Harper exits game with apparent knee injury

WASHINGTON — Bryce Harper hyperextended his left knee when he slipped on a wet first base Saturday night, dealing a potentially devastating blow to the NL East-leading Washington Nationals.

Manager Dusty Baker said Harper would undergo an MRI on Sunday, and the Nationals would know more about the extent of his injury then.

“He was in obvious pain, and he was praying, and I was praying, too,” Baker said.

While running out a ground ball to the right side of the infield in the first inning of a 3-1 win over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday, Harper avoided contact with first baseman Ryder Jones, and then his left foot slipped on the base. His leg buckled, he went airborne, and he fell to the ground as his helmet went flying.

“I’m asking for prayers that it’s not serious,” Baker said.

Harper was seen with the knee wrapped in the clubhouse after the game, and he walked with a limp as he left the stadium, according to

He clutched at his left knee after going down and was attended to by trainers. The star outfielder put no weight on his left leg as he was helped off the field by hitting coach Rick Schu and head athletic trainer Paul Lessard.

The game began just after 10 p.m. following a three-hour rain delay. It was raining steadily when Harper’s injury happened.

Major League Baseball was in control of weather decisions because it was the Giants’ final trip to Washington this season. The series opener Friday was postponed after a lengthy rain delay to be part of a day-night doubleheader Sunday, which added to baseball’s incentive to get the game in Saturday.

The game is unlikely to have an impact on the playoff race, as the Nationals lead the NL East by 14.5 games and the Giants are out of contention. At the most, the game could have an effect on home-field advantage in October.

Even though first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is having an All-Star season, Washington’s title hopes hinge largely on Harper’s health. The 2015 MVP is having another spectacular season, hitting .327 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs this season and playing in 105 of the Nationals’ first 113 games.

Harper didn’t last long in his 106th game and was replaced by Andrew Stevenson, who took over in center field with Brian Goodwin moving to right. Despite many fans waiting out the delay, the stadium went eerily silent in the minutes after Harper’s injury.

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