Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper is helped off the field after getting hit in the face by a pitch during the sixth inning Wednesday against St. Louis. Joe Puetz/Associated Press

As the first pitch of the sixth inning zoomed toward his head, Bryce Harper took his right hand off the bat and raised his arm like a shield. Maybe it prevented a direct hit. Maybe it didn’t.

But there isn’t any defense for a 97-mph fastball to the face. The pitch by Cardinals left-hander Génesis Cabrera’s hit him on the nose and left cheek. The All-Star slugger picked himself up and walked off the field, blood dripping from a cut on the side of his nose.

A few hours later, after Harper walked off the field with his left cheek near his nose, after teammate Didi Gregorius got drilled in the ribs by the next Cabrera pitch, after Manager Joe Girardi was ejected, after the Phillies came away with a rousing 5-3 victory on a wild Wednesday night in St. Louis, their star right fielder spoke the words that mattered most.

“Everything feels good,” Harper said on Instagram after getting a CT scan at a nearby hospital. “Face is still there. We’re all good.”

Harper appeared to have only minor swelling and bruising in the video.

It was clear based on his reaction on the mound that Cabrera didn’t intend to hit Harper or Gregorius. The 24-year-old lefty, making his 43rd major-league appearance, came into a 3-3 game throwing upper-90s smoke and had no clue where it was going.


“The plan was just to come inside with the fastball,” Cabrera said. “I wasn’t feeling it that well. It slipped on the release. I’m very sorry for the entire situation. My prayers go out to Bryce Harper.”

“I’ve been hit in the face, broke my nose. It’s scary,” Girardi said. “I don’t think he did it on purpose.”

Under the three-batter minimum rule for relievers, Cabrera had to stay in. Andrew McCutchen followed with his RBI single.

“Man, that was tough watching that,” McCutchen said.

St. Louis Manager Mike Shildt said he would have pulled Cabrera if he could have.

“It was a tie game. It was right in his spot,” Shildt said. “It was completely unfortunate the ball got away from him. Our prayers are with Bryce Harper and we hope he’s OK. It’s a failure of the three-batter minimum. Completely, absolutely no doubt. You’re talking about an aggressive young pitcher throwing to one of the superstars of this game. Clearly, he felt terrible. Everybody knows it was completely unintentional.”


BREWERS: Milwaukee right-hander Corbin Burnes is going on the injured list after a remarkable April run.

The Brewers placed Burnes on the IL without specifying his issue. Manager Craig Counsell said the team likely will wait until after Saturday’s game before announcing who will take Burnes’ place in the rotation against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.

Burnes is 2-2 with a 1.53 ERA and has recorded 49 strikeouts and no walks through 29 1/3 innings. He allowed one earned run through his first four starts before giving up five runs – four earned – over five innings in an 8-0 loss to the Miami Marlins on Monday.

WHITE SOX: Outfielder Adam Eaton served a one-game suspension in the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader against Detroit – a penalty that resulted from aggressive actions during an April 15 loss to Cleveland.

Easton was suspended on April 20 and was fined by Major League Baseball senior vice president of on-field operations Michael Hill, who cited him for inciting the benches-clearing incident. Eaton originally appealed.

Rather than proceed to an appeals hearing before MLB special adviser John McHale Jr., Eaton accepted the penalty and served it Thursday.


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