It was that May 6th day before summer really got hot that Bryce Harper’s career took off. A three home run game off Tom Koehler, all three of them more majestic than the one before it. Harper entered tonight’s game in Miami with four career bombs off Koehler, and tonight he would get his fifth off the stubborn right-hander.
It would give him sole possession of the National League lead with 28. He would later add another even more Ruthian clout to give him 29. He’s trailing just Albert Pujols and Mike Trout in all of baseball for the home run crown.
Home Run #28 (and his fifth career off Tommy Koehler):
Bryce Harper homered off of a bad man on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park. It looks like he caught a 93-MPH two-seam fastball tailing over too much of the outer half of the plate, and he deposited it violently off a seat in the right field upper deck.
It was his 27th home run of the season. He’s been homering at a regular pace, but it’s been a bit since he’s hit a moonshot like this.
Clayton Kershaw took the mound for this 4-2 Dodgers win, and it was just one of those incredible days for the Koufax of our era. He had 14 strikeouts in eight shutout innings, getting Harper to go down on strikes three times. By the time the Dodgers brought Kenley Jansen in to mop up the ninth, a ferocious right-handed closer like him probably seemed pretty human to a mutant like Harper.
How would Bryce Harper follow up Saturday’s 23rd home run of the season on Father’s Day? With his 24th of the year off Charlie “Chuck” Morton of course. The Nationals scored nine runs in the first inning and coasted to a 9-2 easy win. This was the swing that got them on the board first.
At end of watch today, Harper was hitting .345 with 24 home runs and 57 RBI. He’s on a 56 home run, 132 RBI pace.
We weren’t expecting much from Bryce Harper today. His season almost ended the other night and he was facing Francisco Liriano who has been the ‘Lights Out’ version lately.
Harper answered the bell, and until the whole Max Scherzer Perfect Game thing took over as the game’s biggest storyline; without a doubt it was Harper’s mammoth home run onto the lawn in center that would have grabbed headlines.
It looked like an 86 MPH slider he hit out to dead center.
I think when Harper got started on this home run binge, a lot of people figured we were seeing the breakout of a tremendous power hitter. As evidenced all year long and by his next at bat when he hit a single through the left side (he uses the whole field often), we are just seeing the development of a great all-around hitter. This is a guy who could pretty easily win a batting title it looks like and someone who perennially could be over the .300 mark.
There’s just no great book on how to get him out, which is why you see some of the hottest pitchers in the league surrendering hits and homers to him regularly.
And Max Scherzer was so close to baseball immortality. Not that a no-hitter is anything to roll your eyes about. It’s still baseball immortality. And his last two games have seen him throw 18 innings, allow one hit and strike out 26 hitters. But that little son of a bitch Jose Tabata! A guy who has absolutely done nothing but disappoint me, every Pirates fan out there, and piss off his teammates in spring training. He’s on the last legs of his career here. The game was out of reach; and Tabata leans into one.
The funny part of this is that I have several friends who are fans of other teams; and they all said the same thing “I’m genuinely pissed right now about that” via text. I felt the same way.
Most pitchers as a whole; they bore me. To me, they’re all like NFL kickers. They come and they go. They’re interchangeable parts. They’re volatile. I like hitters. I like offense. I don’t feel this way about Scherzer though. I like watching him throw. He blows away hitters and when he does it feels like you’re watching a home run. It’s exciting. He’s stomping around the mound like a damn condor and he’s animated. He’s all ate up and into it. He’s firing up his teammates. Max Scherzer is what pitching should look like.
Might I say that the last two outings have signaled a full changing of the guard? If I was locked in a jail for life and I was allowed by the courts to send one pitcher to the mound to win the game and get me out of jail; it would be Scherzer. It’s him and then everyone else right now in my mind.
And my daughter behaved magically in that ninth inning. I’m sitting there with her in her swing and it’s almost bed time. I found myself looking at her when I thought she was going to lose it and I’m telling her ‘this guy might make history’. Suddenly a serenity came over her – she sat there like a perfect angel and stared at me and let me watch the ninth inning in peace. Even she knows Max Scherzer is awesome.
I wouldn’t expect too much with Harper going against Francisco Liriano down at Nationals Park this afternoon. Still, it’s great to see he’s in the lineup. When we first saw the injury the other night, we were pretty sure he had blown his knee up.
Now, Bryce Harper is in the big leagues. Last night he hit his 22nd home run of the season off some poor dud named Niefenhauser in a 16-4 Nationals win.
A couple footnotes on this homer. It tied his career high of 22 in a season. It nearly landed in that pool out in right center at the ballpark in Tampa. And he gave Dick Vitale knuckles after rounding the bases.
He’s wearing us out with this homer stuff.
After a 3 for 3 game, his average is now up to .346 on the year.
The ball absolutely flies in Miller Park when the roof is shut.
Mike Fiers had his curveball working last night. I had this one on and he had close to ‘A’ stuff for the first time all year last night. But Fiers made the critical mistake to the best young hitter in baseball, and Bryce Harper gets into it to the point that his back leg comes completely off the ground. It flies out of Miller Park for his 21st home run of the season, and the 76th of his career.
Bryce Harper through 60 games has 51 walks (with 51 strikeouts), a .333/.469/.721 slash line for an OPS of 1.190. He is on pace for about 57 home runs.
Bryce Harper never had the chance to homer at historic Yankee Stadium. But today, in his first game in the Bronx, he added Masahiro Tanaka to his wall of Big Game pelts. He added Yankee Stadium to his list of parks homered in. His blast to center tied the game at 1-1, and was the only run the Nationals would score off Tanaka.
And my father in law called tonight, he’s a Yankees fan. He was with my wife and daughter about an hour from Yankee Stadium on the east coast. He said he was going to watch the game and take a good look at Harper – and he mentioned that Harper may someday be a Yankee. Although Harper was non-committal at any stance in this New York Post article, he has stated many time before that he hopes to be a National his entire career.
You can’t blame the guy for loving Mickey Mantle and the history surrounding the Yankees though!
It seemed like it had been a little while since Bryce Harper homered in a game – in actuality it had only been about seven games played. He’s still killing the ball, hitting over .330 playing every day. Today, Jason Hammel had his ‘A’ game and carried his start into the ninth inning at Nationals Park in DC.
In a way, this Rendon injury could end up being something that changed the face of the Nationals. Rendon was the team’s best player in 2014. While he missed time, this became Bryce Harper’s team. Rendon seems like a good Robin for Batman to have. If the Nationals can get some health back to their starting pitching staff, they’ll give anyone a run for their money in the National League. We’re just glad to have Low Rider back!