Update, 1:30 p.m.: Soriano clarifies his comments; says he isn’t upset with Harper
Following the Nationals’ 4-2 10th-inning loss Tuesday to the San Francisco Giants, Bryce Harper blamed himself for the game-tying run in the ninth. With two outs and two strikes on Gregor Blanco, a former Nationals farmhand, closer Rafael Soriano tossed a slider that caught a large portion of the plate. Blanco drilled it to right field and Harper, as he chased it down, pulled up and flinched, fearing for the right field wall even though he was short of it.
Harper, who crashed into the right field fence in Dodger Stadium and bruised his body, required stitches and missed a handful of games, put the blame squarely on himself for not making the catch. He was playing in a “no doubles” alignment, giving up some ground in right field. But Soriano wasn’t too pleased.
“You got two outs and you play away, if a guy hits a ball, it’s got to be in front of you,” Soriano said. “Not like what happened tonight. I think we can play a better game than that.”
Soriano’s issue was with Harper’s positioning.
“It may not have been a catch-able ball, but if we’re positioned the right way, there might have been a different outcome,” Soriano said, according to USA Today. “With two outs, I could tell my four-year-old son, ‘You know where you need to play,’ and he would go to the right spot to make the play. It’s not an excuse, and I’m not speaking badly about anybody, but I think that’s how you play the game.”
Harper flogged himself and vowed to not let the threat of the fence deter him from making plays or catches. He admitted, however, that last week’s collision affected his route to the ball.
“I don’t want to hit the frickin’ wall full-on,” Harper said. “Of course that crosses your mind after you jam into a wall. It doesn’t really feel very good. It [stinks] that I couldn’t make the play. I totally put that loss on me.”