Harper appears to ground out, but ball is ruled foul; Zimmerman delivers slam
By Jacob Emert
WASHINGTON -- It was the knockout blow that should have never landed.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Ryan Zimmerman put the finishing touch on an 8-3 Nationals win over the Padres with a rocket grand slam into the right-center-field seats.
"You're sitting 2-0 with the bases loaded," Zimmerman said. "You're in an obviously ideal position right there, just looking for something out over the plate that you can drive and just try not to do too much with it."
But the inning should have never reached that point.
With two outs and Anthony Rendon on first base, Bryce Harper grounded out to first base on a 2-1 count. His swing turned into a stumble, and first-base umpire Bob Davidson ruled that Harper fouled the ball off his leg.
Various angles of replay video showed conclusively that it did not touch Harper, but the play in non-reviewable per MLB rules.
"That's a terrible call," said Padres pitcher James Shields, who started the game but was pulled one batter prior to the Harper at-bat. "There's no doubt about it. The ball was two feet in front of him, and Harper's acting like it hit him. Bottom line is, that's a game-changer, we're out of that inning. We've got to be able to get that call right."
Instead, Harper's at-bat extended two more pitches and he walked, as did Yunel Escobar after him to load the bases for Zimmerman's blast.
"I'm just excited that Zim hit the homer," Harper said when asked what happened on the disputed play. "That's all I'm going to say."
The grand slam was the fifth of Zimmerman's career, a franchise record.
"I can look back to a couple of games, he just missed three balls the other night," manager Matt Williams said. "His success comes when he's hitting the ball to the middle of the diamond and when he's driving the baseball. He missed three then hit a ball off the wall for a double on Sunday, and again tonight. If it's middle of the diamond for him, he's on. I think his timing is there and tonight he drove the ball to right-center field."
Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.