The first time Bryce Harper suffered his most frustrating performance as major leaguer, a 0 for 5 day with three strikeouts in early May, he took a bat, slammed it against the wall, cut his face and needed ten stitches.
Saturday’s performance was worse: a brutal 0 for 7, five strikeouts and only twice did his bat hit a ball in the game. Harper jawed with the home plate umpire twice, slammed his bat down and declined to talk to reporters afterwards. But, no stitches were needed this time.
On Sunday, Harper bounced back well and proved that in his near-two months in the majors he is growing and adjusting quickly. He finished 2 for 4, looking far more comfortable at the plate than the previous day. He’s still a teenager and there will be growing pains.
“I kind of expected that,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “He’s a pretty good hitter. Nice to see him sting the ball.”
In his second at-bat of the game, in a 0-for-10 slump, Harper smacked the first pitch from right-handed starter Ivan Nova, a 79-mph curveball, into the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center field. The ball slammed against it, as most Harper doubles at Nationals Park seem to do, and the rookie reached second base standing.
He hit the ball hard in his third at-bat but lined out to shortstop Derek Jeter. And in his final at-bat, he laced a fastball into center field for a single. After the game, he talked with reporters, his body language much improved from the previous day.
“Baseball is a humbling game,” he said. “It’s the game that I love to play. And there’s nothing you can do about it. You have to forget it and put it behind you. It’s going to happen again. Hopefully, not anytime soon. But it’s going to happen again in my career, and I’ve just got to take the good with the bad.”
FROM THE POST
Yes, the Yankees swept the Nationals with a 4-1 win on Sunday, but Manager Davey Johnson is concerned about getting Ryan Zimmerman’s bat going.
Two long-suffering fans, a 91-year-old and 82-year-old, are enjoying the Nationals’ winning season, writes Rick Maese.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
Closer Drew Storen is throwing off the mound three times a week and still about a month away.
Veteran reliever Brad Lidge is designated for assignment and reliever Ryan Mattheus is recalled from the disabled list.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 6, Syracuse 2: Corey Brown hits two triples, raising his average to .284.
Trenton 4, Harrisburg 0: Right-handed starter Ryan Tatusko allowed three runs on five hits over five innings.
Myrtle Beach 5, Potomac 0: Second baseman Adrian Sanchez and designated hitter Zach Walters each notch two hits.
West Virginia 5, Hagerstown 3: Center fielder and leadoff hitter Brian Goodwin went 3 for 4 with a home run and two RBI.