There haven’t been many times in Bryce Harper’s brief MLB career when he’s appeared hesitant. That’s what made the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday so strange to see.
Down to their last strike, the Giants got life when Gregor Blanco sent a shot over Harper’s head, scoring the tying run. But the outfielder’s leap seemed oddly timed, and kind of hesitant.
Davey Johnson said on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday morning that Harper was playing at “no-doubles” length, that the ball was drilled, and that if Harper had made the catch it would have been the play of the year. But Harper was more critical of himself.
“I don’t want to hit the frickin’ wall full-on,” Harper said, via Kilgore’s game story. “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.”
Rafael Soriano also did not appear thrilled.
“With two outs and the tying run at first, you have to play the outfield so the ball doesn’t go over your head,” Soriano said in Spanish, via USA Today. “It may not have been a catch-able ball, but if we’re positioned the right way, there might have been a different outcome. 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.”
Meanwhile, L.A.’s A.J. Ellis — whose triple led to Harper’s original injury — was on MLB Network’s Intentional Talk on Tuesday. The light-hearted show, playing off Ellis’s interest in sports broadcasting, replayed his triple and Harper’s crash, and asked Ellis to provide play-by-play.
“Swung on, driven out to deep right field,” Ellis said. “What a swing! The guy hits the wall, Harper’s down, but let’s watch the kid run. Look at that youngster pull into third! What wheels! Amazing. Oh golly,” he continued, as Harper’s crash was shown again. “Looks like there’s a wall there. They need to put some kind of dirt object out here, don’t you think, so they know where the wall is, to maybe ‘warn’ the player that there’s possibly a fence there. That’s a good idea for future grounds crews.”
(GIF via USA Today.)