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Nationals Represent at the All-Star Game

With Gio Gonzalez, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg sporting their gray road uniforms, Washington had three representatives in the 2012 MLB All-Star game tonight in Kansas City. Four if you count shortstop Ian Desmond, who backed out due to an oblique injury. No matter how you add it up, this season has produced the most mid-summer ambassadors for the Nationals since the mid-90’s Montreal Expos franchise.

Gonzalez was the first National to make an appearance. With a 5-0 lead, he tossed 11 pitches in a 1-2-3 third inning against the American League. The crafty lefty struck out Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli on five pitches, forced a fly out to left field after four pitches to Yankees outfielder Curtis Grandersen and pitched Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter into a groundout after two pitches.

Strasburg followed up Gonzalez’ performance with a shaky 17-pitch fourth inning. The inning featured a single (Robinson Cano – Yankees), groundout double play (Josh Hamilton – Rangers), walk (Jose Bautista – Blue Jays), and a fly out (Prince Fielder – Tigers). He didn’t give up a run and kept the N.L.’s 8-0 lead in tact. Eight of his 17 pitches were strikes.

Harper saw his first action of the night leading off the fifth with a walk from Angels pitcher Jered Weaver on six pitches. He later tagged up and took second base on a fly ball out from Giants catcher Buster Posey. The next batter, Mets third baseman David Wright, hit a ground ball that took a big bounce to Weaver and fooled Harper, who was already headed to third. Weaver made a nice leaping snag and caught Harper in a rundown.

The inning didn’t get easier for Harper. The youngest position player to participate in an All-Star Game took left field for the N.L. but made the blooper reel by losing a routine fly ball from Napoli in the Kauffman Stadium lights. The ball dropped right behind him before he knew it. He did end the inning by catching the final out.

After an uneventful sixth inning, the 19-year-old led of the seventh inning with a strikeout on four pitches from Athletics pitcher Ryan Cook. He played through the seventh and caught a fly ball from Beltway rival Matt Wieters of the Orioles.

Harper played the rest of the game and almost got his third at-bat of the night in the top of the ninth but only made it as far as the the on-deck circle. He finished the game 0-for-1 with a walk and a strikeout.

The game was closed out by Phillies pitcher Jonathan Papelbon to secure the National League’s 8-0 win.

With the N.L. victory, fans of the Curly W that are already fantasizing about a World Series with home field advantage in D.C. are thrilled with the outcome.

Gio Gonzalez, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg pose for a photo-op in Kansas City.
Photo courtesy of @NationalsPR.

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