been bothering him this week.
Melancon won't be the closer right away. That job currently belongs to Sam Dyson, who has a 2.22 ERA with the Giants, but over time the Giants see Dyson in the eighth (with Will Smith) and Melancon in the ninth. Melancon said the Giants "got a diamond in the rough" when they scooped Dyson off waivers. He hopes to get back to being his old self, as well.
"I would like to get back to what I've done the past three years," Melancon said. "Get back to a routine and get back to being capable of doing what I've been doing.
"It hasn't been easy (being on the DL). "It hasn't been fun. I'm excited to get out there and get going."
Melancon will join a group that's been red-hot. The bullpen enters play Saturday with a streak of 18 2/3 innings without an earned run.
--- The Giants will need a spot starter next week since Chris Stratton got pushed back to Sunday. Matt Cain and Albert Suarez are the candidates, so now it's up to bullpen usage the next two days. Stratton will go Game 1 on Sunday, Matt Moore pitches Game 2. Both games will be on NBC Sports Bay Area.
SAN FRANCISCO — As part of a “Players Weekend” initiative, MLB asked players to choose a nickname that will be displayed on the back of their jerseys from August 25-27. Kyle Seager of the Mariners went with “Corey’s Brother.” Josh Phegley of the A’s is “PTBNL.” In the Giants’ clubhouse, there are choices like “Mad-Bum” and “Tommy.”
Mark Melancon decided to troll a bit and have some fun with a “controversy” that erupted randomly this season. Melancon will wear “Stretch” on his jersey for three games, a reference to the Fox Sports story earlier this season that insisted the Giants were derailed in part by Melancon’s choice to change the pre-game stretching routine for the relievers.
The good news for the Giants is that Melancon should actually be back on the field in time to wear that custom jersey. He will travel with the Giants to Washington D.C. this weekend and could be activated. Melancon threw a sharp inning for the San Jose Giants last night, striking out two.
“He’ll be reevaluated Friday,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It seems he came out of that fine, which is good news.”
It’s possible Melancon throws one more time for Double-A Richmond, close to Washington D.C. He also could throw a simulated game if he feels he needs more work. Whenever he returns, Melancon could have a different role at first. Bochy said he would meet with Melancon and Sam Dyson, who has been a revelation as the interim closer.
“It’s a workable situation,” Bochy said. “It’s just a matter of what to do with Mark initially.”
--- Elsewhere on the injury front: An MRI showed that Miguel Gomez has knee inflammation; he is day to day ... Austin Slater (groin) is doing so well that he'll go to Arizona this weekend to rehab; Bochy expects him back in September ... Brandon Belt (concussion) will see team doctors today. He will not travel with the team.