They’re talkin’ baseball in the District of Columbia, but it isn’t about Willie, Mickey, or the Duke although sports fans in the nation’s capital but want to come on down to 1600 South Capitol and say hey to the new kid in town. Bryce Harper is of course that kid and he hasn’t played like a 19 year old kid awestruck by the majors. In the evening’s contest against the Diamondbacks Harper once again showed of a number of baseball’s tools.
Before the game Davey Johnson moved Harper into the number three spot in the line-up and as he has before Harper ate up the pressure like it was a delicious side of bacon. He showed no lack of hustle or hint of being overwhelmed, and lets fact it. This is a kid who was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16. If he was going to be consumed by pressure he would have by now.
Batting third tonight for the Nationals Harper got to the plate in the first inning with none on and two gone and hit a dribbler back to Ian Kennedy. Kennedy aware of the speed of Harper rushed a throw that sailed past Goldschmidt and Harper raced on to second. The Diamondbacks would appeal that Harper missed first base and the umpire agreed with them. Replays were inconclusive on the matter although Harper’s left foot appeared to graze the outside of the bag. One way or another it is a demonstration the Harper’s speed can make a defense rush as much as his throwing arm can make base runners stop at third.
Harper would feature more in this game, but it is important to look at the efforts of Ross Detwiler and the K Street crew who were able to help the Nationals overcome being four hit by the Diamondbacks by giving up only three hits of their own. Detwiler wound up going a total of 6 1/3 innings giving up one run on three hits with two strikeouts and three walks. Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Clippard, and Henry Rodriguez would finish the game out and the bullpen would finish the game perfect on the evening in 2 and 2/3 innings pitched.
The Nationals only got four hits on the evening but they showed that power is the difference between RBI and LOB. With the game tied at one a piece in the bottom of the sixth inning Ian Desmond would lead-off the inning with a double. Lombardozzi would follow with an out which would bring Bryce Harper to the plate with an opportunity once again to be the hero.
Baseball fans argue about the existence of clutch and while there aren’t players who magically get better in certain situations there are players who can stay within themselves when such situations present themselves. Harper so far in the majors appears to be one of these players who is going to keep their cool and hit right around their career average in clutch situations when it is all said and done. With the go ahead run positioned on second Harper would drive the second pitch of the AB the other way into left field scoring Ian Desmond.
Harper wasn’t done with the amazing feats. When Jayson Werth grounded out to third Harper froze and waited like he should, but when a normal ball player would have headed back to second content to still be in scoring position Harper took the extra base once Roberts had committed to throwing to first. It was both a beautiful display of speed and baseball IQ, and further proof that Harper is the rarest of rare breeds. He is a baseball player gifted with all the talent in the world who still works hard to learn his craft and shows it on the field.
If you don’t already have plans to get down to Nats Park this summer you might want to make some, because Bryce Harper is the type of player that has to be seen to be believed, and even then you may not believe what you just saw.