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MLB Weekly Report: Bryce Harper Makes His MLB Debut For Washington

Bryce Harper catch
Stephen Dunn, Getty Images

The Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians are among the surprising division leaders as Major League Baseball ends its first month of competition. However, it’s the Los Angeles Dodgers who possess the best record in baseball at the end of April. Here’s what’s happening this week in Major League Baseball.

Bryce Harper Makes His Debut

Nineteen-year-old Bryce Harper, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2010 MLB Draft, made his big league debut for the Washington Nationals on Saturday evening at Dodger Stadium. In addition to his first hit – a double – Harper hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the ninth inning of Saturday’s ballgame. However, the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp blasted a game-winning home run in the 10th inning to give the Dodgers a 4-3 win. On Sunday, Harper singled and made a fine leaping catch while in center field. Still, Harper’s Nationals lost their fourth game in a row, 2-0, to L.A.

L.A. Dodgers Off To Best Start Since 1981

After a three-game sweep of the NL East-leading Washington Nationals, the L.A. Dodgers are 16-6, their best start since 1981. The last time the Dodgers were 10 games over .500 was July of 2010. With outfielder Matt Kemp playing like a potential Triple Crown candidate, manager Don Mattingly may have a potential World Series team on his hands if his pitching continues to dominate the National League teams as it has thus far.

Scott Hairston Hits for the Cycle

New York Mets’ outfielder and utility player Scott Hairston hit for the cycle on Friday night in Denver. Hairston went 4 for 5 with four RBIs and became the 10th player in team history – and first in the majors this season – to hit for the cycle. Unfortunately for Hairston, the Mets lost the game 18-9.

Play of the Week: Minnesota Twins Double Play

Jamey Carroll and Trevor Plouffe of the Minnesota Twins show nice team work in doubling up Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz last week at Target Field.

Injuries Affect Contenders

Several injuries to key players could have a lasting impact in the eventual pennant races in both the National and American leagues. Earlier this week, the New York Yankees announced that Michael Pineda, the budding young pitching prospect they acquired in an off-season trade with Seattle, would miss the entire 2012 season because of a damaged shoulder. Also, Boston Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford had a setback in his effort to get past an elbow injury. The New York Mets placed both outfielder Jason Bay and pitcher Mike Pelfrey on the disabled list this week.

All-Star Game Ballot Released

Fans at major league ballparks across the country were given the 2012 MLB All-Star ballot for the first time this season. In addition to long time fan favorites like Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki and Chipper Jones, the ballot lists many young players such as Jesus Montero, Eric Hosmer and Dee Gordon. The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on Tuesday, July 10.

This Week’s Series to Watch: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals

Washington has sprinted out to a great start with a 14-8 record, which ties them with the Atlanta Braves for first place in the NL East. However, as the Braves and Nationals both know, the NL East title will be won by beating Philadelphia. The Phillies and Nationals meet for the first time in 2012 when their three-game series starts Friday at Nationals Park in D.C. During the past off-season, Washington made an effort to keep the many Phillies fans from making the trip to D.C. and taking over the home team’s ballpark. We’ll see how successful those measures were this weekend.

Best Reason to to be a Fan this Week: The Phillie Phanatic

While the Philadelphia Phillies are still struggling to score runs and record wins, the fans in Philadelphia are keeping entertained by watching the best mascot in baseball. The Phillie Phanatic celebrated its 34th birthday on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. Here’s the Phanatic earlier this season displaying one of its many characters: Tina Turner Phanatic:

Fantasy Pick-up of the Week: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

After Tommy John-surgery to repair an elbow ligament cost him almost the entire 2011 season, many fans and pundits were unsure if Stephen Strasburg could return to be the force he was before his injury. The answer seems to be yes so far in 2012. Through five starts, Strasburg is 2-0 with a 1.12 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 32 innings. If someone in your league slept on this budding star, it’s time to pick him up.

Fantasy Drop of the Week: Heath Bell, Miami Marlins

Heralded as a key free agent-signing in the off-season, Heath Bell was supposed to be the Marlins’ closer for the next three years. Bell has been terrible in 2012. After seven games, he has three blown saves in five chances, a 9.53 ERA and a 2.82 WHIP. Bell may very well turn his season around down the stretch, but don’t wait for him to work through his issues.

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