Bryce Harper has done everything in his career fast, and now that includes the first home run trot of his career.
In his 62nd major league plate appearance, his 54th at-bat, Harper crushed a solo homer off San Diego Padres right-hander Tim Stauffer to dead center field at Nationals Park with two outs in the third inning. The ball landed and bounced on the grassy hill about 15 beyond the center field fence, to the left of the 402-foot mark on the wall. The blast, which came on a 2-1, 87-mph slider, gave the Nationals a 4-1 lead.
Harper sprinted out of the batter’s box, and once the ball cleared the fence he never slowed his gait. Harper ran around the bases in about 18 seconds and kept sprinting all the way into the dugout, where Manager Davey Johnson met him with a high five and his teammates followed suit, patting him on the head and the backside.
The ball remained resting on the hill as the sparse crowd, thinned by dreary weather, rose and cheered, pleading for a curtain call. Harper obliged. He hopped out of the dugout and stood in front of the railing,
pointing first to the fans along the right field line, and then to the left field side of Nationals Park.
Harper had been in an 0-for-11 rut before he smacked two hits Sunday in Cincinnati. He had only hit one home run all season, even in Class AAA. “I’ll get it going,” he said after the game. Tonight, he responded with the first home run of his career, the first of what promises to be many.
Rain began pouring in the fourth — which threatened to erase the homer from the record books.