Harper’s unusual collision highlighted an adventurous first inning in the Nationals’ 7-4 loss to the Diamondbacks. Batting second, he beat out a soft chopper up the middle for a single. When shortstop John McDonald’s throw bounced past first base, the weird part began.
Harper made a wide turn and bolted for second, a sure thing until first base umpire Mike Murchlinski blocked his path. Murchlinski had replaced crew chief Dale Scott, who had to leave Friday night’s game after a foul tip gave him a concussion. “I think he was way out of position,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “He was embarrassed.”
Harper barreled into him, both men tumbled to the ground, and Harper retreated to first. Johnson said Harper would have actually been awarded second had he continued trying to run. In the heat of the play, Harper took the safe route and went back to first.
The umpire’s obstacle led to an out. Harper shuffled off first as Corbin started his motion, and his weight had been committed toward second when Corbin tossed to first and picked Harper off.
In the bottom half of the inning, Harper recorded the first out with a diving catch in right-center field. For good measure, he caught a routine fly ball for the second out, too.
Harper finished the game 1 for 4 with the infield single, dropping his slash line for his rookie season to .249/.328/.406.