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Bryce Harper injury: Nationals star has bone bruise

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Harper slipped while trying to leg out a single.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Washington Nationals Michael Owens-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper left the team’s game against the Giants in the first inning on Saturday night. Harper was holding his left knee after going to the ground. He had lunged toward first base in an attempt to leg out an infield single, and his left foot slid across the bag. It came right after a three-hour rain delay.

Harper stayed down and was later carried off the field.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Washington Nationals Michael Owens-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals went on to win, 3-1. Manager Dusty Baker said after the game that Harper hyperextended that knee. An update on Sunday:

The game started at 10:06 p.m. ET, after about a three-hour delay. Heavy rainfall had visited the D.C. area for much of the evening.

The Nationals, up 14 games on the Marlins in the standings, have essentially locked up the National League East with more than a month left in the season. They’re not likely to catch the Dodgers for the top seed in the NL’s postseason picture. For the sake of regular-season finishes, nothing the Nationals do right now matters a whole lot.

But any sort of long-term Harper injury, to state the very obvious, would be horrible news for both the Nationals and baseball at large. Baseball’s postseason is susceptible to wild, random swings, but if Harper weren’t 100 percent for the Nationals’ run, it’d be an enormous blow to a team that relies heavily on him to mash.

Harper has rebounded this year after a down 2016. The 2015 NL MVP had 29 home runs and a triple-slash line of .327/.420/.616 entering Saturday. He’s not mashing at quite the pace he did during that MVP year, but he’s returned to his perch as one of the greatest hitters in the sport.

He and infielder Anthony Rendon have been by far the Nationals’ most valuable position players, while Max Scherzer’s held down the starting rotation in front of a crummy bullpen for most of the year. Harper entered the night with 5.0 wins above replacement, per FanGraphs, the No. 5 mark among hitters the year. He’s been squarely in contention for another MVP nod.