Michael Morse was still slapping Steve Lombardozzi on the back in the dugout, celebrating the rookie’s first career home run in the first inning in Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Braves, when another rookie, Bryce Harper, launched one of his own.
It was the first time two rookies have hit back-to-back home runs to lead off a game in the modern major league era, since 1900, according Elias Sports Bureau.
Lombardozzi isn’t supposed to be hitting home runs. In 1,749 at-bats in four seasons of minor league baseball, the wiry-but-athletic Lombardazzi sent only 17 balls over the fence. But starter Tommy Hanson’s 2-1 fastball was low and inside, and Lombardozzi swung right through it, sending it against the back wall of the bullpen in right field.
“They were kind of messing with me when I walked in the dugout,” Lombardozzi said. “And then once they did get up and high-five me, everybody started yelling and then I realized he just went yard.”
Harper’s home run, the fifth of his career, was even more noticeable. Hanson’s fastball was high and across the plate, and Harper put a thunderous swing into it. The cheering crowd didn’t have much time to finish enjoying one just as Harper’s ball landed into the first rows of the second deck in right field. Two pitches on two home runs from two of the Nationals’ brightest young players.
“It was pretty cool,” Lombardozzi said.