You can't really imagine a better result for Washington Nationals' outfielder Bryce Harper than the 3 for 5 game the 19-year-old had last night in his first game in Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. Maybe if he'd completed the cycle? Harper was a triple away from accomplishing that feat in the Nationals' 7-4 win Friday night, but had to settle for hitting a home run and double and driving in three runs. Everyone who saw what the 2010 no.1 overall pick did in the game was impressed, even his opponents:
That kid bryce Harper is the real deal....god bless him.....34— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) June 9, 2012
In an post game article by ESPN's Gordon Edes, the Boston-based writer noted that with the home run last night, his 6th in his first 139 MLB AB's, Harper became just the fourth teenager in the 100-year history of Fenway Park to hit one out of the Red Sox' home, joining a list that includes Robin Yount, Mickey Mantle and Al Kaline, and, "Only Yount, at 19 years and 204 days, was younger than Harper, 19 and 236," Mr. Edes noted. Harper also became one of only three teenaged major leaguers to have a 3-hit game in Fenway, placing him on a list alongside Kaline, again, and Ken Griffey, Jr.
"'Harper was amazing in everything he did out there,'" Red Sox' manager Bobby Valentine told ESPN's Mr. Edes, "'including on that ball Salty hit to the gap,' Valentine said." "Salty" is Sox' catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, of course, who was robbed of an extra base hit in the second when Harper made a running catch in center to track down and collect a line drive that looked like a hit off the bat. Boston's manager wasn't the only skipper impressed with what he saw from Harper last night. Davey Johnson's watched closely every step of the way through Harper's first 36 games, but he still gets excited talking about the outfielder he lobbied to have on his roster as far back as last winter.
"Harp? What a night he had," Johnson said in his post game press conference. "Seemed like Bobby [Valentine] was bringing in left-handers for him all night and it didn't seem to faze the kid. Hit that one ball, I mean a line shot out there, 420 [feet] or whatever it was. But that was fun watching. I'm sure the fans enjoyed that too."
After his 3 for 5 night, Harper has a .288/.367/.532 line on the year with eight doubles, four triples and six home runs in 158 plate appearances, over which he's walked 17 times and struck out 26 times. Harper has hits in 14 of his last 16 games, with a .354/.426/.662 line over that stretch which followed an 0 for 5 night against the Orioles back on May 19th. Harper's manager said last night that he's been doing everything right, though the 69-year-old skipper did have two complaints about things that happened in the game.
"He made two bad mistakes," Johnson said, "He tried to bunt with a guy on. I don't want him to do that. I don't know where that came in, what box of Cracker Jacks he got that out of. But and then when he got the base hit and drove the run in from second, [Tyler] Moore, he saw the throw was coming to second and he was going to hold, but [First Base coach] Trent [Jewett] was assuming that the ball was going to be thrown home, so [Harper] went on Trent's instructions. I said, 'Well you've got to read that, no matter what [Jewett] says. He's thinking there's going to be a close play at the plate then you go give yourself up.' He knew it. I didn't ask him about the bunt, but I'll get to that tomorrow."
• Harper's in right field this afternoon, batting second again, as the Red Sox take on Daisuke Matsuzaka in the right-hander's first major league start of 2012:
Today's Lineup: Lombardozzi, lf; Harper, rf;Zim, 3b: LaRoche, 1b; Morse, dh; Desmond, ss; Espinosa, 2b; Ankiel, cf; Flores, c; Gonzalez, p— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) June 9, 2012
• Game time 4:05 pm EDT this afternoon from Fenway Park.