It happened again Friday night, this time in the second inning. The Nationals led the Giants by one, a nice start to what they’d hoped would become consecutive win No. 11.
Asdrubal Cabrera was batting against stingy right-hander Tim Hudson; Cabrera, batting left-handed, partially blocked catcher Buster Posey’s view of first base, where Bryce Harper stood.
Call his base-running hustling or careless, Harper bounced perilously far from first base. Posey fired a low-line drive that met Travis Ishikawa’s glove — then Harper’s hand — long before it could find the base. Harper popped up and headed to the dugout, needing no confirmation of his fate from umpire or coach.
It was the 10th out Harper’s made on the bases this season, seventh in the majors despite the fact that injuries have limited him to 68 games. It was less egregious than another eclipsed by the excitement of the streak: Monday night, Harper rounded first too vigorously on a routine early-inning single. When Diamondbacks right fielder David Peralta cocked his arm to throw behind him, Harper looked surprised and acted accordingly. He couldn’t escape the pickle.
Again and again this season, Harper has blurred the line between aggression and recklessness. But Manager Matt Williams attributed it to “maturation” after Friday’s game, saying, “It’s not alarming.”
“We discuss it every time something goes haywire. He’s also done some really good things,” said Williams, citing Wednesday night’s hustle from first to third as an example. Harper made that 180-foot trek after a Kevin Frandsen single in the bottom of the ninth. He’d score the winning run on Anthony Rendon’s single a few moments later.
“The other night, we talked about him going first to third on a ball that most guys don’t. So he does some good things as well. We make sure we let him know that, and we discuss the things that don’t go so well. He learns and moves forward like the rest of us. I’m not alarmed. He’s an aggressive player. He’ll continue to be that way, as we all will. He’ll learn from it.”