July 23, 2012; Flushing, NY,USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits a home run to right bringing in a runner to score during the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
Before last night's first inning blast, 19-year-old Nats' outfielder Bryce Harper hadn't hit a home run since he launched a game-tying one off Colorado reliever Rafael Betancourt in the ninth inning of a June 28, 2012 game against the Rockies in Coors Field. The Washington Nationals' 2010 no.1 overall pick struck out in one extra-inning-AB in that game and went 20 games and 80 at bats after that without hitting another one out before last night when he went deep off right-hander Chris Young in the opening frame of the Nats' game against the New York Mets in Citi Field. The stretch between his eighth and ninth home runs of 2012 was the longest in his rookie season. Over 20 homer-less games between long balls, (from June 28-July 22nd), the rookie outfielder was 19 for 81, .235/.287/.296 with three doubles and a triple.
After his HR last night, Harper went 1 for 3, (2 for 4 overall) walking in his second at bat in NY, then singling in his fourth AB of the game in the 10th to drive in the go-ahead run in the Nationals' 8-2 win. In spite of his recent struggles at the plate, Harper ended play last night with a .272/.343/.449 line, 15 doubles, five triples, nine home runs and 13 stolen bases in 75 games and 327 plate appearances. Harper's 9th HR last night traveled 410 ft according to Hit Tracker Online, It was one of only three hits the Nationals had all night against the Mets' starter. Harper told MASN's Kristina Akra after the game that he got hold of a 3-2 fastball. "He elevates his fastball a lot," the Nats' outfielder said, "So you just try to stay as patient at you can, not chase that pitch. He's very deceptive with his 85 mph fastball and I just got something I could handle and finally squared something up."
• In case you missed Harper's first home run in NY: