Baseball can be such an odd game. With Bryce Harper struggling all season long, he hit two monster home runs in two at-bats in a pitcher’s park against Hishashi Iwakuma; a guy who doesn’t surrender a lot of long balls.
My buddy/former fraternity brothers Brent and Ryan from DC were present at the Nationals game yesterday to see the masterpiece of a game the Nats put together in slaughtering the San Francisco Giants 14-6 to take yet another series from a National League foe.
When they paid for their ticket and got to their seats, they had no idea that they were about to be at a Bryce Harper Home Run game. But it was exactly that. When Bryce Harper homered off the Giants J.C. Gutierrez, it was the 49th of his career; and his seventh of the season.
My friends also got to see Harper’s first home run that went off a foul pole in any park, and a Stephen Strasburg start (he got rocked).
Thus far in his young career, he has homered against the Mets more than any other team. He has half his home run total this season against New York. Dillon Gee kept throwing balls right down the pipe, and Harper connected with one of his longest home runs of the year.
It was a picture perfect night for Washington, as they won the game 4-1 with Stephen Strasburg throwing seven great innings.
Also, we won a Home Run Derby on MLB ’14 The Show with Harper tonight. Here’s a shot of that:
In the Nationals 7-1 victory on Tuesday evening, Bryce Harper hit another ball out to left field. It was the fourth in his career at Citi Field. It should be no secret that he absolutely kills the Mets.
And when you scroll back through Harper’s career homers, he’s hit a fair number of home runs to straight away left field. Of all the parts of Harper’s game that you wish maybe were a little different, the one thing the scouts have been right about is his auspicious power to all fields. He’s just as likely to homer the other way as he is to any part of the park.
Harper now has five home runs on the season and 47 in his career.
The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals locked up in a late night game that didn’t get underway until almost 11 PM on the east coast due to a lengthy rain delay. The Nationals won the game 4-1 in 11 innings, but as it often happens when two rivals get together, the final score was the secondary story.
Of course, this sent Braves fans into an uproar. Saying that Harper didn’t respect their logo (he doesn’t need to), and generally leading them to say that the kid lacks all kinds of respect and whatnot.
I think it’s great. For all the unbecoming things Harper has accomplished this season – hitting .250, getting hurt a lot, base-running blunders what seems like every other night – this is what’s great about the kid. He isn’t stupid and is simply stirring up the rivalry. Of course he probably has programmed himself to hate playing Atlanta, especially in Atlanta; a team that has been the Nationals very own House of Horrors.
At the end of the day, baseball is entertainment. Some argue that it’s not entertaining enough. They’re nuts, of course. But that’s what people say. When something like this goes down, it should make the public crave more of these two getting together. Like, what the Hell is going to happen tonight when they face off on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN after they’ve had a night to sleep on Harper scuffing their prize logo?
Last night, Mike Hllywa (Gammons Daily, Halo Hangout) and M.J. Lloyd (Baseball Prospectus, Off-Base Percentage) and I hung out in our virtual bar and talked some baseball for an hour. We rolled out the new name of the podcast, A Bat Flippin’ Good Time; and that’s what we had damnit!
Topics discussed include:
Our usual Mike Trout segment
Angels playoff odds
The David Price trade.
The Cubs’ young nucleus and bright future (and MJ’s bromance for Kris Bryant).
Thoughts on Bryce Harper’s present, future, and the Washington Nationals.
Mike H’s trip to Anaheim for a perfect day of baseball for his son’s first game.
Pop Culture Segment: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie, Breaking Bad, and more.
The Nationals locked up in a 13-inning game with the Mets yesterday afternoon in DC. While the baseball world had it’s eyes on Javier Baez, the game of baseball and it’s irony reared pointed the finger at those who had beeen wondering if Harper had lost it.
And to be honest – no one will believe this – I knew Bryce Harper was hitting a walk-off home run to win this game. I had the game on the radio and actually thought it was going to come in the 11th off Buddy Carlyle. He singled off him. Two innings later, I just shook my head when my premonition came to life. This was probably Harper’s best swing of the season, all things considered. It was an outside fastball that caught too much of the plate, and hopefully this stinging contact allowed him to realize that he has the natural power to hit balls out the other way. Harper’s power to all fields is probably what we’ve remained the most impressed about through his whole career, even with his struggles. Lately, teams have built a book on him that has seen them go away on the outer half of the plate with hard stuff to get him out.
This is the type of swing that could get Harper on a tear for the rest of the season.
I went down to Cincinnati last night with my buddy Joe to see Bryce Harper take some cuts. I was one of the 38,812 last night in a stadium that seemed packed to the rafters. A stadium that was so very quiet all night long because the Reds collected just four hits and as they so often do when the stadium is a sell-out; they just let down.
Jayson Werth didn’t get any knocks last night, here he is after reaching base on a walk.
One of the cool parts of the game was a Bald Eagle flying in from center field after the National Anthem. I think his name was Sam the Eagle.
Alfredo Simon just didn’t have it last evening. He went 4 and 1/3, gave up nine hits and three earned runs. Denard Span owned the Reds last night, tuning them up for four hits on his own.
Man, Jay Bruce is really struggling. He didn’t really sting anything all night long, and he’s down now to .219 on the season. I don’t know what is wrong with him. I hate to say it, but perhaps he just needs a change of scenery. There’s no reason for a player of his caliber to be having a season like this. Star players simply do not struggle in this matter. It’s painful to sit back and watch him endure.
The biggest thing that Bryce Harper did last night was robbing Billy Hamilton of extra bases with a web gem, top-ten catch. It appeared that he re-injured himself at first. Always the fear with Harper. We’ve got video of the catch below:
Here is the Budweiser Party Deck out in Right Field. It was a happening spot last night on a beautiful Friday evening just off the river. One of the only spots that Reds fans could generate any excitement. One of my friends who texted me while I was at the game remarked that ‘beer sales were probably up last night’. He had to have been correct. I had six on my own in about forty minutes. That combined with the Reds offense made me feel really tired.
Baseball Gods: help Jay Bruce turn this thing around.
It was obvious at one quick glance that something was different about Bryce Harper’s stance this Friday evening in Washington. It almost looks as if he tore a page out of Adam Laroche’s book with his new-look adjustment at the plate. He looks more relaxed and was able to get himself into a hitting position by simplifying his hands; not holding them as high as the past Harper would have.
The results were tremendous: a line drive single to right, a single back up the box, and he turned on a 93-MPH Francisco Rodriguez fastball to right field in the bottom of the ninth.
As great as K-Rod has been for most of this season for Milwaukee, this is definitely a good sign.
I watched a good portion of this game, and it was a frustrating one for the Nationals. They banged out 11 total hits, with ten coming off Kyle Lohse. It just seemed they could never capitalize on scoring opportunities. Stephen Strasburg had a weird night. It seemed like his stuff was entirely nasty and he was missing a ton of bats (nine strikeouts), but the Brewers made it hurt when they connected with a couple of home runs and bases clearing double. This too often is the Strasburg the Nationals are getting when they need a true, frontline ace to take hold of their division.
A Friday night in Philadelphia and Bryce Harper is mired in what seems like a one for forever slump. There are whispers that he’s not catching up to fastballs, even some wondering if he has the ever-dreaded ‘diminished skills’ at age 21 from all the injuries.
Nothing quiets these fears into a serenity momentarily like a nice bomb to right field to get some jeers from those brutal Philly fans.
Harper only had one hit tonight, but this was exactly the kind of confidence builder he needed to get something really big going. Something tells us that he’s going to be the driving force behind getting the Nationals past the Braves in the National League East division race. These teams are tied for the division lead as the night ends.
You figure A.J. Burnett will be hanging them up soon – but before he leaves the game forever the kid from Las Vegas touched him up for one. It’s good to see. It’s good for the game when this kid is hitting. We are really pulling for him.
It was the 44th home run of his career. It was his third at Citizens Bank Park. It was the 35th off a righty, and first time he’s gone deep hitting sixth in the Nationals lineup. It was his 28th solo shot.
ESPN is continuing to do what they can to make Bryce Harper a perceived superstar. He’s not holding up his end of the bargain, but hopefully that comes along in due time.
We like Harper, we like everything he stands for, we believe the talent is there. But we watch him night in and night out and it just isn’t happening. Something is off, and has been since he ran into that wall in Los Angeles last season.
One of our favorite talents in the game is back tonight; freshly-activated from the disabled list to get some swings off some poor bastard who is faceless on all the major sports websites, Yohan Flande. That just sounds like runs, doesn’t it?
I’ll have the game on at my place. And by ‘watch party’ in the title of this post I mean it will be my wife (for a few innings) myself, and my dog. I’m still excited!
Something tells us this is finally the stretch of Harper’s young career that he stays healthy and OPS’s something insane over a half season without issue. And the Nationals are winning that division.
We’re willing to cut a deal with the baseball Gods here: let Bryce Harper stay healthy from his presumptive return on July 1st until the end of the season. Do not let him have one single, solitary issue regarding his body parts or health until the season ends. Give the fans who pay homage to this great game each night one healthy half season of Harper; and we will not use curse words while watching the games for the rest of the season. We promise.
Harper began a rehab assignment last night, going 1 for 1 with a walk. The Nationals plan to activate him a week from today when they play at home against the Colorado Rockies. What a glorious occasion that could be.
Gut feeling is that Harper returns, the Nationals are the most feared team in the game in the second half, and they roll the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. The pieces are coming together for them before Harper even returns. If he comes back, and if he stays healthy; we would be willing to bet that he’s a half season of unstoppable. And that’s good for the game. There’s not much out there we would like to see more.